Responses to the WW1 peace treaties



- Britain quite satisfied because the Colonial issues had been resolved and the threat of the German navy crushed

- Not concerned of Central Europe even though they wanted to make sure that a balance of power was kept by preventing the break-up of Germany

- Worried about the harshness of Versailles on Germany

- Little concerns over Trianon, St Germain and Neuilly

- The Treaty of Sèvres had increased the size of the British Empire and had left many questioning the British motives (especially the Arabs who gained little from helping the Brits during the war)

- The Treaty of Lausanne did little to resolve the tension between Greece and Turkey which concerned the Brits

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France and the USA

- Wilson was hoping for a fair and just peace for Germany so he had to compromise many of his ideals

- The harsh terms on Germany resulted in the US not approving of Versailles and refusing to join The League of Nations

- France wanted Germany to be punished more severely and felt as if their own security remained compromised

- Because of this Clemenceau was dispatched in the January 1920 elections because the French believed he had been too eager to compromise in the Paris Peace Conference

- France was also worries of the treaties in Central Europe because of the new states that had emerged and how they would be vulnerable if Germany managed to re-emerge

- After the treaties had been agreed on France formed alliances with the new states (Little Entente) to protect them in the case of German recovery

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- Italy very unhappy of the treaties because Italy failed to meet its territorial and colonial ambitions which led the prime minister Vittorio Orlando to walk out of the talks in anger

- This had no effect on the treaties and the Italian people blamed Vittorio Orlando for what they called a "mutilated victory"

- This led to the downfall of the liberal government and the rise of Benito Mussolini's fascist dictatorship (promise to make Italy great, respected and feared)

- Many Italians believed that they had cotributed to the war greatly and the territory they gained didn't match that contribution

- Italy had hoped to gain the port of Fiume and when it was granted to Yugoslavia in 1919 the Italian writer and nationalist Gabriele D'Annunzio led 500 troops to the city and managed to maintain power for a year

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- Japan was unhappy because they felt that the Allied concidered Japan inferior to them and that the treaties ensured Japan's position as a second-rate power

- Wilson's ideas of democracy and humanitarianism -> ways to maintain Western domination

- The 'racial equality' clause of the League's covenant and the treaties was important to the Japanese but left Britain and the USA in fear of oriental citizens overwhelming Western civilization

- In Japan meetings were held for the importance of racial equality but in the US politicians warned of the dangers 'racial equality' would have on the white race

- In the end the clause didn't pass and many historians argue that this turned the Japanese away from the West and towards an aggressive nationalist policy

- Even though Wilson disagreed because of his ideals of self-determination, Japan gained all the territories it was promised during the war because the Allies had defeated the Japanese on the racial equality clause

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- Germans were outraged because of Versailles and regarded it as a betrayal of the Fourteen Points

- The dissatisfaction of the treaty was later exploited by Adolf Hitler to develop a strong sense of nationalism and revenge

- Many Germans felt that Germany couldn't be solely blamed for the outbreak of the war and many also believed that the German economy wouldn't survive the cost of war (war guilt)

- German nationalist pride was built on the navy and army and the disarmament policies were seen as an attempt of the Allies to  crush Germany. Many also argued that the disarmament left Germany unable to defent itself in the case of attack (however, since Germany was surrounded by new and weak powers it was not in threat though most ignored this)

- Germany lost a significant amount of land which was seen as a humiliation and had a damaging effect on the economy because of the loss of raw materials (however, the territorial lost was fewer than what Germany had imposed on Russia in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk)

- Germany argued that the treaty didn't follow the Fourteen Points because while baltic countries (e.g. Lithuania, Latvia) had been granted independence in the name of self-determination similar treatment was not applied to the areas where there were significant numbers of Germans (e.g. West Prussia and the Sudetenland). Austria also made this complaint

- Germany wanted changes to the treaty; they wanted membership of the League of Nations, a neutral commission to concider the war guilt and for Austria and ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland to be given the chance to decide if they wanted to be a part of Germany

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Germany #2

- The treaty was changed slightly but the overall tone of it still remained the same

- Germany was given five days to sign the final version

- No one wanted to sign the treaty since those who had signed the armimstice had been deglared "November criminals". The resulting split in the cabinet caused the chancellor Philipp Scheidemann to resign. However, the weak Germany had little choice but to sign the treaty

- The psychological shock on the Germans due to Versailles was great because they didn't feel like they started the war nor that they had lost it. Many also thought that the terms would be leniant because German requested the armistice. This was later exploited by Adolf Hitler

- Many Germans also thought it unjust that Germany wasn't represented in the peace conferences

- Many historians argue that the terms of the treaty didn't matter because Germany was simply unwillnig to accept defeat or their role in the outbreak of the war 

- Many historians also accuse Germany of double standards, not only because of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, but also because they believe that if Germany had won it would have been equally as severy to the Allies

- E.g. the September Memorandum or September Programme showed Germany's war aims before WW1 and went far beyond the plans imposed on Germany at Versailles

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