Treaty of Versailles

Who was involved, what happened, what were the implications on Germany, and did every country get what they wanted?

Big Three...

· Woodrow Wilson - President - USA

· George Clemenceau - Prime minister - France

· David Lloyd George - Prime minister - Britain

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The Big Three's attitude towards Germany 1918

France -wanted revenge, as most of the war had been fought in her country and so they needed money and raw material to rebuild her, from Germany. Also wanted to demilitarise Germany as a way of protection.

Britain -wanted less punishment than France, because they had little damage, but they still wanted money from Germany as the war had put Britain into debut.

USA -wanted even less punishment as they had suffered the least during the war. But they wanted world peace.

All the 3 countries had different attitudes towards Germany because they had all been affected in different ways during the war, so they wanted different revenge on Germany.

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What the Big Three wanted...

France -weaken Germany to prevent another war

-take away important industrial areas for Germany

-blame Germany for starting the war

-make Germany pay for all costs of the war

USA -organisation to set up to prevent future war (League of Nations)

-reduce all countries armament as much as possible

-all people to choose their own system of government (self-determination)

Britain- most felt -make Germany pay for all costs of the war

-blame Germany for starting the war

- make it impossible of Germany to fight a war

- Some felt -just be peace, all sides equal

- No sense of revenge to Germany

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Main Issues of the peace Treaties 1919 – Revenge

Francefelt strongly about revenge as the war had been fought on her soil, and she lost the most men. She also felt strongly because of previous defeats and humiliations to Germany, i.e. the Kaiser was crowned in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles and the new German Empire had also been declared from there.

Lloyd George and Wilson argued for moderation about revenge, as they didn't want to provoke Germany into another war.

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Main Issues of the peace Treaties 1919 – Security

The Big Three agreed to weaken Germany's military to prevent a future war. As she had gone to war twice in the last 50 yrs.

France felt vulnerable to Germany, as so wanted the Rhineland independent, to act as a buffer zone. She also wanted to destroy Germany's economy so she couldn't afford to fight another war. France also wanted a new balance of power in Europe so that newer sates i.e. Poland, could help her to stop Germany going to war.

Britain wanted Germany’s navy destroyed, as it would be their only means of attacking Britain. She also wanted Belgium restored so that she would be safer and less likely to be attacked by the German navy.

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Main Issues of the peace Treaties 1919 – Reparatio

Britain and France both wanted high reparations because they both blamed Germany for the war and so believed that she should pay for it. France had suffered the most damage, and had to repair it. The war had cost Britain £7.8 billion and had put her into debut, it had cost France £5.4 billion. Britain also wanted war pensions paying, so there was huge pressure for the public for high reparations to be imposed on Germany.

The US thought differently on reparations because there was no damage in the USA, and she had only fought for 6 months. Reparations were also not in Wilson’s 14 points. The USA was finally convinced to agree on high reparations, as Germany had imposed a harsh Treaty of Breast-Litovsk on Russia earlier in 1918.

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Main Issues of the peace Treaties 1919 – The Fourt

The 14 points were Wilson’s plan for lasting world peace. He intended them to be the basis of discussion. Wilson never insisted that peace had to be based absolutely on his 14 points.

The Big Three agreed on some of the points…

· The recreation of Poland

· Self-determination as a general rule and the setting up of democratic govn’t

· The setting up of the LON

· The return of Alsace-Lorraine to France and the restoration of Belgium.

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Main Issues of the peace Treaties 1919 – Communism

The main ideas of communism were to help the poor by setting up a working class dictatorship and abolishing private ownership.

The Big Three were all against communism as it would destroy their way of life and re-distribute the wealth.

Germany was at risk of falling to communism in 1919, as it intended to help the poor and there was Great Poverty because e the allies had made them surrender by blocking their ports to prevent food getting in. they were also at risk because they had not yet set up a democratic govn’t. the German people began to vote for communism because they were poor and it helps the poor, it was the workers who were poor so they thought communism would help them and it appealed to they way of life.

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The Terms of the Treaty of Versailles 1919…Territo

· Danzig was made a free city under the LON. Poland could use the port for external trade.

· The Polish Corridor gave Poland access to the sea, it split Germany.

· The Saar was put under the LON for 15 yrs, and France was given the production of the coalfields as reparation payments.

· The Rhineland was demiliatarised and occupied by the allies for 15yrs.

· Anschluss , a union between Austria and Germany was forbidden.

· Germany lost colonies in Africa and the Pacific. They were given to France and Britain as mandates.

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The Terms of the Treaty of Versailles 1919…Militar

Tight restrictions were placed on Germany’s armed forces…

No air force

No tanks

No submarines

Navy limited to 15,000 men

Army limited to 100,000 men, no conscription

Size and number (6) of naval ships limited

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The Terms of the Treaty of Versailles 1919…Reparat

Germany had to take the blame for the war- article 231

Allies demanded payments for the damage.

Germany had to pay £6.6 billion in reparations.

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The Terms of the Treaty of Versailles 1919…Other T

LON was setup to preserve world peace. Defeated countries weren’t allowed to join at first. Germany allowed joined in 1926.

Treaty of Brest- Litovsk that Germany had signed with Russia was cancelled, because it was too harsh towards Russia, and it took valuable land from Russia.

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Did France get what she wanted…


-Rhineland became demilitarised

-She got the Saar for 15 yrs

-She regained Alsace-Lorraine

-Gained huge reparations

-Germany’s military and economy was weakened


-Rhineland didn’t become an independent state

-She didn’t get permanent ownership of the Saar

-Danzig didn’t go to Poland

She didn’t get want she wanted because the allies feared that it would anger Germany and cause another war.

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Did America get what she wanted…


-She got reparations

-Accepted peace shouldn’t just be based on 14 points


-Self-determination for Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Hungary


-Didn’t get all the 14 points, because it was not in the interest of Britain and France-selfish

-Didn’t get self-determination over former German colonies.

-Didn’t get general disarmament because of security interests

-Didn’t get correct amount of reparation, too high

-Didn’t get into LON, as US democracy and senate voted against.

-Colonies in China went to Japan making her stronger

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Did Italy get what she wanted…




-didn’t get land promised to them in Treaty of London 1915

-refused German colonies in Africa

-Refused Fiume – a port city

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Did Britain get what she wanted…


-naval supremacy, as Germany’s navy reduced

-gained German colonies as mandates



-Compromised German colonies, as British mandates under the LON, due to self-determination

-Lloyd George concerned that T of V too harsh, and might cause future war.

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Immediate reaction of Germans to T of V…

· Bitter anger

· Mob violence in Berlin and Hamburg

· 6th July – day of mourning – day treaty was signed by German Politicians

· Ebert accused Allies of breaking promise of a fair peace treaty

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Why were the Germans so bitter? Reaction justified

Loss of Polish Corridor and Danzig… divided Germany in 2… self-determination ignored

Reparations… 6.6 billion impossible to pay… already had war debut…Germany’s industry was weakened by T of V due to loss of industrial area.

War guilt clause…Germany not solely responsible… Germany claimed she was acting in self-defence, not convincing.

Humiliation of disarmament…100,000 men not enough to defend the country…6 warships, no subs, no air force, not able to defend herself against attack

The 14 points- only Germany disarmed, Britain and France refused because of self-interest

Loss of colonies…angry about giving France and Britain colonies, against self-determination. Evidence of self-interest from them…angry as Britain and France said Germany was unfit to rule colonies, insulting.

Dictated Peace (Diktat)… Germany should be allowed to negotiate peace…Germany forced to sign…Germany felt unfairly punished.

T of V signed in Hall of Mirrors…humiliation as victory over France in 1871 was celebrated in the Hall of Mirrors, insensitive.

French blamed for harsh treaty…getting revenge for defeat in 1871… in reality French more likely to be getting revenge for war damage caused by fighting in their territory.

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Can the terms of the treaty be justified…


· Much fair than Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

· Reparations had to be paid due to loss of land and lives

· Alsace-Lorraine going back as belonged to France in the first place

· Limit on arms necessary for peace

· Always would have been some disagreement

· LON setup

· Plebiscites held so people could decide for themselves

· Brought end to war

· Demilitarised zone in west Germany – as France had been invaded 2 in the last 50yrs

· Weakened central power

· Fair under the circumstances and desperate need for peace


· Unfair to only blame Germany

· Germany could not defend herself from attack

· Peace not based on 14 points

· Self-determination not carried out, only carried out when it was in the interests of Britain and France

· Defeated powers not consulted over the treaty

· Dividing up land led to many minorities living in places where they had no identity

· Reparations- too large, Germany couldn’t afford to rebuild

· Treaty caused further problems… hyperinflation… rise ofextremists


· Depends upon the point of view of each country about whether it was fair

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Pete Langley - Get Revising founder


Excellent resource - good info well presented

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