World War I (1914-1918) left the European continent completely devastated (especially France and Belgium). Human and material losses were massive. Indeed, about 10 million lives had been lost during the war. In order to prevent this nightmare from happens again, the victorious powers (the Big Four) represented by David Lloyd George for Great Britain, Woodrow Wilson for the USA, Georges Clemenceau for France and Vittorio Orlando for Italy (who played a smaller role) decided to meet for a peace conference in Paris. Their aim was to settle a new world order. First of all, they had to redraw the map of Europe (Keylor 1996 p74): delimitate the frontiers (new Europe) and divide the large gaps created by the collapse of Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. Then, they wanted to ensure peace in the world. To do so, the Big Four agreed to entirely control and weaken Germany (especially militarily) and to introduce the League of Nations (Wilson's greatest success). Hence, the notion of collective security emerged: if one country was attacked, the other ones would guarantee protection against the persecutor.
[...] (McMaster- Welcome to the faculty of social science 2002) The situation was basically the same in England. People wanted revenge. (Grant 1971 p427). On the other hand, Britain wanted to consider Germany as a future great entity to trade with. Added to that, Germany could constitute a genuine barrier against communism. Therefore, Lloyd George was more cautious. At last, the USA was pursuing a new policy of isolationism. However, Wilson still wanted to punish Germany in order to reconcile Europe and then, leave, to focus on his country. [...]
[...] (Heiber 1993 p40) Conclusion To conclude, the primary aim of the Treaty of Versailles was certainly more punitive than anything else. Indeed, at the end of the war, the resentment of Britain and especially France was so enormous, that it was difficult not to try to punish harshly their enemy. The League of Nations based on the goodwill of its members was finally powerless, condemned as soon as the USA refused to join it. The Allied did not make a negotiated peace; instead Germany received peace of submission and punishment.” They were not considered at all as an equal partner, as it should have been with the instauration of the new democratic Germany. [...]
[...] (e.g.: The U.S.A did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles because of its policy of isolationism.) (Keylor 1996 p76) At last, after months of negotiations, the Treaty of Versailles was signed by the four Allies and by the new German Republic, reluctant, on the 28th of June 1919. Terms Territorial clauses: (i.e.: readjusting the frontier) Germany lost 13% of its territory and was deprived of 6 million of her population (Hiden 1984 p14) areas of Moresnet, and Eupen-Malmédy were ceded to Belgium Alsace Lorraine, to the French (which acquired nearly 2 million subjects and 3 quarters of the German iron production) Hultschin, to Czechoslovakia Northern Schleswig, to Denmark after a plebiscite Upper Silesia (with considerable number of German people and mineral resources), West Prussia and Posen, to the new Polish State (Carr 1991 p254) A Polish corridor was set up, to separate Poland from Germany All her colonies were confiscated, disguised as mandated territories and distributed to Japan, Great Britain, the Dominions and France. [...]
[...] In this way, we can say the Treaty of Versailles acted like a catalyser leading to World War II. (Blatt 2001) 6 Bibilography Books Bessel, R Germany after the First World War. Clarendon Press: Oxford University Press Carr, W A history of Germany 1815-1990. Fourth Edition. Edward Arnold Grant and Temperley Europe in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries 1789-1950. Sixth Edition. Longman Hiden, J.W The Weimar Republic. Longman Heiber, H The Weimar Republic. Cambridge, Mass; Oxford: Blackwell Hodgson, G From the dawn of the century to the start of the Cold War. [...]
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