The Treaty of Versailles!
World War I officially came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. 32 countries had come together in Paris in January 1919 to hold a conference that would make peace after the First World War. It would be dominated by the big three: David Lloyd George representing Britain; Georges Clemenceau representing France; and Woodrow Wilson representing the USA. Germany was not invited. The Big Three wanted different things for Germany and disagreed on how harshly they were to be punished reflecting how their countries were treated in the war. They had to negotiate with each other until there was a compromise. This was difficult because Wilson was opposed to harsh punishment for Germany. The USA had not been involved in the war as long as Britain and France and had not received as much damage. He wanted to prevent another world war by creating the league of nations based on his fourteen points to ensure Germany would not be destroyed and that Germany shouldn’t be blamed for the war. Clemenceau’s aims were the harshest of the three representing the damage Germany had done to France’s land and people and its threatening proximity. He wanted revenge and to punish Germany to return Alsace Lorraine to France, an independent Rhineland, no league of nations, Germany to pay huge reparations for the damage and losses caused, the disbandment of the German Army so that Germany would never be strong enough to attack France again. Lloyd George was an in-between. This reflected Britain which had little land damage, but high war losses. He wanted a punishment that would be tough enough to please those who wanted to make Germany pay but would leave Germany strong enough to still trade, land for Britain’s Empire to safeguard Britain’s naval supremacy. When the Treaty of Versailles was ready, Germany was shown the document, but there was no negotiation, their rebuttal ignored. On 28th June 1919, the Delegates met at the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles near Paris and forced two German representatives to sign it. The terms of the Treaty of Versailles can be divided into three groups Territorial, Military and Financial and economic. Here are some of the territorial terms Alsace Lorraine was returned to France, Germany was forbidden to unite with Austria lands in East Germany Including the farmlands of Posen and the Polish corridor between East Germany and East Prussia were given to Poland. The Russian which had rich coal fields were given to France for 15 years. All Germany’s colonies were taken and given to France and Britain as mandates. Here are some of the military terms the German army was restricted to only 100,000 men, the Navy could now only have six battleships and no submarines and there was to be no air force allowed. The Rhineland was demilitarized this meant the German army could not go to this area between France and Germany. For the financial and economic terms, Germany would have to pay reparations which would eventually be set at an enormous 132 Billion Gold marks on top of this Germany was not allowed to join the league of nations and had to accept responsibility for causing all the damage and loss by the war. Overall the Treaty of Versailles was unpopular with Germany and its creators. Its terms would go on to be reversed by Germany in both secret and in the open by Hitler and help cause world war 2.