“It was neither a vindictive, harsh peace
of the Treaty of Versailles explain why it contained the seeds of the Second
In 1919, the major world powers met at
World War 1. Europe was in turmoil. Five empires had disappeared, millions
to accomplish a miracle at Versailles, peace. Nevertheless, the conditions
the writing of the treaty but also in reaching its objectives. The dream
of a Settlement to satisfy both winners and losers was both impossible
and contradictory. For Germany the outcome in years to come was the exact
objective that the Treaty had tried all along to impede – domination of
What went wrong? Why? These questions
have plagued historians for years. If only the players had acted in a different
fashion would the future outcomes have been different. Or was the situation
What did the leaders want to do? The Council
Germany’s power in Europe and to make her pay for the costs of war. They
wanted peace but Germany was to pay for that peace, not only by reducing
shipping fleet, but also by ceding land, sending coal, livestock, machinery
to be the sole aggressor of the war and therefore it was Germany who had
to ‘pay the bill’.
Supposedly, Germany was to be treated as
in the writing up of the Treaty. Rather, they were literally given the
ultimatum to sign the treaty with no option whatsoever. Germany was to
have an Allied Army in its land and they were to pay for that Army. How
can these terms be considered to being treated as an equal? Furthermore
the coal of the Saar region had to be sent to France for a period of fifteen
years at the end of that time it would be decided under whose area of jurisdiction
the Saar was to be under.
Obviously the Treaty was written up in
a way so as to diminish the power of Germany, at home and abroad. At the
What was the treaty like? The potential
financial retribution for the war. If Germany was stripped of its economy
then industrial growth would not be possible. Furthermore if the fruit
of that industry had to be sent to the countries who had suffered during
the war, then Germany would produce for the victors and not for themselves.
In this way, enough would be left for Germany to get by, but not enough
for it to become a power again.
Alsace-Lorraine was ceded to France. France
was thrilled, if they had had their way; perhaps another area of Germany
would have been ceded to them, the Saar, a major coal producing area.
German rivers were internationalized.
that time, Germany was very closed and did not like foreign presence on
their land, particularly in this way.
The map of Western Europe was redrawn.
Latvia were created. Many of these new countries had to accommodate substantial
nation, suddenly found themselves citizens of two different nations because
suddenly found themselves as citizens of Poland and Czechoslovakia.
It was very difficult for the writers
of the Treaty to accomplish what they had set out to do because of many
factors. To begin with, 27 nations were invited to write the Treaty with
70 representatives, excluding Germany. However only The Supreme Council
or The Big Ten were the actual writers of the Treaty. They were the President
of France, Great Britain, Italy and Japan. Each country went to write the
States had just drafted his Fourteen Points that were to become the League
of Nations and his main interest was a moderate peace. Great Britain had
just had general elections and were committed to bring the war criminals
to justice and to make Germany pay for the war. France was vindictive.
France had suffered terribly during the war and they were motivated by
revenge. France was interested in itself and in its future security. Italy
Italian claims against Austria and the new Yugoslavia. This led to disagreements
among France, the U.S and Britain. Yet, they finally agreed on a settlement.
In order to persuade the French to agree
to these terms, the United States and Britain promised to agree to these
terms, the United States and Britain promised to protect France. However
Britain would not aid France unless the United States did, and the U.S
senate refused to ratify the military guarantee and treaty; therefore Britain
was not under obligation and France felt tricked.
A few weeks after the writing of the Treaty
and before its completion President Wilson had to return to the United
The original Supreme Council composed of five countries became the Council
of Four. Many disagreements went on internally before and after President
Wilson’s departure. France and England wanted Germany to pay for the cost
of war, but President Wilson felt that these terms were too harsh. France
this move. The Polish claims, the Japanese pretensions in Shantung and
the Italian claims in Dalmatia also caused friction to the point that Italy
left the conference for a period of two weeks. Finally, the Treaty was
presented to the Germans for signature. The German’s felt that the Treaty
was not in keeping of the conditions by which they had laid down their
arms and that many of the clauses were almost impossible to fulfill. But
they were given no option but to sign.
In making the Germans sign the Treaty
with the clauses that were in it, a stronger sense of nationalism was formed
in Germany. The German people had always been a very proud people of themselves,
their country and their achievements. The small military corps that was
left felt vindictiveness towards the countries that had reduced their military
strength. The factory workers and leaders were also filled with hatred
at having to manufacture for the victors and not for themselves. It was
a harsh blow to lose colonies and land – an empire was destroyed. Some
of the German people were all of a sudden no longer Germans but Czechs
or Poles. The settlement also left France feeling that it was not strong
enough. The defection of the United States destroyed one of the main props
of French security and was in part responsible for the next war. Along
with the fact that Germany was left was humiliated yet left with some strength
and wishing for revenge.