The Great War


The Great War Essay, Research Paper

The Legacy of the Great War

After reading William R. Keylor’s The Legacy of the Great War, I realized the important events that pertain to the international relations. Until our present day there has not been so many great leaders come together to address issues such as: politics, economics, and social settings in Europe. This is the beginning of the problems in European civilization.

The Paris Peace conference had a total of twenty-seven countries with their highest representatives and aides who devise a peace settlement. For two months they had redrawn the map of Europe with political and economical arrangements. It took another six months for the leaders who defeated the Central Powers to decide which rules that would govern the postwar order. The Central Power leaders are also known as the Big Four who was: President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Great Britain, Premier Georges Clemenceau of France, and Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando of Italy. After all the peace makers of the treaties was creating the fire for the Second World War in 1939.

During the Peace Conference there was two themes that was very critical. The first is that each victorious European ally had betrayed the new diplomacy of President Woodrow Wilson and therefore deprived the postwar international order of its moral

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justification. The second theme is the Carthaginian settlement, which the victors virtually dismantled Germany of all of its power economically and military.

When the Peacemaking conference began, President Wilson promised Poland a “free and secure access” to the Baltic Sea. (p.19) The port of Danzinger had an overwhelmingly German population there with different religious practices. With self-determination Wilson balanced antithetical considerations. He already promised Poles a free port, and France also wanted to weaken Germany by giving Poland territory. The outcome of the German-Polish Frontier is a free international port in the hands of Polish control.

After the war the French wanted to destroy the German economy. The French wanted control of the German coalmines. But Wilson would not agree. He was looking out for the Germans economically. Premier Clemenceau called Wilson pro-German which obviously hurted the President. (p.29) With this going on President Wilson was self-determine to do his best for the redrawing of Europe. Most leaders in France believed the way to weaken Germany without hurting it economically was to move Germans under rule of other nations. Most of these small states have never set up a stable government for themselves and adding large amount of Germans to their native lands could be dangerous. This is one way how Wilson and his delegates were violated.

One of French main goals in the Peace Conference was security from the Germans in the future. The only way for this is if the Americans and British take charge, and give the Germans a punch and never let them get up again. Germany is the strongest country on the continental Europe. The Germans have the Rhineland, which is a shield

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against aggression. On April 22, 1919 Wilson and George came up with a French security formula. The pledge to defend France against any German aggression, and German disarmament, reduction of the German army to 100,000 men, demilitarization of a zone fifty kilometers east of the Rhine. (91) The French wanted the Rhine River for an allied military base at the four main crossings. Wilson would not allow this, because it would break his national self-determination.

During the Carthaginian Peace settlement, John Maynard Keynes published a book called “The Economic Consequences of the Peace.” According to Keynes he is a hostile critic of President Wilson and his Fourteen Points peace treaty. (122) With Keynes facts I believe he was totally correct. The treaty ignored the economic problems that Germany faced. Germany is economy was built on coal and iron. After the treaty the coal could not be mined or delivered to other countries. Also, seventy-five percent of the iron ore came from Alsace-Lorraine, which the French reclaimed after WWI. With the cutback of coal and iron Europe was even more unsettled then it was.

I believe that Germany was responsible to pay for the war damages. Since they started the war a lot of civilians lost their homes and farms. They were the ones who declared war on France, and Russia at the beginning. Keynes said that everyone was responsible for war damages. I disagree with him. Germany received a bad deal with the ban on coal trading and loss of the Alsace-Lorraine iron ore deposits. However they do deserve to pay for the war.

Next question at the conference, what to do with the African and Asian colonies that belong to Germany? Already the Germans were unfit colonial rulers. Wilson

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proclaimed that this was part of his international trusteeship of self-determination. During the conference they decided that the colonies should surrender to the remaining five victorious countries. Germany argued that this idea was not a fair colonial adjustment.

When the Ottoman Empire collapsed it turn out to be the longest and most difficult treaty to finalize. The ottomans lost 32.7 % of its population and a fifth of its land. (177) Americans had no interest in controlling the Ottomans, but France and England had other plans. Because of this a lot of new countries popped up when the Middle East wars developed and treaties were signed. These countries did not want nationalism with European powers. They did not want to be controlled by Anglos or French. Eventually they did get land in the Middle East with military trading and arrangements. However, they could not keep control of the land that they received.

Adolf Hitler’s speech on April 28, 1939 did break the Treaty of Versailles. He said, “I have worked only to restore that which others once broke by force.” (53) When he took over the Rhine River, and continued to add to his army and surplus over 100,000 soldiers he broke the treaty. The ironic thing was after reading his speech I felt like he had done nothing wrong. A lot of things he said were very true. The treaty did destroy political order in Europe economically, and divided nationalities. The Germans could not acknowledge the Austria community that they had confessed for more then a thousand years. (53) Since the Treaty of Versailles the German economy was down. This led to migrations to other countries. In his speech, Hitler just wanted to liberate nearly four million Germans, and return to their thousand-year-old Reich. For Hitler to united

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his Germans he had to remove different national and ethnic groups in Germany. Which clearly broke the treaty.

I never thought by reading Keylor’s The Legacy of the Great War, I would learn the fine details of the Paris Peace plan. The book goes in great detail that enables me to understand everyone’s opinion. However I did not agree with everybody actions and thoughts on the treaty. I understood what they were looking for in the outcome. I now have a different feeling for Adolf Hitler. He was very powerful through his speeches and controlling a people’s mind. I believe he had great ideas but did not know how to execute them in the proper manner.

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