Friday, March 28, 2008

Treaty of Versailles

Treaty of Versailles

Jennifer R. Lindahl World Civilizations Mrs. Swartzell, Mr. Stefanich 22 April 2005 The Treaty of Versailles

When we think of different wars that have happened in the world most of the time at the end of them, a treaty is made. This is exactly what happened for World War I. The war had just ended on November 11, 1918, after four years of fighting, and most of Europe¡¦s farms, factories, and coalmines had been ruined. A lot of countries were mad at the Germans and decided to draft a treaty that would make the Germans have to pay for causing this war. The treaty that the countries drafted was called the Treaty of Versailles. The purpose of this paper is to inform the reader of the events around and the contents of the Treaty of Versailles. It will discuss what people thought of the treaty, what the treaty accomplished, and the treaty¡¦s faults.

On January 8, 1919, the representatives of thirty-two countries, including the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan, met at the Paris Peace Conference to draft the Treaty of Versailles (Gelfand). The thirty-two countries that attended represented about seventy-five percent of the world¡¦s population (Spartacus). The German Republic and the Soviet Russia were not invited to attend the conference and they did not have any say in shaping the treaty (Nelson).

During the drafting of the treaty there were a few figures that played an important role in these negotiations. They were George Clemenceau of France, David Lloyd George of Britain, President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, and Vittorio Orlando of Italy (Spartacus). These important figures were known as the Big Four (Hay 9). The Big Four differed on their goals for the peace and they had many negotiations over this, but they were not the only ones (Hay 10).

At the Paris Peace Conference the Allies also had some trouble. Britain and France showed little sign of agreeing to Wilson¡¦s type of peace because they wanted ¡§to strip Germany of its war-making power¡¨ (World). The French were determined to punish Germany. Clemenceau said, ¡§That Germany needs to pay for the suffering that the war had caused¡¨ (World). The French, British, and the United States aims led to differences until them, along with The Big Four, made a compromise, which was the treaty (World). The Allies were determined to see that their enemy would never again be in the position to endanger them.

As the treaty was being made some, of the Big Four had their own thoughts on what they thought should happened to Germany. President Woodrow Wilson¡¦s main goal was to have the treaty provide for the formation of the League of Nations (Gelfand). One of the Big Four, who said a lot on what he thought should happen, was David Lloyd George. He told the rest of the representatives of the conference that he wanted ¡§Germany to pay and that he also wanted to leave Germany with enough resources for trade but not enough for waging war¡¨ (Gelfand). Lloyd said this because he was a politician and he needed the support of the public to succeed in elections (History). He knew if he was ¡§soft¡¨ on Germany he would have been voted out of office (History). George Clemenceau had two beliefs which were that he ¡§sought to cripple Germany economically, militarily, and territorially and that Germany should be brought to its knees so that she could never start a war again¡¨ (Gelfand).

The Treaty of Versailles was presented to the Germans on May 7, 1919, in the Trianon Palace in Versailles (Watt 405). The finished treaty was a thick white-covered book that had two hundred pages, four hundred and forty separate articles and seventy-five thousand words (Watt 405). On the cover of the treaty it had the words ¡§Conditions of Peace¡¨ printed in English and French (Watt 406). The Allies were the first to arrive at the Palace and following them were the Germans (Watt 408). The Germans were then taken to their seats, which would face Clemenceau (Watt 409). Clemenceau sat at the center of the main table, while Wilson sat at his right, and Lloyd George was at his left (Bailey 289). George Clemenceau was made the President of the peace conference and he was the one who conducted the meeting (Watt 409). The head of the German delegation was Count Brockdorff-Rontzau and he was in charge of telling the Allies if the Germans would sign the treaty (Bailey 289). When the Germans finally saw the terms of the treaty it was just weeks before they were due to sign it in the Hall of Mirrors (History). The treaty raised anger, indignation, and protest throughout Germany. One of these protests was the ten day campaign that was held for the proclamation that the treaty was totally unacceptable (Mayer 764). The Germans were threatening to not sign the treaty because they complained that they were promised a peace based on the Fourteen Points, which they claimed that many of the points had been broken (Bailey 297). The Fourteen Points that the Germans were talking about were series of proposals that President Woodrow Wilson had drawn up in January 1918 (World). The first five points included an end to secret treaties, freedom of the seas, free trade, and reduced national armies and navies (World). The fifth goal was the adjustment of colonial claims with fairness toward colonial peoples. The sixth through fourteen points (points six through fourteen?) were specific suggestions for changing boarders and creating new nations (World). The Allies denied what the Germans said by telling them that they had not broken any of the Fourteen Points (Watt 421). So, the Germans were told that they had fifteen days to file written objections to the terms of the treaty. On the following days ahead, the Germans were studying the treaty and preparing their replies (Bailey 294). On May 29th, the Germans finally handed in their counterproposals to the Allies (Watt 421).

The Allies would then go over the counterproposals and after they were done they would inform the Germans of any changes. After announcing any changes, a date for signing would then be announced (Watt 417). Even though the Germans had handed in their counterproposals, many of the German leaders still refused to accept the terms (Hay 17). The Germans believed that they had fought a just and honorable war and they complained that the treaty had been dictated to them (Spartacus). The Treaty of Versailles itself was an affair that few were happy with. Many thought that this treaty would cause another war to happen. One person who believed it would start another war was Marshal Ferdinand Foch, who was a French officer and a supreme commander of allied forces. Marshal said, ¡§Those who sign this treaty will sign the death sentence of many millions of German men, women, and children.¡¨ Well, he was right because World War I was not the ¡§war to end wars¡¨ since it led right into World War II (Hay 10). The treaty consisted of fifteen parts. The first section was the Constitution of the League of Nations, which had a provision made for the Permanent Court of International Justice (Greenfield). The eighth section of the treaty created the International Labor Organization (Greenfield). The other parts dealt with the boundaries of Germany, the establishment of new countries in Europe, war reparations, and other matters. The Constitution of the League of Nations was an international association whose goal would be to keep peace among nations (World). The United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan were the permanent members of the League¡¦s Executive Council whose general assembly consisted of representatives of thirty-two Allied and neutral nations (World). The two countries that were excluded were Germany and Russia (World). The Treaty of Versailles purpose was to officially end military actions against Germany in World War I. It provided an official peace between Germany and nearly all the thirty-two Allied and associated nations and it provided a reorganization of the boundaries of European nations and areas that they controlled in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Ocean islands. It also provided a system for administering the former colonies of the defeated countries (Gelfand).

In the treaty there was some punishment terms that would tell Germany what they had to follow. These terms were territorial losses, military restrictions, reparations, and honor clauses. Germany lost a third of her coal fields, three quarters of her iron deposits, one third of her blast furnaces, and all of her merchant navy (Hay 28).

For the territorial losses, Germany lost some ,,² take out this word seventy-one thousand square kilometers, which is about twenty-seven thousand five hundred square miles or more than thirteen percent of its European domain (Nelson). When Germany surrendered its colonies, they all became territories under the supervision of the League of Nations. Tanzania went to Great Britain, Urundi and Ruanda went to Belgium, and Namibia went to South Africa (Nelson). Cameroon and Togoland were divided between Great Britain and France (Nelson). New Guinea was awarded to Australia, Samoa went to New Zealand, Nauru Island went to Great Britain, and the Pacific island north of the Equator went to Japan (Nelson). The German rights in Shantung province and China were also granted to Japan (Nelson).

Germany lost all her colonies -- however, she also had to loose her territories. The territories she lost in the treaty include Alsace-Lorraine, which went to France, the Eupen and Malmedy districts were awarded to Belgium, and West Prussia and most of Czechoslovakia (Encyclopedia). REWORD THE PART I HIGHLIGHTED IN RED BECAUSE IT DOESN¡¦T REALLY MAKE SENSE. Germany gave up the Memel district to the Allies that were later given to Lithuania (Encyclopedia). Saar Basin was placed under the League of Nations for fifteen years and Poland got the provinces of Posen and West Prussia (Nelson).

In the treaty, it had a term that discussed the military restrictions. It said that Germany was required to abolish all its military service and reduce its army to one hundred thousand officers and men (Nelson). Germany had to stop all importation, exportation, and all production of war material by October 1, 1919 (History). They also had to give up most of their coal, trains, and merchant ships (History). Germany was limited to six battleships, six light cruisers, and twelve torpedo boats (Nelson). The Germans could not have any submarines or U-boats at all and they could not make any more poison gas (Nelson). The navy was not allowed to exceed over fifteen thousand for the naval personnel and all types of air force were banned (Nelson).

Germany was required to pay reparations to the Allies for causing the war and that meant paying for the war¡¦s total cost. This part of the treaty was known as the ¡§War Guilt Clause¡¨ which was the harshest of all the punishments (World). It placed sole responsibility for the war on Germany and as a result they had to pay those reparations (World). Germany was forced to pay the Allies thirty-three billion dollars in reparations over thirty years (World).

The Germans had to pay the first payment of five billion dollars in gold marks between 1919 and 1921 (Hay 16). Germany told the Allies that it would be impossible to compute this exact sum for the damage of the war, but the Allies insisted that Germany must pay (World). The Allies insisted this because the treaty permitted them to take actions if Germany fell behind in payments (World). The reparations were made in the forms of money, ships, trains, livestock, and natural resources (Nelson).

The reasons the Germans were required to pay reparations were because of the dead and wounded, the people who had been orphaned, and the people who now stagger under war debts (Hay 33). Other reasons were for the millions of homes, lands, and property that Germany destroyed, and all the ruined industries, mines, and machinery of neighboring countries (Hay 33). In the treaty, the German government was forced to admit that Germany and its allies were solely guilty of causing the war (Nelson). Germany also had to agree to hand over anyone they decided to try as a war criminal, such as leading statesmen or military commanders, to the Allies (Hay 16). The Germans had to assist the Allies in compiling evidence against these people (Hay 16). After waiting for the Allies to give the date of when the signing would take place, the day was finally here. The peace treaty would be signed on June 28, 1919, in the great Hall of Mirrors in Louis XIV¡¦s Palace of Versailles (Bailey 302). There was about a thousand people in the audience because they were waiting to hear if the treaty would be signed and if so, when (Bailey 302). Most of these people were women and ladies who were all discussing the treaty (Bailey 303). When the German officials got to the Palace, they still strongly objected to the treaty, however, they were given two choices: they could sign the treaty or be invaded by the Allies (History). After a brief speech by Clemenceau, the German officials signed because they had no other choice (Bailey 303). The Allied agents signed next, but the Chinese never signed the treaty (Gelfand). Many of the German citizens felt that they were being punished for the mistakes of the German government, as it was the government that had declared war, not the people (History). When the signing was all over, the Treaty of Versailles went into effect on January 10, 1920, about a year later (Gelfand). In the years after the treaty was made, it was revised and altered in Germany¡¦s favor (History). By 1938, numerous concessions were made to Germany and only the territorial settlement articles remained (History). The Treaty left the German people in bitterness and hatred. This bitterness against the treaty turned them against America (Bailey 303). The Germans were particularly against Wilson and his name continues to be cursed in Germany today (Bailey 303). In summary, The Treaty of Versailles was regarded as only temporary and contained some of the most severe terms that one civilized nation has ever imposed on another. It humiliated and angered the Germans, but it also tried to permanently enchain them. The treaty ruined Germany financially, left them with no army or navy to defend them, and made them responsible for starting the war. The Treaty of Versailles may have contributed to the rise of the German dictator Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party during the 1930¡¦s. If you think about the Treaty of Versailles, it created more problems than it actually fixed. The Germans did pay some of the reparations, however, the treaty ended in 1931.

Works Cited Bailey, Thomas. Woodrow Wilson and the Lost Peace. Chicago: Quadrangle

Books, 1963. Gelfand, Lawrence. ¡§Versailles, Treaty of.¡¨ World Book Online Reference Center

2005. World Book, Inc. 4, Apr. 2005. Hay, Jeff. The Treaty of Versailles. San Diego: Greenhaven Press Inc., 2002. Mayer, Arno. Politics and Diplomacy of Peacemaking. New York: Alfred A. Knoff Inc., 1967. Nelson, Otto. ¡§Treaty of Versailles.¡¨ EBSCOHOST. 2002. World Almanac Education Group, Inc. Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. 29, March 2005. ¡§The Treaty of Versailles.¡¨ Greenfield History Site. 3, July 2004. Modern World History GCSE. 31, March 2005. ¡§The Treaty of Versailles.¡¨ History Learning Site. Aug. 2003. Modern World History. 3, April 2005. ¡§Versailles, Treaty of.¡¨ Encyclopedia Britanniva. 1997. ¡§Versailles Treaty.¡¨ Spartacus Educational. 11, Mar. 2005. School Net. 3, April

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