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Study Notes

The Treaty of Versailles


Last updated 17 Jul 2018

The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 was the Peace Treaty which Germany had to sign at the end of World War One. The Treaty was agreed at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. The victorious powers, known as the Big Three were the ones who drew up the terms of the agreement. Therefore. The final agreement was one of compromise, which attempted to please everyone, everyone except Germany that is. The Treaty had four key areas which it dealt with: Restrictions were placed on the Military, Territory Changes, Reparations, and War Guilt.

Military Restrictions

Before the war, Germany had built up a large military force, which was a concern to European neighbours. France in particular wanted to ensure that this would not happen again, so sought to weaken Germany significantly. Therefore, the Treaty did the following:

  • Germany could not have over 100,000 soldiers
  • Germany was not allowed to own submarines or aircraft
  • Germany could not force men to join the army via conscription.
  • Germany’s Navy could only have six ships

Territory Changes:

Germany had been a very large European country before World War One, and the Treaty of Versailles made changes to the borders of Germany in Europe. France had wanted to weaken Germany so much that it could not be powerful again. There were several key territorial changes in the Treaty:

  • Alsace-Lorraine would become part of France
  • The Rhineland would be demilitarised
  • North Schleswig would go to Denmark
  • Saarland would be run by the League of Nations
  • West Prussia would go to Poland to create a Polish Corridor to the sea
  • The city of Danzig was to be made a free city which was to be run by the League of Nations.

Germany, like Britain and France had an Empire in Africa and the Pacific. After World War One, the Treaty stripped Germany of her colonial possessions and gave them to the League of Nations. These would be called mandates. However, the League was not really in a position to run these countries so asked Britain and France to run them instead.


The Treaty of Versailles also wanted Germany to pay for the damages caused by the War. This was done in the form of reparations. Germany would have to pay the Big Three. The final total was set as 6.6 billion or 6,600 million. This was a huge amount of money at the time and would have taken Germany along time to repay.

War Guilt:

Clause 14 of the Treaty of Versailles said that Germany had to take the blame for starting World War One. It is perhaps the one provision within the Treaty of Versailles which upset the German people the most.

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