Treaty of Versailles
- AS, A-Level
- AQA, Edexcel, OCR
Last updated 22 Mar 2021
The Treaty of Versailles that ended the war with Germany and the Allied Powers. It was drawn up the allied powers in Paris and was then enforced onto Germany on the 28th June 1919.
Starting in January 1919, the Paris Peace Conference began with the ‘Big Three’ making many of the decisions. The ‘Big Three’ comprised of Woodrow Wilson from the United States, Georges Clemenceau of France and David Lloyd George from the UK. When peacemakers met they were acutely aware that the political order and map of Europe had changed since 1914, the old orders were gone and they needed to stop the spread of Bolshevism from Russia.
The Big Three had a range of differing opinions on how best to proceed with Germany and the peace settlement. Wilson concerned himself with the creation of a stable international community based along the lines of his 14 Points, where as Clemenceau wanted the complete capitulation of Germany so that they were politically and economically neutered. Lloyd George however was more centrist in his approach wanting a Germany that did not feel humiliated with the peace conference.
The Treaty in its agreed version numbered 440 articles and was handed down to Germany on 7 May 1919. Initially the German Government under Scheidemann rejected the treaty and ended with his resignation. The replacement administration under Bauer was more politically acute than the previous administration and realised that Germany was too weak to refuse the treaty and could certainly not fight another war. Germany agreed to the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919.
The Key Terms of the Treaty
Germany was made to relinquish areas of territory
- Alsace-Lorraine was given to France
- Memel to Lithuania
- West Prussia and Posen to Poland
- The city of Danzig became a free port ran by the League of Nations
- North Schleswig to Denmark
- Saar region under League of Nation rule
- Anschluss or Union with Austria was prohibited
- All imperial possessions were lost
- Rhineland became demilitarized
Significant military restrictions were placed on Germany from the Treaty:
- Army was limited to 100,000 men
- Navy to be surrendered to the Allies, although Germany scuttled the fleet at Scapa Flow to spite the Allies
- No submarines of an air force
The issue of reparations caused much disagreement between the Allied Powers, specifically how much that Germany would have to pay as a result of the War Guilt clause. Britain and France wanted to extort huge amounts for the rebuilding of their countries after the war, whereas American favoured a smaller amount. The issue was passed to a Reparations Committee who eventually set the reparations at £6.6 billion.
Article 231 of the Treaty required Germany to take full responsibility for the war.