Treaty of Versailles: Germany and its allies were defeated in world war 1 by the western allies. So after the war, the western allies wanted to teach a lesson to Germany for all her destruction in the war. For this purpose, they signed a treaty which was named as “Treaty of Versailles”. Meetings were held twice at that time i.e on 18th Jan 1919 and on 28th July 1919.
The participants of the meetings can be divided into three categories.
- Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers of 32 countries participated in the meetings.
- Central and South American states were also invited.
- Certain small groups like Egyptians, White Army, Irish, Lebanese, Jews, etc.
The countries which were omitted from the treaty of Versailles were:
- The red army of Russia
- Germany, Austria-Hungary
FEATURE OF THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES:
The treaty of Versailles was quite long, running to several hundred clauses but we can summarize its four most important features.
In the text of the treaty of Versailles many frontier rearrangements were made:
- -Alsace and Loraine were given back to France.
- -Eupen and malandy were given to Belgium.
- -Memel was given to Lithuania.
- -Posen and west Prussia were given to Poland.
- -In upper Silesia and East Prussia the plebiscite was held for giving those areas either to Poland or to leave them with Germany. 60% went to Germany and 40% to Poland. So ⅓ of the territory was given to Poland.
- -Saar— a city in Germany was to be administered by France for 15 years for the League of Nations.
- -Danzig was given to Poland.
- -Germany’s colonies were also snatched from it and Kio-Chon was given to Japan, West Africa to Britain, and Comoran and Togoland were dived between France and Great Britain.
- -Germany had to accept the independence of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Belgium.
The treaty of Versailles imposed severe limitations on German armaments such as:
- -The army was limited to 100,000 men and each soldier had to serve a minimum of twelve years.
- -The navy was limited to 15,000 men and few ships. An airforce was forbidden altogether.
- -Portions of Germany were turned into a demilitarized zone, where no troops could be stationed and no fortifications built. The area extended to 50 kilometers on the east bank of the Rhine.
The whole package which we might call the treaty of Versailles created a number of new states on the principles of national self-determination.
- -The Serbs were united with Bosnia to form Yogoslavia.
- -The states of Poland, Hungary, and Austria were also given borders on the principle of self-determination.
The issue that probably held the greatest interest for the public was reparations. For this purpose, an ‘Allied Reparation Commission’ (ARC) was formed which gave its report in 1921. According to this the amount of 54 billion Dollars or 6,600 million ponds was fixed.
Germany was to return all works of art, flag, and trophies that she snatched from France in 1870-71. The section on reparations also specified that Germany could be occupied by foreign troops if it failed to meet its payments and the French in fact did in 1923 when great inflation led to the collapse of the German economy by her occupation of the Ruhr district.
FACTORS THAT INFLUENCED THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES:
WILSON’S 14 POINTS:
Wilson’s 14 points were the basis of a peace settlement. In those 14 points, he put stress on many issues which later became the essence of the Treaty of Versailles e.g he emphasized the end of secret diplomacy, independence of France with Alsace and Loraine, and readjustment of colonies. All such issues were included in the text of the Treaty of Versailles.
There were many eminent personalities who had great influence over the treaty of Versailles. Some of them opposed the treaty and some were in its favor.
He opposed the treaty of revenge. He was an idealist. France and Britain wanted to see Germany pay reparations for the cost of the war and accept the blame for causing the war. Wilson’s had a different opinion. He wanted to create a system that prevent all the countries to initiate such a destructive war. So it caused the withdrawal of the USA from the Versailles settlement.
He was the Prime Minister of France. He was a realist and a very brave person and people used to call him by the name of Tiger. He was in favor of the treaty of Versailles, as he wanted to break up Germany into pieces.
He was the Prime Minister of Great Britain. He was a moderate and generous person. He was in favor of the treaty but with less severeness and harshness. The slogan of his party was.
“Hang the kaiser”
“Make Germany pay”
ABSENCE OF SOME STATES:
There were many states which were not invited to the meeting in that regard and so their absence made the treaty of Versailles extremely harsh. Such as Germany herself was absent. Neutral states were not there which could play an important role in the making of the treaty.
AUTHORITY OF BIG POWERS:
For organizing the conference 58 committees were established to deal with different aspects of the treaty of Versailles. But the final decision was to be made by 3 big powers i.e France, Great Britain and USA.
The criticism on the treaty of Versailles was started before it was chalked out from many corners of the world. Particularly, the Germans and their allies were criticizing it because it was signed in the “Hall of Mirrors”, where once Germany had signed the papers of unification of Germany in 1870-71.
It is a fact that whenever a victorious nation imposes some sanctions, some agreements, or treaties on the defeated powers but those treaties must not be so harsh so as to arise also a harsh and severe reaction, as we have seen in the form of consequences of the treaty of Versailles. Hitler and respectively world war 2 were the sudden results of the treaty of Versailles.
What the Treaty of Versailles did?
The treaty of Versailles is one of the most controversial and biased treaties in the history of the world. The treaty was imposed by the allies on the central powers to take all the blame for world war 1. The treaty of Versailles made the central powers very aggressive and disappointed. Many historians claim that the treaty of Versailles is the main cause behind the outbreak of world war 2.
What was the main goal of the Treaty of Versailles?
The main goal of the treaty of Versailles was to prevent the aggressive countries from another such a destructive war through collective efforts. But it happened the opposite. Actually, it was the treaty of Versailles which became the main reason for world war2. That’s why many experts criticize the treaty of Versailles in the strongest possible words.
Why did the Treaty of Versailles fail?
It had been accepted by many historians that the treaty of Versailles failed because of its strict and harsh treatment of Germany. The treaty of Versailles made Germany responsible for world war 1 and heavy economic sanctions were imposed on Germany. Due to this harsh treatment, the treaty of Versailles failed to stop the rise of hatred and nationalism in Germany, which paved the way for world war 2.