The Paris Peace Conference

• The organisation of the Paris Peace Conference

The Treaty of Versailles was decided at the Paris Peace Conference, lasting from January 1919 to January 2020.

Representatives from over 27 countries came to the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles to presents their wishes and ideas for the treaty to the victors. The defeated nations; Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire were not invited to the conference.

Most of the terms and decisions were to be decided by The Big Five; Britain (PM David Lloyd George), France (PM Georges Clemenceau), the US (President Woodrow Wilson), Italy (PM Vittorio Emanuele Orlando) and Japan (PM Hara Takashi). However, due to a disagreement between them, Italian Prime Minister Orlando stormed out of the conference and quit. Also, Japan only played a small role.

Britain (PM David Lloyd George), France (PM Georges Clemenceau), and the US (President Woodrow Wilson) were known as The Big Three.

• The aims of the Big 3 and how they wanted to achieve them

British Prime Minister Lloyd George wanted...

  • Moderate peace with Germany

  • Punish Germany for their crimes, but not too harshly so they do not want revenge in the future

  • Germany to remain stable and recover as a trading partner

French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau wanted...

  • Severely punish Germany: 1 million French were killed and the war had caused huge damage to their land and infrastructure as it was fought mainly in France.

  • Germany should pay reparations to France

United States President Woodrow Wilson wanted...

  • A fair and lasting peace

  • Countries should disarm

  • Follow his Fourteen Points.

  • Ethnic groups in Europe should be given self-determination.

  • The League of Nations should be set up to settle disputes peacefully and not through war.

• The reasons for disagreements between the Big 3

  • Self-determination= Although PM Lloyd George and PM Georges Clemenceau were happy to create the new countries in Eastern Europe, they disagreed with President Woodrow Wilson as they did not want to give self-determination to their colonies as they wanted to protect the British and French empires. They also wanted to take over Germany's colonies.

  • The level of punishment imposed on Germany= France wanted to make them weak, but Britain wanted them to remain economically stable for trading. Britain also didn't want France to become too powerful. In addition, Lloyd George and Wilson were worried that Germany would become communist if they became too weak.

  • Wilson's idea of Free Trade= Lloyd George disagreed as he wanted to protect the British Empire and their dominance over international trade.

  • The Treaty overall= Britain and the US wanted fair and lasting peace, but France wanted heavy punishment imposed on Germany and wanted them to pay huge reparations. Although the British public agreed with France, Lloyd George and President Wilson worried that if the treaty was too harsh, Germany would want revenge in the future.

• How far the Big 3 achieved their aims

Lloyd George achieved these aims...

  • Germany remained united.

  • Britain was able to keep control of her empire and continue to dominate world trade.

  • The Dawes Plan was agreed and Germany began to recover. Germany and Britain became trading partners again.

Lloyd George did not achieve these aims...

  • Germany only had to pay reparations of £6.6.billion or 132 billion Marks.

Georges Clemenceau achieved these aims...

  • Although it was not broken up, Germany lost 10% of it's territory.

  • Germany's army was limited to 100,000 men and the Rhineland on the French-German border was demilitarised.

  • Germany was forced to accept blame for the war and was required to pay reparations. The figure was later set at £6.6 bn

Georges Clemenceau did not achieve these aims...

  • The Rhineland did not become independent

  • Germany was not broken up into smaller states.

  • Germany only had to pay reparations of £6.6.billion or 132 billion Marks.

Woodrow Wilson achieved these aims...

  • The League of Nations was set up.

  • New Eastern European countries were given self-determination, such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

  • However, free trade was not fully achieved as Britain still dominated international world trading.

Woodrow Wilson did not achieve these aims...

  • The Republican US congress refused to join the League of Nations as they were against the Treaty and the LON.

  • The new countries set up in Europe remained weak and vulnerable.

  • The British and French Empires were not broken up.

  • There was no freedom to navigate the seas or any agreement on free trade.


Reparations= the compensation for war damage paid by a defeated state (from Oxford)