The Treaty of Versailles
German reactions to the Treaty of Versailles
Germans were unhappy that they had to accept all the blame for the war as all of the European powers had played a part in causing the war. They believed that the blame should be shared.
Germany believed the high reparations would cause economic problems and the treaty was too harsh a punishment.
Germany was worried that because their army was reduced to such as small size, if they were attacked, they would be unable to defend themselves.
Germany hated that they had lost key industrial areas, sujc as the Saarland and Danzig and that their colonies were shared between Britain and France.
As Germany was not allowed to sent a representative to the conference, they felt that the treaty was a diktat.
President Wilson (USA) had promised that the peace treaty would be based on his Fourteen Points, however, this was not the case, and certain groups were angry about the lack of self-determination.
When it was first set up, Germany was not invited to join the league of nations. They were angered by this as they felt if they had been allowed to join, they could have persuaded the allies to alter the treaty's terms.
Reactions from the Allies
Some people in Britain and the USA had sympathy for Germany as they felt that the treaty was too harsh and would lead to political and economical problems which could result in Germany seeking revenge in the future.
President Wilson was from the Democrat Party, while the Republican Party was in charge of the US Congress. Many Republicans believed the treaty was too harsh, and they also believed that joining the League of Nations would reduce the independence of the USA, so they rejected the treaty and made their own peace with Germany. Around this time, the US began their policy of Isolationism.
Was the Treaty of Versailles fair or unfair?
Fair= ✓, Unfair= ✘
✓ When Russia surrendered in 1917, Germany forced Russia to sign a much harsher treaty (The Treaty of Brest Litovsk), so Germany should not have been given 'special treatment'.
✘ Many people in Germany lacked the self-determination and freedoms promised by President Wilson as they were ruled over by Poland and Czechoslovakia.
✓ The people of Britain and France had suffered from the war, so they deserved compensation.
✘ All of the European powers had played a part in causing the war. The blame should be shared- Germany should not have been forced to sign the war guilt clause.
✓ Although the Army was reduced, it's leaders were not removed from power, so they were able to rebuild the Army under Hitler and the Nazis.
✘ It was the rulers of Germany who had caused the war, but the treaty mainly punish the ordinary citizens.
✘ As their army was significantly reduced, Germany was left vulnerable to attack.
✓ At the time, reparations were very common. In fact, when France lost the Franco Prussian war in 1871, Germany made them pay 5 billion Gold Francs (worth US$1 bn).
✘ The reparations and lack of industrial area led to huge economic problems in the 1920s.
✘ Germany was not allowed to send a representative to the Paris Peace Conference or invited to join the League of Nations.
✘ As they were forced to sign the Treaty, the new Weimar Government was made to look weak.
The key terms of other peace treaties including the reasons why the Treaty of Sevres with Turkey was revised for the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923
*diktat= dictated peace