Treaty of Versailles Reading

Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/versailles-chateau-france-europe-318459/
Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/versailles-chateau-france-europe-318459/

Military operations in World War One concluded at 11 am on November 11, 1918, but the war's official end did not come until the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

 

The Treaty of Versailles was the official document that decided who was to blame for the war, and what their punishment would be. This treaty was named after the location where it was created: the palace of Versailles, just outside of Paris in France.

 

The four main global leaders who led the discussions and negotiations were Lloyd George of Britain, Orlando of Italy, Clemenceau of France, and Woodrow Wilson of the United States. They met together in 1919 to consider how Germany would be compelled to pay for the devastation caused by World War One.

 

President Wilson brought a 14-point strategy with him that he felt would bring Europe's peace if the treaty was based upon it.


President Wilson's 14-point plan

  1. There should be no secret treaties between powers, according to open diplomacy.
  2. Freedom of Movement - In both peace and conflict, the seas should be safe.
  3. Free Commerce — Barriers to cross-border trade, such as customs taxes, should be eliminated.
  4. Disarmament on a Global Scale - All countries should decrease their military forces to the smallest possible size.
  5. Colonies - Colonies owned by European powers should have a vote in their own destiny.
  6. Russia - Russians should be free to run their government as they see fit, and that government should be recognised, supported, and welcomed.
  7. Belgium — Belgium should be evacuated and returned to its pre-war state.
  8. France — Alsace-Lorraine, as well as any areas taken away during the war, should be returned.
  9. It is necessary to redraw the Italian border according to nationality.
  10. National Self-Determination — Wherever feasible, national groupings in Europe should be allowed autonomy.
  11. Romania, Montenegro, and Serbia - All three countries should be evacuated, and Serbia should have a seaport.
  12. Turkey - The Turkish people should have a say in their own destiny.
  13. Poland – Poland should become a self-contained country with a seaport.
  14. League of Nations - To ensure future world peace, an assembly of all nations should be convened.

Negotiating the treaty

On the basis of these fourteen criteria, Germany expected a treaty. However, discussions between the "big four" of England's Lloyd George, Italy's Orlando, France's Clemenceau, and America's Woodrow Wilson did not go easily. Wilson thought that enacting his fourteen ideas was the best way to ensure perpetual peace. The French, on the other hand, wanted the vanquished nations punished harshly and thought Wilson's approach was too mild. Although Lloyd George allied with Wilson in private, despite his concerns about Communism, the British public, like Clemenceau, wanted Germany punished harshly. Lloyd George was well aware that siding with Wilson would result in him losing the following election.

 

After much deliberation, an agreement was ultimately achieved. On June 28, 1919, the Germans were called to Versailles to sign the Treaty of Versailles.


The final terms

The final version of the Treaty of Versailles contained 440 clauses: the first 26 clauses focused on the creation of the League of Nations, while the remaining 414 detailed how Germany was to be punished.

 

Here is a brief summary of the main details:

  1. The League of Nations was to be set up.
  2. A 'War Guilt clause' forced Germany to accept the blame for starting WWI.
  3. Germany was to pay for the cost for the damage caused during the war. The fee was set at £6,600 million.
  4. Germany's army was to be reduced to 100,000 men.
  5. Germany was not allowed to own military tanks.
  6. Germany's navy was only allowed six ships but weren't allowed submarines.
  7. Germany was not allowed to own an air force.
  8. The Rhineland region was to be kept free of German control
  9. Germany was not allowed to join politically with Austria.
  10. The region of Alsace-Lorraine was handed back to France.
  11. Land was taken from Germany to create regions of Czechoslovakia and Poland.

Other important treaties after WWI

While the Treaty of Versailles was the most important document created to resolve the outcome of the war, it was not the only one. There were a number of other treaties that reshaped Europe following the war. Here are a few significant ones:

 

The Treaty of St Germain, which was signed on the 10th of September 1919, took land from Austria and gave it to Italy, Czechoslovakia and Serbia. Austria's army was limited to 30,000 men and the country was not allowed to merge with Germany. Also, Austria had to pay reparations.

 

At the Treaty of Trianon on the 4th of June 1920, Hungary lost land to Austria, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Serbia. Also, its army was reduced to 35,000 men, and it was also assigned reparations.

 

At the Treaty of Neuilly in 27th November 1919, Bulgarian land was given to Greece, Romania and Serbia. Bulgaria was also ordered to pay 90 million pounds in reparations, and its army was reduced.

 

At the Treaty of Sevres on the 20th of August 1920, Turkey had to give land to Greece and lose all of its colonial possessions.