The Treaty of Versailles_

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					                         The Treaty of Versailles:
                                   The Inside Story


It is the end of World War I (WWI). Germany has just been involved in, and lost, a war
that would change the world forever. The countries that defeated Germany are furious.
They blame Germany for starting the war and causing so much harm to their countries.
They want and seek revenge. Finally, they come up with a way to get back at Germany.
They write a treaty that says Germany is responsible for the war. The treaty takes away
Germany’s land, people, money, and belongings. This is that story, the inside story of
the Treaty of Versailles.



What Is the Treaty of Versailles?
Many experts in history say that World War II (WWII) began because of the Treaty of
Versailles. This treaty was an agreement between the Allies, the winning countries of
WWI, which were mainly France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The
treaty was created primarily so that the Allies could decide and agree upon what they
wanted to do to the Central Powers, the losing countries of WWI, which were mainly
Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire.



The Big Four and the Allies
At the end of WWI, Allied representatives met in
Paris at the Palace of Versailles to discuss and
make peace treaties with the Central Powers.
Woodrow Wilson (President of the United States),
David Lloyd George (Prime Minister of the United
Kingdom), Georges Clemenceau (Premier of
France), and Vittorio Orlando (Prime Minister of
Italy), were known as the Big Four. These men
were the leaders of the major Allied countries, and
they were the four main people involved in
deciding the fate of the Central Powers.
Even before The Treaty of Versailles was written,
many of the Allied governments, including Italy
and Japan, had already made secret treaties with
each other, dividing up certain parts of Germany
and its colonies. The Ottoman Empire (now
Turkey) and other Central Powers, were also to be
divided up. In fact, Italy joined the Allies because
of Allied promises to divide the Central Powers
and give some of the land to Italy if it joined in the war against Germany.
President Wilson didn’t like the idea of the secret treaties that were made. He didn’t
want any terms of the secret treaties to be carried out, but he still felt that Germany
should be punished for what it had done. He also wanted to help Germany form a
democratic government. He felt that this would help rebuild Europe and prevent future
wars.



Consequences of War
During WWI, there was much devastation done to Germany and other countries.
People’s hopes and dreams were shattered. Almost 10,000,000 soldiers around the
world died as a result of this war. The Allies wanted Germany to pay for this, so they
wrote a treaty which held Germany responsible for WWI. It was called the Treaty of
Versailles.
The treaty said that Germany was the only country responsible for WWI. Some people
say that Germany was not responsible for WWI. After all, it started when a Serbian shot
an Austrian. Some Germans believed that Germany had been made a scapegoat, forcing
it to take the blame for the entire war.
The treaty also said that Germany would have to pay for all of the damage done to
other countries. Germany’s size was reduced by 12.5%, resulting in a decrease in its
population of 6,500,000. When the other countries took possession of German land, the
people in it did not move. This made them "belong" to the countries that took over that
land.
Many things were taken away because of the Treaty of Versailles. Germany lost 16.7%
of its farmland, 12.5% of its livestock, and 10% of its factories because of the Treaty of
Versailles. It reduced Germany’s trading, eliminated its navy, and made its army very
small.
The treaty also allowed other countries to take away Germany’s colonies around the
world. To see which countries took possession of which German land, please refer to
the table below.



Which Countries Took Possession of German Land?
France took away:
  Provinces of Alsace
  Provinces of Lorraine
  German coal mines in the Saar Region for 15 years
Belgium took away:
  Small areas of Eupen
  Small areas of Malmèdy
  Small areas of Moresńet
  Small areas of St. Vith
Czechoslovakia took away:
 Small border area near Troppau (now Opava)
Denmark took away:
 Northern Schelswig
Poland took away:
  Most of West Prussia
  Much of the Posen (now Poznan) province
The Allies took away:
 Germany’s Rhineland for 15 years
The League of Nations took away:
 Danzig, (now Gdansk, Poland)
To see a map of Europe before the Treaty of Versailles, please refer to the one below.




The League of Nations
President Wilson’s main goal was to set up the League of Nations. This was a group of
countries agreeing to keep the peace. The League of Nations was mainly going to be
made up of the Allies of WWI. President Wilson thought that other nations would feel
threatened by the League of Nations because they had already gone to war against
those countries and lost. President Wilson had discussed these ideas in his Fourteen
Points, which was a guide with fourteen ideas to make a peace settlement.
The other Allied leaders didn’t completely agree with President Wilson. Georges
Clemenceau of France mainly wanted to hurt Germany’s economy, army, and land.
David Lloyd George of the United Kingdom mainly wanted to leave Germany with
enough supplies for trade, but not for war. The other Allies, especially Italy and Japan,
were just interested in controlling Germany’s land and taking it for themselves.
Finally, the other countries gave in. They decided that the League of Nations was a
good idea. President Wilson modified many of his points in order to win support for
certain changes concerning the League of Nations, and he also modified them because
many people disagreed with them. Due to this decision, many of Italy & Japan’s secret
treaties, which President Wilson originally was against were allowed to stand, and Italy
received part of Austria and Hungary. Japan received German colonies in the North
Pacific Ocean and German holdings in China.



A Land of New Boundaries
The Allies had a lot of trouble trying to redraw the boundaries of the countries
bordering Germany. Finally, they thought of a way to divide up that land. They
thought of everyone, except for the Germans. The Allies redrew the borders so that
people who spoke the same language were part of the same country. For example, the
area that had people that spoke French, became part of France. They did that with
France, Switzerland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
After dividing up all of that land, the pieces of Germany that remained became
Germany.
Before the Treaty of Versailles, a part of Europe was known as the Austro- Hungarian
Empire. As a result of the Allies’ decision to change boundaries based on languages
spoken, this land was divided into Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, and a part of
Romania. Also, land that had been part of Russia became Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,
East Prussia, and Poland, all of which Russia had once taken over and turned into
territories of the Russian Empire. The Treaty of Versailles made Russia give back these
lands.
Even though they won, some countries, like Japan and Italy, were upset about the
treaty. Italy felt that it should have received more land than it got. Japan was given the
German territories in the Pacific, but it wanted more land.



Reactions and Thoughts of Revenge
In early May 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was shown to Germany. Germany was
forced to agree to the treaty, or the Allies threatened to enforce the treaty by invading
Germany. Many Germans were angry that the government agreed to the treaty, and
they wanted revenge. German officials strongly disagreed with the treaty, but they
were forced to accept it. German officials thought that the treaty would be much easier
on them due to Wilson’s Fourteen Points.
Germany, and all of the major Allies except China and the United States, agreed to the
treaty. Citizens of the United States didn’t approve of President Wilson’s agreement to
let Germany be treated the generous way that it was. They thought that Germany
should be punished even more for causing so much devastation around the world. In
March 1920, the U.S. Senate refused to accept the Treaty of Versailles. Even though
President Wilson helped set it up, the United States never joined the League of Nations.
However, in August 1921, Germany and the United States created a separate peace
agreement called the Treaty of Berlin.
The Treaty of Versailles caused Germany to go through a depression, a time when
businesses and people lost a lot of money. Due to this depression, many people lost
their jobs. People who could not find jobs joined the Communist and National Socialist
parties. The National Socialist Party’s leader, Adolf Hitler, was gaining more and more
power because the German people were upset that their government did little to help
them and that the government agreed to the Treaty of Versailles. Many Germans were
mad that Germany lost so much land because of the Treaty of Versailles, and it had to
pay huge amounts of money to Allied countries. They were also mad because the treaty
said that Germany alone caused WWI. Many Germans wanted revenge. This is when
more Germans began to look up to Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party.

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Last visited: January, 2002.
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