Treaty of Versailles

Treaty of Versailles

Overview
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties
Peace treaty
A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, that formally ends a state of war between the parties...

 at the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. It ended the state of war
Declaration of war
A declaration of war is a formal act by which one nation goes to war against another. The declaration is a performative speech act by an authorized party of a national government in order to create a state of war between two or more states.The legality of who is competent to declare war varies...

 between Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 and the Allied Powers
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

 on the German side of World War I were dealt with in separate treaties. Although the armistice
Armistice with Germany (Compiègne)
The armistice between the Allies and Germany was an agreement that ended the fighting in the First World War. It was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not technically a surrender...

 signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

 to conclude the peace treaty.
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Encyclopedia
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties
Peace treaty
A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, that formally ends a state of war between the parties...

 at the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. It ended the state of war
Declaration of war
A declaration of war is a formal act by which one nation goes to war against another. The declaration is a performative speech act by an authorized party of a national government in order to create a state of war between two or more states.The legality of who is competent to declare war varies...

 between Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 and the Allied Powers
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

 on the German side of World War I were dealt with in separate treaties. Although the armistice
Armistice with Germany (Compiègne)
The armistice between the Allies and Germany was an agreement that ended the fighting in the First World War. It was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not technically a surrender...

 signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

 to conclude the peace treaty. The treaty was registered by the Secretariat of the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 on 21 October 1919, and was printed in The League of Nations Treaty Series
Treaty series
A Treaty series is an officially published collection of treaties and other international agreements.-League of Nations:The League of Nations Treaty Series was a result of article 18 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which stated:...

.

Of the many provisions in the treaty, one of the most important and controversial required Germany to accept responsibility for causing the war (along with Austria and Hungary, according to the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and the Treaty of Trianon
Treaty of Trianon
The Treaty of Trianon was the peace agreement signed in 1920, at the end of World War I, between the Allies of World War I and Hungary . The treaty greatly redefined and reduced Hungary's borders. From its borders before World War I, it lost 72% of its territory, which was reduced from to...

) and, under the terms of articles 231–248 (later known as the War Guilt clauses), to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions
Concession (territory)
In international law, a concession is a territory within a country that is administered by an entity other than the state which holds sovereignty over it. This is usually a colonizing power, or at least mandated by one, as in the case of colonial chartered companies.Usually, it is conceded, that...

 and pay heavy reparations
World War I reparations
World War I reparations refers to the payments and transfers of property and equipment that Germany was forced to make under the Treaty of Versailles following its defeat during World War I...

 to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers. The total cost of these reparations was assessed at 132 billion Marks (then $31.4 billion, £6.6 billion) in 1921 which is roughly equivalent to US $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

442 billion and UK £
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

217 billion in , a sum that many economists at the time, notably John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes of Tilton, CB FBA , was a British economist whose ideas have profoundly affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, as well as the economic policies of governments...

, deemed to be excessive and counterproductive and would have taken Germany until 1988 to pay. The final payments ended up being made on 4 October 2010, the 20th anniversary of German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

, and some 92 years after the end of the war for which they were exacted. The Treaty was undermined by subsequent events starting as early as 1932 and was widely flouted by the mid-1930s.

The result of these competing and sometimes conflicting goals among the victors was compromise that left none contented: Germany was not pacified or conciliated
Conciliation
Conciliation is an alternative dispute resolution process whereby the parties to a dispute agree to utilize the services of a conciliator, who then meets with the parties separately in an attempt to resolve their differences...

, nor permanently weakened. This would prove to be a factor leading to later conflicts, notably and directly World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Negotiations


Negotiations between the Allied powers started on 18 January in the Salle de l'Horloge at the French Foreign Ministry
Minister of Foreign Affairs (France)
Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs ), is France's foreign affairs ministry, with the headquarters located on the Quai d'Orsay in Paris close to the National Assembly of France. The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs in the government of France is the cabinet minister responsible for...

, on the Quai d'Orsay
Quai d'Orsay
The Quai d'Orsay is a quai in the VIIe arrondissement of Paris, part of the left bank of the Seine, and the name of the street along it. The Quai becomes the Quai Anatole France east of the Palais Bourbon, and the Quai de Branly west of the Pont de l'Alma.The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs is...

 in Paris. Initially, 70 delegates of 27 nations participated in the negotiations. Having been defeated, Germany, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, and Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 were excluded from the negotiations. Russia
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

 was also excluded because it had negotiated a separate peace
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, mediated by South African Andrik Fuller, at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Powers, headed by Germany, marking Russia's exit from World War I.While the treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year,...

 with Germany in 1918, in which Germany gained a large fraction of Russia's land and resources. The treaty′s terms were extremely harsh, as the negotiators at Versailles later pointed out.
Until March 1919, the most important role for negotiating the extremely complex and difficult terms of the peace fell to the regular meetings of the "Council of Ten", which comprised the heads of government and foreign ministers of the five major victors (the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

, and Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

). As this unusual body proved too unwieldy and formal for effective decision-making, Japan and—for most of the remaining conference—the foreign ministers left the main meetings, so that only the "Big Four" remained. After his territorial claims to Fiume (today Rijeka
Rijeka
Rijeka is the principal seaport and the third largest city in Croatia . It is located on Kvarner Bay, an inlet of the Adriatic Sea and has a population of 128,735 inhabitants...

) were rejected, Italian Prime Minister
Prime minister of Italy
The Prime Minister of Italy is the head of government of the Italian Republic...

, Vittorio Orlando left the negotiations and only returned to sign in June.

The final conditions were determined by the leaders of the "Big Three" nations: British Prime Minister David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau
Georges Clemenceau
Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman, physician and journalist. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. For nearly the final year of World War I he led France, and was one of the major voices behind the Treaty of Versailles at the...

, and American President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

.
Even with this smaller group it was difficult to decide on a common position because their aims conflicted with one another. The result has been called the "unhappy compromise".

Britain′s aims


Britain had suffered little land devastation during the war and Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 supported reparations to a lesser extent than the French. Britain began to look on a restored Germany as an important trading partner and worried about the effect of reparations on the British economy.
Lloyd George was also worried by Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

′s proposal for "self-determination
Self-determination
Self-determination is the principle in international law that nations have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or external interference...

" and, like the French, wanted to preserve his own nation's empire. Like the French, Lloyd George supported secret treaties and naval blockades.
Lloyd George managed to increase the overall reparations payment and Britain's share by demanding compensation for the huge number of widows, orphans, and men left unable to work as a result of war injuries.

United States' aims


There had been strong non-interventionist sentiment before and after the U.S. entered the war in April 1917, and many Americans were eager to extricate themselves from European affairs as rapidly as possible. The U.S. took a more conciliatory view toward the issue of German reparations. Before the end of the war, President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

—along with other American officials including Edward M. House
Edward M. House
Edward Mandell House was an American diplomat, politician, and presidential advisor. Commonly known by the title of Colonel House, although he had no military experience, he had enormous personal influence with U.S...

—put forward his Fourteen Points
Fourteen Points
The Fourteen Points was a speech given by United States President Woodrow Wilson to a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1918. The address was intended to assure the country that the Great War was being fought for a moral cause and for postwar peace in Europe...

, which he presented in a speech at the Paris Peace Conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

. The U.S. also wished to continue trading with Germany, so in turn did not want to treat them too harshly for these economic reasons.

Legal restrictions

  • Article 227 charges former German Emperor, Wilhelm II with supreme offense against international morality. He is to be tried as a war criminal
    War crime
    War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

    .
  • Articles 228–230 tried many other Germans as war criminals.
  • Article 231
    Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles
    Article 231, commonly known as the "Guilt Clause" or the "War Guilt Clause", is the first article in Part VIII, "Reparations" of the Treaty of Versailles. Apart from "Article 231", there is no title for this article in the treaty itself...

     (the "War Guilt Clause") lays sole responsibility for the war on Germany and her allies, which is to be accountable for all damage to civilian populations of the Allies.

Occupation of the Rhineland


As a guarantee of compliance by Germany, Part XIV of the Treaty provided that the Rhineland
Occupation of the Rhineland
The Occupation of the Rhineland took place following the armistice and brought the fighting of World War I to a close on 11 November 1918. The occupying armies consisted of American, Belgian, British and French forces...

 would be occupied by Allied troops for a period of 15 years.

Military restrictions


Part V of the treaty begins with the preamble,
"In order to render possible the initiation of a general limitation of the armaments of all nations, Germany undertakes strictly to observe the military, naval and air clauses which follow."
  • German armed forces will number no more than 100,000 troops, and conscription will be abolished.
  • Enlisted
    Enlisted rank
    An enlisted rank is, in most Militaries, any rank below a commissioned officer or warrant officer. The term can also be inclusive of non-commissioned officers...

     men will be retained for at least 12 years; officer
    Officer (armed forces)
    An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

    s to be retained for at least 25 years.
  • German naval forces will be limited to 15,000 men, six battleship
    Battleship
    A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

    s (no more than 10,000 tons displacement each), six cruiser
    Cruiser
    A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

    s (no more than 6,000 tons displacement each), 12 destroyer
    Destroyer
    In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

    s (no more than 800 tons displacement each) and 12 torpedo boat
    Torpedo boat
    A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval vessel designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other large, slow and...

    s (no more than 200 tons displacement each). No submarine
    Submarine
    A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

    s are to be included.
  • The import and export of weapons is prohibited.
  • Poison gas, armed aircraft, tanks and armoured cars are prohibited.
  • Blockades on ships are prohibited.
  • Restrictions on the manufacture of machine guns (e.g. the Maxim machine gun
    Maxim gun
    The Maxim gun was the first self-powered machine gun, invented by the American-born British inventor Sir Hiram Maxim in 1884. It has been called "the weapon most associated with [British] imperial conquest".-Functionality:...

    ) and rifles (e.g. Gewehr 98
    Gewehr 98
    The Gewehr 98 is a German bolt action Mauser rifle firing the 8x57mm cartridge from a 5 round internal clip-loaded magazine that was the German service rifle from 1898 to 1935, when it was replaced by the Karabiner 98k. It was hence the main rifle of the German infantry during World War I...

     rifles).

Territorial changes



Germany′s borders in 1919 had been established nearly 50 years earlier, at the country′s official establishment in 1871. Territory and cities in the region had changed hands repeatedly for centuries, including at various times being owned by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kingdom of Sweden, Kingdom of Poland, and Kingdom of Lithuania
Kingdom of Lithuania
The Kingdom of Lithuania was a Lithuanian monarchy which existed from 1251 to roughly 1263. King Mindaugas was the first and only crowned king of Lithuania. The status of a kingdom was lost after Mindaugas' assassination in 1263. Other monarchs of Lithuania are referred to as Grand Dukes, even...

. However, Germany laid claim to lands and cities that it viewed as historically "Germanic" centuries before Germany′s establishment as a country in 1871. Other countries disputed Germany′s claim to this territory. In the peace treaty, Germany agreed to return disputed lands and cities to various countries.

Germany was compelled to yield control of its colonies
German colonial empire
The German colonial empire was an overseas domain formed in the late 19th century as part of the German Empire. Short-lived colonial efforts by individual German states had occurred in preceding centuries, but Imperial Germany's colonial efforts began in 1884...

, and would also lose a number of European territories. The province of West Prussia
West Prussia
West Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773–1824 and 1878–1919/20 which was created out of the earlier Polish province of Royal Prussia...

 would be ceded to the restored Poland
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

, thereby granting it access to the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 via the "Polish Corridor
Polish Corridor
The Polish Corridor , also known as Danzig Corridor, Corridor to the Sea or Gdańsk Corridor, was a territory located in the region of Pomerelia , which provided the Second Republic of Poland with access to the Baltic Sea, thus dividing the bulk of Germany from the province of East...

" which Prussia had annexed in the Partitions of Poland
Partitions of Poland
The Partitions of Poland or Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland for 123 years...

. This turned East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

 into an exclave, separated from mainland Germany.
  • Alsace
    Alsace
    Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

     and much of Lorraine
    Lorraine (région)
    Lorraine is one of the 27 régions of France. The administrative region has two cities of equal importance, Metz and Nancy. Metz is considered to be the official capital since that is where the regional parliament is situated...

    —both originally German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

    -speaking territories—were part of France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

    , having been annexed by France′s King Louis XIV who desired the Rhine as a "natural border". After approximately 200 years of French
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     rule, Alsace and the German-speaking part of Lorraine were ceded to Germany in 1871 under the Treaty of Frankfurt
    Treaty of Frankfurt (1871)
    The Treaty of Frankfurt was a peace treaty signed in Frankfurt on 10 May 1871, at the end of the Franco-Prussian War.- Summary :The treaty did the following:...

    . In 1919, both regions were returned to France.
  • Northern Schleswig was returned to Denmark
    Denmark
    Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

     following a plebiscite on February 14, 1920 (area 3,984 km², 163,600 inhabitants (1920)). Central Schleswig, including the city of Flensburg
    Flensburg
    Flensburg is an independent town in the north of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Flensburg is the centre of the region of Southern Schleswig...

    , opted to remain German in a separate referendum on 14 March 1920.
  • Most of the Prussian provinces of Province of Posen
    Province of Posen
    The Province of Posen was a province of Prussia from 1848–1918 and as such part of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918. The area was about 29,000 km2....

     (now Poznan) and of West Prussia
    West Prussia
    West Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773–1824 and 1878–1919/20 which was created out of the earlier Polish province of Royal Prussia...

     which Prussia
    Kingdom of Prussia
    The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

     had annexed in the Partitions of Poland
    Partitions of Poland
    The Partitions of Poland or Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland for 123 years...

     (1772–1795) were ceded to Poland (area 53,800 km², 4,224,000 inhabitants (1931)) without a plebiscite. Most of the Province of Posen had already come under Polish control during the Greater Poland Uprising of 1918–1919.
  • The Hultschin area
    Hlucín Region
    Hlučín Area is a part of Czech Silesia in the Moravian-Silesian Region of the Czech Republic, named after the largest town Hlučín. Its area is , in 2001 was inhabited by 73,914 citizens, thus the population density was 233 per km².-History:...

     of Upper Silesia
    Upper Silesia
    Upper Silesia is the southeastern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia. Since the 9th century, Upper Silesia has been part of Greater Moravia, the Duchy of Bohemia, the Piast Kingdom of Poland, again of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as of...

     was transferred to Czechoslovakia
    Czechoslovakia
    Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

     (area 316 or 333 km², 49,000 inhabitants) without a plebiscite.
  • The eastern part of Upper Silesia was assigned to Poland, as in the Upper Silesia plebiscite
    Upper Silesia plebiscite
    The Upper Silesia plebiscite was a border referendum mandated by the Versailles Treaty and carried out in March 1921 to determine a section of the border between Weimar Germany and Poland. The region was ethnically mixed, chiefly among Germans, Poles and Silesians. According to prewar statistics,...

     inhabitants of about 45% of communities voted for this (with general results of 717,122 votes being cast for Germany and 483,514 for Poland).
  • The area of Eupen-Malmedy
    Eupen-Malmedy
    Eupen-Malmedy, or the East Cantons , is a group of cantons in Belgium, composed of the former Prussian districts of Malmedy and Eupen, together with the Neutral Moresnet...

     was given to Belgium
    Belgium
    Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

    . An opportunity was given to the population to "protest" against the transfer by signing a register, which gathered few signatures. The Vennbahn
    Vennbahn
    The Vennbahn is a former railway line that was built partly across German territory, but is now entirely in Belgium, because the trackbed of the line, as well as the stations and other installations, were made Belgian territory in 1919 under a provision of the Treaty of Versailles...

     railway was also transferred to Belgium.
  • The area of Soldau in East Prussia, an important railway junction on the Warsaw
    Warsaw
    Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

    –Danzig route, was transferred to Poland without a plebiscite (area 492 km²).
  • The northern part of East Prussia
    East Prussia
    East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

     known as the "Memelland" or Memel Territory was placed under the control of France and was later annexed by Lithuania
    Lithuania
    Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

    .
  • From the eastern part of West Prussia
    West Prussia
    West Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773–1824 and 1878–1919/20 which was created out of the earlier Polish province of Royal Prussia...

     and the southern part of East Prussia, after the East Prussian plebiscite
    East Prussian plebiscite
    The East Prussia plebiscite , also known as the Allenstein and Marienwerder plebiscite or Warmia, Masuria and Powiśle plebiscite , was a plebiscite for self-determination of the regions Warmia , Masuria and Powiśle, which had been in parts of East Prussia and West Prussia, in accordance with...

     a small area was ceded to Poland.
  • The Territory of the Saar Basin
    Saar (League of Nations)
    The Territory of the Saar Basin , also referred as the Saar or Saargebiet, was a region of Germany that was occupied and governed by Britain and France from 1920 to 1935 under a League of Nations mandate, with the occupation originally being under the auspices of the Treaty of Versailles...

     was to be under the control of the League of Nations
    League of Nations mandate
    A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

     for 15 years, after which a plebiscite between France and Germany, was to decide to which country it would belong. During this time, coal would be sent to France. The region was then called the Saargebiet (German: "Saar Area") and was formed from southern parts of the German Rhine Province
    Rhine Province
    The Rhine Province , also known as Rhenish Prussia or synonymous to the Rhineland , was the westernmost province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia, within the German Reich, from 1822-1946. It was created from the provinces of the Lower Rhine and Jülich-Cleves-Berg...

     and western parts of the Bavaria
    Bavaria
    Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

    n Palatinate under the "Saar statute" of the Versailles Treaty of 28. 6. 1919 (Article 45–50).
  • The strategically important port of Danzig
    Gdansk
    Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

     with the delta of the Vistula River on the Baltic Sea was separated from Germany as the Freie Stadt Danzig (Free City of Danzig).
  • Austria
    Austria
    Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

     (see German Austria
    German Austria
    Republic of German Austria was created following World War I as the initial rump state for areas with a predominantly German-speaking population within what had been the Austro-Hungarian Empire, without the Kingdom of Hungary, which in 1918 had become the Hungarian Democratic Republic.German...

    ) was forbidden from integrating with/into Germany
    Weimar Republic
    The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

    .
  • In article 22, German colonies were divided between Belgium, Great Britain, and certain British Dominions, France, and Japan with the determination not to see any of them returned to Germany — a guarantee secured by Article 119.
  • In Africa, Britain and France divided German Kamerun (Cameroons) and Togoland
    Togoland
    Togoland was a German protectorate in West Africa from 1884 to 1914, encompassing what is now the nation of Togo and most of what is now the Volta Region of Ghana. The colony was established during the period generally known as the "Scramble for Africa"...

    . Belgium gained Ruanda-Urundi
    Ruanda-Urundi
    Ruanda-Urundi was a Belgian suzerainty from 1916 to 1924, a League of Nations Class B Mandate from 1924 to 1945 and then a United Nations trust territory until 1962, when it became the independent states of Rwanda and Burundi.- Overview :...

     in northwestern German East Africa
    German East Africa
    German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

    , the United Kingdom obtained by far the greater landmass of this colony, thus gaining the "missing link" in the chain of British possessions stretching from South Africa to Egypt (Cape to Cairo), Portugal received the Kionga Triangle
    Kionga Triangle
    The Kionga Triangle was a tiny territory on the border between German East Africa and the Portuguese colony of Portuguese East Africa , totalling just 1000 km² .Originally, the Germans established this as their outpost south of the Rovuma River, and there was a settlement...

    , a sliver of German East Africa. German South West Africa was mandated to the Union of South Africa.
  • In the Pacific, Japan gained Germany’s islands north of the equator (the Marshall Islands
    Marshall Islands
    The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...

    , the Carolines, the Marianas, the Palau Islands
    Palau
    Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

    ) and Kiautschou
    Jiaozhou Bay
    The Jiaozhou Bay is a sea gulf located in Qingdao Prefecture of Shandong Province. It was a German colonial concession from 1898 until 1914....

     in China. German Samoa
    German Samoa
    German Samoa was a German protectorate from 1900 to 1914, consisting of the islands of Upolu, Savai'i, Apolima and Manono, now wholly within the independent state Samoa, formerly Western Samoa...

     was assigned to New Zealand; German New Guinea
    German New Guinea
    German New Guinea was the first part of the German colonial empire. It was a protectorate from 1884 until 1914 when it fell to Australia following the outbreak of the First World War. It consisted of the northeastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups...

    , the Bismarck Archipelago
    Bismarck Archipelago
    The Bismarck Archipelago is a group of islands off the northeastern coast of New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean and is part of the Islands Region of Papua New Guinea.-History:...

     and Nauru
    Nauru
    Nauru , officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just...

     to Australia as mandatory.

Shandong problem


Article 156 of the treaty transferred German concessions in Shandong
Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

, China, to Japan rather than returning sovereign authority to China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

. Chinese outrage over this provision led to demonstrations and a cultural movement known as the May Fourth Movement
May Fourth Movement
The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement growing out of student demonstrations in Beijing on May 4, 1919, protesting the Chinese government's weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, especially the Shandong Problem...

 and influenced China not to sign the treaty. China declared the end of its war against Germany in September 1919 and signed a separate treaty with Germany in 1921.

Reparations


Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles assigned blame for the war to Germany; much of the rest of the Treaty set out the reparations that Germany would pay to the Allies.

The total sum of war reparations demanded from Germany—around 226 billion Reichsmarks—was decided by an Inter-Allied Reparations Commission. In 1921, it was reduced to 132 billion Reichsmarks, at that time, $31.4 billion (US$ billion in ), or £6.6 billion (UK£ billion in ).

It could be seen that the Versailles reparation impositions were partly a reply to the reparations placed upon France by Germany through the 1871 Treaty of Frankfurt
Treaty of Frankfurt (1871)
The Treaty of Frankfurt was a peace treaty signed in Frankfurt on 10 May 1871, at the end of the Franco-Prussian War.- Summary :The treaty did the following:...

 signed after the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

; critics of the Treaty argued that France had been able to pay the reparations (5,000,000,000 francs) within three years while the Young Plan
Young Plan
The Young Plan was a program for settlement of German reparations debts after World War I written in 1929 and formally adopted in 1930. It was presented by the committee headed by American Owen D. Young. After the Dawes Plan was put into operation , it became apparent that Germany could not meet...

 of 1929 estimated that German reparations would be paid for a further 59 years, until 1988. Indemnities of the Treaty of Frankfurt were in turn calculated, on the basis of population, as the precise equivalent of the indemnities imposed by Napoleon I
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 on Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 in 1807.

The Versailles Reparations came in a variety of forms, including coal, steel, intellectual property (e.g. the trademark for Aspirin
Aspirin
Aspirin , also known as acetylsalicylic acid , is a salicylate drug, often used as an analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, as an antipyretic to reduce fever, and as an anti-inflammatory medication. It was discovered by Arthur Eichengrun, a chemist with the German company Bayer...

) and agricultural products, in no small part because currency reparations of that order of magnitude would lead to hyperinflation
Hyperinflation
In economics, hyperinflation is inflation that is very high or out of control. While the real values of the specific economic items generally stay the same in terms of relatively stable foreign currencies, in hyperinflationary conditions the general price level within a specific economy increases...

, as actually occurred in post-war Germany (see 1920s German inflation), thus decreasing the benefits to France and Britain.

Reparations due in the form of coal played a big part in punishing Germany. The Treaty of Versailles declared that Germany was responsible for the destruction of coal mines in Northern France, parts of Belgium, and parts of Italy. Therefore, France was awarded full possession of Germany′s coal-bearing Saar basin for a period. Also, Germany was forced to provide France, Belgium, and Italy with millions of tons of coal for 10 years. However, under the control of Adolf Hitler, Germany stopped outstanding deliveries of coal within a few years, thus violating the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

Germany finally finished paying its reparations in 2010.

The creation of international organizations


Part I of the treaty was the Covenant of the League of Nations
Covenant of the League of Nations
-Creation:Early drafts for a possible League of Nations began even before the end of the First World War. A London-based study group led by James Bryce and G. Lowes Dickinson made proposals adopted by the British League of Nations Society, founded in 1915. Another group in the United States—which...

 which provided for the creation of the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

, an organization intended to arbitrate international disputes and thereby avoid future wars. Part XIII organized the establishment of the International Labour Organization
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues pertaining to international labour standards. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. Its secretariat — the people who are employed by it throughout the world — is known as the...

, to promote "the regulation of the hours of work, including the establishment of a maximum working day and week; the regulation of the labour supply; the prevention of unemployment; the provision of an adequate living wage; the protection of the worker against sickness, disease and injury arising out of his employment; the protection of children, young persons and women; provision for old age and injury; protection of the interests of workers when employed in countries other than their own; recognition of the principle of freedom of association; the organization of vocational and technical education and other measures" Further international commissions were to be set up, according to Part XII, to administer control over the Elbe
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

, the Oder
Oder
The Oder is a river in Central Europe. It rises in the Czech Republic and flows through western Poland, later forming of the border between Poland and Germany, part of the Oder-Neisse line...

, the Niemen (Russstrom-Memel-Niemen) and the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 rivers.

Other


The Treaty contained many other provisions (economic issues, transportation, etc.). One of the provisions was the following:
ARTICLE 246. Within six months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, ... Germany will hand over to His Britannic Majesty's Government the skull of the Sultan Mkwawa
Chief Mkwawa
Paramount Chief Mkwavinyika Munyigumba Mwamuyinga , more commonly known as Chief Mkwawa, was a Hehe tribal leader in German East Africa who opposed the German colonisation. The name "Mkwawa" is derived from Mukwava, itself a shortened form of Mukwavinyika, meaning "conqueror of many lands"...

 which was removed from the Protectorate of German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

 and taken to Germany.

France


France signed the Treaty and was active in the League. Clemenceau had failed to achieve all of the demands of the French people, and he was voted out of office in the elections of January 1920. French Field Marshal
Field Marshal (France)
Maréchal de camp was a general officer rank used by the French Army until 1848.The rank originated from the older rank of sergeant major general . Sergeant Major General was third in command in an army, after the General and the Lieutenant General. One of his tasks was to dispose the troops on the...

 Ferdinand Foch
Ferdinand Foch
Ferdinand Foch , GCB, OM, DSO was a French soldier, war hero, military theorist, and writer credited with possessing "the most original and subtle mind in the French army" in the early 20th century. He served as general in the French army during World War I and was made Marshal of France in its...

—who felt the restrictions on Germany were too lenient—declared (quite accurately), "This is not Peace. It is an Armistice for twenty years
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

."

United States rejects Treaty


The Republican Party—led by Henry Cabot Lodge
Henry Cabot Lodge
Henry Cabot "Slim" Lodge was an American Republican Senator and historian from Massachusetts. He had the role of Senate Majority leader. He is best known for his positions on Meek policy, especially his battle with President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 over the Treaty of Versailles...

—controlled the U.S. Senate after the election of 1918, but the Senators were divided into multiple positions on the Versailles question. It proved possible to build a majority coalition, but impossible to build a two-thirds coalition that was needed to pass a treaty.

An angry bloc of 12-18 "Irreconcilables
Irreconcilables
The Irreconcilables were bitter opponents of the Treaty of Versailles in the United States in 1919. Specifically, the term refers to about 12 to 18 United States Senators, both Republicans and Democrats, who fought intensely to defeat the ratification of the treaty by the Senate in 1919...

", mostly Republicans but also representatives of the Irish and German Democrats, fiercely opposed the Treaty. One block of Democrats strongly supported the Versailles Treaty, even with reservations added by Lodge. A second group of Democrats supported the Treaty but followed Wilson in opposing any amendments or reservations. The largest bloc—led by Senator Lodge—comprised a majority of the Republicans. They wanted a treaty with reservations, especially on Article X, which involved the power of the League Nations to make war without a vote by the U.S. Congress. All of the Irreconcilables were bitter enemies of President Wilson, and he launched a nationwide speaking tour in the summer of 1919 to refute them. However, Wilson collapsed midway with a serious stroke that effectively ruined his leadership skills.

The closest the Treaty came to passage was on November 19, 1919, as Lodge and his Republicans formed a coalition with the pro-Treaty Democrats, and were close to a two-thirds majority for a Treaty with reservations, but Wilson rejected this compromise and enough Democrats followed his lead to permanently end the chances for ratification.

Among the American public as a whole, the Irish Catholics and the German American
German American
German Americans are citizens of the United States of German ancestry and comprise about 51 million people, or 17% of the U.S. population, the country's largest self-reported ancestral group...

s were intensely opposed to the Treaty, saying it favored the British.

After Wilson's successor Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding
Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th President of the United States . A Republican from Ohio, Harding was an influential self-made newspaper publisher. He served in the Ohio Senate , as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and as a U.S. Senator...

 continued American opposition to the League of Nations, Congress passed the Knox–Porter Resolution bringing a formal end to hostilities between the U.S. and the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

. It was signed into law by Harding on July 21, 1921.

House's views


Wilson's former friend Edward Mandell House, present at the negotiations, wrote in his diary on 29 June 1919:

I am leaving Paris, after eight fateful months, with conflicting emotions. Looking at the conference in retrospect, there is much to approve and yet much to regret. It is easy to say what should have been done, but more difficult to have found a way of doing it. To those who are saying that the treaty is bad and should never have been made and that it will involve Europe in infinite difficulties in its enforcement, I feel like admitting it. But I would also say in reply that empires cannot be shattered, and new states raised upon their ruins without disturbance. To create new boundaries is to create new troubles. The one follows the other. While I should have preferred a different peace, I doubt very much whether it could have been made, for the ingredients required for such a peace as I would have were lacking at Paris.

In Germany



On April 29, the German delegation under the leadership of the Foreign Minister Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau
Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau
Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau was a German diplomat, the first Foreign Minister of the Weimar Republic and German Ambassador to the USSR for most of the twenties.-Early career:...

 arrived in Versailles. On May 7, when faced with the conditions dictated by the victors, including the so-called "War Guilt Clause", von Brockdorff-Rantzau replied to Clemenceau, Wilson and Lloyd George: "We know the full brunt of hate that confronts us here. You demand from us to confess we were the only guilty party of war; such a confession in my mouth would be a lie." Because Germany was not allowed to take part in the negotiations, the German government issued a protest against what it considered to be unfair demands, and a "violation of honour", soon afterward withdrawing from the proceedings of peace conference.

Germans of all political shades denounced the treaty—particularly the provision that blamed Germany for starting the war—as an insult to the nation's honor. They referred to the treaty as "the Diktat" since its terms were presented to Germany on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Germany′s first democratically elected Chancellor—Philipp Scheidemann
Philipp Scheidemann
Philipp Scheidemann was a German Social Democratic politician, who proclaimed the Republic on 9 November 1918, and who became the second Chancellor of the Weimar Republic....

—refused to sign the treaty and resigned. In a passionate speech before the National Assembly on March 21, 1919, he called the treaty a "murderous plan" and exclaimed,
After Scheidemann′s resignation, a new coalition government was formed under Gustav Bauer
Gustav Bauer
' was a German Social Democratic Party leader and Chancellor of Germany from 1919 to 1920.Born in Darkehmen near Königsberg in East Prussia, Bauer, who rose to notice through his leadership of a white-collar trade union, served from 1908 to 1918 as chairman of the General Commission of Trade...

. President
President of Germany
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...

 Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany .When Ebert was elected as the leader of the SPD after the death of August Bebel, the party members of the SPD were deeply divided because of the party's support for World War I. Ebert supported the Burgfrieden and...

 then asked Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 if the army was capable of any meaningful resistance in the event the Allies decided to renew hostilities. If there was even the slightest chance that the army could hold out, Ebert intended to recommend against ratifying the treaty. Hindenburg—after prodding from his chief of staff, Wilhelm Groener
Wilhelm Groener
Karl Eduard Wilhelm Groener was a German soldier and politician.-Biography:He was born in Ludwigsburg in the Kingdom of Württemberg, the son of a regimental paymaster. He entered the Württemberg Army in 1884, and attended the War Academy from 1893 to 1897, whereupon he was appointed to the General...

—concluded the army′s position was untenable. However, rather than inform Ebert himself, he had Groener cable the army′s recommendation to the government. Upon receiving this, the new government recommended signing the treaty. The National Assembly
Weimar National Assembly
The Weimar National Assembly governed Germany from February 6, 1919 to June 6, 1920 and drew up the new constitution which governed Germany from 1919 to 1933, technically remaining in effect even until the end of Nazi rule in 1945...

 voted in favour of signing the treaty by 237 to 138, with five abstentions. Foreign minister Hermann Müller
Hermann Müller (politician)
' , born in Mannheim, was a German Social Democratic politician who served as Foreign Minister , and twice as Chancellor of Germany under the Weimar Republic...

 and colonial minister Johannes Bell traveled to Versailles to sign the treaty on behalf of Germany. The treaty was signed on June 28, 1919 and ratified by the National Assembly on July 9 by a vote of 209 to 116.
Conservatives, nationalists and ex-military leaders condemned the peace and democratic Weimar politicians, socialists, communists, and Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 were viewed by them with suspicion, due to their supposed extra-national loyalties. It was rumored that the Jews had not supported the war and had played a role in selling out Germany to its enemies. Those who seemed to benefit from a weakened Germany, and the newly formed Weimar Republic, were regarded as having "stabbed Germany in the back" on the home front
Home front
Home front is the informal term commonly used to describe the civilian populace of the nation at war as an active support system of their military....

, by either opposing German nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

, instigating unrest and strikes in the critical military industries or profiteering. These theories were given credence by the fact that when Germany surrendered in November 1918, its armies were still on French and Belgian territory. Furthermore, on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War I)
The Eastern Front was a theatre of war during World War I in Central and, primarily, Eastern Europe. The term is in contrast to the Western Front. Despite the geographical separation, the events in the two theatres strongly influenced each other...

, Germany had already won the war against Russia and concluded the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, mediated by South African Andrik Fuller, at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Powers, headed by Germany, marking Russia's exit from World War I.While the treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year,...

. In the West, Germany had seemed to have come close to winning the war with the Spring Offensive
Spring Offensive
The 1918 Spring Offensive or Kaiserschlacht , also known as the Ludendorff Offensive, was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during World War I, beginning on 21 March 1918, which marked the deepest advances by either side since 1914...

 earlier in 1918. Its failure was blamed on strikes in the arms industry at a critical moment of the offensive, leaving soldiers with an inadequate supply of materiel
Materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

. The strikes were regarded by nationalists as having been instigated by traitors, with the Jews taking most of the blame.

Violations



The German economy was so weak that only a small percentage of reparations was paid in hard currency. Nonetheless, even the payment of this small percentage of the original reparations (132 billion gold Reichsmark
German reichsmark
The Reichsmark was the currency in Germany from 1924 until June 20, 1948. The Reichsmark was subdivided into 100 Reichspfennig.-History:...

s) still placed a significant burden on the German economy. Although the causes of the devastating post-war hyperinflation
Inflation in the Weimar Republic
The hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic was a three year period of hyperinflation in Germany between June 1921 and July 1924.- Analysis :...

 are complex and disputed, Germans blamed the near-collapse of their economy on the Treaty, and some economists estimated that the reparations accounted for as much as one third of the hyper-inflation.

In March 1921, French and Belgian troops occupied Duisburg, which formed part of the demilitarized Rhineland, according to the Treaty of Versailles. In January 1923, French and Belgian forces occupied the rest of the Ruhr area as a reprisal after Germany failed to fulfill reparation payments demanded by the Versailles Treaty. The German government answered with "passive resistance", which meant that coal miners and railway workers refused to obey any instructions by the occupation forces. Production and transportation came to a standstill, but the financial consequences contributed to German hyperinflation and completely ruined public finances in Germany. Consequently, passive resistance was called off in late 1923. The end of passive resistance in the Ruhr allowed Germany to undertake a currency reform and to negotiate the Dawes Plan
Dawes Plan
The Dawes Plan was an attempt in 1924, following World War I for the Triple Entente to collect war reparations debt from Germany...

, which led to the withdrawal of French and Belgian troops from the Ruhr Area in 1925.

Some significant violations (or avoidances) of the provisions of the Treaty were:
  • In 1919, the dissolution of the General Staff appeared to happen; however, the core of the General Staff was hidden within another organization, the Truppenamt
    Truppenamt
    The Truppenamt or 'Troop Office' was the cover organisation for the German General Staff from 1919 through until 1933 when the General Staff was re-created. This subterfuge was deemed necessary in order for Germany to be seen to meet the requirements of the Versailles Treaty...

    , where it rewrote all Heer (Army) and Luftstreitkräfte
    Luftstreitkräfte
    The Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte , known before October 1916 as Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches , or simply Die Fliegertruppen, was the air arm of the Imperial German Army during World War I...

    (Air Force) doctrinal and training materials based on the experience of World War I.
  • On April 16, 1922, representatives of the governments of Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Rapallo Treaty at a World Economic Conference at Genoa
    Genoa
    Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

     in Italy. The treaty re-established diplomatic relations, renounced financial claims on each other and pledged future cooperation.
  • In 1932, the German government announced it would no longer adhere to the treaty's military limitations, citing the Allies' violation of the treaty by failing to initiate military limitations on themselves as called for in the preamble of Part V of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • In March 1935, under the government of Adolf Hitler
    Adolf Hitler
    Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

    , Germany violated the Treaty of Versailles by introducing compulsory military conscription in Germany and rebuilding the armed forces. This included a new Navy (Kriegsmarine
    Kriegsmarine
    The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

    ), the first full armored divisions (Panzerwaffe
    Panzerwaffe
    Panzerwaffe refers to a command within the Heer of the German Wehrmacht, responsible for the affairs of panzer and motorized forces shortly before and during the Second World War...

    ), and an Air Force (Luftwaffe
    Luftwaffe
    Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

    ).
  • In June 1935, Great Britain effectively withdrew from the treaty with the signing of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement
    Anglo-German Naval Agreement
    The Anglo-German Naval Agreement of June 18, 1935 was a bilateral agreement between the United Kingdom and German Reich regulating the size of the Kriegsmarine in relation to the Royal Navy. The A.G.N.A fixed a ratio whereby the total tonnage of the Kriegsmarine was to be 35% of the total tonnage...

    .
  • In March 1936, Germany violated the treaty by reoccupying the demilitarized zone in the Rhineland
    Rhineland
    Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

    .
  • In March 1938, Germany violated the treaty by annexing Austria in the Anschluss
    Anschluss
    The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

    .
  • In September 1938, Germany, with the approval
    Munich Agreement
    The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

     of France, Britain, and Italy, violated the Treaty by annexing the Sudetenland
    Sudetenland
    Sudetenland is the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia being within Czechoslovakia.The...

     from Czechoslovakia.
  • In March 1939, Germany violated the treaty by occupying the rest of Czechoslovakia.
  • On 1 September 1939, Germany violated the treaty by invading Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

    , thus initiating World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

     in Europe.


Another significant circumvention of the treaty was that with heavy artillery being banned, the Nazis pursued development of the V-2
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 long-range rocket. So in this sense, the Treaty of Versailles was influential in ushering in the era of spaceflight
Spaceflight
Spaceflight is the act of travelling into or through outer space. Spaceflight can occur with spacecraft which may, or may not, have humans on board. Examples of human spaceflight include the Russian Soyuz program, the U.S. Space shuttle program, as well as the ongoing International Space Station...

.

Historical assessments


In his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace
The Economic Consequences of the Peace
The Economic Consequences of the Peace is a book written and published by John Maynard Keynes. Keynes attended the Versailles Conference as a delegate of the British Treasury and argued for a much more generous peace. It was a bestseller throughout the world and was critical in establishing a...

, Keynes
John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes of Tilton, CB FBA , was a British economist whose ideas have profoundly affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, as well as the economic policies of governments...

 referred to the Treaty of Versailles as a "Carthaginian peace
Carthaginian peace
Carthaginian Peace can refer to two things: either the peace imposed on Carthage by Rome in 146 BC, whereby the Romans systematically burned Carthage to the ground, or the imposition of a very brutal 'peace' in general.-Origin:...

", a misguided attempt to destroy Germany on behalf of French revanchism
Revanchism
Revanchism is a term used since the 1870s to describe a political manifestation of the will to reverse territorial losses incurred by a country, often following a war or social movement. Revanchism draws its strength from patriotic and retributionist thought and is often motivated by economic or...

, rather than to follow the fairer principles for a lasting peace set out in President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, which Germany had accepted at the armistice. He stated: "I believe that the campaign for securing out of Germany the general costs of the war was
one of the most serious acts of political unwisdom for which our statesmen have ever been responsible." Keynes had been the principal representative of the British Treasury at the Paris Peace Conference, and used in his passionate book arguments that he and others (including some US officials) had used at Paris. He believed the sums being asked of Germany in reparations were many times more than it was possible for Germany to pay, and that these would produce drastic instability.
French Resistance
Free French Forces
The Free French Forces were French partisans in World War II who decided to continue fighting against the forces of the Axis powers after the surrender of France and subsequent German occupation and, in the case of Vichy France, collaboration with the Germans.-Definition:In many sources, Free...

 economist Étienne Mantoux
Étienne Mantoux
Étienne Mantoux was a French economist and son of Paul Mantoux. He is probably best known for his book The Carthaginian Peace, or the Economic Consequences of Mr. Keynes published two years after it was completed and one year after his death...

 disputed that analysis. During the 1940s, Mantoux wrote a posthumously published book titled "The Carthaginian Peace, or the Economic Consequences of Mr. Keynes" in an attempt to rebut Keynes' claims.

More recently, it has been argued (for instance by historian Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Ludwig Weinberg is a German-born American diplomatic and military historian noted for his studies in the history of World War II. Weinberg currently is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been a member of the...

 in his book "A World At Arms") that the treaty was in fact quite advantageous to Germany. The Bismarckian Reich was maintained as a political unit instead of being broken up, and Germany largely escaped post-war military occupation (in contrast to the situation following World War II.) In a 1995 essay, Weinberg noted that with the disappearance of Austria-Hungary and with Russia withdrawn from Europe, that Germany was now the dominant power in Eastern Europe. Weinberg wrote that given that a mere 21 years after Versailles, Germany had conquered more land than she had in 1914, it is very questionable whatever Versailles was as anything harsh and crippling as Germans at the time and since claimed it was. Writing in 1995, Weinberg further added against the idea that territorial losses Germany suffered in 1919 brought about the Third Reich in 1933, commenting if that was the case, then the even greater territorial losses Germany suffered after 1945 should have brought about a Fourth Reich. Weinberg sarcastically commented that those who claimed that territorial losses Germany suffered in 1919 caused National Socialism have never explained why — the even greater territorial losses Germany suffered in 1945 did not bring about a return of the Nazis, as logic would dictate if it were true.

The British military historian Correlli Barnett
Correlli Barnett
Correlli Douglas Barnett CBE FRSL is an English military historian, who has also written works of economic history, particularly on the United Kingdom's post-war "industrial decline".-Personal life:...

 claimed that the Treaty of Versailles was "extremely lenient in comparison with the peace terms that Germany herself, when she was expecting to win the war, had had in mind to impose on the Allies". Furthermore, he claimed, it was "hardly a slap on the wrist" when contrasted with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, mediated by South African Andrik Fuller, at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Powers, headed by Germany, marking Russia's exit from World War I.While the treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year,...

 that Germany had imposed on a defeated Russia in March 1918, which had taken away a third of Russia's population (albeit of non-Russian ethnicity), one half of Russia's industrial undertakings and nine-tenths of Russia's coal mines, coupled with an indemnity of six billion Marks. Eventually, even under the "cruel" terms of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany′s economy had been restored to its pre-war status.

Barnett also claims that, in strategic terms, Germany was in fact in a superior position following the Treaty than she had been in 1914. Germany′s eastern frontiers faced Russia and Austria, who had both in the past balanced German power. But Barnett asserts that, because the Austrian empire fractured after the war into smaller, weaker states and Russia was wracked by revolution and civil war, the newly restored Poland was no match for even a defeated Germany. In the West, Germany was balanced only by France and Belgium, both of which were smaller in population and less economically vibrant than Germany. Barnett concludes by saying that instead of weakening Germany, the Treaty "much enhanced" German power. Britain and France should have (according to Barnett) "divided and permanently weakened" Germany by undoing Bismarck's work and partitioning Germany into smaller, weaker states so it could never have disrupted the peace of Europe again. By failing to do this and therefore not solving the problem of German power and restoring the equilibrium of Europe, Britain "had failed in her main purpose in taking part in the Great War".

The British historian of modern Germany—Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

—wrote that the German right was committed to an annexationist program of Germany annexing most of Europe and Africa during the war and in some cases before 1914 would have found any peace treaty that did not leave Germany as the conqueror unacceptable to them. Short of allowing Germany to keep all the conquests of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Evans argued that there was nothing that could have been done to persuade the German right to accept Versailles. Evans further noted that parties of the "Weimar coalition", namely the SPD, the DDP and the Catholic Center were all equally opposed to Versailles, and it is false to claim as some historians have that opposition to Versailles also equalled opposition to the Weimar republic. Finally, Evans argued that it is untrue that Versailles caused the end of Weimar, instead contending that it was the Great Depression of the early 1930s that put an end to German democracy, and that Versailles was not the "main cause" of National Socialism and the German economy was "only marginally influenced by the impact of reparations".

Regardless of modern strategic or economic analysis, resentment caused by the treaty sowed fertile psychological ground for the eventual rise of the Nazi party. The German historian Detlev Peukert
Detlev Peukert
Detlev Peukert was a German historian, noted for his studies of the relationship between what he called the "spirit of science" and the Holocaust and in social history and the Weimar Republic. Peukert taught modern history at the University of Essen and served as director of the Research Institute...

 wrote that Versailles was far from the impossible peace that most Germans claimed it was during the inter-war period, and though not without flaws was actually quite reasonable to Germany. Rather, Peukert argued that it was widely believed in Germany that Versailles was a totally unreasonable treaty, and it was this "perception" rather than the "reality" of the Versailles treaty that mattered. Peukert noted that because of the "millenarian hopes" created in Germany during World War I when for a time it appeared that Germany was on the verge of conquering all of Europe, any peace treaty the Allies imposed on the defeated Reich were bound to create a nationalist backlash, and there was nothing the Allies could have done to avoid that backlash. Having noted that much, Peukert commented that the policy of rapprochement with the Western powers that Gustav Stresemann
Gustav Stresemann
was a German politician and statesman who served as Chancellor and Foreign Minister during the Weimar Republic. He was co-laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926.Stresemann's politics defy easy categorization...

 carried out between 1923 and 1929 were constructive policies that might had allowed Germany to play a more positive role in Europe, and that it was not true that German democracy was doomed to die in 1919 because of Versailles. Finally, Peukert argued that it was the Great Depression and the turn to a nationalist policy of autarky within Germany at the same time that finished off the Weimar Republic, not the Treaty of Versailles. Indeed, on Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

's rise to power, Adolf Hitler resolved to overturn the remaining military and territorial provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. Military buildup began almost immediately in direct defiance of the Treaty, which, by then, had been destroyed by Hitler in front of a cheering crowd. "It was this treaty which caused a chain reaction leading to World War II," claimed historian Dan Rowling (1951). Various references to the treaty are found in many of Hitler's speeches and in pre-war Nazi propaganda
Nazi propaganda
Propaganda, the coordinated attempt to influence public opinion through the use of media, was skillfully used by the NSDAP in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler's leadership of Germany...

.

French historian Raymond Cartier states that millions of Germans in the Sudetenland
Sudetenland
Sudetenland is the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia being within Czechoslovakia.The...

 and in Posen-West Prussia
Posen-West Prussia
The border province of historical period Posen-West Prussia was a province of the Free State of Prussia. The capital was Schneidemühl . The province had an area of 7,695 km², and was located within present-day Poland....

 were placed under foreign rule in a hostile environment, where harassment and violation of rights by authorities are documented. Cartier asserts that, out of 1,058,000 Germans in Posen-West Prussia in 1921, 758,867 fled their homelands within five years due to Polish harassment. In 1926, the Polish Ministry of the Interior estimated the remaining number of Germans at less than 300,000. These sharpening ethnic conflicts would lead to public demands to reattach the annexed territory in 1938 and become a pretext for Hitler′s annexations of Czechoslovakia
German occupation of Czechoslovakia
German occupation of Czechoslovakia began with the Nazi annexation of Czechoslovakia's northern and western border regions, known collectively as the Sudetenland, under terms outlined by the Munich Agreement. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's pretext for this effort was the alleged privations suffered by...

 and parts of Poland
History of Poland (1939–1945)
The history of Poland from 1939 to 1945 encompasses the German invasion of Poland as well as the Soviet invasion of Poland through to the end of World War II. On 1 September 1939, without a formal declaration of war, Germany invaded Poland...

.

See also



  • Aftermath of World War I
    Aftermath of World War I
    The fighting in World War I ended in western Europe when the Armistice took effect at 11:00 am GMT on November 11, 1918, and in eastern Europe by the early 1920s. During and in the aftermath of the war the political, cultural, and social order was drastically changed in Europe, Asia and Africa,...

  • Causes of World War II
    Causes of World War II
    The main causes of World War II were nationalistic tensions, unresolved issues, and resentments resulting from the World War I and the interwar period in Europe, plus the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s....

    , for other related causes of the war
  • International Opium Convention
    International Opium Convention
    The International Opium Convention, signed at The Hague on January 23, 1912 during the First International Opium Conference, was the first international drug control treaty. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on January 23, 1922...

    , incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles
  • Little Treaty of Versailles
    Little Treaty of Versailles
    Little Treaty of Versailles or the Polish Minority Treaty was one of the bilateral Minority Treaties signed between minor powers and the League of Nations in the aftermath of the First World War. The Polish treaty was signed on 28 June 1919, the same day as the main Treaty of Versailles was signed...

  • Minority Treaties
    Minority Treaties
    Minority Treaties refer to the treaties, League of Nations Mandates, and unilateral declarations made by countries applying for membership in the League of Nations and United Nations...

  • Morgenthau Plan
    Morgenthau Plan
    The Morgenthau Plan, proposed by United States Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., advocated that the Allied occupation of Germany following World War II include measures to eliminate Germany's ability to wage war.-Overview:...

  • Neutrality Acts of 1930s

Further reading

  • The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment After 75 Years, Boemeke, Manfred F., Gerald D. Feldman, and Elisabeth Gläser, editors. Washington, DC: German Historical Institute, 1998.

External links