The story

Germany Abrogates Versailles Agreement - History

On March 16, 1935, Germany announced that the Germans had passed a new law called the Law for Re-Creation of the National Defense Forces. The law enacted universal service for all German males and created an army of 36 divisions. Hitler’s Germany thus abrogated the military provisions of the Versailles Agreement. There was a great deal of hand wringing in Paris and London, but the Allied powers did nothing.

Hitler's success in regaining the Saar whetted his appetite for additional foreign policy wins. To achieve that, he needed to increase the size of the German military. Until this time, German rearmament in violation of the Versaille treaty was done secretly. But understanding that this could not be done that way anymore, Hitler announced on March 16, 1935, the existence of the then-secret German Airforce and the reintroduction of conscription in the army.

Many Germans were thrilled by the decision. One wrote in his diary; 'the day that we have longed for since the disgrace of 1918. In the morning, France had its much fought over two-year military service in its pocket in the evening; we had general conscription as an answer.'

Not everyone was thrilled; many young people did not look forward to being forced to have an army experience. Others remembered the horrors of World War I. The International reaction was very mixed. The British, French, and Italian governments met in Stresa Italy and guaranteed Austria's continued independence. A week after the announcement, the League of Nations condemned the violation of the Versaille Agreement. In addition, France concluded a mutual defense agreement with the Soviet Union. None of this stopped the United Kingdom from signing an Anglo-German Naval Agreement on June 18, 1935, that permitted the German to build a navy that 1/3 the British's size. Under the accord, Germany was allowed to have parity with the British in submarines. It should be noted that under the Versaille Agreement, Germany had been forbidden from building any submarines.

Germans prepare to protest Versailles Treaty terms

During the second week of May 1919, the recently arrived German delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference, convened in Paris after the end of the First World War, pore over their copies of the Treaty of Versailles, drawn up in the months preceding by representatives of their victorious enemies, and prepare to lodge their objections to what they considered to be unfairly harsh treatment.

Presented with the treaty on May 7, 1919, the German delegation was given two weeks to examine the terms and submit their official comments in writing. The Germans, who had put great faith in U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s notion of a so-called peace without victory and had pointed to his famous Fourteen Points as the basis upon which they sought peace in November 1918, were greatly angered and disillusioned by the treaty. As Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau, Germany’s foreign minister, put it: This fat volume was quite unnecessary. They could have expressed the whole thing more simply in one clause—Germany renounces its existence.

Driven by French and British desires to make Germany pay for the role it had played in the most devastating conflict the world had yet seen, Wilson and the other Allied representatives at the peace conference had indeed moved away from a pure peace without victory. Germany was to lose 13 percent of its territory and 10 percent of its population. It was denied initial membership in the League of Nations, the international peace-keeping organization established by the treaty. The treaty also required Germany to pay reparations, though the actual amount ended up being less than what France had paid after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.

The real German objection to the Treaty of Versailles, however, was to the infamous Article 231, which forced Germany to accept sole blame for the war in order to justify the reparations. Despite much debate among the Allies themselves and over strenuous German protests—including by Brockdorff-Rantzau, who wrote to the Allies on May 13 that the German people did not will the war and would never have undertaken a war of aggression𠅊rticle 231 remained in the treaty. The Germans were given a deadline of June 16 to accept their terms this was later extended to June 23. Pressured by the Allies and thrown into confusion by crisis within the Weimar government at home, the Germans gave in and accepted the terms at 5:40 p.m. on May 23.

The Versailles Treaty was signed on June 28, 1919. Meanwhile, opposition to the treaty and its Article 231, seen as a symbol of the injustice and harshness of the whole document, festered within Germany. As the years passed, full-blown hatred slowly settled into a smoldering resentment of the treaty and its authors, a resentment that would, two decades later, be counted—to an arguable extent𠅊mong the causes of the Second World War.

Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Treaties of Versailles and St. Germain

The preamble names as parties of the one part the United States, the British Empire, France, Italy, and Japan, described as the Five Allied and Associated Powers, and Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, the Hedjaz, Honduras, Liberia, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, Serbia, Siam, Czecho-Slovakia, and Uruguay, who with the five above are described as the allied and associated powers, and on the other part, Germany.

It states that bearing in mind that on the request of the then Imperial German Government an armistice was granted on November 11, 1918, by principal allied and associated powers in order that a treaty of peace might be concluded with her, and whereas the allied and associated powers, being equally desirous that the war in which they were successively involved directly or indirectly and which originated in the declaration of war by Austria-Hungary on July 28, 1914, against Serbia, the declaration of war by Germany against Russia on Aug. 1, 1914, and against France on Aug. 3, 1914, and in the invasion of Belgium should be replaced by a firm, just and durable peace, the plenipotentiaries, (having communicated their full powers found in good and due form) have agreed as follows:

From the coming into force of the present treaty the state of war will terminate. From that moment and subject to the provisions of this treaty, official relations with Germany, and with each of the German States, will be resumed by the allied and associated Powers.

League of Nations Edit

The covenant of the League of Nations constitutes Section I of the peace treaty, which places upon the League many specific, in addition to its general, duties. It may question Germany at any time for a violation of a neutralized zone east of the Rhine as a threat against the world's peace. It will appoint three of the five members of the Sarre Commission, oversee its rêgime, and carry out the plebiscite. It will appoint the High Commissioner of Danzig, guarantee the independence of the free city, and arrange for treaties between Danzig and Germany and Poland. It will work out the mandatory system to be applied to the former German colonies, and act as a final court in part of the plebiscites of the Belgian-German frontier, and in disputes as to the Kiel Canal, and decide certain of the economic and financial problems. An International Conference on Labor is to be held in October under its direction, and another on the international control of ports, waterways, and railways is foreshadowed.

Membership Edit

The members of the League will be the signatories of the covenant and other States invited to accede who must lodge a declaration of accession without reservation within two months. A new State, dominion, or colony may be admitted, provided its admission is agreed to by two-thirds of the assembly. A State may withdraw upon giving two years' notice, if it has fulfilled all its international obligations.

Secretariat Edit

A permanent secretariat will be established at the seat of the League, which will be at Geneva.

Assembly Edit

The Assembly will consist of representatives of the members of the League and will meet at stated intervals. Voting will be by States. Each member will have one vote and not more than three representatives.

Council Edit

The Council will consist of representatives of the Five Great Allied Powers, together with representatives of four members selected by the Assembly from time to time it may co-opt additional States and will meet at least once a year.

Members not represented will be invited to send a representative when questions affecting their interests are discussed. Voting will be by States. Each State will have one vote and not more than one representative. A decision taken by the Assembly and Council must be unanimous except in regard to procedure, and in certain cases specified in the covenant and in the treaty, where decisions will be by a majority.

Armaments Edit

The Council will formulate plans for a reduction of armaments for consideration and adoption. These plans will be revised every ten years. Once they are adopted, no member must exceed the armaments fixed without the concurrence of the Council. All members will exchange full information as to armaments and programs, and a permanent commission will advise the Council on military and naval questions.

Preventing of war Edit

Upon any war, or threat of war, the Council will meet to consider what common action shall be taken. Members are pledged to submit matters of dispute to arbitration or inquiry and not to resort to war until three months after the award. Members agree to carry out an arbitral award and not to go to war with any party to the dispute which complies with it. If a member fails to carry out the award, the Council will propose the necessary measures. The Council will formulate plans for the establishment of a permanent court of international justice to determine international disputes or to give advisory opinions. Members who do not submit their case to arbitration must accept the jurisdiction of the Assembly. If the Council, less the parties to the dispute, is unanimously agreed upon the rights of it, the members agree that they will not go to war with any party to the dispute which complies with its recommendations. In this case, a recommendation, by the Assembly, concurred in by all its members represented on the Council and a simple majority of the rest, less the parties to the dispute, will have the force of a unanimous recommendation by the Council. In either case, if the necessary agreement cannot be secured, the members reserve the right to take such action as may be necessary for the maintenance of right and justice. Members resorting to war in disregard of the covenant will immediately be debarred from all intercourse with other members. The Council will in such cases consider what military or naval action can be taken by the League collectively for the protection of the covenants and will afford facilities to members co-operating in this enterprise.

Validity of treaties Edit

All treaties or international engagements concluded after the institution of the league will be registered with the secretariat and published. The Assembly may from time to time advise members to reconsider treaties which have become inapplicable to involve danger to peace.

The covenant abrogates all obligations between members inconsistent with its terms, but nothing in it shall affect the validity of international engagements such as treaties of arbitration or regional understandings like the Monroe Doctrine for securing the maintenance of peace.

The mandatory system Edit

The tutelage of nations not yet able to stand by themselves will be intrusted to advanced nations who are best fitted to undertake it. The covenant recognizes three different stages of development requiring different kinds of mandatories:

(a) Communities like those belonging to the Turkish Empire, which can be provisionally recognized as independent, subject to advice and assistance from a mandatory in whose selection they would be allowed a voice.

(b) Communities like those of Central Africa, to be administered by the mandatory under conditions generally approved by the members of the League, where equal opportunities for trade will be allowed to all members certain abuses, such as trade in slaves, arms, and liquor will be prohibited, and the construction of military and naval bases and the introduction of compulsory military training will be disallowed.

(c) Other communities, such as Southwest Africa and the South Pacific Islands, but administered under the laws of the mandatory as integral portions of its territory. In every case the mandatory will render an annual report, and the degree of its authority will be defined.

General international provisions Edit

Subject to and in accordance with the provisions of international conventions, existing or hereafter to be agreed upon, the members of the League will in general endeavor, through the international organization established by the Labor Convention, to secure and maintain fair conditions of labor for men, women and children in their own countries and other countries, and undertake to secure just treatment of the native inhabitants of territories under their control they will entrust the League with the general supervision over the execution of agreements for the suppression of traffic in women and children, &c. and the control of the trade in arms and ammunition with countries in which control is necessary they will make provision for freedom of communication and transit and equitable treatment for commerce of all members of the League, with special reference to the necessities of regions devastated during the war and they will endeavor to take steps for international prevention and control of disease. International bureaus and commissions already established will be placed under the League, as well as those to be established in the future.

Amendments to the covenant Edit

Amendments to the covenant will take effect when ratified by the Council and by a majority of the Assembly.

Boundaries of Germany Edit

Germany cedes to France Alsace-Lorraine, 5,600 square miles to the southwest, and to Belgium two small districts between Luxemburg and Holland, totaling 382 square miles. She also cedes to Poland the southeastern tip of Silesia beyond and including Oppeln, most of Posen, and West Prussia, 27,686 square miles, East Prussia being isolated from the main body by a part of Poland. She loses sovereignty over the northeastern tip of East Prussia, 40 square miles north of the river Memel, and the internationalized areas about Danzig, 729 square miles, and the Basin of the Sarre, 738 square miles, between the western border of the Rhenish Palatinate of Bavaria and the southeast corner of Luxemburg. The Danzig area consists of the V between the Nogat and Vistula Rivers made a W by the addition of a similar V on the west, including the city of Danzig. The southeastern third of East Prussia and the area between East Prussia and the Vistula north of latitude 53 degrees 3 minutes is to have its nationality determined by popular vote, 5,785 square miles, as is to be the case in part of Schleswig, 2,787 square miles.

Belgium Edit

Germany is to consent to the abrogation of the treaties of 1839, by which Belgium was established as a neutral State, and to agree in advance to any convention with which the allied and associated Powers may determine to replace them. She is to recognize the full sovereignty of Belgium over the contested territory of Moresnet and over part of Prussian Moresnet, and to renounce in favor of Belgium all rights over the circles of Eupen and Malmedy, the inhabitants of which are to be entitled within six months to protest against this change of sovereignty either in whole or in part, the final decision to be reserved to the League of Nations. A commission is to settle the details of the frontier, and various regulations for change of nationality are laid down.

Luxemburg Edit

Germany renounces her various treaties and conventions with the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, recognizes that it ceased to be a part of the German Zollverein from January first, last, renounces by all right of exploitation of the railroads, adheres to the abrogation of its neutrality, and accepts in advance any international agreement as to it reached by the allied and associated powers.

Left bank of the Rhine Edit

As provided in the military clauses, Germany will not maintain any fortifications or armed forces less than fifty kilometers to the east of the Rhine, hold any manœuvres, nor maintain any works to facilitate mobilization. In case of violation, “she shall be regarded as committing a hostile act against the Powers who sign the present treaty and as intending to disturb the peace of the world.” “By virtue of the present treaty, Germany shall be bound to respond to any request for an explanation which the Council of the League of Nations may think it necessary to address to her.”

Alsace-Lorraine Edit

After recognition of the moral obligation to repair the wrong done in 1871 by Germany to France and the people of Alsace-Lorraine, the territories ceded to Germany by the Treaty of Frankfort are restored to France with their frontiers as before 1871, to date from the signing of the armistice, and to be free of all public debts.

Citizenship is regulated by detailed provisions distinguishing those who are immediately restored to full French citizenship, those who have to make formal applications therefor, and those for whom naturalization is open after three years. The last named class includes German residents in Alsace-Lorraine, as distinguished from those who acquired the position of Alsace-Lorrainers as defined in the treaty. All public property and all private property of German ex-sovereigns passes to France without payment or credit. France is substituted for Germany as regards ownership of the railroads and rights over concessions of tramways. The Rhine bridges pass to France with the obligation for their upkeep.

For five years manufactured products of Alsace-Lorraine will be admitted to Germany free of duty to a total amount not exceeding in any year the average of the three years preceding the war, and textile materials may be imported from Germany to Alsace-Lorraine and re-exported free of duty. Contracts for electric power from the right bank must be continued for ten years. For seven years, with possible extension to ten, the ports of Kehl and Strassbourg shall be administered as a single unit by a French administrator appointed and supervised by the Central Rhine Commission. Property rights will be safeguarded in both ports and equality of treatment as respects traffic assured the nationals, vessels, and goods of every country.

Contracts between Alsace-Lorraine and Germany are maintained save for France's right to annul on grounds of public interest. Judgments of courts hold in certain classes of cases, while in others a judicial exequatur is first required. Political condemnations during the war are null and void and the obligation to repay war fines is established as in other parts of allied territory.

Various clauses adjust the general provisions of the treaty to the special conditions of Alsace-Lorraine, certain matters of execution being left to conventions to be made between France and Germany.

The Sarre Edit

In compensation for the destruction of coal mines in northern France and as payment on account of reparation, Germany cedes to France full ownership of the coal mines of the Sarre Basin with their subsidiaries, accessories and facilities. Their value will be estimated by the Reparation Commission and credited against that account. The French rights will be governed by German law in force at the armistice, excepting war legislation, France replacing the present owners, whom Germany undertakes to indemnify. France will continue to furnish the present proportion of coal for local needs and contribute in just proportion to local taxes. The basin extends from the frontier of Lorraine as re-annexed to France N. as far as St. Wendel, including on the W. the valley of the Sarre as far as Sarre Holzbach, and on the E. the town of Homburg.

In order to secure the rights and welfare of the population and guarantee to France entire freedom in working the mines, the territory will be governed by a commission appointed by the League of Nations and consisting of five members, one French, one a native inhabitant of the Sarre, and three representing three different countries other than France and Germany. The League will appoint a member of the Commission as Chairman to act as executive of the Commission. The Commission will have all powers of government formerly belonging to the German empire, Prussia, and Bavaria, will administer the railroads and other public services, and have full power to interpret the treaty clauses. The local courts will continue, but subject to the Commission. Existing German legislation will remain the basis of the law, but the Commission may make modification after consulting a local representative assembly which it will organize. It will have the taxing power but for local purposes only. New taxes must be approved by this assembly. Labor legislation will consider the wishes of the local labor organizations and the labor program of the League. French and other labor may be freely utilized, the former being free to belong to French unions. All rights acquired as to pensions and social insurance will be maintained by Germany and the Sarre Commission.

There will be no military service, but only a local gendarmerie to preserve order. The people will preserve their local assemblies, religious liberties, schools, and language, but may vote only for local assemblies. They will keep their present nationality except so far as individuals may change it. Those wishing to leave will have every facility with respect to their property. The territory will form part of the French customs system, with no export tax on coal and metallurgical products going to Germany, nor on German products entering the basin and for five years no import duties on products of the basin going to Germany or German products coming into the basin. For local consumption French money may circulate without restriction.

After fifteen years a plebiscite will be held by communes to ascertain the desires of the population as to continuance of the existing régime under the League of Nations, union with France or union with Germany. The right to vote will belong to all inhabitants over twenty resident therein at the signature. Taking into account the opinions thus expressed the League will decide the ultimate sovereignty. In any portion restored to Germany the German Government must buy out the French mines at an appraised valuation. If the price is not paid within six months thereafter, this portion passes finally to France. If Germany buys back the mines the League will determine how much of the coal shall be annually sold to France.

German Austria Edit

Germany recognizes the total independence of German Austria in the boundaries traced.

Czecho-Slovakia Edit

Germany recognizes the entire independence of the Czecho-Slovak state, including the autonomous territory of the Ruthenians S. of the Carpathians, and accepts the frontiers of this state as to be determined, which in the case of the German frontier shall follow the frontier of Bohemia in 1914. The usual stipulations as to acquisitions and change of nationality follow.

Poland Edit

Germany cedes to Poland the greater part of Upper Silesia, Posen and the province of West Prussia on the left bank of the Vistula. A Field Boundary Commission of seven, five representing the allied and associated powers and one each representing Poland and Germany, shall be constituted within fifteen days of the peace to delimit this boundary. Such special provisions as are necessary to protect racial, linguistic or religious minorities and to protect freedom of transit and equitable treatment of commerce of other nations shall be laid down in a subsequent treaty between the principal allied and associated powers and Poland.

East Prussia Edit

The southern and eastern frontier of East Prussia as touching Poland is to be fixed by plebiscites, the first in the regency of Allenstein between the southern frontier of East Prussia and the northern frontier, or Regierungsbezirk Allenstein, from where it meets the boundary between East and West Prussia to its junction with the boundary between the circles of Oletsko and Angerburg, thence the northern boundary of Oletsko to its junction with the present frontier, and the second in the area comprising the circles of Stuhm and Rosenberg and the parts of the circles of Marienburg and Marienwerder E. of the Vistula.

In each case German troops and authorities will move out within fifteen days of the peace, and the territories be placed under an international commission of five members appointed by the principal allied and associated powers, with the particular duty of arranging for a free, fair and secret vote. The commission will report the results of the plebiscites to the powers with a recommendation for the boundary, and will terminate its work as soon as the boundary has been laid down and the new authorities set up.

The principal allied and associated powers will draw up regulations assuring East Prussia full and equitable access to and use of the Vistula. A subsequent convention, of which the terms will be fixed by the principal allied and associated powers, will be entered into between Poland, Germany and Danzig, to assure suitable railroad communication across German territory on the right bank of the Vistula between Poland and Danzig, while Poland shall grant free passage from East Prussia to Germany.

The northeastern corner of East Prussia about Memel is to be ceded by Germany to the associated powers, the former agreeing to accept the settlement made, especially as regards the nationality of the inhabitants.

Danzig Edit

Danzig and the district immediately about it is to be constituted into the “free city of Danzig” under the guarantee of the League of Nations. A high commissioner appointed by the League and President of Danzig shall draw up a constitution in agreement with the duly appointed representatives of the city, and shall deal in the first instance with all differences arising between the city and Poland. The actual boundaries of the city shall be delimited by a commission appointed within six months from the peace and to include three representatives chosen by the allied and associated powers, and one each by Germany and Poland.

A convention, the terms of which shall be fixed by the principal allied and associated powers, shall be concluded between Poland and Danzig, which shall include Danzig within the Polish customs frontiers, though a free area in the port insure to Poland the free use of all the city's waterways, docks and other port facilities, the control and administration of the Vistula and the whole through railway system within the city, and postal, telegraphic and telephonic communication between Poland and Danzig provide against discrimination against Poles within the city, and place its foreign relations and the diplomatic protection of its citizens abroad in charge of Poland.

Denmark Edit

The frontier between Germany and Denmark will be fixed by the self-determination of the population. Ten days from the peace German troops and authorities shall evacuate the region N. of the line running from the mouth of the Schlei, S. of Kappel, Schleswig, and Friedrichstadt along the Eider to the North Sea S. of Tonning the Workmen's and Soldiers' Councils shall be dissolved, and the territory administered by an international commission of five, of whom Norway and Sweden shall be invited to name two.

The commission shall insure a free and secret vote in three zones. That between the German-Danish frontier and a line running S. of the Island of Alsen, N. of Flensburg, and S. of Tondern to the North Sea, N. of the Island of Sylt, will vote as a unit within three weeks after the evacuation. Within five weeks after this vote the second zone, whose boundary runs from the North sea S. of the Island of Fehr to the Baltic S. of Sygum, will vote by communes. Two weeks after that vote the third zone, running to the limit of evacuation, will also vote by communes. The international commission will then draw a new frontier on the basis of these plebiscites and with due regard for geographical and economic conditions. Germany will renounce all sovereignty over territories N. of this line in favor of the associated governments, who will hand them over to Denmark.

Heligoland Edit

The fortifications, military establishments, and harbors of the Islands of Heligoland and Dune are to be destroyed under the supervision of the Allies by German labor and at Germany's expense. They may not be reconstructed, nor any similar fortifications built in the future.

Russia Edit

Germany agrees to respect as permanent and inalienable the independency of all territories which were part of the former Russian empire, to accept the abrogation of the Brest-Litovsk and other treaties entered into with the Maximalist government of Russia, to recognize the full force of all treaties entered into by the allied and associated powers with states which were a part of the former Russian empire, and to recognize the frontiers as determined thereon. The allied and associated powers formally reserve the right of Russia to obtain restitution and reparation on the principles of the present treaty.

German rights outside Europe Edit

Outside Europe, Germany renounces all rights, titles, and privileges as to her own or her allies' territories to all the allied and associated powers, and undertakes to accept whatever measures are taken by the five allied powers in relation thereto.

Colonies and overseas possessions Edit

Germany renounces in favor of the allied and associated powers her overseas possessions with all rights and titles therein. All movable and immovable property belonging to the German empire, or to any German state, shall pass to the government exercising authority therein. These governments may make whatever provisions seem suitable for the repatriation of German nationals and as to the conditions on which German subjects of European origin shall reside, hold property, or carry on business. Germany undertakes to pay reparation for damage suffered by French nationals in the Cameroons or its frontier zone through the acts of German civil and military authorities and of individual Germans from the 1st of Jan., 1900, to the 1st of August, 1914. Germany renounces all rights under the convention of the 4th of Nov., 1911, and the 29th of Sept., 1912, and undertakes to pay to France in accordance with an estimate presented and approved by the Repatriation Commission all deposits, credits, advances, etc., thereby secured. Germany undertakes to accept and observe any provisions by the allied and associated powers as to the trade in arms and spirits in Africa as well as to the General Act of Berlin of 1885 and the General Act of Brussels of 1890. Diplomatic protection to inhabitants of former German colonies is to be given by the governments exercising authority.

China Edit

Germany renounces in favor of China all privileges and indemnities resulting from the Boxer Protocol of 1901, and all buildings, wharves, barracks for munitions of warships, wireless plants, and other public property except diplomatic or consular establishments in the German concessions of Tientsin and Hankow and in other Chinese territory except Kiao-Chau, and agrees to return to China at her own expense all the astronomical instruments seized in 1900 and 1901. China will, however, take no measures for disposal of German property in the legation quarter at Peking without the consent of the Powers signatory to the Boxer Protocol.

Germany accepts the abrogation of the concessions at Hankow and Tientsin, China agreeing to open them to international use. Germany renounces all claims against China or any allied and associated government for the internment or repatriation of her citizens in China and for the seizure or liquidation of German interests there since Aug. 14, 1917. She renounces in favor of Great Britain her state property in the British concession at Canton, and of France and China jointly of the property of the German school in the French concession at Shanghai.

Siam Edit

Germany recognizes that all agreements between herself and Siam, including the right of extraterritorality, ceased July 22, 1917. All German public property, except consular and diplomatic premises, passes without compensation to Siam, German private property to be dealt with in accordance with the economic clauses. Germany waives all claims against Siam for the seizure and condemnation of her ships, liquidation of her property, or internment of her nationals.

Liberia Edit

Germany renounces all rights under the international arrangements of 1911 and 1912 regarding Liberia, more particularly the right to nominate a receiver of the customs, and disinterests herself in any further negotiations for the rehabilitation of Liberia. She regards as abrogated all commercial treaties and agreements between herself and Liberia and recognizes Liberia's right to determine the status and condition of the re-establishment of Germans in Liberia.

Morocco Edit

Germany renounces all her rights, titles, and privileges under the Act of Algeciras and the Franco-German agreements of 1909 and 1911, and under all treaties and arrangements with the Sherifian empire. She undertakes not to intervene in any negotiations as to Morocco between France and other powers, accepts all the consequences of the French protectorate, and renounces the capitulations the Sherifian government shall have complete liberty of action in regard to German nationals, and all German protected persons shall be subject to the common law. All movable and immovable German property, including mining rights, may be sold at public auction, the proceeds to be paid to the Sherifian government and deducted from the reparation account. Germany is also required to relinquish her interests in the State Bank of Morocco. All Moroccan goods entering Germany shall have the same privilege as French goods.

Egypt Edit

Germany recognizes the British Protectorate over Egypt declared on Dec. 18, 1914, and renounces as from Aug. 4, 1914, the capitulation and all the treaties, agreements, &c., concluded by her with Egypt. She undertakes not to intervene in any negotiations about Egypt between Great Britain and other powers. There are provisions for jurisdiction over German nationals and property and for German consent to any changes which may be made in relation to the Commission of Public Debt. Germany consents to the transfer to Great Britain of the powers given to the late Sultan of Turkey for securing the free navigation of the Suez Canal. Arrangements for property belonging to German nationals in Egypt are made similar to those in the case of Morocco and other countries. Anglo-Egyptian goods entering Germany shall enjoy the same treatment as British goods.

Turkey and Bulgaria Edit

Germany accepts all arrangements which the allied and associated powers made with Turkey and Bulgaria with reference to any rights, privileges or interests claimed in those countries by Germany or her nationals and not dealt with elsewhere.

Shantung Edit

Germany cedes to Japan all rights, titles, and privileges, notably as to Kiao-Chau, and the railroads, mines and cables acquired by her treaty with China of March 6, 1898, and by other agreements as to Shantung. All German rights to the railroad from Tsing-tao to Tsinanfu, including all facilities and mining rights and rights of exploitation, pass equally to Japan, and the cables from Tsing-tao to Shanghai and Che-foo, the cables free of all charges. All German state property, movable and immovable, in Kiao-Chau is acquired by Japan free of all charges.

Military, naval and air Edit

In order to render possible the initiation of a general limitation of the armaments of all nations, Germany undertakes directly to observe the military, naval, and air clauses which follow.

Military forces Edit

The demobilization of the German army must take place within two months of the peace. Its strength may not exceed 100,000, including 4,000 officers, with not over seven divisions of infantry and three of cavalry, and to be devoted exclusively to maintenance of internal order and control of frontiers. Divisions may not be grouped under more than two army corps headquarters staffs. The great German General Staff is abolished. The army administrative service, consisting of civilian personnel not included in the number of effectives, is reduced to one-tenth the total in the 1913 budget. Employees of the German states, such as customs officers, first guards, and coast guards, may not exceed the number in 1913. Gendarmes and local police may be increased only in accordance with the growth of population. None of these may be assembled for military training.

Armaments Edit

All establishments for the manufacturing, preparation, storage, or design of arms and munitions of war, except those specifically excepted, must be closed within three months of the peace, and their personnel dismissed. The exact amount of armament and munitions allowed Germany is laid down in detail tables, all In excess to be surrendered or rendered useless. The manufacture or importation of asphyxiating, poisonous, or other gases and all analogous liquids is forbidden, as well as the importation of arms, munitions, and war materials. Germany may not manufacture such materials for foreign governments.

Conscription Edit

Conscription is abolished in Germany. The enlisted personnel must be maintained by voluntary enlistments for terms of twelve consecutive years, the number of discharges before the expiration of that term not in any year to exceed 5 per cent. of the total effectives. Officers remaining in the service must agree to serve to the age of 45 years, and newly appointed officers must agree to serve actively for 25 years.

No military schools except those absolutely indispensable for the units allowed shall exist in Germany two months after the peace. No associations such as societies of discharged soldiers, shooting or touring clubs, educational establishments or universities may occupy themselves with military matters. All measures of mobilization are forbidden.

Fortresses Edit

All fortified works, fortresses, and fleld works situated in German territory within a zone of fifty kilometers E. of the Rhine will be dismantled within three months. The construction of any new fortifications there is forbidden. The fortified works on the southern and eastern frontiers, however, may remain.

Control Edit

Interallied commissions of control will see to the execution of the provisions for which a time limit is set, the maximum named being three months. They may establish headquarters at the German seat of government and go to any part of Germany desired. Germany must give them complete facilities, pay their expenses, and also the expenses of execution of the treaty, including the labor and material necessary in demolition, destruction, or surrender of war equipment.

Naval Edit

The German navy must be demobilized within a period of two months after the peace. She will be allowed 6 small battleships, 6 light cruisers, 12 destroyers, 12 torpedo boats, and no submarines, either military or commercial, with a personnel of 15,000 men, including officers, and no reserve force of any character. Conscription is abolished, only voluntary service being permitted, with a miniirium period of 25 years' service for officers and 12 for men. No member of the German mercantile marine will be permitted any naval training.

All German vessels of war in foreign ports and the German high sea fleet interned at Scapa Flow will be surrendered, the final disposition of these ships to be decided upon by the allied and associated powers. Germany must surrender 42 modern destroyers, 50 modern torpedo boats, and all submarines, with their salvage vessels. All war vessels under construction, including submarines, must be broken up. War vessels not otherwise provided for are to be placed in reserve or used for commercial purposes. Replacement of ships, except those lost, can take place only at the end of 20 years for battleships and 15 years for destroyers. The largest armored ship Germany will be permitted will be 10,000 tons.

Germany is required to sweep up the mines in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, as decided upon by the allies. All German fortifications in the Baltic, defending the passages through the belts, must be demolished. Other coast defenses are permitted, but the number and caliber of the guns must not be increased.

Wireless Edit

During a period of three months after the peace German high power wireless stations at Nauen, Hanover, and Berlin will not be permitted to send any messages except for commercial purposes, and under supervision of the allied and associated governments, nor may any more be constructed.

Cables Edit

Germany renounces all title to specified cables, the value of such as were privately owned being credited to her against reparation indebtedness.

Germany will be allowed to repair German submarine cables which have been cut but are not being utilized by the allied powers, and also portions of cables which, after having been cut, have been removed, or are at any rate not being utilized by any one of the allied and associated powers. In such cases the cables, or portions of cables, removed or utilized, remain the property of the allied and associated powers, and accordingly fourteen cables or parts of cables are specified which will not be restored to Germany.

Air Edit

The armed forces of Germany must not include any military or naval air forces, except for not over 100 unarmed seaplanes to be retained till Oct. 1 to search for submarine mines. No dirigible shall be kept. The entire air personnel is to be demobilized within two months, except for 1,000 officers and men retained till October. No aviation grounds or dirigible sheds are to be allowed within 150 kilometers of the Rhine, or the eastern or southern frontiers, existing installations within these limits to be destroyed. The manufacture of aircraft and parts of aircraft is forbidden for six months. All military and naval aeronautical material under a most exhaustive definition must be surrendered within three months, except for the 100 seaplanes already specified.

Prisoners of War Edit

The repatriation of German prisoners and interned civilians is to be carried out without delay and at Germany's expense by a commission composed of representatives of the allies and Germany. Those under sentence for offenses against discipline are to be repatriated without regard to the completion of their sentences. Until Germany has surrendered persons guilty of offenses against the laws and customs of war, the allies have the right to retain selected German officers. The allies may deal at their own discretion with German nationals who do not desire to be repatriated, all repatriation being conditional on the immediate release of any allied subjects still in Germany. Germany is to accord facilities to commissions of inquiry in collecting information in regard to missing prisoners of war and of imposing penalties on German officials who have concealed allied nationals. Germany is to restore all property belonging to allied prisoners. There is to be a reciprocal exchange of information as to dead prisoners and their graves.

Graves Edit

Both parties will respect and maintain, the graves of soldiers and sailors buried on their territories, agree to recognize and assist any commission charged by any allied or associate government with identifying, registering, maintaining or erecting suitable monuments over the graves, and to afford to each other all facilities for the repatriation of the remains of their soldiers.

Responsibilities Edit

The allied and associated powers publicly arraign William II. of Hohenzollern, formerly German emperor, not for an offense against criminal law, but for a supreme offense against international morality and the sanctity of treaties.

The ex-emperor's surrender is to be requested of Holland and a special tribunal set up, composed of one judge from each of the five great powers, with full guarantees of the right of defense. It is to be guided “by the highest motives of international policy with a view to vindicating the solemn obligations of international undertakings and the validity of international morality,” and will fix the punishment it feels should be imposed.

Persons accused of having committed acts in violation of the laws and customs of war are to be tried and punished by military tribunals under military law. If the charges affect nationals of only one state, they will be tried before a tribunal of that state if they affect nationals of several states, they will be tried before joint tribunals of the states concerned. Germany shall hand over to the associated governments, either jointly or severally, all persons so accused and all documents and information necessary to insure full knowledge of the incriminating acts, the discovery of the offenders, and the just appreciation of the responsibility.

In every case the accused will be entitled to name his own counsel.

Reparation and restitution Edit

“The allied and associated governments affirm, and Germany accepts, the responsibility of herself and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the allied and associated governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies.”

The total obligation of Germany to pay as defined in the category of damages is to be determined and notified to her after a fair hearing, and not later than May 1, 1921, by an interallied Reparation Commission.

At the same time a schedule of payments to discharge the obligations within thirty years shall be presented. These payments are subject to postponement in certain contingencies. Germany irrevocably recognizes the full authority of this commission, agrees to supply it with all the necessary information and to pass legislation to effectuate its findings. She further agrees to restore to the allies cash and certain articles which can be identified.

As an immediate step toward restoration Germany shall pay within two years one thousand million pounds sterling in either gold, goods, ships, or other specific forms of payment.

This sum being included in, and not additional to, the first thousand million bond issue referred to below, with the understanding that certain expenses, such as those of the armies of occupation and payments for food and raw materials, may be deducted at the discretion of the allies.

Germany further binds herself to repay all sums borrowed by Belgium from her allies as a result of Germany's violation of the treaty of 1839 up to Nov. 11, 1918, and for this purpose will issue at once and hand over to the Reparation Commission 5 per cent. gold bonds falling due in 1926.

While the allied and associated governments recognize that the resources of Germany are not adequate, after taking into account permanent diminution of such resources which will result from other treaty claims, to make complete reparation for all such loss and damage, they require her to make compensation for all damage caused to civilians under seven main categories:

(a) Damages by personal injury to civilians caused by acts of war, directly or indirectly, including bombardments from the air.

(b) Damages caused to civilians, including exposure at sea, resulting from acts of cruelty ordered by the enemy, and to civilians in the occupied territories.

(c) Damages caused by maltreatment of prisoners.

(d) Damages to the allied peoples represented by pensions and separation allowances, capitalized at the signature of this treaty.

(e) Damages to property other than naval or military materials.

(f) Damages to civilians by being forced to labor.

(g) Damages in the form of levies or fines imposed by the enemy.

In periodically estimating Germany's capacity to pay, the Reparation Commission shall examine the German system of taxation, first to the end that the sums for reparation which Germany is required to pay shall become a charge upon all her revenues prior to that for the service or discharge of any domestic loan and, secondly, so as to satisfy itself that in general the German scheme of taxation is fully as heavy proportionately as that of any of the powers represented on the commission.

The measures which the allied and associated powers shall have the right to take, in case of voluntary default by Germany, and which Germany agrees not to regard as acts of war, may include economic and financial prohibitions and reprisals and in general such other measures as the respective governments may determine to be necessary in the circumstances.

The commission shall consist of one representative each of the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Belgium, a representative of Serbia or Japan taking the place of the Belgian representative when the interests of either country are particularly affected, with all other allied powers entitled, when their claims are under consideration, to the right of representation without voting power. It shall permit Germany to give evidence regarding her capacity to pay, and shall assure her a just opportunity to be heard. It shall make its permanent headquarters at Paris, establish its own procedure and personnel have general control of the whole reparation problem and become the exclusive agency of the allies for receiving, holding, selling, and distributing reparation payments. Majority vote shall prevail, except that unanimity is required on questions involving the sovereignty of any of the allies, the cancellation of all or part of Germany's obligations, the time and manner of selling, distributing, and negotiating bonds issued by Germany, any postponement between 1921 and 1926 of annual payments beyond 1930, and any postponement after 1926 for a period of more than three years of the application of a different method of measuring damage than in a similar former case, and the interpretation of provisions. Withdrawal from representation is permitted on twelve months' notice.

The commission may require Germany to give from time to time, by way of guarantee, issues of bonds or other obligations to cover such claims as are not otherwise satisfied. In this connection and on account of the total amount of claims bond issues are presently to be required of Germany in acknowledgment of its debt as follows: 20,000,000,000 marks gold, payable not later than May 1, 1921, without interest 40,000,000,000 marks gold bearing 2½ per cent. interest between 1921 and 1926, and thereafter 5 per cent., with a 1 per cent. sinking fund payment beginning 1926 and an undertaking to deliver 40,000,000,000 marks gold bonds bearing interest at 5 per cent., under terms to be fixed by the commission.

Interest on Germany's debt will be 5 per cent. unless otherwise determined by the commission in the future, and payments that are not made in gold may “be accepted by the commission in the form of properties, commodities, businesses, rights, concessions, &c.” Certificates of beneficial interest, representing either bonds or goods delivered by Germany, may be issued by the commission to the interested powers, no power being entitled, however, to have its certificates divided into more than five pieces. As bonds are distributed and pass from the control of the commission, an amount of Germany's debt equivalent to their par value is to be considered as liquidated.

Shipping Edit

The German government recognizes the right of the allies to the replacement, ton for ton and class for class, of all merchant ships and fishing boats lost or damaged owing to the war, and agrees to cede to the allies all German merchant ships of 1,600 tons gross and upward one-half of her ships between 1,600 and 1,000 tons gross, and one-quarter of her steam trawlers and other fishing boats. These ships are to be delivered within two months to the Reparation Committee, together with documents of title evidencing the transfer of the ships free from encumbrance.

“As an additional part of reparation,” the German government further agrees to build merchant ships for the account of the allies to the amount of not exceeding 200,000 tons gross annually during the next five years.

All ships used for inland navigation taken by Germany from the allies are to be restored within two months, the amount of loss not covered by such restitution to be made up by the cession of the German river fleet up to 20 per cent. thereof.

Dyestuffs and chemical drugs Edit

In order to effect payment by deliveries in kind, Germany is required, for a limited number of years, varying in the case of each, to deliver coal, coal-tar products, dyestuffs and chemical drugs, in specific amounts, to the Reparations Commission. The commission may so modify the conditions of delivery as not to interfere unduly with Germany's industrial requirements. The deliveries of coal are based largely upon the principle of making good diminutions in the production of the allied countries resulting from the war.

Germany accords option to the commission on dyestuffs and chemical drugs, including quinine, up to 50 per cent. of the total stock in Germany at the time the treaty comes into force, and similar option during each six months to the end of 1924 up to 25 per cent. of the previous six months' output.

Devastated areas Edit

Germany undertakes to devote her economic resources directly to the physical restoration of the invaded areas. The Reparations Commission is authorized to require Germany to replace the destroyed articles by the delivery of animals, machinery, etc., existing in Germany, and to manufacture materials required for reconstruction purposes all with due consideration for Germany's essential domestic requirements.

Germany is to deliver annually for ten years to France coal equivalent to the difference between the annual pre-war output of Nord and Pas de Calais mines and the annual production during the above ten-year period. Germany further gives options over ten years for delivery of 7,000,000 tons of coal per year to France, in addition to the above of 8,000,000 tons to Belgium, and of an amount rising from 4,500,000 tons in 1919 to 1920 to 8,500,000 in 1923 to 1924 to Italy at prices to be fixed as prescribed in the treaty. Coke may be taken in place of coal in the ratio of three tons to four. Provision is also made for delivery to France over three years of benzol, coal tar, and of ammonia. The commission has powers to postpone or annul the above deliveries, should they interfere unduly with the industrial requirements of Germany.

Germany is to restore within six months the Koran of the Caliph Othman, formerly at Medina, to the king of the Hedjaz, and the skull of the Sultan Okwawa, formerly in German East Africa, to his Britannic Majesty's government.

The German government is also to restore to the French government certain papers taken by the German authorities in 1870, belonging then to M. Reuher, and to restore the French flags taken during the war of 1870 and 1871.

As reparation for the destruction of the Library of Louvain, Germany is to hand over manuscripts, early printed books, prints, &c., to the equivalent of those destroyed.

In addition to the above, Germany is to hand over to Belgium wings, now in Berlin, belonging to the altar piece of “The Adoration of the Lamb,” by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, the center of which is now in the Church of St. Bavon at Ghent, and the wings, now in Berlin and Munich, of the altar piece of “The Last Supper,” by Dirk Bouts, the center of which belongs to the Church of St. Peter at Louvain.

Finance Edit

Powers to which German territory is ceded will assume a certain portion of the German pre-war debt, the amount to be fixed by the Reparations Commission on the basis of the ratio between the revenue and of the ceded territory and Germany's total revenues for the three years preceding the war. In view, however, of the special circumstances under which Alsace-Lorraine was separated from France in 1871, when Germany refused to accept any part of the French public debt, France will not assume any part of Germany's pre-war debt there, nor will Poland share in certain German debts incurred for the oppression of Poland. If the value of the German public property in ceded territory exceeds the amount of debt assumed, the states to which property is ceded will give credit on reparation for the excess, with the exception of Alsace-Lorraine. Mandatory powers will not assume any German debts or give any credit for German government property. Germany renounces all right of representation on, or control of, state banks, commissions, or other similar international financial and economic organizations.

Germany is required to pay the total cost of the armies of occupation from the date of the armistice as long as they are maintained in German territory, this cost to be a first charge on her resources. The cost of reparation is the next charge, after making such provisions for payments for imports as the allies may deem necessary.

Germany is to deliver to the allied and associated powers all sums deposited in Germany by Turkey and Austria-Hungary in connection with the financial support extended by her to them during the war, and to transfer to the allies all claims against Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, or Turkey in connection with agreements made during the war. Germany confirms the renunciation of the treaties of Bucharest and Brest-Litovsk.

On the request of the Reparations Commission, Germany will expropriate any rights or interests of her nationals in public utilities in ceded territories or those administered by mandatories, and in Turkey, China, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria, and transfer them to the Reparations Commission, which will credit her with their value. Germany guarantees to repay to Brazil the fund arising from the sale of Sao Paulo coffee which she refused to allow Brazil to withdraw from Germany.

Opium Edit

The contracting powers agree, whether or not they have signed and ratified the opium convention of Jan. 23, 1912, or signed the special protocol opened at The Hague in accordance with resolutions adopted by the third opium conference in 1914, to bring the said convention into force by enacting within twelve months of the peace the necessary legislation.

Religious missions Edit

The allied and associated powers agree that the properties of religious missions in territories belonging or ceded to them shall continue in their work under the control of the powers, Germany renouncing all claims in their behalf.

Customs Edit

For a period of six months Germany shall impose no tariff duties higher than the lowest in force in 1914, and for certain agricultural products, wines, vegetable oils, artificial silk, and washed or scoured wool this restriction obtains for two and a half years more. For five years, unless further extended by the League of Nations, Germany must give most favored nation treatment to the allied and associated powers. She shall impose no customs tariff for five years on goods originating in Alsace-Lorraine, and for three years on goods originating in former German territory ceded to Poland with the right of observation of a similar exception for Luxemburg.

Shipping Edit

Ships of the allied and associated powers shall for five years and thereafter under condition of reciprocity, unless the League of Nations otherwise decides, enjoy the same rights in German ports as German vessels, and have most favored nation treatment in fishing, coasting trade, and towage even in territorial waters. Ships of a country having no seacoast may be registered at some one place within its territory.

Unfair competition Edit

Germany undertakes to give the trade of the allied and associated powers adequate safeguards against unfair competition, and in particular to suppress the use of false wrappings and markings, and on condition of reciprocity to respect the laws and judicial decisions of allied and associated states in respect of regional appellations of wines and spirits.

Treatment of nationals Edit

Germany shall impose no exceptional taxes or restriction upon the nationals of allied and associated states for a period of five years, and, unless the League of Nations acts, for an additional five years German nationality shall not continue to attach to a person who has become a national of an allied or associated state.

Multilateral conventions Edit

Some forty multilateral conventions are renewed between Germany and the allied and associated powers, but special conditions are attached to Germany's readmission to several. As to postal and telegraphic conventions Germany must not refuse to make reciprocal agreements with the new states. She must agree as respects the radio-telegraphic convention to provisional rules to be communicated to her, and adhere to the new convention when formulated. In the North Sea fisheries and North Sea liquor traffic convention, rights of inspection and police over associated fishing boats shall be exercised for at least five years only by vessels of these powers. As to the international railway union she shall adhere to the new convention when formulated. China, as to the Chinese customs tariff arrangement of 1905 regarding Whang poo, and the Boxer indemnity of 1901 France, Portugal, and Rumania, as to The Hague Convention of 1905, relating to civil procedure, and Great Britain and the United States as to Article III. or the Samoan Treaty of 1899, are relieved of all obligations toward Germany.

Bilateral treaties Edit

Each allied and associated state may renew any treaty with Germany in so far as consistent with the peace treaty by giving notice within six months. Treaties entered into by Germany since Aug. 1, 1914, with other enemy states, and before or since that date with Rumania, Russia, and governments representing parts of Russia, are abrogated, and concessions granted under pressure by Russia to German subjects are annulled. The allied and associated states are to enjoy most favored nation treatment under treaties entered into by Germany and other enemy states before Aug. 1, 1914, and under treaties entered into by Germany and neutral states during the war.

Pre-war debts Edit

A system of clearing houses is to be created within three months, one in Germany and one in each allied and associated state, which adopts the plan for the payment of pre-war debts, including those arising from contracts suspended by the war. For the adjustment of the proceeds of the liquidation of enemy property and the settlement of other obligations, each participating state assumes responsibility for the payment of all debts owing by its nationals to nationals of the enemy states, except in case of pre-war insolvency of the debtor. The proceeds of the sale of private enemy property in each participating state may be used to pay the debts owed to the nationals of that state, direct payment from debtor to creditor and all communications relating thereto being prohibited. Disputes may be settled by arbitration by the courts of the debtor country, or by the mixed arbitral tribunal. Any ally or associated power may, however, decline to participate in this system by giving six months' notice.

Enemy property Edit

Germany shall restore or pay for all private enemy property seized or damaged by her, the amount of damages to be fixed by the mixed arbitral tribunal. The allied and associated states may liquidate German private property within their territories as compensation for property of their nationals not restored or paid for by Germany. For debts owed to their nationals by German nationals and for other claims against Germany, Germany is to compensate its nationals for such losses and to deliver within six months all documents relating to property held by its nationals in allied and associated states. All war legislation as to enemy property rights and interest is confirmed and all claims by Germany against the allied or associated governments for acts under exceptional war measures abandoned.

Pre-war contracts between allied and associated nationals, excepting the United States, Japan, and Brazil, and German nationals are cancelled except for debts for accounts already performed.

Agreements Edit

For the transfer of property where the property had already passed, leases of land and houses, contracts of mortgages, pledge or lien, mining concessions, contracts with governments and insurance contracts, mixed arbitral tribunals shall be established of three members, one chosen by Germany, one by the associated states and the third by agreement, or, failing which, by the President of Switzerland. They shall have jurisdiction over all disputes as to contracts concluded before the present peace treaty.

Fire insurance contracts are not considered dissolved by the war, even if premiums have not been paid, but lapse at the date of the first annual premium falling due three months after the peace. Life insurance contracts may be restored by payments of accumulated premiums with interest, sums falling due on such contracts during the war to be recoverable with interest. Marine insurance contracts are dissolved by the outbreak of war except where the risk insured against had already been incurred. Where the risk had not attached, premiums paid are recoverable, otherwise premiums due and sums due on losses are recoverable. Reinsurance treaties are abrogated unless invasion has made it impossible for the reinsured to find another reinsurer. Any allied or associated power, however, may cancel all the contracts running between its nationals and a German life insurance company, the latter being obligated to hand over the proportion of its assets attributable to such policies.

Industrial property Edit

Rights as to industrial, literary, and artistic property are re-established. The special war measures of the allied and associated powers are ratified and the right reserved to impose conditions on the use of German patents and copyrights when in the public interest. Except as between the United States and Germany, pre-war licenses and rights to sue for infringements committed during the war are cancelled.

Aerial navigation Edit

Aircraft of the allied and associated powers shall have full liberty of passage and landing over and in Germany territory, equal treatment with German planes as to use of German airdromes, and with most favored nation planes as to internal commercial traffic in Germany. Germany agrees to accept allied certificates of nationality, airworthiness, or competency or licenses and to apply the convention relative to aerial navigation concluded between the allied and associated powers to her own aircraft over her own territory. These rules apply until 1923, unless Germany has since been admitted to the League of Nations or to the above convention.

Freedom of transit Edit

Germany must grant freedom of transit through her territories by rail or water to persons, goods, ships, carriages, and mails from or to any of the allied or associated powers, without customs or transit duties, undue delays, restrictions, or discriminations based on nationality, means of transport, or place of entry or departure. Goods in transit shall be assured all possible speed of journey, especially perishable goods. Germany may not divert traffic from its normal course in favor of her own transport routes or maintain “control stations” in connection with transmigration traffic. She may not establish any tax discrimination against the ports of allied or associated powers must grant the latter's seaports all factors and reduced tariffs granted her own or other nationals, and afford the allied and associated powers equal rights with those of her own nationals in her ports and waterways, save that she is free to open or close her maritime coasting trade.

Free zones in ports Edit

Free zones existing in German ports on Aug. 1, 1914, must be maintained with due facilities as to warehouses, packing, and shipping, without discrimination, and without charges except for expenses of administration and use. Goods leaving the free zones for consumption in Germany and goods brought into the free zones from Germany shall be subject to the ordinary import and export taxes.

International rivers Edit

The Elbe from the junction of the Ultava, the Ultava from Prague, the Oder from Oppa, the Niemen from Grodno, and the Danube from Ulm are declared international, together with their connections.

The riparian states must ensure good conditions of navigation within their territories unless a special organization exists therefor. Otherwise appeal may be had to a special tribunal of the League of Nations, which also may arrange for a general international waterways convention.

The Elbe and the Oder are to be placed under international commissions to meet within three months, that for the Elbe composed of four representatives of Germany, two from Czecho-Slovakia, and one each from Great Britain, France, Italy, and Belgium and that for the Oder composed of one each from Poland, Russia, Czecho-Slovakia, Great Britain, France, Denmark, and Sweden. If any riparian state on the Niemen should so request of the League of Nations, a similar commission shall be established there. These commissions shall, upon request of any riparian state, meet within three months to revise existing international agreement.

The Danube Edit

The European Danube Commission reassumes its pre-war powers, but for the time being with representatives of only Great Britain, France, Italy, and Rumania. The upper Danube is to be administered by a new international commission until a definitive statute be drawn up at a conference of the powers nominated by the allied and associated governments within one year after the peace.

The enemy governments shall make full reparations for all war damages caused to the European Commission shall cede their river facilities in surrendered territory, and give Czecho-Slovakia, Serbia, and Rumania any rights necessary on their shores for carrying on improvements in navigation.

The Rhine and the Moselle Edit

The Rhine is placed under the Central Commission to meet at Strassbourg within six months after the peace, and to be composed of four representatives of France, which shall in addition select the President, four of Germany, and two each of Great Britain, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Germany must give France on the course of the Rhine included between the two extreme points of her frontiers all rights to take water to feed canals, while herself agreeing not to make canals on the right bank opposite France. She must also hand over to France all her drafts and designs for this part of the river.

Rhine-Meuse canal Edit

Belgium is to be permitted to build a deep draft Rhine-Meuse canal if she so desires within twenty-five years, in which case Germany must construct the part within her territory on plans drawn by Belgium similarly the interested allied governments may construct a Rhine-Meuse canal, both, if constructed, to come under the competent international commission. Germany may not object if the Central Rhine Commission desires to extend its jurisdiction over the lower Moselle, the upper Rhine, or lateral canals.

Germany must cede to the allied and associated governments certain tugs, vessels, and facilities for navigation on all these rivers, the specific details to be established by an arbiter named by the United States. Decision will be based on the legitimate needs of the parties concerned and on the shipping traffic during the five years before the war. The value will be included in the regular reparation account. In the case of the Rhine shares in the German navigation companies and property such as wharves and warehouses held by Germany in Rotterdam at the outbreak of the war must be handed over.

Railways Edit

Germany, in addition to most favored nation treatment on her railways, agrees to cooperate in the establishment of through ticket services for passengers and baggage to ensure communication by rail between the allied, associated, and other States to allow the construction or improvement within twenty-five years of such lines as necessary and to conform her rolling stock to enable its incorporation in trains of the allied or associated powers. She also agrees to accept the denunciation of the St. Gothard convention if Switzerland and Italy so request, and temporarily to execute instructions as to the transport of troops and supplies and the establishment of postal and telegraphic service, as provided.

Czecho-Slovakia Edit

To assure Czecho-Slovakia access to the sea, special rights are given her both north and south. Toward the Adriatic she is permitted to run her own through trains to Fiume and Trieste. To the north, Germany is to lease her for ninety-nine years spaces in Hamburg and Stettin, the details to be worked out by a commission of three representing Czecho-Slovakia, Germany, and Great Britain.

The Kiel Canal Edit

The Kiel Canal is to remain free and open to war and merchant ships of all nations at peace with Germany subjects, goods and ships of all States are to be treated on terms of absolute equality, and no taxes to be imposed beyond those necessary for upkeep and improvement for which Germany is to be responsible. In case of violation of or disagreement as to those provisions, any State may appeal to the League of Nations, and may demand the appointment of an international commission. For preliminary hearing of complaints Germany shall establish a local authority at Kiel.

International labor organization Edit

Members of the League of Nations agree to establish a permanent organization to promote international adjustment of labor conditions, to consist of an annual international labor conference and an international labor office.

The former is composed of four representatives of each State, two from the Government, and one each from the employers and the employed each of them may vote individually. It will be a deliberative legislative body, its measures taking the form of draft conventions or recommendations for legislation, which, if passed by two-thirds vote, must be submitted to the lawmaking authority in every State participating. Each Government may either enact the terms into law approve the principles, but modify them to local needs leave the actual legislation in case of a Federal State to local legislatures or reject the convention altogether without further obligation.

The international labor office is established at the seat of the League of Nations as part of its organization. It is to collect and distribute information on labor throughout the world and prepare agenda for the conference. It will publish a periodical in French and English and possibly other languages. Each State agrees to make to it for presentation to the conference an annual report of measures taken to execute accepted conventions. The governing body, in its Executive, consists of twenty-four members, twelve representing the Governments, six the employers, and six the employes, to serve for three years.

On complaint that any Government has failed to carry out a convention to which it is a party, the governing body may make inquiries directly to that Government, and in case the reply is unsatisfactory may publish the complaint with comment. A complaint by one Government against another may be referred by the governing body to a commission of inquiry nominated by the Secretary General of the League. If the commission report fails to bring satisfactory action the matter may be taken to a permanent court of international justice for final decision. The chief reliance for securing enforcement of the law will be publicity with a possibility of economic action in the background.

The first meeting of the conference will take place in October, 1919, at Washington, to discuss the eight-hour day or forty-eight-hour week prevention of unemployment extension and application of the international conventions adopted at Berne in 1906, prohibiting night work for women, and the use of white phosphorus in the manufacture of matches and employment of women and children at night or in unhealthy work, of women before and after childbirth, including maternity benefit, and of children as regards minimum age.

Labor clauses Edit

Nine principles of labor conditions were recognized on the ground that “the well-being, physical and moral, of the industrial wage earners is of supreme international importance.” With exceptions necessitated by differences of climate, habits and economic development. They include the guiding principle that labor should not be regarded merely as a commodity or article of commerce the right of association of employers and employes a wage adequate to maintain a reasonable standard of life the eight-hour day or forty-eight-hour week a weekly rest of at least twenty-four hours which should include Sunday wherever practicable abolition of child labor and assurance of the continuation of the education and proper physical development of children equal pay for equal work as between men and women equitable treatment of all workers lawfully resident therein, including foreigners and a system of inspection in which women should take part.

As a guarantee for the execution of the treaty German territory to the west of the Rhine, together with the bridgeheads, will be occupied by allied and associated troops for a fifteen years' period. If the conditions are faithfully carried out by Germany, certain districts, including the bridgehead of Cologne, will be evacuated at the expiration of five years certain other districts including the bridgehead of Coblenz, and the territories nearest the Belgian frontier will be evacuated after ten years, and the remainder, including the bridgehead of Mainz, will be evacuated after fifteen years. In case the Interallied Reparation Commission finds that Germany has failed to observe the whole or part of her obligations, either during the occupation or after the fifteen years have expired, the whole or part of the areas specified will be reoccupied immediately. If before the expiration of the fifteen years Germany complies with all the treaty undertakings, the occupying forces will be withdrawn.

All German troops at present in territories to the east of the new frontier shall return as soon as the allied and associated governments deem wise. They are to abstain from all requisitions and are in no way to interfere with measures for national defense taken by the Government concerned.

All questions regarding occupation not provided for by the treaty will be regulated by a subsequent convention or conventions which will have similar force and effect.

Miscellaneous Edit

Germany agrees to recognize the full validity of the treaties of peace and additional conventions to be concluded by the allied and associated powers with the powers allied with Germany, to agree to the decisions to be taken as to the territories of Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey, and to recognize the new States in the frontiers to be fixed.

Germany agrees not to put forward any pecuniary claims against any allied or associated power signing the present treaty based on events previous to the coming into force of the treaty.

Germany accepts all decrees as to German ships and goods made by any allied or associated prize court. The Allies reserve the right to examine all decisions of German prize courts. The present treaty, of which the French and British texts are both authentic, shall be ratified and the depositions of ratifications made in Paris as soon as possible. The treaty is to become effective in all respects for each power on the date of deposition of its ratification.

On June 2 there had been handed to the Austrian delegates a preliminary treaty which covered certain points, but left others to be dealt with later.

Austria must accept the covenant of the league of nations and the labor charter.

She must renounce all her extra European rights.

She must demobilize all her naval and aerial forces.

Austria must recognize the complete independence of Hungary.

Austrian nationals, guilty of violating international laws of war, to be tried by the Allies.

Austria must accept economic conditions and freedom of transit similar to those in German treaty.

Sections dealing with war prisoners and graves are identical with German treaty.

Guarantees of execution of treaty corresponds to those in German pact.

Boundaries of Bohemia and Moravia to form boundary between Austria and Czecho-SIovakia, with minor rectifications.

Allies later to fix southern boundary (referring to Jugoslavia).

Eastern boundary Marburg and Radkersburg to Jugoslavia.

Western and northwestern frontiers (facing Bavaria and Switzerland) unchanged.

Austria must recognize independence of Czecho-Slovakia and Jugoslavia.

Austria is recognized as an independent republic under the name "Republic of Austria."

Austria must recognize frontiers of Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, Czecho-Slovakia and Jugoslavia as at present or ultimately determined.

Boundaries of Austria, Czecho-Slovakia and Jugoslavia to be finally fixed by mixed commission.

Czecho-Slovakia and Jugoslavia must agree to protect racial, religious and linguistic minorities.

Both new Slav nations and Rumania must assure freedom of transit and equitable treatment of foreign commerce.

Austria must recognize full independence of all territories formerly a part of Russia.

Brest-Litovsk treaty is annulled.

All treaties with Russian elements concluded since revolution annulled.

Allies reserve right of restitution for Russia from Austria.

Austria must consent to abrogation of treaties of 1839 establishing Belgian neutrality.

Austria must agree to new Belgian boundaries as fixed by Allies.

Similar provisions with respect to neutrality and boundaries of Luxemburg.

Austria must accept allied disposition of any Austrian rights in Turkey and Bulgaria.

She must accept allied arrangements with Germany regarding Schleswig-Holstein.

Austrian nations of all races, languages and religions equal before the law.

Clauses affecting Egypt, Morocco, Siam, and China identical with German treaty.

Entire Austro-Hungarian navy to be surrendered to Allies.

Twenty-one specified auxiliary cruisers to be disarmed and treated as merchantmen.

All warships, including submarines, under construction shall be broken up and may be used only for industrial purposes.

All naval arms and material must be surrendered.

Future use of submarines prohibited.

Austrian wireless station at Vienna not to be used for military or political messages to Austria's late allies without Allies' consent for three months.

Austria may not have naval or air forces.

She must demobilize existing air forces within two months and surrender aviation material.

Austrian nationals cannot serve in military, naval or aerial forces of foreign powers.

She may send no military, naval or aerial mission to any foreign country.

Penalties section identical with German treaty excepting reference to German kaiser. New states required to aid in prosecution and punishment of their nationals guilty of offenses against international law.

Economic clauses in general similar to those in German treaty. Austria given access to Adriatic.

Austria must abandon all financial claims against signatories.

Treaty to become operative when signed by Austria and three of the principal powers.

On July 21 an amplified treaty with Austria-Hungary taking up matters omitted from the first paper was given to the delegates from that country. A summary of the articles follows:

In addition to the published summary of the terms of June 2, the new clauses provide for reparation arrangements very similar to those in the treaty with Germany, including the establishment of an Austrian subsection of the Reparations Commission, the payment of a reasonable sum in cash, the issuing of bonds, and the delivery of livestock and certain historical and art documents.

The financial terms provide that the Austrian pre-war debt shall be apportioned among the former parts of Austria, and that the Austrian coinage and war bonds, circulating in the separated territory, shall be taken up by the new governments and redeemed as they see fit.

Under the military terms the Austrian army is henceforth reduced to 30,000 men on a purely voluntary basis.

Paragraph 5, relating to the military situation, says that the Austrian army shall not exceed 30,000 men, including officers and depot troops. Within three months the Austrian military forces shall be reduced to this number, universal military service abolished and voluntary enlistment substituted as part of the plan “to render possible the initiation of a general limitation of armaments of all nations.”

The army shall be used exclusively for the maintenance of internal order and control of frontiers. All officers must be regulars, those of the present army to be retained being under obligation to serve until 40 years old, those newly appointed agreeing to at least twenty consecutive years of active service. Noncommissioned officers and privates must enlist for not less than twelve consecutive years, including at least six years with the colors.

Within three months the armament of the Austrian army must be reduced according to detailed schedules and all surplus surrendered. The manufacture of all war material shall be confined to one single factory under the control of the States, and other such establishments shall be closed or converted. Importation and exportation of arms, munitions and war materials of all kinds are forbidden.

Paragraph 8 (on reparation) reads, in substance: The allied and associated Governments affirm, and Austria accepts, the responsibility of Austria and her allies for causing loss and damage to which the allied and associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Austria and her allies. While recognizing that Austria's resources will not be adequate to make complete reparation, the allied and associated Government request, and Austria undertakes, that she will make compensation for damage done to civilians and their property, in accordance with categories of damages similar to those provided in the treaty with Germany.

The amount of damage is to be determined by the Reparation Commission provided for in the treaty with Germany, which is to have a special section to handle the Austrian situation. The commission will notify Austria before May 1, 1921, of the extent of her liabilities and of the schedule of payments for the discharge thereof during a period of thirty years. It will bear in mind the diminutions of Austria's resources and capacity of payment resulting from the treaty.

As immediate reparation, Austria shall pay during 1919, 1920, and the first four months of 1921, in such manner as provided by the Reparation Commission, “a reasonable sum which shall be determined by the commission.”

Three bonds issues shall be made—the first before May 1, 1921, without interest the second at 2½ per cent. interest between 1921 and 1926, and thereafter at 5 per cent. with an additional 1 per cent. for amortization beginning in 1926, and a third at 5 per cent. when the commission is satisfied that Austria can meet the interest and sinking fund obligations. The amount shall be divided by the allied and associated Governments in proportions determined upon in advance on a basis of general equity.

The Austrian section of the Reparation Commission shall include representatives of the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Poland, Rumania, the Serbo-Slovene State, and Czecho-Slovakia. The first four shall each appoint a delegate with two votes and the other five shall choose one delegate each year to represent them all. Withdrawal from the commission is permitted on twelve months' notice.

Paragraph 9 (Financial).—The first charge upon all the assets and revenues of Austria shall be the costs arising under the present treaty, including, in order of priority, the costs of the armies of occupation, reparations, and other charges specifically agreed to and, with certain exceptions, as granted by the Reparation Commission for payments for imports. Austria must pay the total cost of the armies of occupation from the armistice of Nov. 3, 1918, so long as maintained, and may export no gold before May 1, 1921, without consent of the Reparation Commission.

Each of the States to which Austrian territory is transferred and each of the States arising out of the dismemberment of Austria, including the Republic of Austria, shall assume part of the Austrian pre-war debt specifically secured on railways, salt mines, and other property, the amount to be fixed by the Reparation Commission on the basis of the value of the property so transferred.

Similarly, the unsecured bonded pre-war debt of the former empire shall be distributed by the Reparation Commission in the proportion that the revenues for the three years before the war of the separated territory bore to those of the empire, excluding Bosnia and Herzegovina.

No territory formerly part of the empire, except the Republic of Austria, shall carry with it any obligation in respect of the war debt of the former Austrian Government, but neither the Governments of those territories nor their nationals shall have recourse against any other State, including Austria, in respect of war debt bonds held within their respective territories by themselves or their nationals.

Austria, recognizing the right of the Allies to ton-for-ton replacement of all ships lost or damaged in the war, cedes all merchant ships and fishing boats belonging to nationals of the former empire, agreeing to deliver them within two months to the Reparation Commission. With a view to making good the losses in river tonnage, she agrees to deliver up 20 per cent. of her river fleet.

The allied and associated powers require, and Austria undertakes, that in part reparation she will devote her economic resources to the physical restoration of the invaded areas. Within sixty days of the coming into force of the treaty the governments concerned shall file with the Reparation Commission lists of animals, machinery, equipment, and the like destroyed by Austria which the government desire replaced in kind, and lists of the materials which they desire produced in Austria for the work of reconstruction, which shall be reviewed in the light of Austria's ability to meet them.

As an immediate advance as to animals, Austria agrees to deliver within three months after ratification of the treaty 4,000 milch cows to Italy and 1,000 each to Serbia and Rumania 1,000 heifers to Italy, 300 to Serbia, and 500 to Rumania 50 bulls to Italy and 25 each to Serbia and Rumania 1,000 calves to each of the three nations 1,000 bullocks to Italy and 500 each to Serbia and Rumania 2,000 sows to Italy, and 1,000 draft horses and 1,000 sheep to both Serbia and Rumania.

Austria also agrees to give an option for five years as to timber, iron, and magnesite in amounts as nearly equal to the pre-war importations as Austria's resources make possible. She renounces in favor of Italy all cables touching territories assigned to Italy, and in favor of the allied and associated powers the others.

Austria agrees to restore all records, documents, objects of antiquity and art, and all scientific and bibliographic material taken away from the invaded or ceded territories. She will also hand over without delay all official records of the ceded territories and all records, documents and historical material possessed by public institutions and having a direct bearing on the history of the ceded territories which have been removed during the past ten years, except that for Italy the period shall be from 1861.

As to artistic archæological, scientific or historic objects formerly belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Government or Crown, Austria agrees to negotiate with the State concerned for an amicable arrangement for the return to the districts of origin on terms of reciprocity of any object which ought to form part of the intellectual patrimony of the ceded districts, and for twenty years to safeguard all other such objects for the free use of students.

The war debt held outside the former empire shall be a charge on the Republic of Austria alone. All war securities shall be stamped within two months with the stamp of the State taking them up, replaced by certificates, and settlement made to the Reparation Commission.

The currency notes of the former Austro-Hungarian Bank circulating in the separated territory shall be stamped within two months by the new governments of the various territories with their own stamp, replaced within twelve months by a new currency, and turned over within twelve months to the Reparation Commission. The bank itself shall be liquidated as from the day after the signature of the treaty by the Reparation Commission.

States to which Austrian territory was transferred and States arising from the dismemberment of Austria shall acquire all property within their territories of the old or new Austrian Government, including that of the former royal family. The value is to be assessed by the Reparation Commission and credited to Austria on the reparation account.

Property of predominant historic interest to the former kingdoms of Poland, Bohemia, Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, the Republic of Ragusa, the Venetian Republic or the episcopal principalities of Trent and Bressanone may be transferred without payment.

Austria renounces all rights as to all international financial or commercial organizations in allied countries, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, or the former Russia Empire. She agrees to expropriate, on demand of the Reparation Commission, any rights of her nationals in any public utility or concession in these territories, in separated districts, and in mandatory territories, to transfer them to the commission within six months, and to hold herself responsible for indemnifying her nationals so dispossessed.

She also agrees to deliver within one month the gold deposited as security for the Ottoman debt, renounce any benefits accruing from the treaties of Bucharest and Brest-Litovsk, and transfer to the allied and associated Governments all claims against her former Allies.

Any financial adjustments, such as those relating to banking and insurance companies, savings banks, postal savings banks, land banks or mortgage companies in the former monarchy, necessitated by the dismemberment of the monarchy, and the resettlement of public debts and currency, shall be regulated by agreements between the various governments failing which the Reparation Commission shall appoint an arbitrator or arbitrators, whose decision shall be final.

Austria shall not be responsible for pensions of nationals of the former empire who have become nationals of other States.

As for special objects carried off by the House of Hapsburg and other dynasties from Italy, Belgium, Poland, and Czecho-Slovakia, a committee of three jurists appointed by the Reparation Commission is to examine within a year the conditions under which the objects were removed and to order restoration if the removal were illegal. The list of articles includes among others:

For Tuscany, the Crown Jewels and part of the Medici heirlooms: for Modena a Virgin by Andrea del Sarto and manuscripts for Palermo, twelfth century objects made for the Norman Kings for Naples, ninety-eight manuscripts carried off in 1718 for Belgium, various objects and documents removed in 1794 for Poland, a gold cup of King Ladislas IV., removed in 1772 and for Czecho-Slovakia various documents and historical manuscripts removed from the Royal Castle of Prague.

It’s hard to image what life was like in Europe during the First World War. Millions were sent off the war, and there were mass casualties. The atmosphere across Europe was strained, and many lived in fear.

In 1919, the end of the war was finally in sight. The world’s major players gathered in France, at the Château de Versailles, to sign an agreement that would end the fighting and blood shed. There would finally be peace in Europe!

If you’re interested in learning more about the inner workings of the Treaty of Versailles, you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading for 10 facts about the Treaty of Versailles.

1. The Treaty of Versailles brought about the end of World War I

British Evening News placard Versailles Treaty signed June 28 1919 – WikiCommons

Before I get more into the details of the Treaty of Versailles, it’s important to talk about the basics!

The Treaty of Versailles is a document made up of 15 parts and 440 articles that marked the end of World War I. The war was between Germany and the Allied Powers: Britain, France, Russia, Italy and the United States.

World War I began in 1914 and while fighting stopped with the armistice of November 11, 1918, the Treaty of Versailles was not finalized and signed until June 28, 1919. The treaty was created at the Paris Peace Conference (which actually took place at the Château de Versailles), and it’s conclusion marked the end of the conference.

The Paris Peace Conference’s aim was to determine how Europe would move forward politically and economically after the horrors of World War I. The League of Nations was created, and along with the Treaty of Versailles, was one of the most important developments to come out of the conference.

2. The Treaty of Versailles was signed exactly 5 years after the start of World War I

The first page of the edition of an Italian paper depicting the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Illustration by Achille Beltrame – WikiCommons

Many scholars say that World War I began on June 28, 1914 with the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Ferdinand was the presumed heir of the Austro-Hungarian throne and was killed by a group of Serbian assassins.

Immediately after the death of Ferdinand, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Germany was an ally of Austria-Hungary, and swore to honor it’s alliance in the war. The war on Serbia quickly snowballed into World War I due to other alliances that brought Russia and France to the front lines.

3. The Treaty of Versailles took territory away from Germany

German delegates in Versailles – WikiCommons

In total, the territory and population of Germany was reduced by 10% after the Treaty of Versailles.

In the west, the regions of Alsace and Lorraine were given back to France, and in the east, Poland was recovered. Germany was also required to recognize Czechoslovakia ‘s independence.

All of the country’s colonies overseas were taken by Allied Powers such as Britain, France and Japan.

4. The Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall of Mirrors at the Château de Versailles

Dignitaries gathering in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, France, to sign the Treaty of Versailles, June 28, 1919 – WikiCommons

The aptly named Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall of Mirrors at the Versailles Castle, about 25 kilometres west of Paris.

The place of the signed was carefully chosen, and the Allied Powers eventually settled on the Château de Versailles due to it’s historical value. In 1871, Wilhelm I was crowned the first emperor of a unified German Empire. This new unified Germany came out of Germany’s (then the Kingdom of Prussia) victory in the Franco-Prussian war. In 1871, France had to recognize their defeat. In 1919, it was Germany’s turn.

5. The Treaty of Versailles included a “war guilt” clause

Mass demonstration in front of the Reichstag against the Treaty of Versailles by Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz – WikiCommons

The most controversial section of the Treaty of Versailles was the “war guilt” clause. While the clause did not explicitly blame Germany for World War I, it did give responsibility to Germany and it’s allies for the damages caused by the warfare.

Germany was not allowed to participate in the negotiations for the treaty, something that upset and embarrassed the country. When the German government saw the treaty for the first time, the first democratically elected official, Philipp Scheidemann , chose to resign rather than sign the treaty. Scheidemann was unhappy with the ultimatums mapped out by the treaty, and claimed that it was unfair.

A new official, Gustav Bauer was brought in by the first German president, Friedrich Ebert, and was urged to sign the treaty. President Ebert feared that if they did not sign, the Allied Powers would invade Germany and the country would be lost to them forever. The Treaty of Versailles was officially signed on June 28, 1919!

There are many scholars that say that this guilt clause and the unrest surrounding it would lead to World War II, due to Germany’s humiliation. I’ll get into this more in depth coming up!

6. The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919

The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles 1919 by William Orpen – WikiCommons

I already briefly mentioned that World War I was brought to an armistice on November 11, 1918. This did not mark an official surrender from Germany, but it did end the land, sea and sky fighting and declared victory of the Allies over Germany.

Germany was not ready to give up so easily, which is why negotiations during the Paris Peace Conference took over 6 months. As I just mentioned above, German officials were not happy with the Treaty of Versailles and refused to sign it.

The new German president, Ebert, even went so far as to ask the Germany military if they would be able to stand up to the Allies if they refused to sign. The military urged the president to sign the treaty, stating that they did not stand a chance if the Allied forces invaded Germany.

They eventually did sign, on June 28, 1919! But, the treaty did not go into effect until January 10, 1920. This meant that the war was over, but Germany would not be required to begin paying its debts until early January of 1920.

7. The Treaty of Versailles was drafted by the “Big Four”

The Big Four: Prime Minister David Lloyd George (Great Britain) Premier Vittorio Orlando, Italy, French Premier Georges Clemenceau, President Woodrow Wilson (USA) by Edward N. Jackson – WikiCommons

The “Big Four” was the group of Allied Powers leaders that led the Paris Peace conference. The group included Woodrow Wilson of the United States, Georges Clemenceau of France, David Lloyd George of Britain and Vittorio Orlando of Italy.

While their were several other Allied Powers that were involved in WWI, the Big Four was responsible for most of the Treaty of Versailles. Germany had absolutely no say in the negotiations, which is perhaps why their new elected officials were so unhappy with the ultimatums it presented the country.

Much of the Treaty of Versailles was centered around the “Fourteen Points” that President Wilson created to define the United States’ postwar goals. End of the war, the withdrawal of Central Powers’ troops, the independence of Poland, free trade and democracy were a few of the goals mentioned. Sound familiar?

8. The Treaty of Versailles restricted the German army

Photo from German archives, showing the destruction of a heavy gun in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles – WikiCommons

In addition to taking 10% of Germany’s territory and population, the Treaty of Versailles also restricted their military forces. These restrictions were put in place in the hopes of dismantling the German military so that they could not rise up against the Allies again. It also hoped for a general international disarmament.

Germany was required to reduce their army to just 100,000 men. The military staff and police force was also minimized to the same numbers as before the war started. Several military fortifications were dismantled as well, and Germany was banned from the arms trade.

9. Some say that the Treaty of Versailles would lead to World War II

Adolf Hitler announcing that he violated the Treaty of Versailles in 1938 – WikiCommons

Germany was humiliated after the end of WWI and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, mostly due to the infamous guilt clause. This humiliation and unrest gave German right-wing politicians a perfect opportunity to rally together a nationalist party, which would eventually lead to the election of Adolf Hitler.

Several scholars state that the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles that led to resentment across Germany made it much easier for nationalists to remilitarize the country under Hilter. A tipping point occurred when Hitler violated the treaty by putting the military back in the Rhineland in Germany in 1936, and the Allied forced did not try to stop him. Some historians say that this encouraged Germany to continue to violate the Treaty of Versailles, and go on to start World War II.

10. Germany did not pay off the debts from the Treaty of Versailles until 2010

American political cartoon depicting the contemporary view of German reparations, 1921 by New York World – WikiCommons

When Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, the country agreed to pay back nearly $31.4 billion in debts. Today, that number is equal to $442 billion! However, this number was to be split between all of the Central Powers. In the end, Germany was required to pay back $12.5 billion (at the time).

What exactly would all of this money go towards? Rebuilding Europe after the devastation of the war, and more specifically, the reconstruction of Germany that was to be carried out with the help of the Allied Powers.

Germany was allowed to pay the debt in cash or in exports such as coal, machinery livestock and pharmaceutical products. It wasn’t until 2010, over 90 years later, that Germany would finish paying it’s debts.


Did you know how World War I ended before reading this article? Well, now you know! And now you know why the treaty was signed in Versailles, what Germany was required to do, and the aftermath of the treaty in general. I hope you’re happy with what you’ve learned!

If you want to learn even more about French history, why not join one of our walking tours the next time you’re in Paris? Click here to learn more about all of our options, led by our expert local guides!

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Germany Abrogates Versailles Agreement - History

Versailles Effect On Germany The Versailles Treaty The Treaty of Versailles was intended to be a peace agreement between the Allies and the Germans. Versailles created political discontent and economic chaos 1in Germany. The Peace Treaty of Versailles represented the results of hostility and revenge and opened the door for a dictator and World War II. November 11, 1918 marked the end of the first World War. Germany had surrendered and signed an armistice agreement.

The task of forming a peace agreement was now in the hands of the Allies. In December of 1918, the Allies met in Versailles to start on the peace settlement.2 The main countries and their respective representatives were: The United States, Woodrow Wilson Great Britain, David Lloyd George and France, George Clemenceau. At first, it had seemed the task of making peace would be easy.3 However, once the process started, the Allies found they had conflicting ideas and motives surrounding the reparations and wording of the Treaty of Versailles. It seemed the Allies had now found themselves engaged in another battle. Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924), the twenty-eighth President of the United States (1913 �).4 In August of 1914, when World War I began, there was no question that the United States would remain neutral.

Wilson didn’t want to enter the European War or any other war for that matter.5 However, as the war continued, it became increasingly obvious that the United States could no longer ‘sit on the sidelines’. German submarines had sunk American tankers and the British liner, ‘Lusitania’, in May 1915, killing almost twelve hundred people, including 128 Americans.6 This convinced Wilson to enter World War I, on the allied side. As the war continued, Wilson outlined his peace program, which was centered around fourteen main points. They (fourteen points) were direct and simple: a demand that future agreements be open covenants of peace, openly arrived at an insistence upon absolute freedom of the seas and, as the fourteenth point, the formation of a general associat! ion of nations.7 The fourteen points gave people a hope of peace and lay the groundwork for the armistice that Germany ultimately signed in November 1918. Although the United States was instrumental in ending the war, Wilson was still more interested in a peace without victors8 than annexing German colonies or reparations (payment for war damages). However, as the Allies began discussions of the peace treaty, the European allies rejected Wilson’s idealism and reasoning. It soon became increasingly obvious that the allies were seeking revenge and Germany was destined to be crippled economically and socially by its enemies.

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David Lloyd George (1863 – 1945), who was the Prime Minister of Great Britain (1916 – 1922), governed through the latter part of the war and the early post war years.9 Britain and Germany were, historically, always rivals. Before the war, for instance, Germany challenged Britain’s famous powerful and unstoppable navy by dramatically increasing the amount of money spent on their navy. In terms of losses, Britain absorbed thirty-six percent of the debt incurred by the allies and seventeen percent of the war’s total casualties.10 After the war, Britain faced tough economic problems. Their exports were at an all time low due to outdated factories, high tariffs, and competition from other countries. As a direct result, Britain suffered from high unemployment, which of course, affected the well being of the country.

Britain had its pride and nationalism stripped. The Treaty of Versailles would provide an opportunity to seek revenge for their losses. They were also seek! ing annexation of German colonies in Africa. Georges Clemenceau (1841 – 1929) was the Premier of France (1906-1909) and (1917-1920).11 As Britain, France had a rivalry with Germany but the French’s ill feelings were even more intensive. Nationalism created tensions between France and Germany.

The French bitterly resented their defeat in the Franco – Prussian War and were eager to seek revenge. Moreover, they were determined to regain Alsace – Lorraine.12 This gave the French the motivation of increasing their military strength and ultimately, destroying their life-long enemies. During the war, France’s portion of the war debt amounted to twenty percent. Their loss, in terms of war casualties, was thirty-three percent.13 Most of the battles were fought on French soil. This resulted in the destruction of ten million farm acres, twenty thousand factories and six thousand public buildings.14 After the war, France suffered terribly, economically. Inflation and a deflated French Franc spurned the French to ! take advantage of the armistice. Clemenceau wanted revenge as well as security against any future German attack.15 He also wanted a huge amount of reparations, to annex the coal rich Saar Basin, the return of Alsace – Lorraine and an independent Rhineland for a buffer zone between Germany and France.

All the leaders had different opinions and motives regarding the Treaty of Versailles. Coming to a consensus was difficult. The Treaty had to be revised several times before the final copy was signed on January 18, 1919. There was scarcely a section of the treaty which was not attacked, just as there was scarcely a section of the treaty which was not attacked.16 The German’s were reluctant to agree to such harsh terms. Even the most humble German was appalled by the severity of the treaty.17 France and Britain were both eager to have revenge on Germany but selfishly wanted each other’s benefits.

Clemenceau pointed out that the British were making no effort to placate the Germans at the expense of British interests. They offered no proposals to reduce the number of German ships to be handed over, or to return Germany’s colonies, or to restore the German Navy, or to remove the restrictions on Germany’s overseas trade. Instead, it was always at the expense of F! rench interest that concessions were to be made.18 Wilson thought both France and Britain were being too vindictive and unreasonable. The allies used Wilson’s Fourteen Points program to convince Germany to sign an armistice. However, once Germany complied, these points were ignored.

The French, for example, had no intention of abandoning what Wilson castigated as the old diplomacy, with its secret understandings and interlocking alliances.19 Therefore, in the end, the European Allies, including France and Britain, received what they wanted from the treaty. The actual costs, for Germany, included: the guilt of the entire war and, paying 132 billion gold marks in reparations. Germany also lost one eighth of its land, all of its colonies, all of its overseas financial assets and limiting their once powerful military.20 Britain and France would receive large sums of the reparations and German colonies in Africa as mandates.21 France also received its wishes with Alsace-Lorraine. France would recover Alsace-Lorraine outright.22 However, the main delight for France and Britain was seeing Germany suffer. The biggest problem Germany had with Versailles was the war guilt, which was stated in article 231 of the Versailles Treaty.

The Allies were astonished to find this particular paragraph was the most violently disputed point in the entire treaty. Article 231 stated: The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies.23 It seems weird that they would treat Germany that way after they too had been in the war. Fighting and killing were done by both sides but only the Germans were punished. If our army and our workmen had known that peace would look like this, the army would not have laid down its arms and all would have held out to the end.24 All Germany became very upset about the whole treaty. Th! is aroused intense nationalist bitterness in Germany.25 The future looked grim and had no cause for optimism in the near future. After Versailles was ‘in stone’, Germany became a very weak country, seeking to avenge the vindictiveness and total lack of empathy shown by the allies.

The German people could not resist, but, in unanimity, they could still hate.26 Germany suffered from great economic problems after the war. They had already lost many lives and things during the war, but now they were responsible for paying the reparations. The Germans tried paying their debts by borrowing and printing more money. They were shocked to find that incredible inflation was the result. The hardships caused by the inflation of the 1920’s contributed to the political unrest of Germany after WWI.27 After the war, Germany became a republic (called the Weimar Republic).

The Weimar Republic had many problems from the very beginning. Many Germans despised it (the Republic) because its representatives had signed the hated Versailles Treaty.28 There were revolts by both a communism party and a fascism ! party. In the end, the fascists party was favoured because they were extreme nationalists, who denounced the Versailles Treaty and opposed the democratic goals of the Weimar Republic.29 With the rise of fascism came the rise of Hitler and his Nazi Party. Adolph Hitler, of the Nazi Party, preached a racist brand of fascism. His party kept expanding, benefiting from growing unemployment, fear of communism, Hitler’s self-certainty, and the difference of his political rivals.30 When Hitler became chancellor in January 1933, he began rebuilding a promising future for Germany.31 He promised jobs and benefits to all classes of people.

Almost all Germans felt compelled to listen and obey Hitler’s extreme ideas of fascism because for some, he was their last hope. Hitler knew how to win people’s obedience, through their fears and insecurities. Hitler successfully appealed to a Germany that was humiliated by defeat in World War I and the Treaty of Versailles of 1919.32 Hitler succeeded and began to regain Germany’s strength. Germany was too powerful to be suppressed for long.33 Hitler broke many rules contained in the Treaty of Versailles. For example, Hitler sent troops into the demilitarized Rhineland and the Frenc! h did not respond. This and other scenarios gave Hitler the incentive to invade other countries and ultimately, invade Poland and started World War II.

With WWII came the dreadful horrors of the Holocaust. Hitler had ordered the deaths of at least five million Jews.34 Not only did he orchestrate these mass murders, but he also influenced countless individuals to think and act in the same disgraceful manner. Hitler may have had sick and shameful ideas but he certainly knew how to be a manipulative leader. He played on the fears and insecurities of the people and used their weaknesses to win their loyalty. In conclusion, The Treaty of Versailles was supposed to represent the peaceful ending to World War I, however, it became the prelude to another war.

It was originally an effort to restore order and provide a peaceful conclusion to World War I. The ill feelings and economic upheaval that resulted provided the perfect climate for Hitler’s dominance, in post-war Germany. The contributors/participants of Versailles had other motives behind the ‘peace agreement’ other than a peace settlement. Their selfish actions resulted in, not only the economic hardship of Germany, but inflation and unemployment in all of Europe. The severity of the reparations contained in this document set the stage for history to repeat itself.

Therefore, the very way in which the Treaty of Versailles was forced on the German people stored up the material for the next round.35 History Essays.

A stab in the back

German cartoon: Wilson goes to meet his master in hell © Inevitably, it proved impossible to frame a treaty which would both satisfy the demands of the French and British populations for a punitive treaty and comply with German conceptions of a fair and 'Wilsonian' peace. The Allies constructed the peace settlement on the assumption that while the Germans would not like many of the terms, they would accept them as the inevitable consequence of defeat.

But large sections of the population in Germany did not believe that their country had been honourably defeated on the battlefield. They believed in the rumours sweeping across Germany that the push for victory of their valiant troops on the Western Front had been sabotaged by traitors and pacifists at home who had spread disaffection and revolution.

This 'stab in the back' had prevented the gallant soldiers from securing the victory which was almost in their grasp. Thus a treaty which not only confirmed German defeat, but which, in clause 231, justified its demands for punitive war costs by laying the blame for the outbreak of the war firmly on German shoulders, was bound to provoke fury. Germany was a country which saw itself as having been encircled by France, Russia and Britain in 1914 and provoked into war.

In the frenzied post-war atmosphere, politicians from all parties agreed that the treaty, and in particular its despised 'War Guilt' clause, was vindictive, unfair and impossible to execute. They portrayed it as an unjust peace, and appealed to progressive forces across Europe to help them to revise it.

Such tactics were extremely successful in dividing the victorious coalition which had defeated Germany and negotiated the peace. Within a year, the United States Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles and signed a separate peace with Germany, leaving Britain and France bitterly opposed over how to proceed. While British leaders now sought further revisions to the treaty in a bid to conciliate Germany, France demanded strict enforcement of the terms.

It was the total failure of the victorious powers to work closely together after 1919 to contain German power, rather than the specific terms of the peace settlement, which was one of the contributing factors to the outbreak of a second world war 20 years later.

Forced Move of The Cherokee Nation The forced move of the Cherokee nation was not a correct action taken by the government at that point of history. It was unfair for the Cherokees, most strongly disagree with the treaty, it violated the Cherokee’s rights, and caused many to die. it also failed to follow the constitution It was very unfair for the Cherokees to be removed from their homeland, where their ancestors have lived and made it their home. The Cherokees representatives that agreed to the treaty was only a few, and was elected by the Georgia government, who chose them because they support the removal. “. Sir, that paper. Cold a treaty is not ready at all because it was not sanctioned by the great body of the Cherokee and made without their participation or assent.” Major Wm.

In all, the war was horrible, but to understand why the war happened, one must start from the beginning. There are many reasons why World War II started. To put into a big category, the main cause of the war is the first world war. The countries reluctantly signed the Treaty of Versailles, also known as the Peace of Paris, because it did not satisfy any country (, 2009). After World War I, many countries were indebted and economically poor this is known as the Great Depression.

This was Article 231 of the treaty, often known as the ‘War Guilt Clause’.

Germany had to accept responsibility for the losses and damages caused by the war “as a consequence of the … aggression of Germany and her allies.” Although the article didn’t specifically use the word ‘guilt’, the Allies used this Article as a legal basis and justification for Germany to pay their claims to reparations for the war.

This was one of the most controversial points of the treaty. The Germans viewed this clause as a national humiliation, forcing them to accept full responsibility for causing the war. They were angry that they hadn’t been allowed to negotiate, and deemed the Treaty a diktat – dictated peace.

German delegates in Versailles: Professor Walther Schücking, Reichspostminister Johannes Giesberts, Justice Minister Otto Landsberg, Foreign Minister Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau, Prussian State President Robert Leinert, and financial advisor Carl Melchior. (Image Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R01213 / CC).

Treaty of Versailles: The War Guilt Clause

Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles, known as the War Guilt Clause, was a statement that Germany was responsible for beginning World War I. It reads as follows:

"The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies."

The War Guilt Clause was added in order to get the French and Belgians to agree to reduce the sum of money that Germany would have to pay to compensate for war damage. The article was seen as a concession to the Germans by the negotiators. It was bitterly resented, however, by virtually all Germans who did not believe they were responsible for the outbreak of the war. This article was a constant thorn in the side of the Weimar leaders who tried to meet the terms of the agreement while trying to have these terms modified.


First World War

On 28 June 1914, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. [4] This caused a rapidly escalating July Crisis resulting in Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia, followed quickly by the entry of most European powers into the First World War. [5] Two alliances faced off, the Central Powers (led by Germany) and the Triple Entente (led by Britain, France and Russia). Other countries entered as fighting raged widely across Europe, as well as the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In 1917, two revolutions occurred within the Russian Empire. The new Bolshevik government under Vladimir Lenin in March 1918 signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that was highly favourable to Germany. Sensing victory before American armies could be ready, Germany now shifted forces to the Western Front and tried to overwhelm the Allies. It failed. Instead, the Allies won decisively on the battlefield and forced an armistice in November 1918 that resembled a surrender. [6]

US entry and the Fourteen Points

On 6 April 1917, the United States entered the war against the Central Powers. The motives were twofold: German submarine warfare against merchant ships trading with France and Britain, which led to the sinking of the RMS Lusitania and the loss of 128 American lives and the interception of the German Zimmermann Telegram, urging Mexico to declare war against the United States. [7] The American war aim was to detach the war from nationalistic disputes and ambitions after the Bolshevik disclosure of secret treaties between the Allies. The existence of these treaties tended to discredit Allied claims that Germany was the sole power with aggressive ambitions. [8]

On 8 January 1918, President Woodrow Wilson issued the nation's postwar goals, the Fourteen Points. It outlined a policy of free trade, open agreements, and democracy. While the term was not used self-determination was assumed. It called for a negotiated end to the war, international disarmament, the withdrawal of the Central Powers from occupied territories, the creation of a Polish state, the redrawing of Europe's borders along ethnic lines, and the formation of a League of Nations to guarantee the political independence and territorial integrity of all states. [9] [n. 3] It called for a just and democratic peace uncompromised by territorial annexation. The Fourteen Points were based on the research of the Inquiry, a team of about 150 advisors led by foreign-policy advisor Edward M. House, into the topics likely to arise in the expected peace conference. [10]

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, 1918

After the Central Powers launched Operation Faustschlag on the Eastern Front, the new Soviet Government of Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany on 3 March 1918. [11] This treaty ended the war between Russia and the Central powers and annexed 3,400,000 square kilometres (1,300,000 square miles) of territory and 62 million people. [12] This loss resulted in the loss of one third of the Russian population, around one third of the country's arable land, three-quarters of its coal and iron, one third of its factories (totalling 54 percent of the nation's industrial capacity), and one quarter of its railroads. [12] [13]


During the autumn of 1918, the Central Powers began to collapse. [14] Desertion rates within the German army began to increase, and civilian strikes drastically reduced war production. [15] [16] On the Western Front, the Allied forces launched the Hundred Days Offensive and decisively defeated the German western armies. [17] Sailors of the Imperial German Navy at Kiel mutinied, which prompted uprisings in Germany, which became known as the German Revolution. [18] [19] The German government tried to obtain a peace settlement based on the Fourteen Points, and maintained it was on this basis that they surrendered. Following negotiations, the Allied powers and Germany signed an armistice, which came into effect on 11 November while German forces were still positioned in France and Belgium. [20] [21] [22]


The terms of the armistice called for an immediate evacuation of German troops from occupied Belgium, France, and Luxembourg within fifteen days. [23] In addition, it established that Allied forces would occupy the Rhineland. In late 1918, Allied troops entered Germany and began the occupation. [24]


Both Germany and Great Britain were dependent on imports of food and raw materials, most of which had to be shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. The Blockade of Germany (1914–1919) was a naval operation conducted by the Allied Powers to stop the supply of raw materials and foodstuffs reaching the Central Powers. The German Kaiserliche Marine was mainly restricted to the German Bight and used commerce raiders and unrestricted submarine warfare for a counter-blockade. The German Board of Public Health in December 1918 stated that 763,000 German civilians had died during the Allied blockade, although an academic study in 1928 put the death toll at 424,000 people. [25]

The blockade was maintained for eight months after the Armistice in November 1918, into the following year of 1919. Foodstuffs imports into Germany were controlled by the Allies after the Armistice with Germany until Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919. [26] In March 1919, Churchill informed the House of Commons, that the ongoing blockade was a success and "Germany is very near starvation." [27] From January 1919 to March 1919, Germany refused to agree to Allied demands that Germany surrender its merchant ships to Allied ports to transport food supplies. Some Germans considered the armistice to be a temporary cessation of the war and knew, if fighting broke out again, their ships would be seized. [28] Over the winter of 1919, the situation became desperate and Germany finally agreed to surrender its fleet in March. [ citation needed ] The Allies then allowed for the import of 270,000 tons of foodstuffs. [29]

Both German and non-German observers have argued that these were the most devastating months of the blockade for German civilians, [30] though disagreement persists as to the extent and who is truly at fault. [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] According to Dr. Max Rubner 100,000 German civilians died due to the continuation blockade after the armistice. [36] In the UK, Labour Party member and anti-war activist Robert Smillie issued a statement in June 1919 condemning continuation of the blockade, claiming 100,000 German civilians had died as a result. [37] [38]

Talks between the Allies to establish a common negotiating position started on 18 January 1919, in the Salle de l'Horloge at the French Foreign Ministry on the Quai d'Orsay in Paris. [39] Initially, 70 delegates from 27 nations participated in the negotiations. [40] Russia was excluded due to their signing of a separate peace (the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk) and early withdrawal from the war. Furthermore, German negotiators were excluded to deny them an opportunity to divide the Allies diplomatically. [41]

Initially, a "Council of Ten" (comprising two delegates each from Britain, France, the United States, Italy, and Japan) met officially to decide the peace terms. This council was replaced by the "Council of Five", formed from each country's foreign ministers, to discuss minor matters. French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and United States President Woodrow Wilson formed the "Big Four" (at one point becoming the "Big Three" following the temporary withdrawal of Vittorio Emanuele Orlando). These four men met in 145 closed sessions to make all the major decisions, which were later ratified by the entire assembly. The minor powers attended a weekly "Plenary Conference" that discussed issues in a general forum but made no decisions. These members formed over 50 commissions that made various recommendations, many of which were incorporated into the final text of the treaty. [42] [43] [44]

French aims

France had lost 1.3 million soldiers, including 25% of French men aged 18–30, as well as 400,000 civilians. France had also been more physically damaged than any other nation (the so-called zone rouge (Red Zone) the most industrialized region and the source of most coal and iron ore in the north-east had been devastated and in the final days of the war mines had been flooded and railways, bridges and factories destroyed.) [45] Clemenceau intended to ensure the security of France, by weakening Germany economically, militarily, territorially and by supplanting Germany as the leading producer of steel in Europe. [45] [46] [47] British economist and Versailles negotiator John Maynard Keynes summarized this position as attempting to "set the clock back and undo what, since 1870, the progress of Germany had accomplished." [48]

Clemenceau told Wilson: "America is far away, protected by the ocean. Not even Napoleon himself could touch England. You are both sheltered we are not". [49] The French wanted a frontier on the Rhine, to protect France from a German invasion and compensate for French demographic and economic inferiority. [50] [51] American and British representatives refused the French claim and after two months of negotiations, the French accepted a British pledge to provide an immediate alliance with France if Germany attacked again, and Wilson agreed to put a similar proposal to the Senate. Clemenceau had told the Chamber of Deputies, in December 1918, that his goal was to maintain an alliance with both countries. Clemenceau accepted the offer, in return for an occupation of the Rhineland for fifteen years and that Germany would also demilitarise the Rhineland. [52]

French negotiators required reparations, to make Germany pay for the destruction induced throughout the war and to decrease German strength. [45] The French also wanted the iron ore and coal of the Saar Valley, by annexation to France. [53] The French were willing to accept a smaller amount of reparations than the Americans would concede and Clemenceau was willing to discuss German capacity to pay with the German delegation, before the final settlement was drafted. In April and May 1919, the French and Germans held separate talks, on mutually acceptable arrangements on issues like reparation, reconstruction and industrial collaboration. France, along with the British Dominions and Belgium, opposed mandates and favored annexation of former German colonies. [54]

British aims

Britain had suffered heavy financial costs but suffered little physical devastation during the war, [55] but the British wartime coalition was re-elected during the so-called Coupon election at the end of 1918, with a policy of squeezing the Germans "'til the pips squeak". [56] [57] Public opinion favoured a "just peace", which would force Germany to pay reparations and be unable to repeat the aggression of 1914, although those of a "liberal and advanced opinion" shared Wilson's ideal of a peace of reconciliation. [20]

In private Lloyd George opposed revenge and attempted to compromise between Clemenceau's demands and the Fourteen Points, because Europe would eventually have to reconcile with Germany. [58] Lloyd George wanted terms of reparation that would not cripple the German economy, so that Germany would remain a viable economic power and trading partner. [57] [58] [55] By arguing that British war pensions and widows' allowances should be included in the German reparation sum, Lloyd George ensured that a large amount would go to the British Empire. [59]

Lloyd George also intended to maintain a European balance of power to thwart a French attempt to establish itself as the dominant European power. A revived Germany would be a counterweight to France and a deterrent to Bolshevik Russia. Lloyd George also wanted to neutralize the German navy to keep the Royal Navy as the greatest naval power in the world dismantle the German colonial empire with several of its territorial possessions ceded to Britain and others being established as League of Nations mandates, a position opposed by the Dominions. [58]

American aims

Before the American entry into the war, Wilson had talked of a "peace without victory". [60] This position fluctuated following the US entry into the war. Wilson spoke of the German aggressors, with whom there could be no compromised peace. [61] On 8 January 1918, however, Wilson delivered a speech (known as the Fourteen Points) that declared the American peace objectives: the rebuilding of the European economy, self-determination of European and Middle Eastern ethnic groups, the promotion of free trade, the creation of appropriate mandates for former colonies, and above all, the creation of a powerful League of Nations that would ensure the peace. [62] The aim of the latter was to provide a forum to revise the peace treaties as needed, and deal with problems that arose as a result of the peace and the rise of new states. [63] [58]

Wilson brought along top intellectuals as advisors to the American peace delegation, and the overall American position echoed the Fourteen Points. Wilson firmly opposed harsh treatment on Germany. [62] While the British and French wanted to largely annex the German colonial empire, Wilson saw that as a violation of the fundamental principles of justice and human rights of the native populations, and favored them having the right of self-determination via the creation of mandates. The promoted idea called for the major powers to act as disinterested trustees over a region, aiding the native populations until they could govern themselves. [64] In spite of this position and in order to ensure that Japan did not refuse to join the League of Nations, Wilson favored turning over the former German colony of Shandong, in Eastern China, to Japan rather than return the area to Chinese control. [65] Further confounding the Americans, was US internal partisan politics. In November 1918, the Republican Party won the Senate election by a slim margin. Wilson, a Democrat, refused to include prominent Republicans in the American delegation making his efforts seem partisan, and contributed to a risk of political defeat at home. [62]

Italian aims

Vittorio Emanuele Orlando and his foreign minister Sidney Sonnino, an Anglican of British origins, worked primarily to secure the partition of the Habsburg Empire and their attitude towards Germany was not as hostile. Generally speaking, Sonnino was in line with the British position while Orlando favored a compromise between Clemenceau and Wilson. Within the negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles, Orlando obtained certain results such as the permanent membership of Italy in the security council of the League of Nations and a promised transfer of British Jubaland and French Aozou strip to the Italian colonies of Somalia and Libya respectively. Italian nationalists, however, saw the War as a mutilated victory for what they considered to be little territorial gains achieved in the other treaties directly impacting Italy's borders. Orlando was ultimately forced to abandon the conference and resign. Orlando refused to see World War I as a mutilated victory, replying at nationalists calling for a greater expansion that "Italy today is a great state. on par with the great historic and contemporary states. This is, for me, our main and principal expansion." Francesco Saverio Nitti took Orlando's place in signing the treaty of Versailles. [66] [ incomplete short citation ]

In June 1919, the Allies declared that war would resume if the German government did not sign the treaty they had agreed to among themselves. The government headed by Philipp Scheidemann was unable to agree on a common position, and Scheidemann himself resigned rather than agree to sign the treaty. Gustav Bauer, the head of the new government, sent a telegram stating his intention to sign the treaty if certain articles were withdrawn, including Articles 227, 230 and 231. [ii] In response, the Allies issued an ultimatum stating that Germany would have to accept the treaty or face an invasion of Allied forces across the Rhine within 24 hours. On 23 June, Bauer capitulated and sent a second telegram with a confirmation that a German delegation would arrive shortly to sign the treaty. [67] On 28 June 1919, the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (the immediate impetus for the war), the peace treaty was signed. [1] The treaty had clauses ranging from war crimes, the prohibition on the merging of the Republic of German Austria with Germany without the consent of the League of Nations, freedom of navigation on major European rivers, to the returning of a Koran to the king of Hedjaz. [n. 4] [n. 5] [n. 6] [n. 7]

Territorial changes

The treaty stripped Germany of 65,000 km 2 (25,000 sq mi) of territory and 7 million people. It also required Germany to give up the gains made via the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and grant independence to the protectorates that had been established. [13] In Western Europe Germany was required to recognize Belgian sovereignty over Moresnet and cede control of the Eupen-Malmedy area. Within six months of the transfer, Belgium was required to conduct a plebiscite on whether the citizens of the region wanted to remain under Belgian sovereignty or return to German control, communicate the results to the League of Nations and abide by the League's decision. [n. 8] To compensate for the destruction of French coal mines, Germany was to cede the output of the Saar coalmines to France and control of the Saar to the League of Nations for 15 years a plebiscite would then be held to decide sovereignty. [n. 9] The treaty restored the provinces of Alsace-Lorraine to France by rescinding the treaties of Versailles and Frankfurt of 1871 as they pertained to this issue. [n. 10] France was able to make the claim that the provinces of Alsace-Lorraine were indeed part of France and not part of Germany by disclosing a letter sent from the Prussian King to the Empress Eugénie that Eugénie provided, in which William I wrote that the territories of Alsace-Lorraine were requested by Germany for the sole purpose of national defense and not to expand the German territory. [68] The sovereignty of Schleswig-Holstein was to be resolved by a plebiscite to be held at a future time (see Schleswig Plebiscites). [69]

In Central Europe Germany was to recognize the independence of Czechoslovakia (which had actually been controlled by Austria) and cede parts of the province of Upper Silesia. [n. 11] Germany had to recognize the independence of Poland and renounce "all rights and title over the territory". Portions of Upper Silesia were to be ceded to Poland, with the future of the rest of the province to be decided by plebiscite. The border would be fixed with regard to the vote and to the geographical and economic conditions of each locality. [n. 12] The province of Posen (now Poznań), which had come under Polish control during the Greater Poland Uprising, was also to be ceded to Poland. [70] [71] Pomerelia (Eastern Pomerania), on historical and ethnic grounds, was transferred to Poland so that the new state could have access to the sea and became known as the Polish Corridor. [72] The sovereignty of part of southern East Prussia was to be decided via plebiscite while the East Prussian Soldau area, which was astride the rail line between Warsaw and Danzig, was transferred to Poland outright without plebiscite. [n. 13] [73] An area of 51,800 square kilometres (20,000 square miles) was granted to Poland at the expense of Germany. [74] Memel was to be ceded to the Allied and Associated powers, for disposal according to their wishes. [n. 14] Germany was to cede the city of Danzig and its hinterland, including the delta of the Vistula River on the Baltic Sea, for the League of Nations to establish the Free City of Danzig. [n. 15]


Article 119 of the treaty required Germany to renounce sovereignty over former colonies and Article 22 converted the territories into League of Nations mandates under the control of Allied states. [n. 16] Togoland and German Kamerun (Cameroon) were transferred to France. Ruanda and Urundi were allocated to Belgium, whereas German South-West Africa went to South Africa and Britain obtained German East Africa. [75] [76] [77] As compensation for the German invasion of Portuguese Africa, Portugal was granted the Kionga Triangle, a sliver of German East Africa in northern Mozambique. [78] Article 156 of the treaty transferred German concessions in Shandong, China, to Japan, not to China. Japan was granted all German possessions in the Pacific north of the equator and those south of the equator went to Australia, except for German Samoa, which was taken by New Zealand. [76] [n. 17]

Military restrictions

The treaty was comprehensive and complex in the restrictions imposed upon the post-war German armed forces (the Reichswehr). The provisions were intended to make the Reichswehr incapable of offensive action and to encourage international disarmament. [79] [n. 18] Germany was to demobilize sufficient soldiers by 31 March 1920 to leave an army of no more than 100,000 men in a maximum of seven infantry and three cavalry divisions. The treaty laid down the organisation of the divisions and support units, and the General Staff was to be dissolved. [n. 19] Military schools for officer training were limited to three, one school per arm, and conscription was abolished. Private soldiers and non-commissioned officers were to be retained for at least twelve years and officers for a minimum of 25 years, with former officers being forbidden to attend military exercises. To prevent Germany from building up a large cadre of trained men, the number of men allowed to leave early was limited. [n. 20]

The number of civilian staff supporting the army was reduced and the police force was reduced to its pre-war size, with increases limited to population increases paramilitary forces were forbidden. [n. 21] The Rhineland was to be demilitarized, all fortifications in the Rhineland and 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of the river were to be demolished and new construction was forbidden. [n. 22] Military structures and fortifications on the islands of Heligoland and Düne were to be destroyed. [n. 23] Germany was prohibited from the arms trade, limits were imposed on the type and quantity of weapons and prohibited from the manufacture or stockpile of chemical weapons, armoured cars, tanks and military aircraft. [n. 24] The German navy was allowed six pre-dreadnought battleships and was limited to a maximum of six light cruisers (not exceeding 6,000 long tons (6,100 t)), twelve destroyers (not exceeding 800 long tons (810 t)) and twelve torpedo boats (not exceeding 200 long tons (200 t)) and was forbidden submarines. [n. 25] The manpower of the navy was not to exceed 15,000 men, including manning for the fleet, coast defences, signal stations, administration, other land services, officers and men of all grades and corps. The number of officers and warrant officers was not allowed to exceed 1,500 men. [n. 5] Germany surrendered eight battleships, eight light cruisers, forty-two destroyers, and fifty torpedo boats for decommissioning. Thirty-two auxiliary ships were to be disarmed and converted to merchant use. [n. 26] Article 198 prohibited Germany from having an air force, including naval air forces, and required Germany to hand over all aerial related materials. In conjunction, Germany was forbidden to manufacture or import aircraft or related material for a period of six months following the signing of the treaty. [n. 27]


In Article 231 Germany accepted responsibility for the losses and damages caused by the war "as a consequence of the . aggression of Germany and her allies." [n. 28] [iii] The treaty required Germany to compensate the Allied powers, and it also established an Allied "Reparation Commission" to determine the exact amount which Germany would pay and the form that such payment would take. The commission was required to "give to the German Government a just opportunity to be heard", and to submit its conclusions by 1 May 1921 . In the interim, the treaty required Germany to pay an equivalent of 20 billion gold marks ($5 billion) in gold, commodities, ships, securities or other forms. The money would help to pay for Allied occupation costs and buy food and raw materials for Germany. [80] [n. 33]


To ensure compliance, the Rhineland and bridgeheads east of the Rhine were to be occupied by Allied troops for fifteen years. [n. 34] If Germany had not committed aggression, a staged withdrawal would take place after five years, the Cologne bridgehead and the territory north of a line along the Ruhr would be evacuated. After ten years, the bridgehead at Coblenz and the territories to the north would be evacuated and after fifteen years remaining Allied forces would be withdrawn. [n. 35] If Germany reneged on the treaty obligations, the bridgeheads would be reoccupied immediately. [n. 36]

International organizations

Part I of the treaty, in common with all the treaties signed during the Paris Peace Conference, [iv] was the Covenant of the League of Nations, which provided for the creation of the League, an organization for the arbitration of international disputes. [n. 37] Part XIII organized the establishment of the International Labour Office, to regulate hours of work, including a maximum working day and week the regulation of the labour supply the prevention of unemployment the provision of a 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 abroad recognition of the principle of freedom of association the organization of vocational and technical education and other measures. [n. 38] The treaty also called for the signatories to sign or ratify the International Opium Convention. [n. 39]


The delegates of the Commonwealth and British Government had mixed thoughts on the treaty, with some seeing the French policy as being greedy and vindictive. [81] [82] Lloyd George and his private secretary Philip Kerr believed in the treaty, although they also felt that the French would keep Europe in a constant state of turmoil by attempting to enforce the treaty. [81] Delegate Harold Nicolson wrote "are we making a good peace?", while General Jan Smuts (a member of the South African delegation) wrote to Lloyd-George, before the signing, that the treaty was unstable and declared "Are we in our sober senses or suffering from shellshock? What has become of Wilson's 14 points?" He wanted the Germans not be made to sign at the "point of the bayonet". [83] [84] Smuts issued a statement condemning the treaty and regretting that the promises of "a new international order and a fairer, better world are not written in this treaty". Lord Robert Cecil said that many within the Foreign Office were disappointed by the treaty. [83] The treaty received widespread approval from the general public. Bernadotte Schmitt wrote that the "average Englishman . thought Germany got only what it deserved" as a result of the treaty, [85] but public opinion changed as German complaints mounted. [86]

Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, following the German re-militarisation of the Rhineland in 1936, stated that he was "pleased" that the treaty was "vanishing", expressing his hope that the French had been taught a "severe lesson". [82]

Status of British Dominions

The Treaty of Versailles was an important step in the status of the British Dominions under international law. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa had each made significant contributions to the British war effort, but as separate countries, rather than as British colonies. India also made a substantial troop contribution, although under direct British control, unlike the Dominions. The four Dominions and India all signed the Treaty separately from Britain, [n. 2] a clear recognition by the international community that the Dominions were no longer British colonies. "Their status defied exact analysis by both international and constitutional lawyers, but it was clear that they were no longer regarded simply as colonies of Britain." [87] By signing the Treaty individually, the four Dominions and India also were founding members of the League of Nations in their own right, rather than simply as part of the British Empire.


The signing of the treaty was met with roars of approval, singing, and dancing from a crowd outside the Palace of Versailles. In Paris proper, people rejoiced at the official end of the war, [88] the return of Alsace and Lorraine to France, and that Germany had agreed to pay reparations. [89]

While France ratified the treaty and was active in the League, the jubilant mood soon gave way to a political backlash for Clemenceau. The French Right saw the treaty as being too lenient and saw it as failing to achieve all of France's demands. Left-wing politicians attacked the treaty and Clemenceau for being too harsh (the latter turning into a ritual condemnation of the treaty, for politicians remarking on French foreign affairs, as late as August 1939). Marshal Ferdinand Foch stated "this (treaty) is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years." a criticism over the failure to annex the Rhineland and for compromising French security for the benefit of the United States and Britain. [90] [85] [86] [89] [91] [92] [93] When Clemenceau stood for election as President of France in January 1920, he was defeated. [93]


Reaction in Italy to the treaty was extremely negative. The country had suffered high casualties, yet failed to achieve most of its major war goals, notably gaining control of the Dalmatian coast and Fiume. President Wilson rejected Italy's claims on the basis of "national self-determination." For their part, Britain and France—who had been forced in the war's latter stages to divert their own troops to the Italian front to stave off collapse—were disinclined to support Italy's position at the peace conference. Differences in negotiating strategy between Premier Vittorio Orlando and Foreign Minister Sidney Sonnino further undermined Italy's position at the conference. A furious Vittorio Orlando suffered a nervous collapse and at one point walked out of the conference (though he later returned). He lost his position as prime minister just a week before the treaty was scheduled to be signed, effectively ending his active political career. Anger and dismay over the treaty's provisions helped pave the way for the establishment of Benito Mussolini's dictatorship three years later.


Portugal entered the war on the Allied side in 1916 primarily to ensure the security of its African colonies, which were threatened with seizure by both Britain and Germany. To this extent, she succeeded in her war aims. The treaty recognized Portuguese sovereignty over these areas and awarded her small portions of Germany's bordering overseas colonies. Otherwise, Portugal gained little at the peace conference. Her promised share of German reparations never materialized, and a seat she coveted on the executive council of the new League of Nations went instead to Spain—which had remained neutral in the war. In the end, Portugal ratified the treaty, but got little out of the war, which cost more than 8,000 Portuguese troops and as many as 100,000 of her African colonial subjects their lives. [94]

United States

After the Versailles conference, Democratic President Woodrow Wilson claimed that "at last the world knows America as the savior of the world!" [v]

But the Republican Party, led by Henry Cabot Lodge, controlled the US Senate after the election of 1918, and 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. [95]

A discontent bloc of 12–18 "Irreconcilables", 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, [96] comprised a majority of the Republicans. They wanted a treaty with reservations, especially on Article 10, which involved the power of the League of Nations to make war without a vote by the US Congress. [97] 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. But Wilson collapsed midway with a serious stroke that effectively ruined his leadership skills. [98]

The closest the treaty came to passage was on 19 November 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 end the chances of ratification permanently. Among the American public as a whole, the Irish Catholics and the German Americans were intensely opposed to the treaty, saying it favored the British. [99]

After Wilson's presidency, his successor Republican President Warren G. Harding continued American opposition to the formation of the League of Nations. Congress subsequently passed the Knox–Porter Resolution bringing a formal end to hostilities between the United States and the Central Powers. It was signed into law by President Harding on 2 July 1921. [100] [101] Soon after, the US–German Peace Treaty of 1921 was signed in Berlin on 25 August 1921, and two similar treaties were signed with Austria and Hungary on 24 and 29 August 1921, in Vienna and Budapest respectively.

Edward 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. [102]


Many in China felt betrayed as the German territory in China was handed to Japan. Wellington Koo refused to sign the treaty and the Chinese delegation at the Paris Peace Conference was the only nation that did not sign the Treaty of Versailles at the signing ceremony. The sense of betrayal led to great demonstrations in China such as the May 4th movement. There was immense dissatisfaction with Duan Qirui's government, which had secretly negotiated with the Japanese in order to secure loans to fund their military campaigns against the south. On 12 June 1919, the Chinese cabinet was forced to resign and the government instructed its delegation at Versailles not to sign the treaty. [103] [104] As a result, relations with the West deteriorated. [105]


On 29 April, the German delegation under the leadership of the Foreign Minister Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau arrived in Versailles. On 7 May, 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 can sense the full force of hatred 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." [vi] 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 afterwards withdrawing from the proceedings of the peace conference. [ citation needed ]

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 honour. They referred to the treaty as "the Diktat" since its terms were presented to Germany on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. [106] Germany's first democratically elected head of government, Philipp Scheidemann, resigned rather than sign the treaty. In an emotional and polemical address to the National Assembly on 12 May 1919, he called the treaty a "horrific and murderous witch's hammer", [107] and exclaimed:

Which hand would not shrivel, that shackled itself and us in such a way? [108] [107]

At the end of his speech, Scheidemann stated that, in the government's opinion, the treaty was unacceptable. [108]

After Scheidemann's resignation, a new coalition government was formed under Gustav Bauer. President Friedrich Ebert knew that Germany was in an impossible situation. Although he shared his countrymen's disgust with the treaty, he was sober enough to consider the possibility that the government would not be in a position to reject it. He believed that if Germany refused to sign the treaty, the Allies would invade Germany from the west—and there was no guarantee that the army would be able to make a stand in the event of an invasion. With this in mind, he asked Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg if the army was capable of any meaningful resistance in the event the Allies resumed the war. 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—concluded the army could not resume the war even on a limited scale. But rather than inform Ebert himself, he had Groener inform the government that the army would be in an untenable position in the event of renewed hostilities. Upon receiving this, the new government recommended signing the treaty. The National Assembly voted in favour of signing the treaty by 237 to 138, with five abstentions (there were 421 delegates in total). This result was wired to Clemenceau just hours before the deadline. Foreign minister Hermann Müller and colonial minister Johannes Bell travelled to Versailles to sign the treaty on behalf of Germany. The treaty was signed on 28 June 1919 and ratified by the National Assembly on 9 July by a vote of 209 to 116. [109]


The disenfranchised and often colonized 'non-white' world held high expectations that a new order would open up an unheralded opportunity to have a principle of racial equality recognized by the leading global powers. [110] Japanese diplomacy had bitter memories of the rhetoric of the Yellow Peril, and the arrogance, underwritten by the assumptions about a White Man's Burden, memories aggravated by the rise of discrimination against their business men, severe immigration restrictions on Asiatics, and court judgments hostile to Japanese interests, which characterized Western states' treatment of their nationals. [110] Japan's delegation, among whose plenipotentiaries figured Baron Makino and Ambassador Chinda Sutemi, was led by its elder statesman Saionji Kinmochi.

Versailles represented a chance to overturn this imposed inferiority, whose tensions were strengthened particularly in Japan's relationship with the United States during WW1. [110] Confidence in their growing industrial strength, and conquest of Germany's Far East possessions, together with their proven fidelity to the Entente would, it was thought, allow them finally to take their rightful place among the victorious Great Powers. [110] They solicited support especially from the American delegation to obtain recognition for the principle of racial equality at the League of Nations Commission. Their proposals to this end were consistently rebuffed by British, American and Australian diplomats, who were all sensitive to their respective countries' internal pressures. Wilson himself was an enactor of segregationist policies in the United States, Balfour considered Africans inferior to Europeans – equality was only true of people within particular nations – while William Hughes, adopting a "slap the Jap" attitude, was a vocal defender of a White Australia policy. [110]

Japan's attempt, buttressed by the Chinese emissary Wellington Koo among others, to incorporate a Racial Equality Proposal in the treaty, had broad support, but was effectively declined when it was rejected by the United States, Great Britain and Australia, [110] despite a powerfully persuasive speech delivered by Makino. [vii]

Japan itself both prior to and during WW1 had embarked on a vigorous expansion of continental colonialism, whose aims were justified in terms of an ideological vision of Asians, such as Koreans and Chinese, being of the same culture and race (dōbun dōshǖ: 同文同種 ), though its vision of those countries was paternalistic and geared to subordinating them to Japan's interests. Aspiring to be accepted as a world actor with similar status to the traditional Western powers, Japan envisaged an Asian Monroe Doctrine, where Japan's proper sphere of geostrategic interests in Asia would be recognized. Some years earlier, Japan secured both British and French support for its claims to inherit rights that Germany had exercised both in China and in the Pacific north of the Equator. American policy experts, unaware of these secret agreements, nonetheless suggested that Japan had adopted a Prussian model that would imperil China's own search for autonomy, and these considerations influenced Wilson. [111]


On 5 May 1921, the reparation Commission established the London Schedule of Payments and a final reparation sum of 132 billion gold marks to be demanded of all the Central Powers. This was the public assessment of what the Central Powers combined could pay, and was also a compromise between Belgian, British, and French demands and assessments. Furthermore, the Commission recognized that the Central Powers could pay little and that the burden would fall upon Germany. As a result, the sum was split into different categories, of which Germany was only required to pay 50 billion gold marks ( US$12.5 billion) this being the genuine assessment of the commission on what Germany could pay, and allowed the Allied powers to save face with the public by presenting a higher figure. Furthermore, payments made between 1919 and 1921 were taken into account reducing the sum to 41 billion gold marks. [112] [113]

In order to meet this sum, Germany could pay in cash or kind: coal, timber, chemical dyes, pharmaceuticals, livestock, agricultural machines, construction materials, and factory machinery. Germany's assistance with the restoration of the university library of Leuven, which was destroyed by the Germans on 25 August 1914, was also credited towards the sum. Territorial changes imposed by the treaty were also factored in. [114] [115] The payment schedule required US$250 million within twenty-five days and then US$500 million annually, plus 26 per cent of the value of German exports. The German Government was to issue bonds at five per cent interest and set up a sinking fund of one per cent to support the payment of reparations. [80]

Territorial changes

In February and March 1920, the Schleswig Plebiscites were held. The people of Schleswig were presented with only two choices: Danish or German sovereignty. The northern Danish-speaking area voted for Denmark while the southern German-speaking area voted for Germany, resulting in the province being partitioned. [69] The East Prussia plebiscite was held on 11 July 1920. There was a 90% turn out with 99.3% of the population wishing to remain with Germany. Further plebiscites were held in Eupen-Malmedy and Neutral Moresnet. On 20 September 1920, the League of Nations allotted these territories to Belgium. These latter plebiscites were followed by a boundary commission in 1922, followed by the new Belgian-German border being recognized by the German Government on 15 December 1923. [116] The transfer of the Hultschin area, of Silesia, to Czechoslovakia was completed on 3 February 1921. [117]

Following the implementation of the treaty, Upper Silesia was initially governed by Britain, France, and Italy. [118] Between 1919 and 1921, three major outbreaks of violence took place between German and Polish civilians, resulting in German and Polish military forces also becoming involved. [118] [119] In March 1921, the Inter-Allied Commission held the Upper Silesia plebiscite, which was peaceful despite the previous violence. The plebiscite resulted in c. 60 per cent of the population voting for the province to remain part of Germany. [120] Following the vote, the League of Nations debated the future of the province. [121] In 1922, Upper Silesia was partitioned: Oppeln, in the north-west, remained with Germany while Silesia Province, in the south-east, was transferred to Poland. [118]

Memel remained under the authority of the League of Nations, with a French military garrison, until January 1923. [122] On 9 January 1923, Lithuanian forces invaded the territory during the Klaipėda Revolt. [123] The French garrison withdrew, and in February the Allies agreed to attach Memel as an "autonomous territory" to Lithuania. [122] On 8 May 1924, after negotiations between the Lithuanian Government and the Conference of Ambassadors and action by the League of Nations, the annexation of Memel was ratified. [123] Lithuania accepted the Memel Statute, a power-sharing arrangement to protect non-Lithuanians in the territory and its autonomous status while responsibility for the territory remained with the great powers. The League of Nations mediated between the Germans and Lithuanians on a local level, helping the power-sharing arrangement last until 1939. [122]

On 13 January 1935, 15 years after the Saar Basin had been placed under the protection of the League of Nations, a plebiscite was held to determine the future of the area. 528,105 votes were cast, with 477,119 votes ( 90 per cent of the ballot) in favour of union with Germany 46,613 votes were cast for the status quo, and 2,124 votes for union with France. The region returned to German sovereignty on 1 March 1935. When the result was announced 4,100 people, including 800 refugees from Germany fled to France. [n. 9] [124]

Rhineland occupation

In late 1918, American, Belgian, British, and French troops entered the Rhineland to enforce the armistice. [24] Before the treaty, the occupation force stood at roughly 740,000 men. [125] [126] [127] [128] Following the signing of the peace treaty, the numbers drastically decreased and by 1926 the occupation force numbered only 76,000 men. [129] As part of the 1929 negotiations that would become the Young Plan, Stresemann and Aristide Briand negotiated the early withdrawal of Allied forces from the Rhineland. [130] On 30 June 1930, after speeches and the lowering of flags, the last troops of the Anglo-French-Belgian occupation force withdrew from Germany. [131]

Belgium maintained an occupation force of roughly 10,000 troops throughout the initial years. [126] This figure fell to 7,102 by 1926, and continued to fall as a result of diplomatic developments. [129] [132]

The British Second Army, with some 275,000 veteran soldiers, entered Germany in late 1918. [133] [127] In March 1919, this force became the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). The total number of troops committed to the occupation rapidly dwindled as veteran soldiers were demobilized, and were replaced by inexperienced men who had finished basic training following the cessation of hostilities. [133] By 1920, the BAOR consisted of only 40,594 men and the following year had been further reduced to 12,421. The size of the BAOR fluctuated over the following years, but never rose above 9,000 men. [134] The British did not adhere to all obligated territorial withdrawals as dictated by Versailles, on account of Germany not meeting her own treaty obligations. [135] A complete withdrawal was considered, but rejected in order to maintain a presence to continue acting as a check on French ambitions and prevent the establishment of an autonomous Rhineland Republic. [136]

The French Army of the Rhine was initially 250,000 men strong, including at a peak 40,000 African colonial troops (Troupes coloniales). By 1923, the French occupation force had decreased to roughly 130,000 men, including 27,126 African troops. [128] The troop numbers peaked again at 250,000 during the occupation of the Ruhr, before decreasing to 60,000 men by 1926. [129] [137] Germans viewed the use of French colonial troops as a deliberate act of humiliation, and used their presence to create a propaganda campaign dubbed the Black shame. This campaign lasted throughout the 1920s and 30s, although peaked in 1920 and 1921. For example, a 1921 German Government memo detailed 300 acts of violence from colonial troops, which included 65 murders and 170 sexual offenses. Historical consensus is that the charges were exaggerated for political and propaganda purposes, and that the colonial troops behaved far better than their white counterparts. [128] An estimated 500–800 Rhineland Bastards were born as a result of fraternization between colonial troops and German women, and who would later be persecuted. [138]

The United States Third Army entered Germany with 200,000 men . In June 1919, the Third Army demobilized and by 1920 the US occupation force had been reduced to 15,000 men . [139] [125] Wilson further reduced the garrison to 6,500 men , before Warren G. Harding's inauguration in 1921. [125] On 7 January 1923, after the Franco–Belgian occupation of the Ruhr, the US senate legislated the withdrawal of the remaining force. [140] [141] On 24 January, the American garrison started their withdrawal from the Rhineland, with the final troops leaving in early February. [142]


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 marks) still placed a significant burden on the German economy. Although the causes of the devastating post-war hyperinflation 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. [143]

In March 1921, French and Belgian troops occupied Duisburg, Düsseldorf, and other areas 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, which led to the withdrawal of French and Belgian troops from the Ruhr Area in 1925. [144]


In 1920, the head of the Reichswehr Hans von Seeckt clandestinely re-established the General Staff, by expanding the Truppenamt (Troop Office) purportedly a human resources section of the army. [145] [146] In March, 18,000 German troops entered the Rhineland under the guise of attempting to quell possible unrest by communists and in doing so violated the demilitarized zone. In response, French troops advanced further into Germany until the German troops withdrew. [147]

German officials conspired systematically to evade the clauses of the treaty, by failing to meet disarmament deadlines, refusing Allied officials access to military facilities, and maintaining and hiding weapon production. [147] As the treaty did not ban German companies from producing war material outside of Germany, companies moved to the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Sweden. Bofors was bought by Krupp, and in 1921 German troops were sent to Sweden to test weapons. [148] The establishment of diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union, via the Genoa Conference and Treaty of Rapallo, was also used to circumvent the Treaty of Versailles. Publicly, these diplomatic exchanges were largely in regards to trade and future economic cooperation. But secret military clauses were included that allowed for Germany to develop weapons inside the Soviet Union. Furthermore, it allowed for Germany to establish three training areas for aviation, chemical and tank warfare. [149] [150] In 1923, the British newspaper The Times made several claims about the state of the German Armed Forces: that it had equipment for 800,000 men , was transferring army staff to civilian positions in order to obscure their real duties, and warned of the militarization of the German police force by the exploitation the Krümper system. [151] [viii]

The Weimar Government also funded domestic rearmament programs, which were covertly funded with the money camouflaged in "X-budgets", worth up to an additional 10% of the disclosed military budget. [152] By 1925, German companies had begun to design tanks and modern artillery. During the year, over half of Chinese arms imports were German and worth 13 million Reichsmarks. In January 1927, following the withdrawal of the Allied disarmament committee, Krupps ramped up production of armor plate and artillery. [153] [154] [ix] Production increased so that by 1937, military exports had increased to 82,788,604 Reichsmarks. [153] [154] Production was not the only violation: "Volunteers" were rapidly passed through the army to make a pool of trained reserves, and paramilitary organizations were encouraged with the illegally militarized police. Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) were not limited by the treaty, thus this loophole was exploited and as such the number of NCOs were vastly in excess to the number needed by the Reichswehr. [155]

In December 1931, the Reichswehr finalized a second rearmament plan that called for 480 million Reichsmarks to be spent over the following five years: this program sought to provide Germany the capability of creating and supplying a defensive force of 21 divisions supported by aircraft, artillery, and tanks. This coincided with a 1 billion Reichsmark programme that planned for additional industrial infrastructure that would be able to permanently maintain this force. As these programs did not require an expansion of the military, they were nominally legal. [156] On 7 November 1932, the Reich Minister of Defense Kurt von Schleicher authorized the illegal Umbau Plan for a standing army of 21 divisions based on 147,000 professional soldiers and a large militia. [156] Later in the year at the World Disarmament Conference, Germany withdrew to force France and Britain to accept German equality of status. [156] London attempted to get Germany to return with the promise of all nations maintaining an equality in armaments and security. The British later proposed and agreed to an increase in the Reichswehr to 200,000 men, and for Germany to have an air force half the size of the French. It was also negotiated for the French Army to be reduced. [157]

In October 1933, following the rise of Adolf Hitler and the founding of Nazi regime, Germany withdrew from League of Nations and the World Disarmament Conference. In March 1935, Germany reintroduced conscription followed by an open rearmament programme, the official unveiling of the Luftwaffe (air force), and signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement that allowed a surface fleet 35% of the size of the Royal Navy. [158] [159] [160] The resulting rearmament programmes were allotted 35 billion Reichsmarks over an eight-year period. [161]


On 7 March 1936, German troops entered and remilitarized the Rhineland. [162] On 12 March 1938, following German pressure to the collapse the Austrian Government, German troops crossed into Austria and the following day Hitler announced the Anschluss: the annexation of Austria by Germany. [163] The following year, on 23 March 1939, Germany annexed Memel from Lithuania. [164]

Historians are split on the impact of the treaty. Some saw it as a good solution in a difficult time, others saw it as a disastrous measure that would anger the Germans to seek revenge. The actual impact of the treaty is also disputed. [165]

In his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keynes referred to the Treaty of Versailles as a "Carthaginian peace", a misguided attempt to destroy Germany on behalf of French revanchism, 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." [166] 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. [167] 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. [x]

French economist Étienne Mantoux 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 economists have argued that the restriction of Germany to a small army saved it so much money it could afford the reparations payments. [168]

It has been argued – for instance by historian Gerhard Weinberg in his book A World at Arms [169] – 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. [170]

The British military historian Correlli Barnett 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 that Germany had imposed on a defeated Russian SFSR in March 1918, which had taken away a third of Russia's population (albeit mostly 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. [171] 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. Barnett asserts that its post-war eastern borders were safer, because the former Austrian Empire fractured after the war into smaller, weaker states, Russia was wracked by revolution and civil war, and 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. [172] 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. [173] 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". [174]

The British historian of modern Germany, Richard J. Evans, wrote that during the war the German right was committed to an annexationist program which aimed at Germany annexing most of Europe and Africa. Consequently, any peace treaty that did not leave Germany as the conqueror would be unacceptable to them. [175] 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. [175] Evans further noted that the parties of the Weimar Coalition, namely the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the social liberal German Democratic Party (DDP) and the Christian democratic Centre Party, 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. [175] Finally, Evans argued that it is untrue that Versailles caused the premature end of the Republic, instead contending that it was the Great Depression of the early 1930s that put an end to German democracy. He also argued that Versailles was not the "main cause" of National Socialism and the German economy was "only marginally influenced by the impact of reparations". [175]

Ewa Thompson points out that the treaty allowed numerous nations in Central and Eastern Europe to liberate themselves from oppressive German rule, a fact that is often neglected by Western historiography, more interested in understanding the German point of view. In nations that found themselves free as the result of the treaty — such as Poles or Czechs — it is seen as a symbol of recognition of wrongs committed against small nations by their much larger aggressive neighbours. [176]

Resentment caused by the treaty sowed fertile psychological ground for the eventual rise of the Nazi Party, [177] but the German-born Australian historian Jürgen Tampke argued that it was "a perfidious distortion of history" to argue that the terms prevented the growth of democracy in Germany and aided the growth of the Nazi party saying that its terms were not as punitive as often held and that German hyper-inflation in the 1920s was partly a deliberate policy to minimise the cost of reparations. As an example of the arguments against the Versaillerdiktat he quotes Elizabeth Wiskemann who heard two officer's widows in Wiesbaden complaining that "with their stocks of linen depleted they had to have their linen washed once a fortnight (every two weeks) instead of once a month!" [178]

The German historian Detlev Peukert wrote that Versailles was far from the impossible peace that most Germans claimed it was during the interwar period, and though not without flaws was actually quite reasonable to Germany. [179] 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. [179] 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 of World War I imposed on the defeated German Reich were bound to create a nationalist backlash, and there was nothing the Allies could have done to avoid that backlash. [179] Having noted that much, Peukert commented that the policy of rapprochement with the Western powers that Gustav Stresemann carried out between 1923 and 1929 were constructive policies that might have 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. [179] 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. [179]

French historian Raymond Cartier states that millions of ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland and in Posen-West Prussia were placed under foreign rule in a hostile environment, where harassment and violation of rights by authorities are documented. [xi] 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. [xi] 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 and parts of Poland. [xi]

According to David Stevenson, since the opening of French archives, most commentators have remarked on French restraint and reasonableness at the conference, though Stevenson notes that "[t]he jury is still out", and that "there have been signs that the pendulum of judgement is swinging back the other way." [180]

Territorial changes

The Treaty of Versailles resulted in the creation of several thousand miles of new boundaries, with maps playing a central role in the negotiations at Paris. [181] [182] The plebiscites initiated due to the treaty have drawn much comment. Historian Robert Peckham wrote that the issue of Schleswig "was premised on a gross simplification of the region's history. . Versailles ignored any possibility of there being a third way: the kind of compact represented by the Swiss Federation a bilingual or even trilingual Schleswig-Holsteinian state" or other options such as "a Schleswigian state in a loose confederation with Denmark or Germany, or an autonomous region under the protection of the League of Nations." [183] In regards to the East Prussia plebiscite, historian Richard Blanke wrote that "no other contested ethnic group has ever, under un-coerced conditions, issued so one-sided a statement of its national preference". [183] Richard Debo wrote "both Berlin and Warsaw believed the Soviet invasion of Poland had influenced the East Prussian plebiscites. Poland appeared so close to collapse that even Polish voters had cast their ballots for Germany". [184]

In regards to the Silesian plebiscite, Blanke observed "given that the electorate was at least 60% Polish-speaking, this means that about one 'Pole' in three voted for Germany" and "most Polish observers and historians" have concluded that the outcome of the plebiscite was due to "unfair German advantages of incumbency and socio-economic position". Blanke alleged "coercion of various kinds even in the face of an allied occupation regime" occurred, and that Germany granted votes to those "who had been born in Upper Silesia but no longer resided there". Blanke concluded that despite these protests "there is plenty of other evidence, including Reichstag election results both before and after 1921 and the large-scale emigration of Polish-speaking Upper Silesians to Germany after 1945, that their identification with Germany in 1921 was neither exceptional nor temporary" and "here was a large population of Germans and Poles—not coincidentally, of the same Catholic religion—that not only shared the same living space but also came in many cases to see themselves as members of the same national community". [120] Prince Eustachy Sapieha, the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, alleged that Soviet Russia "appeared to be intentionally delaying negotiations" to end the Polish-Soviet War "with the object of influencing the Upper Silesian plebiscite". [184] Once the region was partitioned, both "Germany and Poland attempted to 'cleanse' their shares of Upper Silesia" via oppression resulting in Germans migrating to Germany and Poles migrating to Poland. Despite the oppression and migration, Opole Silesia "remained ethnically mixed." [118]

Frank Russell wrote that, in regards to the Saar plebiscite, the inhabitants "were not terrorized at the polls" and the "totalitarian [Nazi] German regime was not distasteful to most of the Saar inhabitants and that they preferred it even to an efficient, economical, and benevolent international rule." When the outcome of the vote became known, 4,100 (including 800 refugees who had previously fled Germany) residents fled over the border into France. [124]

Military terms and violations

During the formulation of the treaty, the British wanted Germany to abolish conscription but be allowed to maintain a volunteer Army. The French wanted Germany to maintain a conscript army of up to 200,000 men in order to justify their own maintenance of a similar force. Thus the treaty's allowance of 100,000 volunteers was a compromise between the British and French positions. Germany, on the other hand, saw the terms as leaving them defenseless against any potential enemy. [185] Bernadotte Everly Schmitt wrote that "there is no reason to believe that the Allied governments were insincere when they stated at the beginning of Part V of the Treaty . that in order to facilitate a general reduction of the armament of all nations, Germany was to be required to disarm first." A lack of American ratification of the treaty or joining the League of Nations left France unwilling to disarm, which resulted in a German desire to rearm. [85] Schmitt argued "had the four Allies remained united, they could have forced Germany really to disarm, and the German will and capacity to resist other provisions of the treaty would have correspondingly diminished." [186]

Max Hantke and Mark Spoerer wrote "military and economic historians [have] found that the German military only insignificantly exceeded the limits" of the treaty before 1933. [152] Adam Tooze concurred, and wrote "To put this in perspective, annual military spending by the Weimar Republic was counted not in the billions but in the hundreds of millions of Reichsmarks" for example, the Weimar Republic's 1931 program of 480 million Reichsmarks over five years compared to the Nazi Government's 1933 plan to spend 4.4 billion Reichsmarks per year. [187] P. M. H. Bell argued that the British Government was aware of later Weimar rearming, and lent public respectability to the German efforts by not opposing them, [157] an opinion shared by Churchill. [ citation needed ] Norman Davies wrote that "a curious oversight" of the military restrictions were that they "did not include rockets in its list of prohibited weapons", which provided Wernher von Braun an area to research within eventually resulting in "his break [that] came in 1943" leading to the development of the V-2 rocket. [188]

Rise of the Nazis

The Treaty created much resentment in Germany, which was exploited by Adolf Hitler in his rise to power at the helm of Nazi Germany. Central to this was belief in the stab-in-the-back myth, which held that the German army had not lost the war and had been betrayed by the Weimar Republic, who negotiated an unnecessary surrender. The Great Depression exacerbated the issue and led to a collapse of the German economy. Though the treaty may not have caused the crash, it was a convenient scapegoat. Germans viewed the treaty as a humiliation and eagerly listened to Hitler's oratory which blamed the treaty for Germany's ills. Hitler promised to reverse the depredations of the Allied powers and recover Germany's lost territory and pride, which has led to the treaty being cited as a cause of World War II. [189] [181]

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