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Geddes said they should "Squeeze the German lemon until the pips squeak" - How far was this the aim of the Treaty of Versailles and did it succeed in fulfilling Geddes hopes?

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Introduction

Geddes said they should "Squeeze the German lemon until the pips squeak" How far was this the aim of the Treaty of Versailles and did it succeed in fulfilling Geddes hopes? The negotiations that became known as the Treaty of Versailles became highly contentious, especially whilst negotiating German frontiers and boundaries. The French demanded that Germany's western frontier be fixed on the river Rhine. The area to the left would go to France or would be an independent state. Lloyd George and Wilson (UK and US representatives) both opposed this proposal. A compromise was made but it was far from squeezing the German lemon till the pips squeaked. It was agreed that there would be an allied occupation of the Rhineland for 15 years. An Anglo- American treaty guaranteed France against a German attack. The Rhineland itself would be divided into three zones each would be evacuated after 5 years, following this would be a demilitarization of the area in which German troops would be barred but would be run by German administration. This compromise was hardly against Germany; in fact it is quite nice to the Germans. There is disagreement between the big 3 (France feel aggrieved) and they are offering to preserve a peace of land until Germany is economically stable enough to have back!!! ...read more.

Middle

By article 231 Germany had to accept full responsibility for causing this war. This war guilt clause was hated by the German people but provided a moral base for the allied demands for Germany to pay reparations. The main difficulty was deciding how much Germany should pay, how much they could pay and how to divide it between the allies. Wilson wanted a reparations settlement based on Germany's ability to pay. However the French and British publics wanted to extract huge payments which would help allied countries to meet the costs of the war and also weaken German economy for years to come. "To squeeze the German lemon till the pips squeaked". Lloyd George was pulled several ways. He was convinced that Britain would get their fair share, insisting, successfully, that damage should include merchant shipping loses and the costs of pensions to those disabled, widowed or orphaned by the war. But like Wilson he thought that Germany should pay only what it could reasonably afford. He didn't want to totally abolish any prospects of further exports to Germany which had previously been a good market for British goods. His personal feelings aside Lloyd George could no longer afford to ignore the prevailing mood of the people in the UK especially after promising to screw Germany "to the uttermost farthing". ...read more.

Conclusion

Opinion in Britain after 1919 also reached the conclusion that Germany had been treated unfairly. France however found the treaty far too soft. After a costly war, for which it was to blame, Germany had only lost 13% of its pre war territory and 10% of its population. Surrounded by small unstable states on its southern and eastern boundaries Germany remained potentially the strongest state in Europe. Clemenceau believed he only signed the treaty because Britain and the US had offered France a defensive alliance. Most Frenchmen in consequence felt betrayed. I believe that the treaty of Versailles was, at times, in particular the reparations, harsh to the maximum and the pips did squeak however in many other areas such as military and territorially the treaty was not harsh enough and its aims certainly were not simply to create peace. I believe the US saw mass economical gains and both Britain and France (and Italy to an extent) saw the prospect of new colonies to add to their illustrious egos. It can be foreseen that the failure to solve the German problem in 1919 laid the foundations of the 2nd World War and therefore Geddes hopes had not been fulfilled. A good summary echoed by contemporary historians is this... "The treaty was the worst of all worlds too severe to be acceptable to most Germans and too lenient too constrain Germany." ...read more.

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