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"Germany came to see itself as a victim without actually being destroyed" How accurate is this?

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Introduction

"Germany came to see itself as a victim without actually being destroyed" How accurate is this? On the 16th June the German government, lead by Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, were presented with the Treaty of Versailles. They were originally given 14, and then 21 days, to agree to it. "The treaty, which included some 440 Articles, was not as vindictive as Clemenceau had wanted nor as moderate as Lloyd George would have wished. It certainly fell far short of the conciliatory features of Wilson's fourteen point proposals." (Evans and Jenkins) However, in order to decipher whether the end results were destructive to Germany or not, it is necessary to asses not only the main points of the treaty (including military provisions, territory, financial provisions, war guilt and the establishment of new nation states), but also the treaty makers themselves and their intentions towards Germany. The main three statesmen associates with Versailles are: Lloyd George of Great Britain, George Clemenceau of France, and Woodrow Wilson from the U.S.A. With regard to these statesmen Stephen Lees claims that we should "start by not being too dismissive" He claims that although they were responsible for their own people they also were also able to think on an international level. Their three main aims were "to guarantee Europe against the possibility of future German aggression; to revive the economic infrastructure of the allies; and to ensure the stability of the new nation states in central and Eastern Europe. ...read more.

Middle

. . each of them containing large masses of Germans clamouring for reunion with their homeland" It also took away much of their industry including 48% iron ore, 16% coal, and15% agricultural production. J.M Keynes believes that these terms were "inexpedient and disasterous" Anthony Wood does not agree with this point of view and states "any defeated country, whether it negotiates or not, has to accept the conditions the victor demands . . . the terms which Germany imposed on Russia at Brest-Litovsk in March 1919, deprived her of any moral right to complain of Versailles; indeed in comparison with her allies, Austria Hungary and Turkey, Germany had kept the bulk of her territory in tact and those regions which had been removed from her were of a mixed population and had mostly been the fruit of conquest" Indeed this is true, at Brest-Litovsk Germany had demanded a huge sum of 6 milliard marks from Russia. Although this should be kept in mind, it should also be noted that the land that was taken was not simply a few fields but some of the most industrious, rich areas in Germany! Not only this but that fact that they should all be taken at once with no chance to prepare for such a huge loss seems less than fair. Along with the transfer of territory came the creation of new nation states. Stephen Lee maintains that these were already "a fait accompli, emerging from the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires in 1918" ...read more.

Conclusion

*France failed to achieve its aims of a permanently weakened Germany and a secure border. *Reparations were not so burdensome that they destroyed the German economy". Other Historians believe that this is not the point and that "the real damage the treaty did to Germany was to disillusion more moderate men who might otherwise have supported their new Republic . . . The peace settlement continued to poison the political atmosphere in Germany for many years" (A Nicholls). However, when dealing with this issue it is felt that Historians tend to treat Versailles as an isolated factor. Certainly if you look at individual terms and work hard enough they can all be justified. However Versailles was not the only thing Germany had to contend with. It is forgotten by many people the extreme problems that they were already facing at home. Between 1913 and 1918 the mark had lost 75% of its value, only 16% of the war costs could be met by taxation and earnings were falling by 20-30%. To make matters worse by 1916 the death toll from starvation and hypothermia alone totalled 121,000. These circumstances would be difficult to manage in a relatively stable country such as Britain, but Germany was not such a country. Germany had only recently become a democracy and there was no political stability what so ever. Whilst thinking of Versailles and adding it onto these factors, it is hard to imagine that they were not destroyed, at least for that era. ...read more.

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