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How fair was the Treaty of Versailles?

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Introduction

How fair was the Treaty of Versailles? When assessing the fairness of the Treaty of Versailles it is necessary to consider the impact of the treaty, not only on Germany, but also on all the major powers involved in both the treaty and the First World War. In order to determine the fairness of the treaty it is important to, in Germanys' case especially, consider the Treaty of Versailles in economic, military, territorial and colonial terms. There are also other countries which the Treaty of Versailles had an impact on, and the affect that the treaty has had on them can also be assessed. However, in order to assess the treaty, it is also important to consider by whom and how the word 'fair' is defined and used, as different countries will have differing views on what 'fair' treatment of Germany would consist of. Although the treaty may have been considered harsh at the time, now it is generally acknowledged that the treaty could have been a lot harder in economic, military, territorial and colonial terms. Firstly, in economic terms, while reparations of �6.6 billion may appear intimidating, the Dawes Plan in 1924 spread out the payments over a longer period of time and the Young Plan reduced payments to �2 billion. ...read more.

Middle

However, if compared to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1917, or the treaty Germany applied to France after the series of Bismarck wars, the Treaty of Versailles can be considered fair. However, more damaging that the practicalities of the treaty was the emotional effect it had on Germany. The indignity and humiliation suffered at the hands of the treaty further increased tensions in central Europe. However, since it is generally accepted that the main cause of the war lay with Germany, it was 'fair' for reparations to be paid. Also, with Germany's militaristic heritage, and series of wars in the build up to World War One, I also perceive it as 'fair' that they should demilitarise, especially from France's position. Perhaps the most hard done by country in the war was Austria-Hungary, however, this does not mean it was unjust. Austria did play a significant part in causing the war, concerning the 'Blank Cheque' and the annexation of other nations. However, as opposed to Germany, who lost 13% of its territory and 12% of its total population, the Austro-Hungarian Empire lost 80% of its land mass to the new sate of Czechoslovakia alone, and lost more land to Romania, Poland, Italy and the newly formed Yugoslavia. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was indeed the case when France wanted a Rhine Frontier. Although the Treaty of Versailles was met with German protest, it can been seen that the treaty was not as harsh as it could have been. The reparations were in Germany capabilities, which is proved by Germany's steel production and later the fulfilment policy. Also, the conditions applied to Germany were equal with the stipulations that Germany applied Russia in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and those applied to France. Germany's territorial losses could also have been more harsh then they really were, as they were at the end of the Second World War. However, they were a direct violation of the Fourteen points and were a lacking the idealism that Germany were expecting. Also, France were the least happy, and with reason, with the outcome of the treaty. I believe that their interests were least well protected of all the allied nations. In conclusion, I believe that the Treaty of Versailles was fair in regard to Germany in all respects, and that France was 'ripped off' in comparison to what Britain and America achieved from the Treaty of Versailles. ...read more.

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