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The Treaty of Versailles

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Introduction

The Treaty of Versailles To what extent can the treaty of Versailles (1919) be defended as fair? In June of 1919 an historic settlement was signed after the Great War had concluded, which set out to restore peace in Europe. The treaty contained many points which were mainly focused around the losing nation of the war, Germany. The allies argued their points of view of what the treaty should entail and how the issue of peace in Europe could be preserved. The allied big three, Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson and Georges Clemenceau all had their own ideas of what should be done to ensure peace remained in Europe for years to come. During this essay I am going to discuss the areas which suggest the ideas formed by the key leaders in Versailles were fair and counter this with areas that could be deemed unfair with regards to Germany and its Citizens. The Treaty of Versailles signed on June 28th 1919 officially marked the end of WW1, which involved the world's leaders agreeing on its terms. This proved to be a hard task and was a huge stumbling block which the treaty had to overcome to be successful. Britain, France and America (the big three) all had different aims for the provisions to be made. France felt very angry after the war; after all they had lost over 1.4 million troops and 400,000 civilians. ...read more.

Middle

The treaty of Versailles prevented the annexation of Germany and Poland. This decision can be said to be fair as Wilson was keen to see a larger Poland, resulting in a reduction of economic power for the Germans and the resources the extra land could have had. Lloyd George did well to prevent this by restricting Wilson's ideas and this resulted in a smaller area of land being removed from Germany. This is an aspect that shows that this had fair aspects. The decision to remove Danzig from German control may have angered some Germans, but they were still able to gain access to the Baltic see due to it being made a free city. I believe this is extremely fair as it still granted Germany use of the port, which would provide key trading links. Military restrictions were also imposed on Germany, which involved the reduction of its armed forces. The demilitarisation of the Rhineland was a key military restriction. This ensured the protection of France and calmed the French people. The German naval fleet was limited to 100,000 tonnes. I believe this can be said to be fair as the German navy wasn't essential in protecting the country, it was a commodity of offence. However, the navy wasn't completely removed but limited so this shows the willingness to compromise in the provisions and this provided some sort of naval defence when required. ...read more.

Conclusion

The army provided a proud nation with protection and a presence of national dignity. I made people within society feel secure and protected from any threat that could arise. Having the army limited to only 100,000 men would have had vast consequences within Germany. People will have felt deflated and morale would have weakened. If a threat arised Germany would be unable to defend herself and be subject to takeover or complete destruction. I believe having this provision is very unfair for the necessity of protection. My final point I see as being unfair is the reparations Germany were forced to pay. Germany was forced to pay a value of 6,600 million gold marks to the allied nations. These aimed to pay for the costs imposed on the allied nations during the war. I see this as being unfair as Germany should not have to bear the full cost of war just because they have "lost". Germany had already used money in defending herself and funding the war, just like the allies. I believe the allied nations set out to systematically destroy the German economy as they had to recover from war also taking this money from there economy, in such huge sums would have caused chaos within society, which it did later on. John Maynard Keynes backs this point up "aiming at the destruction of economic life in Germany it threatens the health and prosperity of the allies itself" this shows how Keynes believed destroying such a vast economic powerhouse would have vast consequences not only on Germany, but on the allies also. ...read more.

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