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Treaty of Versailles

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Introduction

In 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed, those who signed it had been referred to in Germany as the 'November Criminals', for agreeing to a treaty that was far too harsh: it made Germany accept all the blame for the war, stripped it from its land, colonies, entire navy and merchant navy, and limited it to a tiny 100,000 men and six battleships, with no tanks, submarines or aircrafts. The French Prime Minister however, was criticised by his own people for not making the Treaty harsh enough, and was soon voted off power. Yet meanwhile, in Great Britain, David Lloyd George receives a hero's welcome upon his return, for treating Germany fairly in the eyes of the British public. The Treaty of Versailles does not necessarily have to be viewed as a harsh treaty. The war guilt clause, for example, was particularly insulting for the German people, yet they had after all, encouraged Austria to declare war on Serbia after Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination. By sending them a 'blank cheque' and promising full support against a war with Russia and Serbia, Germany was the driving factor behind Austria's decision to declare war on Serbia. ...read more.

Middle

a demilitarised zone. It was also these aggressive displays from Germany which made it understandable that they were denied a place in the League of Nations. It was justifiable, as Germany had shown that peaceful negotiations had not been her strong point. In addition, the denial of access into the League of Nations for Germany until it proved to be a peaceful nation provided incentive for Germany to settle disagreements in a non-violent manner. At the time of the signing of the Schlieffen Plan, the British public believed that the treaty fairly served justice. However, the German population, who believed they merely agreed to ceasefire rather than having lost the war, thought that the treaty was extremely harsh and unfair. Including this, they believed that the Treaty would be based on Wilson's fourteen points, which appealed to Germans much more than Lloyd George's or Clemenceau's ideas. The treaty had turned out to be very different than they had expected it to be. The War Guilt clause was a huge insult for the German people, and the clause which angered them the most. It was, to them, unfair. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, if they are not granted entry into the League of Nations, there is no longer the option of peaceful negotiation, leading directly to the violence that the denial of access had originally been trying to avoid. In conclusion, I believe that neither the initial reaction of the German, British or French people adequately showed how just the Treaty exactly was. It was not as harsh as Germany believed, and although a lot of land had been lost and the military had been greatly cut down, they do not realise that if Clemenceau had his way, it may have been much harsher. However, the treaty was quite harsh; the immense loss of land, splitting Germany into two, and the loss of self determination can be seen as incredibly harsh acts. The treaty did not fail because it was too harsh, as the Locarno honeymoon period proved that Germany were able to live with and accept this Treaty. In summary, although the Treaty was harsh, its harshness, for the most part, had been justifiable, and Germany did indeed deserve to be punished, but not as much as the Treaty of Versailles stated it should. ...read more.

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