Was the Treaty of Versailles Fair In Its Treatment of Germany?
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Was the Treaty of Versailles fair in Its Treatment of Germany? When the peace armistice was signed on 11th November 1918, no plans had been made for a peace settlement so it was decided that one would be drawn up in the New Year. Representatives from Great Britain, France and USA were among those attending. Each had different ideas of how to treat Germany, and to what extent she would pay for the war. After the treaty of Versailles was agreed, the Germans were upset by the terms; they felt it was too harsh. The treaty was fair to Germany; it was harsh but could have been a lot worse. The main aim of the Treaty of Versailles was to make sure that Germany would be punished for the war. Each of the main countries in attendance had different ideas of how to punish Germany. The USA was the only country who didn't seek revenge from Germany. They had joined the war late and had not lost nearly as many soldiers in battles as other nations had.
Perhaps another reason for the French wish for revenge was memories of the Franco-Prussian war of 1871. The first point in the Treaty that the Germans felt angry with was the forced signing of the War Guilt Clause. This took all blame for the war and placed it on the Germans. They saw it as not their fault. A crisis in the Balkans had led to the strong links between Austria-Hungary and Germans called upon and Germany brought in to the picture. This point wasn't fair to the Germans. The clause actually blamed Germany and her allies but it was still Germany who took most of the blame. The treaty aimed to take away power from the Germans. This happened in many ways, but the most obvious way to remove power was to cut the size of the country down. The amount of land taken away from Germany seriously damaged her economy. The Saar coal field was one of Germany's main industrial areas. The handing of this to France for a fixed period meant that Germany couldn't use it to generate revenue to pay the rest of the reparations.
The Germans were angry that the peace treaty didn't directly follow Woodow Wilson's 14 points, as had been offered earlier. The allies saw it that the Germans hadn't accepted the points when they had originally been offered and so they should pay the price with a heavier settlement, Also, the Germans weren't invited to join the much talked about "League of Nations". The newly set up league didn't feel that Germany deserved to be a part because of the fact that they had been the main aggressor in the war. The Germans strongly resented this as they had no say in international affairs. This wasn't fair on Germany, and many historians speculate that if Germany had been allowed to join, World War 2 may never have happened. The treaty of Versailles was fair on Germany to an extent but there were parts that weren't. The treaty wasn't harsh enough to cripple Germany but was too harsh for them to accept the terms. Many factors of the treaty were resented by the Germans. The still reasonably strong economy coupled with the peoples resent anddesire for revenge on the Western Allies were major contributing parts for World War 2.
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