"A study of British foreign policy in the 1920's suggests that British governments increasingly accepted the need for the treaty of Versailles to be amended in Germany's favour"How far do you agree?

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Laura Rea

“A study of British foreign policy in the 1920’s suggests that British governments increasingly accepted the need for the treaty of Versailles to be amended in Germany’s favour”

How far do you agree?

To answer this question I need to review the terms of the treaty of Versailles and Britain’s view on it. I will need to look at issues such as reparations, and how elements such as the Dawes plan of 1924, the Young plan of 1929 and Germany’s ability to pay the given amounts of reparations, addresses in many summit conferences, affected Britain’s outlook on the treaty. The First World War had a great effect on Britain and Germany, how the treaty was enforced in Germany and public opinion in both countries in the 1920’s. I think the main reason Britain wanted to amend the terms of the treaty of Versailles was because they wanted to see an economically strong Germany again, as they were once strong trading partners, and so this would have been to the advantage of British economy also

As a whole Britain seemed to have gained what she wanted from the treaty. German naval power had been destroyed and this had been one of Britain’s main concerns. The British believed that the treaty was firm but just at first, though this was not the prevailing view in Germany. Germans claimed that the treaty was punitive and unfair, and had been a major departure from President Wilson’s 14 points. In 1919 an economist, J.M Keynes wrote a devastating critique of the treaty. He argued that a naïve Wilson had been forced by a vindictive Clemenceau (French Première) and Llyod George (British PM) to agree on an over harsh peace. He condemned the undesirability and unworkability of the reparations clauses. Although even Lloyd George had doubts about the treaty and suspected that Germany had been treated unfairly.

However most Frenchmen considered the treaty far too soft, they believed Germany was still too economically strong, Clemenceau had been prepared to accept the Versailles terms, only because Wilson and Lloyd George had offered France a defensive alliance. The US senate however, refused to ratify this guarantee and so did the British government. Most Frenchmen, in consequence, felt betrayed.

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The Big 3 were aware that defiances were made against the treaty of Versailles and this was exactly why, as far as Lloyd George was concerned, the League Of Nations was created. In 1919 he said that the League of Nations would “be there as a court of appeal to readjust crudities, irregularities and injustices”

The American senate refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles and so the US failed to join the League of Nations. As part of the treaty there were many territorial changes. The French at first demanded that the western frontier of Germany should be fixed ...

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