How fair was the treaty of Versailles?
The bloody war ended in 1918 when peace was called by Germany. It was not until 1919 when peace talks had begun in Paris. The treaty was harsh on the Germans but the allies felt secure about this, that Germany was no longer a threat in Europe. At this point it would be difficult to say that what the allies said in the treaty would be different after a few years after the war. Would the treaty still be the same if they wrote it after a few years after the war? The war had a major impact on he allies and losses were very high. At this time the allies would be looking for revenge on Germany for the high casualties and destruction that German shells pounded on French soil. The treaty could have been different if it was written at a latter date and could not have been too Harsh on Germany.
Woodrow Wilson the American President aimed to secure a peace based on the Fourteen Points. A peace that would be based on justice, which would be maintained by a new international organization called the League of Nations. Wilson did agree that Germany needed to be punished for starting the war, but he wanted the punishment to be fair.
David Lloyd-George the British Prime Minister was in a difficult position. Britain had suffered huge casualties in the war and the general public was demanding revenge. He had also announced in the 1918 election campaign that he expected Germany to pay as much as she could for the damage she had caused. Lloyd George was also prepared to see Germany's military strength reduced. On the other hand he was also aware that the new Weimar leaders of Germany were different to those of the Kaiser's time and that an over harsh treaty might undermine them and create a weak Germany. He was also concerned that if the peace treaty humiliated Germany it might provoke a Bolshevik revolution. Whilst he was prepared to talk in harsh terms for the people home in the UK, Lloyd-George worked to ease some of the harsher terms wanted by Clemenceau.
Clemenceau the French leader was determined on a punitive peace. This had been the second time in living memory that France had been invaded by Germany. In 1871 Germany had taken Alsace-Lorraine from France and forced her to pay huge reparations. French casualties had also been massive during the war and were the highest amongst the Allies. Clemenceau wanted German power reduced so that she could never again pose a military threat. The French people were fully behind their leader.
However it should also have remembered that the war had been extremely expensive and that by the end of it Britain and France had large debts to repay. In addition, France especially had suffered extensive and damage to large parts of the country that would cost a great deal to put right. Following the war public opinion in both Britain and France understandably felt strongly that Germany should be made to meet these costs of the war.