The Treaty of Versailles created more problems than it solved. Discuss.

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HST242 Assignment 2                Stephen Wilson

The Treaty of Versailles created more problems than it solved.  Discuss.

        The peace treaty of Versailles which the allies forced upon the Germans in 1919 has been one of the most controversial political acts of the twentieth century.  Many historians and politicians believed that the dictated peace was far too harsh in it’s measures which created a strong hatred for the treaty in Germany which in turn sowed the seeds for future generations of Germans to overturn the treaty.  On almost every aspect the Treaty of Versailles can be seen as a failure, yet it could be said that the treaty did provide Europe with twenty years of peace from 1919 to 1939.

        The two main issues which the Treaty of Versailles focused upon were the territorial changes in Europe and the fact that Germany would have to pay for the war.  Both of these are vitally important factors in why the Treaty can be seen as a failure.  The Treaty put forward to Germany the loss of the following territories in Europe; Danzig and the Polish Corridor (Poland), Alsace-Lorraine (France), Schleswig-Holstein (Denmark), and Eupen and Malmady (Belgium).  The Germans also lost the Saarland, which was put under the control of the League of Nations for a period of 15 years.  The loss of these territories goes against the notion of national self determination which Versailles brought about, as the populations of these areas lost by Germany were overwhelmingly Germanic, so the handing over of these territories caused resentment of Germans living in these areas against Versailles and the allies.  This is also the case with Versailles creation of new nation states in Eastern Europe to fill the vacuum created by Woodrow Wilson’s concept of national self-determination.  Out of all the new nations, 19million people were national minorities out of a total population of 98million.  This again is an important factor.  Hitler was able to use the ‘plight’ of these minorities to press for territorial claims in these areas, hence showing that this aspect (national self-determination) of Versailles was a failure.  Also because these new nation states were not homogenous, and had no common history they were doomed to failure, for example the ease in which the Nazis took over Czechoslovakia.

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        The other key feature of Versailles was the reparations which the allies believed that the Germans had to pay.  These ranged from the modest to the ridiculous.  The French believed 200million German Marks would be the minimum that the Germans would have to pay.  Both Britain and France wanted reparations, by France desperately needed them, as the war had left the French economy in ruins.  Therefore the French aims with Versailles was to hamstring the German economy in such a way that the Germans would have paid for France’s war and left themselves bankrupt.  To the French this was ...

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