On the other hand, some groups believe that the military clause was fair, as it punished Germany as well as giving the smaller countries of Europe a chance to establish themselves. Furthermore, restricting Germany’s army and weapons meant that there would be no threat to the British Empire, security or international trade, and it prevented the break out of another large, destructive war.
The war guilt and reparation clauses also had a great impact on Germany. Many groups believed that Europe had slid into war and that it was not one country’s fault since most were involved in the arms race and alliance system. Therefore they believe that as Germany did not single-handedly start the war, they should not have to take the full blame for it. In addition, the German economy was in pieces, so the people were worried that the fine of £6.6 billion would completely destroy their country and economy. Germany was also forced to sign a ‘blank cheque’ because if they did not, Britain would not lift the naval blockade. This seemed harsh when linked to the other economic problems that Germany was experiencing. The payments were the equivalent of around 5% of the national income. As Germany could not afford to pay this, they had to borrow a lot of money from America. In addition, they had to import raw materials, which lead to a balance of payments deficit. This caused currency decline and inflation.
Despite this, others believed that Germany deserved to take the full blame for the war and therefore should pay for all the damage caused. Furthermore, as Germany originally created the principle of paying reparations and had previously imposed reparations on France after the 1870 war, many groups thought that it was only fair for them to also have to pay. In addition, many people believed that the reparations were fair as the amount was changed to a more reasonable figure in 1929.
The last clause was about land. Germany lost 10% of her land and her entire overseas empire was taken away. This was a major blow to German pride and economy. She also lost the Saar and Upper Silesia, which were important industrial areas. The Saar was German speaking and had a plentiful supply of coal, and Upper Silesia contained key iron and coal resources. Meanwhile, as Germany was losing land, the British and French were increasing their empires by taking control of German and Turkish territories in Africa and the Middle East. Germany thought that this was very unfair, as neither Britain nor France had worked hard to earn this land, and it did not belong to them. Former German colonies became mandates controlled by the League of Nations. The Treaty also forbade Germany to join together with its former ally Austria, which went against self-determination.
On the other hand, some people believe that Germany’s entire overseas empire was taken away as it had been one of the causes of bad relations between Britain and Germany before the war, and that taking it away would solve many problems. In addition, they think that forbidding Germany to join with Austria was a good idea, because Austria would have added 12 million people to Germany, which would have enabled it to dominate the continent.
Considering the amount of land that Germany lost, how was she supposed to pay such a huge reparations bill, especially since she had lost 16% of its coalfields and almost half of its iron and steel industry? The terms of the Treaty that are unfair seem to outweigh the supposedly fair terms. Germany’s greatest asset was its large and extremely powerful army. By having most of it taken away from them, left them with little confidence and pride. It also meant that they had no way of seizing land or boosting their economy, and left them with little protection from other powers. Leaving Germany this weak and vulnerable cannot be seen as a fair punishment. In addition, Germany was deprived of the ability to negotiate any of the terms of the treaty, and had to take full responsibility for all the damage caused by the war.
Here's what a teacher thought of this essay
This is a strong response which offers a balanced and systematic assessment of the fairness of the treaty. Knowledge is accurate and judgements are convincing, particularly in the conclusion. 5 out of 5 stars.