Was the Treaty Of Versailles a Harsh Treaty?

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Minh Pritchard

Was the Treaty Of Versailles a Harsh Treaty?

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; as they felt it was too harsh. The treaty was harsh but could have been a lot worse.

        Who can say for sure whether the Treaty of Versailles was fair or not?  The answer depends on your point of view.  From the French perspective, the Germans deserved to give up everything in order to make amends for the destruction they caused in France.  Therefore, the treaty wasn’t punishing them enough.  From where the American and British point of view, it seemed impossible to place the entire blame on one country, so the Clause 231, which stated Germany must except the blame for the war must have seemed quite harsh, but the treaty was a compromise – no one got everything they wanted, but more importantly, no one was completely short-changed, not even Germany.  Many of Wilson’s Fourteen Points weren’t accomplished, but he had faith in the League of Nations to sort things out later.  Clemenceau had wanted nothing but revenge on Germany, and that was definitely achieved, if not to the extent he had hoped for.  Lloyd-George was probably the most content out of the three leaders; as he had wanted a compromise between the French and American ideas.  

        If you look at source a which was written in 1923 by Hugo Preuss a German lawyer it is critical of the treaty as you would expect as it is written by a German, he blames the treaty for the failure of the German republic and calls the treaty a diktat, he says “the criminal madness of the Versailles diktat was a shameless blow in the face to hopes for political and economic recovery”. Although the source is a primary source you only get one side of the story, which is from a German perspective so you cannot fully trust this statement but it is still a reliable source.

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        Many Germans would argue that the treaty was aimed at completely destroying Germany’s economy, many people in Germany believed that the treaty would be based on President Wilson’s fourteen points which source A also talks about “For everyone still expected a peace settlement in accordance with Wilson’s fourteen points” when he treaty was actually signed there was anger throughout Germany and the treaty became known as a Diktat - as it was being forced on them and the Germans had no choice but to sign it. Many in Germany did not want the Treaty signed, but the representatives knew that ...

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