The Development of the Versailles Treaty

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The Treaty of Versailles was created to bring peace between nations after WWI. This investigation will answer the following question: To what extent did the Treaty of Versailles bring peace? In this investigation, the extent of the Versailles Treaty’s success will be evaluated by examining the period of its development, 1918, to the rise of Hitler, 1933. Several sources were used in this investigation including a number of books that look at the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and the reactions those terms triggered.

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Many sources, both primary and secondary, also examine how those reactions resulted in a failure in the attempt of brining permanent peace.
Two sources were evaluated for their origins, purposes, values, and limitations: Prelude to War by Robert T. Elson and The Kings Depart: The Tragedy of Germany, Versailles and The German Revolution by Richard M. Watt.

Summary of Evidence

I. Background – The Development of the Versailles Treaty

  • Germany asked for an armistice at the end of WWI in late 1918 (Elson 19).
  • The Treaty of Versailles was a peace settlement between Germany and the Allied Powers drawn up after the First World War in 1919 (Trueman).
  • The purpose of this treaty was to create a permanent peace among nations (Watt 12).
  • Three men played a significant role in the development of this peace treaty and they are known as the “Big Three”: Woodrow Wilson, Georges Clemenceau, and David Lloyd George (Trueman).

Woodrow Wilson was the President of the United States at this time and he supported his “Fourteen Points” including the development of a League of Nations to keep world peace (Elson 21). Wilson believed that Germany should be punished for the damage they caused, but he wanted the treaty to lead to reconciliation, not to revenge. Of the three men, Wilson supported the mildest punishment (Trueman).

Georges Clemenceau was the Prime Minister of France at this time and he took a harsher stance against Germany. He believed that Germany should learn from their punishment to never start a war again (Czernin). Also known as “The Tiger”, Clemenceau was chosen to be the President of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 (Clemenceau). Clemenceau and the French supported the destruction of Germany (Trueman).

David Lloyd George of Great Britain tried to play a middle role between Wilson and Clemenceau. He believed that Germany should be held responsible for World War One; however, he did not want the terms to be too harsh because he feared that a revolt could lead to the spread of communism (Trueman). If the terms of the treaty were harsh, Germans would go against their government and turn to communism. George believed that the spread of communism was “a far greater threat to the world than a defeated Germany” (Trueman).

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