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An overview of the treaty of versailles document

The Paris Peace Conference opened on Jan. The delegations of 27 nations harassed the Great Powers with their various and conflicting complaints and demands. The Great Powers, in turn, sent five delegates… A brief treatment of the Treaty of Versailles follows.

For full treatment, see international relations: When the German government asked U. Woodrow Wilson to arrange a general armistice in October 1918, it declared that it accepted the Fourteen Points he had formulated as the basis for a just peace. The first three in particular made the important decisions. None of the defeated nations had any say in shaping the treaty, and even the associated Allied powers played only a minor role.

The German delegates were presented with a fait accompli. They were shocked at the severity of the terms and protested the contradictions between the assurances made when the armistice was negotiated and the actual treaty.

The population and territory of Germany was reduced by about 10 percent by the treaty. In the west, Alsace and Lorraine were returned to France, and the Saarland was placed under the supervision of the League of Nations until 1935. In the north, three small areas were given to Belgiumand, after a plebiscite in Schleswignorthern Schleswig was returned to Denmark. The war guilt clause of the treaty deemed Germany the aggressor in the war and consequently made Germany responsible for making reparations to the Allied nations in payment for the losses and damage they had sustained in the war.

Although economists at the time declared that such a huge sum could never be collected without upsetting international finances, the Allies insisted that Germany be made to pay, and the treaty permitted them to take punitive actions if Germany fell behind in its payments. The Big Four, especially Clemenceau, wanted to make sure that Germany would never again pose a military threat to the rest of Europe, and the treaty contained a number of stipulations to guarantee this aim.

The German army was restricted to 100,000 men; the general staff was eliminated; the manufacture of armoured cars, tanks, submarines, airplanes, and poison gas was forbidden; and only a small number of specified factories could make weapons or munitions.

Treaty of Versailles

All of Germany west of the Rhine and up to 30 miles 50 km east of it was to be a demilitarized zone. The forced disarmament of Germany, it was hoped, would be accompanied by voluntary disarmament in other nations. Economic sanctions would be applied against any member who resorted to war. The league was to supervise mandated territories, the occupied Saar Basin, and Danzig and to formulate plans for reducing armaments.

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Numerous concessions were made to Germany before the rise of Adolf Hitlerand by 1938 only the territorial settlement articles remained. Many historians claim that the combination of a harsh treaty and subsequent lax enforcement of its provisions paved the way for the upsurge of German militarism in the 1930s.

The huge German reparations and the war guilt clause fostered deep resentment of the settlement in Germany, and when Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in 1936 a violation of the treatythe Allies did nothing to stop him, thus encouraging future German aggression.

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