Q:

What did the Treaty of Versailles do?

A:

The Treaty of Versailles brought an end to World War I, making peace between Germany and the Allies. However, its treatment of Germany laid the foundation for many of the problems that led to World War II.

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The negotiations of the Treaty of Versailles had much to do with the views that Woodrow Wilson, David Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau, the leaders of the United States, Great Britain and France, respectively, had about the treatment of Germany. While Lloyd George publicly advocated strict sanctions against Germany, privately he felt that Germany should be left strong enough to stand as a wall against Communism, which many thought would spread like a flame across Europe after its success against the tsars in Russia. However, suggesting any mercy for the Germans would have been politically suicidal.

Clemenceau represented the French view that Germany should be so handcuffed that it could never instigate another war. The utter destruction of northeastern France was a testament to the cruelty of German warfare, and his belief was that Germany should never have the tools of war at its disposal again.

Wilson had been shocked at the outright savagery of the Great War, and while he wanted Germany to be punished, he also wanted ultimate European reconciliation.

As a result, the treaty limited Germany's army to 100,000 and forbade tanks or an air force. Some of the territory that Germany lost took away vital natural resources for its economy. Most importantly, Germany was ultimately ordered to pay 6.6 billion pounds in reparations. The Germans had no part in the negotiations, but since their military was in a shambles, it had to sign. The resulting anger in Germany led to the rise of the Nazi Party and Germany's attempt, in World War II, to gain revenge on the victors in World War I.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What was the purpose of the Treaty of Versailles?

    A:

    The purpose of the Treaty of Versailles, outside of establishing guidelines for continued peace, was to put strict treaty obligations on Germany in hopes of preventing further war and make the country pay reparations for the damages caused during the war. One of the key points of the treaty was the War Guilt Clause, making Germany accept that they held complete responsibility for initiating World War I.

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  • Q:

    Why did so many Americans oppose the Treaty of Versailles?

    A:

    Many Americans opposed the Treaty of Versailles because the provision of joining a League of Nations meant an end to America's pre-war isolationism and an ongoing era of global involvement. In addition, German Americans felt the punitive reparations demanded of Germany were too severe, Italian Americans felt that Italy should have been awarded more territory, and Irish Americans felt that the treaty should have included the independence of Ireland.

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  • Q:

    What are three weaknesses of the Treaty of Versailles?

    A:

    Three weaknesses of the Treaty of Versailles include: the lack of an army within the League of Nations, making it impossible for the League to have authority to follow through on decisions made; Italy and Japan's resentfulness of the treaty, as they wanted a larger reward for fighting with the Allied Powers during World War I and President Wilson's failure to get congressional support, preventing the United States from ratifying the treaty. The Treaty of Versailles had strengths, however, as it gave independence to Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary.

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  • Q:

    What was the importance of the Treaty of Versailles?

    A:

    The Treaty of Versailles ended the state of war between the Allied Powers and Germany. The Treaty was signed, on June 28, 1919, at the Versailles Palace near Paris, hence its name. Other central powers on the German side were dealt with in separate treaties.

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