Saturday, May 23, 2020

Treaty of Versailles (Summary)

The Treaty of Versailles was a political compact of surrender, which Germany was forced to sign by the Allied nations (France, Great Britain, the United States, Russia) on June 28, 1919, putting an official end to the Great War (World War I). Basically, it was an extremely long document, which, more than a peace agreement, it was a punitive instrument of political vengeance imposed by the victors, and pertained solely to Germany. To complete the settlement officially ending the war, a separate treaty was framed for each of the nations that fought alongside Germany and constituted the Central Powers.

Summary of main points

The treaty compelled Germany to assume the full responsibility of having caused the war. By its provisions Germany was forced to 1relinquish (give up) Alsace and Lorraine to France as well as German border areas to three other surrounding nations2transfer all of its colonies to a mandate system under which they would administered by various Allied powers3reduce its army to 100,000 men4surrender all warships of substantial size, all military planes, and all heavy guns5make reparations for the entire cost of the war, which was subsequently fixed at approximately $56.5 billion.

Furious protests by German leaders over the treaty provisions brought no modification in them, and on June 28, 1919, representative from Germany in a sullen mood signed the document.

This treaty did not obtain a permanent world peace as Woodrow Wilson had hoped, for it was a document based on cultural prejudices aimed only at destroying the German hegemony over Europe, crippling her permanently, economically and militarily. That year, 1919, the short-lived Weimar Republic would be created. Humiliated and deprived of part of their territory and burdened with heavy war debt, the German people would seek a new leader that would get them out of the rut of economic stagnation.

Map of Germany showing her territorial losses

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