Aims and Reactions to the Treaty of Versailles

Aims and Reactions to the Treaty of Versailles

Germany’s Objections

GCSE History Revision - The Treaty of Versailles Germany's ObjectionsIf you had been a German living in 1919, would you have been happy with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles? Probably not!

Above all, many Germans were angry that:

* They had lost territories that they had held since before the war had even began, and were being humiliated by the restrictions placed on their military.

* They were blamed for the war, when in their view other European nations had to accept some responsibility

* They were being forced to pay for the damage caused by the war.

Many public voices in Germany declared that Germany should fight every aspect of the Treaty until its terms had been reversed.

But Germany wasn’t the only one that didn’t like the Treaty. Even though the British government was happy Germany was no longer a rival at sea, it believed the harsh terms would create conflict in the future, and believed that the reparations terms would mean Germany would be an economic basket case for years to come. The Americans were even angrier with the terms. France was also angry, but for the opposite reason: it thought the Treaty did not punish Germany anywhere near enough!


Aims of Woodrow Wilson (USA)

GCSE History Revision - Woodrow WilsonBefore the end of the War, Woodrow Wilson had argued that peace should be based on his Fourteen Points. The aims of the Fourteen Points included:

* Disarmament by the main powers

* The right of self-determination for the peoples of Europe (such as the peoples of the Balkans)

* Decolonization – The end of European colonies

* Free trade and an end to individual powers controlling parts of the sea

*The creation of the League of Nations

The idea of Wilson’s goals was to create a world where the conditions that created the war (nationalist conflict, arms races and imperialism) would no longer exist. These goals were a lot less punishing for Germany than what France or Britain were aiming for. He did not want a peace that would make Germany guilty or destroy it, as he believed this would be counter-productive to the aims of creating a lasting peace.

Defeated Germany headed to Versailles believing that the Fourteen Points would form the basis of the peace treaty. They were in for a shock.


Aims of Lloyd George (Britain)

GCSE History Revision - David Lloyd GeorgeDavid Lloyd-George, the Prime Minister of Britain, walked a tightrope between needing to satisfy public anger against Germany that was expressed during the 1918 General Election, and knowing that a peace treaty that punished Germany would create problems in the future. He hopped on the Eurostar with the following aims:

* Protect Britain’s position as the world’s largest naval power and its empire

* Making sure Germany was punished, but not so much that its economy was totally crippled or that it would seek revenge.