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Treaty of Versailles (Weimar Germany #AtoZChallenge)

It is sometimes said that just like WWI was the war to end all wars, the Treaty of Versailles was the peace to end all peace.
Often described as punitive to Germany, who was cast as the villain and the loser of Europe, the treaty failed to create the base for solid peace and ended up laying down the groundwork for precisely what all nations didn’t what to ever happen again.

The Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919. The Allies wrote it with almost no participation from Germany, who at the time was facing urgent matters at home – the Revolution.

Although it started as an elaboration of US President Wilson’s fourteen points, which theorized cooperation between all European nations that would hopefully prevent the breaking out of a new war, the treaty was soon heavily influenced by France’s strong need of retribution and bitterness. The enmity between France and Germany went a long way back. In the XIX century, they had gone through the Franco-Prussian war, which largely saw France on the loser’s side, and those scarred had not healed yet. In addition to this, the Great War, which had started with a move of Germany against France, had seen the main Western Front lay across French territory, with the most damaged made on the French land and population.

It is sometimes said that just like #WWI was the war to end all wars, the Treaty of Versailles was the peace to end all peace #history Share on X

The treaty imposed new, artificial borders on Germany, the loss of territories of strong German culture (such as the city of Danzig) and the shattering of the Victorian dream of a pangerman nation. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was dismantled, and its pieces were not allowed to connect with Germany). Germany lost her colonies, and harsh limits were imposed on army forces as well as the limitation on the production and exportation of goods were also part of the treaty.

In spite of Great Britain’s attempt to impose more lenient provisions against Germany, France’s premier, George Clemenceau, insisted on demanding on enormous reparation payments. Clemenceau knew fully well that Germany was unlikely to pay such towering amount of money, especially with all the limitation the treaty was also placing on her, but the French feared a swift recovery of Germany if they allowed her to, and a new war against France.

This war reparation and their staggering amount were possible because of the infamous article 231 of the treaty, which would become knows as the War Guilt Clause. It reads:

“The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies.”

This clause was never accepted by the German people. Like everyone else, Germans entered the Great War feeling it was a defensive war. Moreover, the Allies wrote this clause taking advantage of a new trouble Germany was facing at home and which prevented her to sit at the same table. The Generals who fought the war and that accepted the armistice refused to sit at Treaty table. They refused a discussion and left the matter being dealt with by the new republic, who had little choice but to accept the treaty and all its provisions – including the War Guilt Clause – if she wanted to close the matter of war and try to build a new life. The intention was to try and renegotiate the terms later when feelings might be less hard toward her.
But German people never forgave the republic for accepting that degrading, punishing and false judgment about them. The Weimar Republic started her history with a heavy burden on her shoulder.


RESOURCES

History – Treaty of Versailles
Facing History and Ourselves – The Treaty of Versailles: The War Guilt Clause
United State Holocaust Memorial Museum – World War I: Treaty and Reparation
World War I Swag – What Did the Treaty of Versailles Mean for Germany and for Europe


Weimar Germany - TREATY OF VERSAILLES (AtoZChallenge 2018) Often described as punitive to Germany, who was cast as the villain and the loser of Europe, the Treaty of Versailles failed to create the base for a solid peace and actually ended up laying down the groundwork for precisely what all nations didn’t what to ever happen again.

24 Comments

  • Sue Bursztynski
    Posted April 23, 2018 at 12:07

    You have to wonder how different history might have been if that Treaty hadn’t been so harsh. Would Hitler have been able to take over so easily?

    T Is For P.L Travers and Shaun Tan

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    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 24, 2018 at 17:08

      Well, I wouldn’t say the rise of the Nazi was all that easy. It did take fourteen years and many crises, after all. But the Treaty’s provisions were indeed a strong weapon in the nationalistis’ hands.

  • Kristin
    Posted April 23, 2018 at 17:24

    So many things combine to make the path that history takes.

  • Carrie-Anne
    Posted April 23, 2018 at 18:20

    That was such an unfair treaty, even considering Germany lost the war. They were punished far too severely, with disastrous consequences.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 24, 2018 at 17:17

      That’s true, but it’s easy for us to judge, 100 years later. Especially because we saw the consequences, which those people could not imagine.
      After all I can understand the feelings of France. They suffered the more damaged, the war was largely fought on her lands, but French knew that Germany was strong and feared that, if she wasn’t kept under control one way or another, she could move against them agian and all the suffering would have been for nothing.
      Of course that’s exactly what happened and not only France suffered for it. This is probably the greatest lesson history has given us in this matters.

  • Margot Kinberg
    Posted April 23, 2018 at 19:42

    I’ve heard it put this way: The most important cause of World War II was World War I. And that’s mostly referring to that treaty. It does make one wonder what it would have been like if the treaty had been different…

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 24, 2018 at 17:25

      I do believe the way the end of WWI was handled was of great import in the reasons why WWII broke out. I also don’t think writing the treaty was easy, no matter what the results. Europe was changeing at a fast pace and had already faced events nobody ever foresaw. Fear in what the future might bring, having seen what they had just went through, must have been hard to handle.
      I think we must remember these people at the beginning of the 1900s were facing a completely new world different from anything ever seen before, and they had no guide to navigate it.

  • Joy Weese Moll
    Posted April 23, 2018 at 20:53

    I’ve always been curious about the Treaty of Versailles. Thanks for some things I didn’t know!

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 24, 2018 at 17:25

      You’re welcome, Joy. I loved doing the research :-)

  • JOHN T. SHEA
    Posted April 23, 2018 at 21:06

    Thanks, Sarah, for another good post and the videos.

  • Pamela
    Posted April 23, 2018 at 23:18

    I never really understood what the treaty involved and I’ve learnt so much from this post. I think it’s so ironic that the treaty was meant to end all peace – something people keep striving for.
    Pamela @ Days of Fun

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 24, 2018 at 17:30

      On no, the threaty wasn’t meant for that. But just like the Great War – the war to end all war – didn’t accomplshed the purpose it seemed destined to have, so the Trety of Versailles didn’t accomplish its purpose, which was indeed a lasting peace.

  • Birgit
    Posted April 24, 2018 at 05:16

    Great post and this treaty was one of the worst- Wilson saw what would happen and to take Danzig away and cut part of Germany off from the rest getting rid of West Prussia and handing it to Poland was so very wrong. My mom inherited this map, I’m not sure from where, showing the Germany from the Weimar era. I have it in the basement

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 24, 2018 at 17:33

      I’m so jealous of your map, especialy because it’s a family loot :-)

  • JOHN T. SHEA
    Posted April 24, 2018 at 18:02

    My father grew up on a small farm in Kerry, Ireland. Two neighboring farmers had a long-running feud over a narrow strip of land accessing a field in the 1930s. Somebody nicknamed it ‘Danzig’ and the name stuck!

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted May 5, 2018 at 07:49

      Why neighbooring relation alwasy have to be this difficult?

  • Debs
    Posted April 26, 2018 at 17:36

    Spot on about the importance of this Treaty and its role in in the outbreak of WWII.

    A-Zing this year at:
    FictionCanBeFun
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    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted May 5, 2018 at 07:50

      I really liked learning about this. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a chance to study this when I was in school, so I’m just now discovering this part of history, which is so important and relevant to us.

  • Hilary
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 20:51

    Hi Jazz – it’s funny how ‘selfish’ powers can be – even when they should be considering all peoples … but I’ll be back to listen to the videos … thanks for telling me more about the Treaty of Versailles … cheers Hilary

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted May 5, 2018 at 07:51

      Yeah. But then people tend to be ‘selfish’ when they are scared. And when that happens on a national level… well, even mor escary, I’d say.

  • Tizzy Brown
    Posted April 28, 2018 at 23:57

    This is all really interesting and reminded me of studying this topic when I was at school. I can totally understand why France was bitter and fearful of Germany recovering quickly. But at the same time, Germany had lost so much too and the sanctions were just unfair. It was never going to end well.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted May 5, 2018 at 07:54

      True. In fact, it didn’t.
      But you know, on a more cheeful side, in spite of all the difficulties we have today, I think it’s quite amazing that after centuries of warfare and two very harsh total wars, we Europeans are indeed trying to do something together. Belatedly, as history may tell us, but still we are trying. Which I suppose is a good thing.

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