The Treaty of Versailles signed in June 1919 in Versailles Palace in Paris to end the First World War codified the peace terms between the triumphant Allies and Germany. The treaty was one of several that ended the five-year conflict known as the First World War. She presented the conditions for peace between Germany and the Allied nations, under the leadership of the United States, France, and Great Britain. It blamed Germany for the start of the war and imposed harsh punishments in the form of territorial losses, massive reparations payments, and demilitarization.
The Treaty of Versailles was the most important agreement of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference that followed the end of the First World War. Although high-level statesmen ceased work at the conference in June 1919, the formal peace process didn’t end until July 1923 when the Lausanne Treaty of France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania, and the new Republic of Turkey was signed. After the peace victory outlined by US President Woodrow Wilson in his famous Fourteen Points in early 1918, the Treaty was signed in June 1919 at the Palace of Versaille in Paris to end the war and humiliate Germany for failing to resolve the fundamental problems that had led to war in the first place.
The Treaties were drafted at the Paris Peace Conference in spring 1919 and dominated by the national leaders known as the “Big Four” – Britain’s David Lloyd George, France’s Georges Clemenceau, the United States’ Woodrow Wilson, and Italy’s Vittorio Orlando. None of the vanquished nations had a say in the drafting of the treaties, and the allied powers involved played only a minor role. The study of how the allied powers dismembered the central powers of World War I, why the Treaties failed to prevent World War II, and why US President Woodrow Wilson’s Statesmen gathered in France to sign the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919 – an agreement that did little to heal the wounds of World War I – set the stage for World War II.
The last peace treaty of war, the Paris Peace Conference, imposed on the Central Powers a series of peace treaties to end the war. It dealt with Germany and built on Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which gave rise to the League of Nations in June 1919. The most important decisions of the Paris Peace Conference and the League of Nations were the five peace treaties with the defeated enemies, the granting of German and Ottoman overseas possessions and mandates to Great Britain and France and the establishment of new national borders reflected the forces of nationalism.
Central powers recognize the responsibility for the losses and damage caused by Allied and Associated Governments and their national subjects as a result of the war that they had to endure due to their aggression.
The Treaty was registered with the Secretariat of the League of Nations on 21 October 1919. Article 10 of the Treaty dealt with collective security in the League; opponents argued that powers of war in the League Council would be ceded to the United States. The US government signed the treaty on 25 August 1921 in Berlin. The Treaty stated that the United Kingdom would enjoy all the rights, privileges, damages, reparations, and benefits conferred on it by the Treaty of Versailles but omitted any mention of the Second World War and never joined.
Among the Treaty’s many provisions, one of the most important and controversial demands is that Germany is responsible for its and its allies’ losses and damages during the war. And the other members of the Central Powers signed a treaty containing similar articles. Other important provisions of the Treaty of Versailles called for demilitarization and occupation of the Rheinland, restricted the German army and navy, prohibited Germany from maintaining an air force, and required Germany to go to war crimes trials against Kaiser Wilhelm II and other leaders for their aggression.
The centerpiece of the conference was the Treaty of Versailles, signed on June 28th, 1919, exactly five years to the day after the assassination of the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by the young Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. On June 28th, 1919, the fifth anniversary of the killing of the Archduke, the immediate trigger of the war, a peace treaty was signed. The Geneva Peace Conference treaties on both the historical and the legal side were no less harsh than the Frankfurt Treaty that ended the Franco-Prussian war.
On the contrary, peace treaties impeded inter-European cooperation and exacerbated the underlying problems that caused the war in the first place. The Treaties that emerged from Paris Peace Conference were indeed milder than the Treaties that Germany imposed on Russia and Romania in 1918. The newly formed German democratic government regarded the Versailles Treaty as a dictating peace dictatorship.
For many Germans, the Versailles Treaty seemed to contradict Wilson’s first Fourteen Points that called for transparency in peace negotiations and diplomacy. The war guilt clause, huge reparations payments, and restrictions on the German military seemed oppressive to most Germans. The Germans resented the rules governing the treatment, and that resentment helped fuel support for the Nazis in the 1930s and a return to World War II war.
While there were few vocal critics of the Economic provisions of the Versailles Treaties, many citizens of nations who had fought for four years did not feel that they had gone far enough. US Senate Republicans were unhappy that Wilson had not been included in their negotiations and refused to vote for the Vermont treaty. Controversial territorial adjustments were dictated by the treaty, as were other post-war treaties.
The Treaty of Versailles was just one of many factors that led to the rise of radical political parties, but it is important to remember that citizens throughout Europe were looking for radical solutions to their problems.
At the Paris Peace Conference, idealism and ignorance clashed with national self-interest resulting in a treaty, which was the result of a strange combination of lofty ideals and cynical compromises. Many German politicians believed that the Fourteen Points would form the basis for future peace treaties. Given that Germany was the main cause of the conflict, the European Allies decided to impose strict treaty conditions on Germany. The leaders of the United States, the UK, France, and Italy met in Paris to discuss the terms of the agreement, but the “Big Four” European countries reject this approach.