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Treaty of Versailles

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University of Toronto St. George
Denis Smyth

10) Treaty of Versailles The Paris Peace Conference 1919 Part I February 27 • Treaty of Versailles seen as Wilson's betrayal • Keynes- within months of the signing of Treaty criticized it ◦ fundamental criticism- ignored the economic realities of Germany- too demanding • Keynes' crticism of process and personalities ◦ a Carthaginian peace- harsh peace imposed to losers by winners ◦ Wilson allowed himself to be dragged by the atmosphere in the Council of Four (Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau, and Orland) Wilson the new diplomat no match for the old • Bullitt and Freud- also attacked Wilson- Wilson out-argued, out-voted, and out-manoeuvred • but the fact was Keynes, Bullitt, and Freud didn't know the process of the treaty making ◦ decided whether to integrate Germany into Europe or punish it so couldn't rise again • Fortainbleau memorandum 25 March 1919 from the peacemaking process ◦ no anti-German spirit but wanted to deal harshly -attempt to empathize with all sides of war ◦ principles fundamental to the result of peace ▪ 1) reparations- Lloyd George- “We cannot both cripple Germany and expect her to pay” ▪ 2) alternative of Bolshevik -“The greatest danger that I see in the present situation is that Germany may throw in her lot with the Bolsheviks” ▪ 3)rationale for being lenient • Lloyd George- “In the end if Germany feels that she has been unjustly treated in the peace of 1919 she will find means of exacting retribution from her conquerors” • Why did Britain represent many of German views ◦ 1) interest in Germany returning to European economy- greatest trading partner before war ◦ 2) Britain other commitments-British colonies, small nations like Egypt, Irish, and Indians • Clemenceau's critique to Germany- there are too many ◦ physical inferiority to Germans- needed to secure French security ◦ French delegation- wanted to secure the Rhineland-then Germany wouldn't be able to attack ◦ but Clemenceau gave up idea of total annexation of Rhine-strongheaded but not unyielding • Wilson- Freud, Keynes got him wrong ◦ wanted to implement good and morally defensible principles into politics ◦ 14 points- some clues that Germany would expect harsh terms ▪ point 8- return of Alsace Lorraine -internationally recognized Germans wrong to take it ▪ point 13- recognition of Polish nation-state - some population/territorial losses ◦ but after 14 points Wilson even handed to Germany -said wanted Germany to be equal ◦ 11 Feb 1918- promised just peace to Germany ▪ “There shall be no annexations, no contributions, no punitive actions” • 3 Mar 1918- Wilson heard of harsh terms Germany imposed to Russia inTreaty of Brest-Litovsk ◦ 6 Apr 1918- “The military masters are enjoying in Russia a cheap triumph. They no where set up justice but everywhere imposed their power. It is preposterous and impossible” ◦ conclusion- punishment for Germany meant regulation and policing • Peace of Versailles- compromise between different states, agendas, simultaneous challenges • Congress of Vienna had integrated the losing power into peace-making process • how to place the Paris peace Conference in midst of others ◦ most carefully set up treaty but couldn't hold in WWII ◦ after WWII- not even any Peace Conference but period of peace The Paris Peace Conference 1919 Part 2 March 4 • Wilson- Germany deserves to be punished- not the most lenient • Germany's greatest friend in council of 4 in fact Lloyd George • Main issues: Reparations for material and human losses; Germany's future frontiers; disarmament; Wilson's new commitment of institution (League of Nations) • Big 4 not guilty of imposing punitive peace settlement on Germany ◦ just theArticle 231- “War Guilt Clause” -German nationalists used it to villify Versailles ▪ responsible for all losses suffered-council needed legal basis to charge reparations ◦ surprised when Germany objected -Wilson May 1915- “Today they (Germans) are still declaring that it was not they who caused the war” • Lloyd George- Germany should be given a chance- life should be tolerable ◦ but as PM- had to deal with strong nationalism and antagonism against Germany ◦ Kahki election- many PM candidates military officers- wanted to appear to be treating Germany harshly, get Britain share of reparations for covering welfare like widow's bill) • major division about how much Germany should pay - Britain and France vs America ◦ America- need finite, tolerable figure for purely economic reasons ◦ Lloyd George- Wilson ignored the political factors -“ impossible for Mr. Clemenceau or for myself to be accepted in public opinion” • Germany liable to pay reparations, but no final figure-reparations commission to be set up ◦ 1 May 1921- final figure to be determined- 3 years gap to cool down German temper • reparations could never work because would hinder international market ◦ in Germany, portrayed as part of harsh settlement, though didn't really affect economy ▪ could be portrayed as harsh, but not strong enough to prevent German resurgence • Germany increasingly dwarfing France in te
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