Assess and analyse the positions of the Big Three as they came to the Paris Peace Conference. Examine what came out of the Treaty of Versailles and explain the differences between the two.
With the First World War ending in November 1918 with an armistice, a treaty was called for by the victorious nations with the aim of making and keeping peace between the five nations of France, Germany, Britain, Austria-Hungary and the United States. The three main victors were France, Britain and the United States, often called, the ‘big three’ and were therefore those in charge of writing the treaty. The ‘big three’ wrote this treaty, the Treaty of Versailles, as well as others, at the Paris Peace Conference. At the Conference, France, Britain and the United States each brought their own incentives and ideas, however, each country did not entirely accomplish what they came into the Conference hoping for. This essay will assess and analyse the positions of the Big Three as they came to the Paris Peace Conference, examine what came out of the Treaty of Versailles and explain the differences between the two. France’s main objective was to punish Germany for World War I and to somehow have revenge on it. Of all the nations involved, France was seemingly the nation that had suffered the largest moral defeat. Georges Clemenceau, the French President, wanted to not only write a treaty that would be incredibly harsh for Germany, but also one that would prevent Germany from recovering from the war; therefore they wanted to have Germany pay reparations. In addition to this, France wanted to change Germany’s boundaries; France wanted to regain control of Alsace- Lorraine and to annex the Saar land because Germany’s reliance on Russia for assurance was no longer acceptable due to Russia become a communist state. France also wanted to set up the Rhineland as an independent state because it would be able to allow France to further defend itself from a future invasion. Furthermore, France wanted to limit the size of the German army, so that it could never be powerful enough to once again wage a war as large as the one that had just ended. Additionally, although France did not support the idea of having a League of Nations, if there were to be one, it did not want Germany to be a part of it. Most importantly, France wanted to be guaranteed that it would never be invaded again. Essentially, Clemenceau was keen on French security and did so by weakening Germany militarily, territorially and financially. Due to France’s large loss in World War I, its proposals and ideas for the Treaty of Versailles were especially harsh on Germany alone, but not entirely implausible.
Although World War I had a large effect on Britain, Britain did not nearly want to punish Germany as much as France did. David Lloyd George, Britain’s Prime Minister, wanted to see peace without revenge; his main goal was to prevent a future war meaning that there needed to be a balance in Europe and that neither France nor Germany would be able to overshadow any of the other countries in Europe. Nevertheless, Britain did believe that Germany should be severely punished. Britain considered punishing Germany more important than rapidly recovery the European economy, however, they did not want this to lead to revenge because that might instigate another war. Lloyd George recognised that British interests would best be served by German economic recovery because Germany was a vital purchaser of British goods. With this in mind, Lloyd George tailored his aims to include high reparations. In addition, Lloyd George wanted Poland to become an independent state and wanted self-government for nations of Austro-Hungary and for non-Turkish people within the Ottoman Empire. Lloyd George also wanted to have freedom of the seas. Finally, Lloyd George wanted Germany to return all the territory that it had occupied throughout the war. Unlike France’s aims, Britain’s were less centred on what would...
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