Could the Treaty of Versailles Be Justified at the Time?

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The Treaty of Versailles was created to ensure a lasting peace, and to reward the victors of the war; however, was it justified? The Treaty of Versailles was a peace settlement designed by the Allied leaders, the 'Big Three'- Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau of France, Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Britain and President Woodrow Wilson of the United States. Clemenceau wanted Germany to be punished. He had seen his country invaded, large parts of its industry destroyed and millions of its people killed. Clemenceau was determined to make Germany pay compensation to France. He also wanted to weaken Germany so that she could never threaten France again. He knew that he had the French people behind him. Lloyd George was re-elected as prime minister in 1918 but to win votes he had gone along with the popular opinion in Britain that Germany should be ‘squeezed till the pips squeaked’. However he really wanted peace and tried to prevent Germany from being punished too harshly. Whenever he did this he clashed with Clemenceau and was criticized back in Britain. Lloyd George ended up in a mid-way position between the aims of Clemenceau on the one hand and Wilson on the other. Wilson did not share the anti-German passions of the Europeans. He believed that punishing Germany too harshly would simply make her want revenge and this could lead to another war. He wanted a peace that would last and though this could be achieved through self-determination (each different nation of people having their own country and governing themselves, instead of being ruled by another country). Winston Churchill said in 1919 that the negotiations did the best they could to support self determination. This is a helpful source because it shows that they tried to respect self determination in Europe. To reach a compromise a meeting was needed at the small palace of Versailles, not far from the French capital, Paris. Here the leaders of 'The Big Four', Orlando, Clemenceau, Wilson and George, representing Italy, France, Britain and America respectively, tried to find a lasting peace for Europe. A cartoon by will Dyson was published in a British newspaper in 1919. The ‘Big Four’ are seen leaving Versailles. Dyson shows Orlando, the Italian prime minister, as well as Lloyd George, and Wilson, while Clemenceau stops as he hears a child weeping. The child represents ‘the class of 1940’. Dyson thought that the terms of Versailles would lead to further war in 1940. He was wrong by only for months! This meeting in Versailles was intended to bring stability and peace into Europe. The date set was June 28th, 1919 and the members of 32 nations met up, to agree on terms of peace for Germany, however none of the defeated nations were present at this meeting including Russia whose Government was not acknowledged by the Allies. The Treaty of Versailles had two main issues on which it focused: Germany's post war territory and also the amount of reparations Germany must pay. In the East, Germany was literally split into two parts. The Allies decided that the nation of Poland should be given access to the sea, so they formed the "Polish Corridor." Poland gained a lot of territory from Germany, including a port on the Baltic, Danzig. This isolated the region of Germany known as Eastern Prussia. In the Western part of Germany, more changes were made. France gained her wanted region of Alsace-Lorraine. The northern part of Schleswig was given to Denmark and Belgium also gained the provinces of Eupen and Malmedy. The Rhineland was to be occupied heavily by allied forces, giving them control of major cities such as Cologne, Bonn and, Frankfurt. Most importantly, the Saarland was placed under international rule, and control of its valuable Ruhr coalfields were given to France. Furthermore, Germany had to pay £6.6 million in reparations. This was practically impossible to pay up as Germany was suffering terribly economically due to the war. However W. Carr, a historian said...
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