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Could the Treaty of Versailles Be Justified at the Time?

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Could the Treaty of Versailles Be Justified at the Time?

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  • Feb. 2012
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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,...