Peace Settlement of 1919
Examination of the readings for this week illustrates the Peace Settlement of 1919 was doomed from the outset. There are several reasons this is true: the sufferings and resentments of Europe's people were deep-seeded and long-standing (i.e.: 1871, Alsace-Lorraine), the peace treaty was modeled on Wilson's Fourteen Points (including self-determination and no annexations) and the Germans weren't happy with these losses; in terms of financial reparations it was essentially a blank check from Germany to the Allies, loss of the coal and iron producing areas still left Germany as the strongest economical force in Europe with the ability to dominate most of her victors, and the biggest reason for its failure, there was no incentive for Germany to live up to the schedule of reparations that had been set for it.
In terms of no annexations, the treaty provided for the return of areas that Germany had previously taken such as Alsace-Lorraine and Poland. The Germans "had long ruled over the Poles...and the reversal of positions was intolerable. The German's were hardly likely to welcome the creation of an independent Poland" (Steiner 69). The issue of self-determination was difficult and confusing at best. Was this to be determined via race, a geographical area, language or community? Even President Wilson conceded the difficulty of self-determination: "When I gave utterance to those words [self-determination], I said them without knowledge that nationalities existed, which are coming to us day after day." (History in Quotations #11). The coal and iron clauses would only succeed in the loss of the most efficient mining of these essential ores, as "Germany could only execute the ...demands of the treaty by abandoning the bulk of her industries and returning to the status of an agricultural country (Keynes 127), not something Germany was likely to do. Finally, it was a no-win situation, economically. Weakening Germany too much would make...
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