Treaty of Versailles

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The end of World War I was finalized by the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. It was signed by Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan but not the United States, as the U.S. drafted its own treaty with Germany in 1921. Many historians argue that the Treaty of Versailles was the major cause of World War II which occurred twenty years later. On the Treaty's most superficial level, the extreme punishment and fines that were levied by the Allied Powers on the Germans were causes enough for war. Historians argue that this and the international fallout that resulted most notably with the United States were simply too powerful to avoid war at all. The ramification of the Treaty sent the German economy into a severe depression and planted the seeds needed to sprout revenge and uprising such as the world had never seen before. Estimates for the costs of the war for the Allied Powers fluctuated between ten billion and one hundred billion dollars. Ultimately, the Allied Powers settled on the astronomical sum of thirty-three billion dollars which the German government was mandated to pay but simply did not have the funds to do so. In addition to paying reparations, Germany had to severely limit military spending and personnel, relinquish land previously gained in the World War, and was barred from having any air force at all. The lack of American involvement, which was sorely needed at this time, had significant impacts on the actions of other key states. Sudden American withdrawal from the Treaty of Versailles sent France into a panic and their subsequent occupation of the Ruhr Valley in Germany. This action dealt a harsh blow to the Germany and British-French relations. The former came into economic conflict with France, creating hyper-inflation, and throwing Germany into a severe depression. Wheelbarrows of money were necessary to buy loaves of bread until the Deutsche Mark became so devalued that the bills were burned to provide heat to...
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