Versailles

Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles was intended
to be a peace agreement between the Allies and the Germans. Versailles
created political discontent and economic chaos in Germany.

The Peace Treaty of Versailles represented the results of hostility and
revenge and opened the door for a dictator and World War II.

November 11, 1918 marked the end of the
first World War. Germany had surrendered and signed an armistice
agreement. The task of forming a peace agreement was now in the hands
of the Allies. In December of 1918, the Allies met in Versailles
to start on the peace settlement. The main countries and their
respective representatives were: The United States, Woodrow Wilson; Great

Britain, David Lloyd George; and France, George Clemenceau. "At first,
it had seemed the task of making peace would be easy". However,
once the process started, the Allies found they had conflicting ideas and
motives surrounding the reparations and wording of the Treaty of Versailles.

It seemed the Allies had now found themselves engaged in another battle.

Woodrow Wilson (1856 - 1924), the twenty-eighth

President of the United States (1913 --1921). In August of

1914, when World War I began, there was no question that the United States
would remain neutral. "Wilson didn't want to enter the European War
or any other war for that matter". However, as the war continued,
it became increasingly obvious that the United States could no longer 'sit
on the sidelines'. German submarines had sunk American tankers and
the British liner, 'Lusitania', in May 1915, killing almost twelve hundred
people, including 128 Americans. This convinced Wilson to enter

World War I, on the allied side. As the war continued, Wilson outlined
his peace program, which was centered around fourteen main points.

"They (fourteen points) were direct and simple: a demand that future agreements
be open covenants of peace, openly arrived at; an insistence upon absolute
freedom of the seas; and, as the fourteenth point, the formation of a general
association of nations." The fourteen points gave people a
hope of peace and lay the groundwork for the armistice that Germany ultimately
signed in November 1918. Although the United States was instrumental
in ending the war, Wilson was still more interested in a "peace without
victors" than annexing German colonies or reparations (payment for
war damages). However, as the Allies began discussions of the peace
treaty, the European allies rejected Wilson's idealism and reasoning.

It soon became increasingly obvious that the allies were seeking revenge
and Germany was destined to be crippled economically and socially by its
enemies.

David Lloyd George (1863 - 1945), who
was the Prime Minister of Great Britain (1916 - 1922), governed through
the latter part of the war and the early post war years. Britain
and Germany were, historically, always rivals. Before the war, for
instance, Germany challenged Britain's famous powerful and unstoppable
navy by dramatically increasing the amount of money spent on their navy.

In terms of losses, Britain absorbed thirty-six percent of the debt incurred
by the allies and seventeen percent of the war's total casualties.

After the war, Britain faced tough economic problems. Their exports
were at an all time low due to outdated factories, high tariffs, and competition
from other countries. As a direct result, Britain suffered from high
unemployment, which of course, affected the well being of the country.

Britain had its pride and nationalism stripped. The Treaty of Versailles
would provide an opportunity to seek revenge for their losses. They
were also seeking annexation of German colonies in Africa.

Georges Clemenceau (1841 - 1929) was the

Premier of France (1906-1909) and (1917-1920). As Britain,

France had a rivalry with Germany but the French's ill feelings were even
more intensive. "Nationalism created tensions between France and

Germany. The French bitterly resented their defeat in the Franco
- Prussian War and were eager to seek revenge. Moreover, they were
determined to regain Alsace - Lorraine." This gave the French
the motivation of increasing their military strength and ultimately, destroying
their life-long enemies. During the war, France's portion of the
war debt amounted to twenty percent. Their loss, in terms of war
casualties, was thirty-three percent. Most of the battles were
fought on French soil. This resulted in the destruction of "ten million
farm acres, twenty thousand factories and six thousand public buildings".

After the war, France suffered terribly, economically. Inflation
and a deflated French Franc spurned the French to take advantage of the
armistice. "Clemenceau wanted revenge as well as security against
any future German attack." He also wanted a huge amount of
reparations, to annex the coal rich Saar Basin, the return of Alsace -

Lorraine and an independent Rhineland for a buffer zone between Germany
and France.

All the leaders had different opinions
and motives regarding the Treaty of Versailles. Coming to a consensus
was difficult. The Treaty