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The Treaty of Versailles

WWI Treaty of Versailles History-World

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#1 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 07:17 AM

Thought I'd try and stir up some history debate.

The Treaty of Versailles, enforced on Germany after the Entente won WW1, is often thought to be directly responsible for WW2, and that war could not be avoided after the treaty was in place. The reason for this is that Versailles was so harsh that it fueled Germany desire for revenge; which meant that the Nazi power could take power.

So let me start by saying that, while not lenient, Versailles wasn't that harsh by what could have happened. Germany's territorial integrity was kept intact, and she was not stripped of her heavy industry or her ability to aspire to Great Power status - demonstarted by being able to fight another world war just twenty years later.. Verailles was used as propoganda fodder by the Germans, but it wasn't the only one (another favourite was the "stab in the back" from communists and Jews).

Perhaps Versailles was not enough to prevent militarism from surfacing again in Germany, perhaps an even harsher treaty might be warranted given the nature of what was to come, or perhaps simply enforcing the Treaty during the 30's might have been enough?

Thoughts?

Edited by Cait, 26 September 2012 - 03:49 PM.

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#2 AnneZo

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 07:26 AM

I have thoughts :) but I'm short on time.  

I'll try to get back and post at more length later, but let me say that the world would be an amazingly different place if nations not only enforced the treaties they signed, but if they equally fulfilled all of the obligations their governments incurred.

#3 Ilphi

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 07:28 AM

A topic after my own heart! Nice work  :cool:

To me, the biggest problem of the Treaty was that it pissed off enough Germans to stir up revenge in Nazi-ism and the November Criminals, but it wasn't bad enough to cripple Germany so another war could not occur. It would, of course, have been much worse if Clemancue (major sp) had had his way.

I'll post some more coherent thoughts once I gather them together.
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#4 Ilphi

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 07:40 AM

Okay, let's look at some of the players: (And damn If I havn't misplaced my references and I can't be bothered to Google so working from memory :))

Woodrow Wilson. A personal favourite of mine. Idealist... and of course the 14 points. Perhaps the treaty would have been better if the 14 points had been adhered to more strictly (self determination being used for *everyone*, including the German speaking population in the Sudentenland?).

He believed that Germany should be punished in terms of land, but did not want Germany to pay war reperations. If they didn't pay war reperations, France would not have invaded the Rhur, the Wall Street Crash might not have had the same effect (IE rize of Nazism) etc..etc... Now, of course he also needed to keep Germany strong as a trading partner. Now, USA joining the LON, that would be something.


George Clemanceau! What a guy. "Tiger" and all that. 77... and of course he came to power promising that Germany would never wage war again... and again.. from 1870 as well as WW1. He was after revenge. What more needs to be said? COuld his harsh terms prevent a war?

David Lloyd George (Hussah!). An experincend diplomat...understanded the need to compromise.. although hindered by his election promises. Let's see, he disliked Wilson's views on "Freedom On The Seas" and was keen for Germany to have a limited Navy, although he was with Wilson in wanting a good Germany to trade with.

Oh, and how can we forget the War Guilt clause?  :eek:
Humiliating, and IMHO should have been scrapped.

Edited by Ilphi, 29 May 2003 - 07:43 AM.

Yea, ere my hot youth pass, I speak to my people and say:
Ye shall be foolish as I; ye shall scatter, not save;
Ye shall venture your all, lest ye lose what is more than all;
Ye shall call for a miracle, taking Christ at His word.
And for this I will answer, O people, answer here and hereafter,
The Fool - Padraic Pearse

#5 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 07:49 AM

Ilphi, on May 28 2003, 08:44 PM, said:

Okay, let's look at some of the players: (And damn If I havn't misplaced my references and I can't be bothered to Google so working from memory :))

Woodrow Wilson. A personal favourite of mine. Idealist... and of course the 14 points. Perhaps the treaty would have been better if the 14 points had been adhered to more strictly (self determination being used for *everyone*, including the German speaking population in the Sudentenland?).

He believed that Germany should be punished in terms of land, but did not want Germany to pay war reperations. If they didn't pay war reperations, France would not have invaded the Rhur, the Wall Street Crash might not have had the same effect (IE rize of Nazism) etc..etc... Now, of course he also needed to keep Germany strong as a trading partner. Now, USA joining the LON, that would be something.
The First World War had caused a vast amount of damage, and someone was going to have to pay for it. Reasonably enough, as the Allies felt that the war had been forced upon them, it should be Germany that had to pay it. As it was, Germany ended up paying roughly the same amount that France did to Germany after the Franco-Prussian War. Its debatable just how damaging these reperations were- the Weimer Government was going fairly well until the Great Depression.



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George Clemanceau! What a guy. "Tiger" and all that. 77... and of course he came to power promising that Germany would never wage war again... and again.. from 1870 as well as WW1. He was after revenge. What more needs to be said? COuld his harsh terms prevent a war?

Germany was flattened during WW2, afterwards being split up amount the victorious powers. Harsh terms are effective at preventing war; but on the condition that people are prepared to enforce them.

Quote

David Lloyd George (Hussah!). An experincend diplomat...understanded the need to compromise.. although hindered by his election promises. Let's see, he disliked Wilson's views on "Freedom On The Seas" and was keen for Germany to have a limited Navy, although he was with Wilson in wanting a good Germany to trade with.

The Treaty was on the whole hindered by the attitude of the populations right after the war. Millions of people had just been killed in a war that the West saw as having been started by Germany; and were not in the most forgiving mood.

Quote

Oh, and how can we forget the War Guilt clause?  :eek:
Humiliating, and IMHO should have been scrapped.

I agree. Moralistic statements dont have a place in treaties, no matter how justified they are.
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#6 Ro-Astarte

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 07:52 AM

For those of us playing along at home, can anyone come up with a link of the text of said Treaty?

Ro

#7 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 07:54 AM

What, ALL of it? If you insist. :)

http://www.lib.byu.e...versailles.html
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#8 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 08:10 AM

I think the basic issue is that Versailles had too little of Wilson to embrace Germany and too little of Clemanceau to cripple them.  Yet it had enough Wilson to leave them free to act and enough Clemanceau to tick them off.  The real complexity of Versailles is that it was both too harsh and too lenient for itís own good.  

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Talkie Toaster: So let me start by saying that, while not lenient, Versailles wasn't that harsh by what could have happened.

Compared to the Treaty of Brest Litovsk that Germany foisted on Russia Versailles would be a kitty cat.  If you want to look at a harsher unfair treaty then B-L is one of the shinning examples.  
  

Quote

Talkie Toaster: Perhaps Versailles was not enough to prevent militarism from surfacing again in Germany, perhaps an even harsher treaty might be warranted given the nature of what was to come, or perhaps simply enforcing the Treaty during the 30's might have been enough?

One of the basic failures of Versailles in my eyes is that it failed to drive home Germanís that they had indeed lost the war.  Their economy was actually one of the strongest in Europe at the end of the war and while it was a rough time it was more a time to make them bitter.  The situation left them feeling cheated without a sense of defeat; so they hadnít lost the war so much as having victory stolen from them.  I think a temporary Entente military rule and military occupation of Germany for at least a few years by the Entente powers would have driven home the fact to the German public that they had lost the war.    


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Ilphi: Woodrow Wilson. A personal favourite of mine.

Her had admirable goals to an extent for that age however I have a lot of issues with him.  A lot of his ideology that motivated him that really comes through in his writing/speeches just rubs me wrong.  Secondly there is a popular opinion among largely liberal historians that Republicans are the ones that killed Versailles and the League.  That Wilson was simply a victim of their actions.  Wilson killed Versailles through his own bull headed behavior and with his in ability to reach a political compromise.

Wilson left to negotiate for Versailles and included no Republicans in his delegation.  Then he had the gall to ask the American people to deliver him a Democratic Congress that he could work with.  So he had strike one against the treaty there.  Then the second strike was he refused to negotiate and compromise with the Republicans on the treaty terms.  Then to top it all off checking the voting record for the senate on the treaty draws an interesting picture as to who voted against it and what party they belonged to.  I donít have the figures here or the sources but the results are very interesting and paint a view very different than the traditional historic one.
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#9 Ilphi

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 09:03 AM

Ro-Astarte... the most important points were: :) (I'm typing these out myself so please excuse spelling errors)

~ Alsace, Lorraine  given to France

~ Eupen and Malmady to Belgium

~ North Schleswig to Denmark

~ West Prussia (depite the fact its the East bit  :cool: ) Posen and areas of Upper Sibera given to Poland (This part was important because the loss of the polish corridor effectivly split Germany in two)

~ Mervel was given to LON and later Lithuania in 1923

~ LON controlled Saar, but France controlled the coalfields

~ Danzig was a free city under the LON, but Poland could use it

~ The land taken from Russia in B-Litovsk IE Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (Finland? Anyone remember what happened to the Finns in between collapse of Tsarist rule and the Winter War?)

~ Germany was forbidden to unite with Austria (naturally Hitler did)

~ Germany lost all her overseas colonies

~ Her army was limited to 100,000 men (At the time considered nothing more than a police force)

~ Conscription was banned

~ Banned from using tanks, submarines or military aircraft

~ Navy allowed only 6 battleships

~ Rhineland de-militerised, allied occupation for 15 years

~ Germany was forced to accept full responsibilty for starting war (The controvertial War Guilt clause)

~ War Reperations. Not actually decided at treaty. In 1921 figure set at £6600 million. They were suposedly fixed payments for 42 years (!) but were later changed by... was it the Young Plan? And later abolished alltogether.

~ The LON was set up to maintain international peace and all parts of the treaty. (Fat lot of good that did  :D )

There were other treaties with the loosing powers such as the Treaty of St. Germain with Austria, the treaty of Nevilly with Bulgaira, the treaty of Trianon with Hungary and the treaty of Sevries with Turkey.

I'm sorry for all my terrible spelling mistakes!
Yea, ere my hot youth pass, I speak to my people and say:
Ye shall be foolish as I; ye shall scatter, not save;
Ye shall venture your all, lest ye lose what is more than all;
Ye shall call for a miracle, taking Christ at His word.
And for this I will answer, O people, answer here and hereafter,
The Fool - Padraic Pearse

#10 Ro-Astarte

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 02:08 PM

^ Thanks.  This is a period of history I'm not all that familiar with political history in.  

Ro

#11 LaughingVulcan

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 03:59 PM

IMHO, I don't know that Versailles was "responsible" for WWII.  What I had learned (in this instance learning=accepting sets of conclusion rather than researching it myself,) was that the German economy was in hyper-inflation and near collapse by 1922, years before the Depression.  We could easily say that the Germans were fiscally irresponsible during the war (as if war were ever truly fiscally responsible.)  Does the insistence upon terms which will bankrupt a nation (again debatable,) help matters?  It certainly provided a convenient excuse for noncompliance.  It also laid the practical justification for confiscating the property of what was seen as a disposable class of people.  (I'm not saying that the Holocaust is morally justifiable, only using the Nazi's justification.)  We can say that if Nell ties herself up on the railroad tracks, she has only herself to blame when the train comes.  When Dudley-Do-Right comes along and tightens up the knots does that make it better?

Like Ro, though, I'm certainly not in my depth here.
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#12 Christopher

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 11:45 PM

Talkie Toaster, on May 28 2003, 04:53 PM, said:

Harsh terms are effective at preventing war...
On the contrary -- they're guaranteed to provoke it.  Imagine someone conquers your nation and imposes harsh treatment on you.  Would it make you submissive and peaceful?  Or would it make you humiliated and mad and determined to fight back, to reclaim your national pride and strength by any means possible?

Nations always seem to have this incredible blind spot, this inability to recognize that other nations will react the same way we do.  Look at the Israelis and Palestinians.  "Hey, the other guys are killing us, and that makes us furious and determined to beat them!  So we'll kill some of them, and that's bound to pacify them and make them surrender!"

Then there's the assumption of ethnic or religious or other oppressors that if they're sufficiently harsh and ruthless with the inferior class, it will "teach them their place" and prevent further uprisings.  Invariably, it has the opposite effect.  The more intolerable you make their conditions, the more you guarantee that they will have no choice but to fight back.

What goes around comes around.  You can't make another person, another ethnic group, another nation cooperate with you by treating them badly.
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#13 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 30 May 2003 - 06:58 PM

Germany was treated harshly right after WW2; being split up amoung the conquoring nations. After the Napolionic Wars France wasn't treated very leniently either. Harsh terms can be effective at preventing war- the difference in these to cases was that the victorious nations were prepared to enforce the terms.
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#14 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 31 May 2003 - 12:55 PM

Talkie Toaster, on May 30 2003, 08:02 AM, said:

Germany was treated harshly right after WW2; being split up amoung the conquoring nations.
And in the case of Germany and Japan mixing the harshness with the right level of justice and humanity.
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#15 Rov Judicata

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Posted 31 May 2003 - 12:57 PM

As he so often does, Christopher nailed it.

Great thread all. :).
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