Critics of the Treaty of Versailles generally maintain that the peace settlement's inconsistencies and harsh treatment of Germany were direct causes of World War II, while others argue that the failure to prevent the outbreak of another major war in Europe had more to do with the inability of European leaders to consistently enforce the provisions of the treaty and effectively deal with the economic crisis of the Great Depression
Perspective on the Treaty: No peace arrangement in history has stirred as much controversy as the treaty signed in the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles on June 28, 1919. From Eastern Europe to Africa, from the Middle East to East Asia, the Versailles treaty left its mark on the entire world, and its authors have long been praised or castigated for their handiwork.The treaty had ideological as well as military roots. After three years of intense fighting, a war-weary Europe was wracked by scarcity, mutiny, and revolution.The Allies, anticipating a long struggle, were entirely unprepared for the collapse of the Central Powers in the late summer of 1918.
1. Wilson (US) assigned precedence to creating a League of Nations to prevent future wars 2. David Lloyd George (Eng) sought to expand Britain's empire and revive Europe's balance of power 3. Georges Clemenceau (FR) to build firm barriers against a still strong, unrepentant Germany and the Soviet menace.
When the Germans were finally invited to see the treaty terms, their protests produced a few last-minute concessions; but the final text, signed under the threat of renewed hostilities, was a patched-together document containing notable inconsistencies, mixing Wilsonian principles and punitive clauses and leaving important colonial questions (notably China and the Middle East) unanswered.
Penalties to Germany:
The German Army was limited to only 100,000 men of all ranks.
No large artillery pieces, tanks or aircraft were allowed for the German military.
Limits on German Army Reserves. Men who joined the German Army had to stay in for twelve years and officers had to stay in for twenty-five years. This meant that only a limited number of men in Germany would have military training.
No General Staff was allowed. The purpose of a General Staff was to plan for war. This was were Von Schlieffen had developed his plans, therefore, no General Staff equals no war plans, then no war.
The German Navy was limited to six cruisers, two old battleships and some smaller ships for port duties.
Submarines were completely forbidden. The threat of these weapons during the war caused serious problems for the Allies.
The Allies were to occupy the Rhineland for 15 years in an area called the “demilitarized zone.” Germany was to pay for the cost of the Allied troops stationed in this area. This condition was to help limit French fears of fighting on French soil.
Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France. This was a sore spot for France because Bismarck had taken the provinces away after the Franco-Prussian War.
Parts of Germany that were occupied by Polish people were given to the new country of Poland. This was part of Wilson’s Fourteen Points to create countries made up of ethnic groups, not run by foreign powers.
All German overseas colonies were divided up and given to France, England and in the Pacific to Japan.
$50 billion in reparation payments for loss of life and damages to other nations.