Prime Minister David Lloyd George of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando of Italy, Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau of France, and President Woodrow Wilson of the United States of America.
The Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles
On December 4, 1918, President Wilson set sail for Europe to attend the Peace Conference in Paris, France, which would put an end to The First World War and he hoped pave the way for a more benevolent world order. The Conference opened on January 12, with thirty-two leaders present representing approximately 75 per cent of the world’s population. Nonetheless, meetings and negotiations were dominated by the five countries responsible for bringing an end to the war: Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the United States. Significant leaders involved in the negotiations were David Lloyd George from Britain, Georges Clemenceau from France, Vittorio Orland from Italy, and Woodrow Wilson from the United States. Negotiations continued for eight days resulting in five treaties, the most important being the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles related to provisions set for the Germany government. Other treaties laid out terms for other major defeated powers: The Treaty of St. Germain for Austria, The Treaty of Trianon for Hungary, The Treaty of Neuilly for Bulgaria and the Treaty of Serves for Turkey.
The main terms of the Treaty of Versailles were
- Germany had to cede Alsace-Lorraine to France.
- Germany had to cede the coal mines in the Saar-area to France.
- Germany had to cede an area that included Moresnet, Eupen, Malmédy and St. Vith to Belgium.
- Germany had to cede the main part of West-Prussia and almost the whole province of Posen to the new state of Poland.
- Germany had to cede all colonies: Togo and Cameroon, the territories in East and South-West Africa, islands in the Pacific, and possessions in China.
- All German properties in foreign countries were to be confiscated.
- Germany had to cede all war material to the allies.
- German military draft was abolished as well as the General Staff.
- Germany was not allowed to have tanks, airplanes, submarines, large warships, and poison gas.
- For 15 years, Germany was not allowed to station troops on the left border of the river Rhine and in a 50 km strip on the right border of the Rhine.
- The total size of the Germany army was not to exceed 100,000 men.
- The German navy was not to exceed a maximum of 15,000 men.
- Germany was allowed a total of 4,000 officers.
- Germany was not to take part in the League of Nations.
- Austria was to cede South Tirol to Italy.
- Turkey was to cede all foreign possessions. England would get Iraq, Palestine, and Trans-Jordan, and France would receive Syria and Lebanon.
- Germany was to cede to the allies all seagoing ships with a carrying capacity exceeding 1600 British tonnes, plus half of all ships between 1000 and 1600 Brt. Furthermore, one fourth of the fishing fleet and two fifths of the inland navigation fleet was to be ceded.
- Germany was to cede large amounts of machinery and building materials, trains, and trucks.
- Germany had to deliver certain amounts of coal, chemicals, dye, and fuel for established number of years.
- All German sub-ocean telegraph cables were to be confiscated.
- Germany was to pay 20 billion gold marks.
The Germans signed the treaty under protest.
Activity and Further Investigation: The Treaty and Its Results
- Use the map above and locate other maps from the period to create your own illustrated map that shows the forfeiture of property by Germany, required under the Treaty of Versailles and the restructuring of the map of Europe.
- Compare the terms of the Treaty of Versailles to those imposed by Germany on Russia as part of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty.
- Hypothesize how the terms of the Treaty of Versailles affected the morale of the German people. Consider how you might react under such circumstances.
- As a citizen of Britain, Belgium, or France how would you view the terms imposed on Germany. Provide examples to support your feelings.
- Research and prepare a report on the reactions of the world to the Treaty of Versailles.
- In your opinion, how would the terms of the Treaty of Versailles affect the economy of Germany?
- The conditions of the Treaty were reduced in 1924 and 1929. Research the reasons for the changes. In 1932 the conditions were suspended. Include the reasoning behind this decision and comment on whether decision had any influence on the Second World War.
- Research and prepare a report on the origin of the League of Nations. In your report address the passion that Wilson put into getting the American people to join the League and outline the opposition he received from Congress on its passage. Consider in your report the work of the League and how it might have been different if the United States participated in it. Include how the League of Nations was a forerunner to the United Nations.