The treaty of versailles was mainly an armistice for 20 years.” Comment. (200 W/ 12½ M)

Mentor’s Comment:

This question is asked because of 100 years completion of World War – I. The introduction should explain about the treaty and the reason behind its signing and the reason behind calling it as an armistice treaty.

Further, mention the key highlights of the treaty. Like slashing military budget by Germany, demilitarize its army and cede territories, Germany had to pay for war reparations, redrawing the boundaries of German state and Germany was solely held responsible for the WW-I.

Next, mention why it’s deemed as a document for temporary truce rather than permanent peace. It involves several compromises; the defeated countries were not represented in the conference, virtual humiliation of Germany, destroyed German Economy, Italy’s promised was unfulfilled as a result Italy remained unsatisfied, refusal of China to sign the treaty due to various reasons, the league of nations also proved as a failure etc.

Conclude based on the points of main part.

 

Model Answers:

Treaty of Versailles is one of the most significant event of the 20th Century. The treaty was signed after the surrender of Germany when the Great War came to an end. The hostilities ceased and peace efforts started in Europe. The Peace Conference was held at Paris and Treaty of Versailles was the result of it. Although,Wilson’s 14 point formula talked about generous treatment, but the Treaty of Versailles is termed to be a document of dictated peace and was called an armistice for 20 years by a French diplomat present in the negotiations.

Key highlights of the Treaty:

  • Germany had to slash its military budget, demilitarize its army and cede territories such as Saar to France
  • The Saarland was placed under League of Nations
  • It had to pay war reparations to the tune of 6,500,000,000$. This took a severe toll on its already battered economy.
  • Mainly all its colonies were repossessed by the victors.
  • Demilitarization of Rhineland by Germany so that it does not poses threat to neighbours in future
  • Redrawing the boundaries of German state such as Alsace Lorraine was given back to France, Territories of Poland was given back to Poland etc
  • German Army was reduced in size to 100,000 men and various limitation were imposed on its strength and make up.
  • Germany was solely held responsible for the World War 1 and all the destruction it caused.

 

Why its deemed as a document for temporary truce rather than permanent peace:

  • Treaty of Versailles was a result of several compromises. None of the parties were satisfied with the results.
  • The Treaty was not signed as a negotiation between the victors (Britain, France, USA) and the defeated (Germany). The defeated countries were not represented in the conference
  • Germany did not agree with many of the harsh provisions of treaty and neither did German people as they were merely dictated to them.
  • Germany was virtually humiliated through the treaty as it was coerced to sign it under the threat of invasion
  • The reparation of war damages destroyed German economy. Even during the Great depression, payment were not reprieved and when Germans could not pay , a major coal rich region Ruhr Valley was taken over by France.
  • When Hitler was rising in the 1920s and ’30s, he repeated the claim that the military had been stabbed in the back and that surrender terms had been dictated in Treaty of Versailles.
  • Hitler wouldn’t have taken power without the massive economic depression that struck Germany, in the late 1920s. Germany’s economic troubles at this time were due to Versailles.
  • Hitler promised a way out, and a disaffected populace turned to him.
  • Italy remained dissatisfied and frustrated with the treaty, as the territories, promised to Italy under the secret negotiations, were not given to Italy.
  • German colonies in far East Asia, instead of being restored, were handed over to Japan as mandates. That is why, China refused to sign the Treaty as well.
  • Both Germany and Russia were not represented in the League of Nations.
  • The League of Nations also proved as a failure. It failed to bring disarmament. It could never become a universal association of independent nations.

However many of the provisions of treaty were renegotiated and relaxed and Germany took full benefits of those relaxations. The rise of Hitler was indirectly facilitated by many of the provisions of this treaty and therefore it is still a matter of speculation whether World War 2 could have been avoided by much lenient treaty or much harsher treaty than the Treaty of Versailles. Hence, Treaty of Versailles set a truce period for second world war instead of peace to sustain.

 

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