The Treaty of Brest-Livosk cannot measurably be compared to the Treaty of Versailles. It is more akin to the Treaty of Ghent. Remember, that as a strategic political move, giving up the Baltic countries, which were small and geographically closer to Germany than to the Soviet Union,didn’t appreciably decrease the Russian landscape. In 1939, as part of the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Germany, controlled by the Nazis, returned the favor and secretly agreed that the Baltic countries would be part of the Soviet sphere of influence. Stalin’s Red Army quickly occupied all three. However, Nazi Germany in 1941 invaded the Soviet Union and overran and occupied the Baltic states, pact not in consideration to the Nazi war machine. As treaties go, the Versailles treaty was less of political expediency than it was of revenge and retribution against Germany.
Returning those territories that were overrun, and controlled by German forces to the rightful governing bodies was just. The reparation amount was absolutely ludicrous. Banning Germany from uniting with Austria was ridiculous. Austria was, and still is, a small country, with German heritage. That would be like saying that Northwest Territories couldn’t be part of the United States. Bad example, I know, but along the same lines as far as custom, language, heritage, etc. Limiting Germany’s army and navy was simply nothing more than the revenge I mentioned earlier. Russia already had a history of conquest, as well as other European nations which had much to gain by annexing territory traditionally within the bonds of Germany and controlling the financial resources to be had in those acquisitions.
Granted, they were as devastated financially as the rest of Europe, but not having to pay that outrageous reparation would have let Germany recover and become financially sound. As you stated, the depredations of the war in Europe were immense, in lives and in assets. It would have been a coup indeed to see aggression turned against Germany in retaliation. That this wasn’t the consideration has no bearing. The possibility existed. The damage the treaty did to the German psyche was of more import than any other consideration. When you lower a group of people, attacking their finances (the treaty caused a widespread and lengthy depression), their national pride and their ability to defend themselves, you leave them ripe for the type of propaganda spewing zealots that take power and commit atrocities. Too harsh? In some respects, yes. A cause of the war? No. A contributing factor, yes.
Courtney from Study Moose