Treaty of Versailles Essay
Treaty of Versailles
“As solders on the battlefields celebrated, families reunited, and the unlucky ones mourned, the war was finally over, as of 11 o’ clock on the morning of November 11th in 1918 (Vaughan, 1-2).” The solders that survived came home, and the unlucky ones did not; some families united, and other families mourned for their loved ones. Everybody started celebrating the end of the first major war, where so many young lives were lost; so many people were permanently scarred for life or suffered horrible war-injuries (Vaughan, 1-2).
The Treaty of Versailles was the treaty formed at the end of World War I, which many historians say caused the next major war, WWII. The reason for this, they say, is because of too many harsh laws included in the treaty, which put the full blame of Germany. Germany was blamed, because they lost the war, and so every other country used them as easy scapegoat, for all of the damage and loss of lives that had just happened. Of course as the scapegoat, Germany was forced and had to pay huge amounts of reparation fees and had to give up most of their land for no real apparent reason (Vaughan, 1-2). All of these heavy burdens and mistakes were just being thrown on the Germans and their nation for no other reason than the fact that they had lost the war. Germany did not even start the war, at a matter of fact (abid).
Two month later, after WWI, leaders gathered in Paris to make a treaty, the treaty of Versailles. This treaty like all treaties in history, was to help maintain peace and to prevent war. But in this case, it is not the same. The treaty actually encouraged war, than to prevent it (nv.cc.va.us).
In a palace near Paris, France called Versailles, the new treaty was created. Named after the place it was written it, the treaty of Versailles was supposed to have a goal, which was of course to maintain the peace for as long as possible, like all treaties ever made. But which of course, less than twenty years went by, until the whole world experienced the biggest and deadliest war that they had ever seen, WWII (Mayer, 3365). This deadly war, WWII, affected at least every country in the world in one way or another and the death number was in the millions. So therefore and obliviously the treaty did not do a very good (Vaughan, 1-2).
The leaders who met to sign the treaty were known to the world as the Big Four, basically because the fate of Germany was put into their hands, and later the fate of WWII. This Big Four included these popular leaders: Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), the president of the United States at the time, David Lloyd George (1863-1945), who was the prime minister of Great Britain, Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929), who was the premier of France), and finally, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando (1860-1952), the premier of France. Another name, which was not with or in the Big Four was Ulrich Von Brockdoff-Rantzau (1869-1928), and he was the leader of delegation; foreign minister who was given the treaty on behalf of Germany. He was the person who had to accept the terms or Germany would be completely annihilated (learn.co.uk).
Many historians ask if the four leaders or idealists were, “in definite seeking a just and lasting peace, or were they more concerned with vengeance and assurances of national security (Vaughan, 1-2)?” The historians that said this quote thought that the leaders only were concerned with vengeances, and not assurances of national security, which they probably were. Many people say that the leaders were not trying to punish Germany for the cause of war, because everyone already knew that Germany in fact did not cause it, but actually were trying to help themselves to free German land and their money. Nobody really knows what were going in the minds of the Big Four, except for them, but everyone does know that whatever it was, it caused a great deal of tensions and, between Germany and the rest of Europe. (abid)
A great example of a person trying to get free land at the time the treaty was being made was Georges Clemenceau, the premier of France. He wanted to detach the Rhineland, and wanted to post that in the treaty, but the president of the United States at that time, Woodrow Wilson, knew what he was up to. He knew that the premier has been looking for a way to annex Saar Basin from Germany from in which rich resource would be taken from (bbc.co.uk).
The one and probably the only one positive result from WWI, was the beginning of the League of Nations, formed and organized by Woodrow Wilson, of the United States. Woodrow formed this organization which supported a way for nations and leaders throughout the world, to come together and talk instead of fight. It was a way to prevent war, basically. Woodrow Wilson invited all countries to join the league instead of use arms. Unfortunately many did not join and the idea thus became weak, just like the organization (learn.co.uk).
In fact the person who created it, Woodrow Wilson withdrew from his own organization. This was after some of the other leaders wanted the organization to be restricted and not welcome Germany or other weak countries. These leaders liked Woodrow’s idea, except they wanted it to be an exclusive organization, and did not have the same idea as Woodrow did on this. So without the U.S. or Russia, the organization became weak, until of course W.W.II, where it was brought back up again. The League of Nations was and still is today, “one of mankind’s attempts to find a means of abolishing war, and maintaining peace for as long as possible (learn.co.uk).” The League of Nations was a way for leaders all around the world to talk about the problem at hand, instead to quickly take arms, and cause violence. Thus this is one of mankind’s attempts to maintain peace and avoid violence throughout the world.
“This peace treaty was acclaimed as the single official document that had the most influence on shaping the events (Vaughan, 3).” The events that Vaughan was talking about, was of course WWII, and the treaty was famous, or acclaimed for causing or shaping the next war. Somewhere between the first major war, and twenty years after that, the next major war, the treaty took affect. People, mostly the Germans felt betrayed and vengeful, because of the presented treaty. In those twenty years, the treaty of Versailles was ignored and not in any way enforced by anyone. The treaty basically did not have any positive value and instead only had negative affects. For example, it made all German citizens angry, and lead up to dictatorship, or Hitler. Therefore many say that the treaty caused more harm than good, if any good at all (abid).
The treaty statements would have been harsh and difficult for anyone, not just Germany, to handle. The treaty was composed of exactly 440 articles, maps, and illustrations which all commanded or told Germany what to do and what to give up (lib.byu).
The list of the changes was long and harsh. The Big Four were busy making changes and playing with Germany’s eastern borders, such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, Estonia, and the Rhineland (Mayer, 3365). All of these were either taken away from Germany, or were affected in some way by the terms of the treaty, as stated in Articles 27-30. The four leaders did not just want reparations, which were high enough, but even wanted to punish their enemies by taking away their land. Some countries were annexed away completely, and others were taken away from only in some parts, and all of the annexed areas were distributed among the countries that won. Ports, waterways, and even railways, all of which were German property, in the beginning, were now divided equally (Mayer, 3365).
Also, the treaty talks about reducing Germany’s military, naval and Germany’s air-force (Articles 159 through 213), but of course since the treaty was never enforced, Hitler, who comes into play much later, does not even pay much attention to these rules (momo.essortment).
On September 14, 1930, the new Nazi party was elected, and whenever Hitler, the ruler or dictator of the party, broke a rule stated in the treaty, the Germany people liked Hitler even more, because they despised the treaty. So thus everyone encouraged Hitler to build up his army, airplanes, and submarines (momo.essortment).
How did Hitler come into power, and cause the deaths of billions around the world, ask historians. Or more important, how did this the treaty of Versailles affect Hitler or make him popular with the people? Well, the money was a big problem. The leaders made Germany deeply into debt, with their high-reparation fees. This of course would lead Germany’s economy to be dangerously low (Cecil, 20). The German money value decreased and the affect of that made many go into poverty. Many were asking why pay so much, even if their country did not start the war. Many lost jobs or committed suicides even, because problems were so bad (abid).
So that is why the people hated the treaty of Versailles so much, especially since the treaty told them that money was not enough, and Germany had to give away their land, for free. This treaty “caused not only bitterness at first, but made Europe grow a continued tension [that lasted] for the next two decades (Vaughan, 2) …” The treaty caused these tensions which builded and grew larger in the people, which resulted in a huge war, WWII. The people grew hatred, and did not know who to blame for all of this. Their hatred and anger turned on their government, which currently was the Weimar Republic (bbc. co.uk).
During the time period of 1919 and 1923, the uprisings and trouble grew larger. Many revolutions and protests happened in the streets, all against their government. Groups like the communists, and others, like the right-wing nationalists tried to take advantage of this opportunity, by trying to overthrow the government and rule it for themselves “[Everyone] blamed the government for accepting the treaty and tried to overthrow [them] (bbc.co.uk).” The people or citizens did not know who to blame for the punishment that was put on them for no reason, so the people turned on their own government, and blamed them.
At this time, where these uprisings were happening, a person by the name of Adolf Hitler was currently working as a spy at several anti-Semitic groups, in 1919. After fighting in WWI and suffering from poison gas, he was looking for some extra money and a temporary job from the German army, so he went and spied on these groups. Only two years later though, in 1921, his interest grew; he joined the party and soon became their leader (bbc.co.uk). As leader, Hitler tried to get as many people to join his party, as possible. He did things like change the name of the party, which included words like socialists, and nationalists so that the name would attract more people.
Also he spoke to mass-audiences, and made speeches on how he would revive Germany’s respect, and rule Germany’s empire for more than 1,000 years (abid). Eventually, he got elected into power with the help of a friend, Paul von Hindenburg. But after he died, Hitler took the chance and became the new consensus successor or dictator. He had obtained full control over the country. After taking care of some business and eliminating those who opposed him (other parties and government institutions), he put Mein Kampf, his first plan, into full affect. This plan, was world domination and Hitler outlined this to his army generals, on November, 1937 (remember).
Hitler did not just want to conquer more lands or get back the land stolen from them, but from his anti-Semitic values that he learned while working as a spy, he created dozens of death camps wherever his empire expanded to. Millions of people send to these death traps to die, and the only reason that they were sent to die was because they were considered inferior. Inferior, meaning a different religion, race, etc. (remember). Jews, homosexuals, and even the mentally handicapped were all targeted, considered to be inferior in the eyes of the racist Nazis, were all killed because of who they were, and for no other reason than that(abid).
So in conclusion, did the so called peace treaty help in maintaining peace or bringing about conditions that helped Adolph Hitler rise to power to get revenge. German citizens thought that that all the stuff that Hitler was doing such as expanding Germany and killing millions was just or right; was just a common reaction from the many harsh laws inside the treaty. The people never thought that Hitler was too out of line, because they might have been too vengeful themselves or didn’t have anything else on their mind, except hatred. Of course, not until the end of WWII, did everyone find the death camps, and what Hitler was really doing behind their backs. Adolph Hitler opposed the treaty while he was in power, and was supported by the Germans for so long, because of that, say historians (remember). For instance, every time he broke a law from the treaty, such as increasing his army, or expanding his borders, he would became more popular with his own people.
“Hitler played a significant role in causing World War II, less than twenty years later the terms of the treaty were written (abid).” The person who wrote this quote told an obvious fact, Hitler did not jut play a significant role in the war, he basically caused the entire war himself. The treaty of Versailles had ended WWI, in which millions of people, mostly young, fought and died in the belief that they were defending their homelands, their families, and their people, would soon cause another deadly war, this war even more deadlier than before. Millions of young lives and fellow citizens believed in slogans that yelled to them. Loud slogans on posters and bulletins yelled and predicted WWI to be, “the war to end all wars,” or “the war to make the world safe for democracy (nv.cc.va.us).” WWI was named these two things at the time, probably to enlist more and more people, but which of course both did not come true. WWI was not the war to end all wars, nor was it, the war that made it safe for democracy.