The Peace Treaties after the First World War

What Woodrow Wilson (USA) wanted from Germany after World War I and why?

Woodrow Wilson was born in 1856 and died due to a stroke in 1924 during his second term as President of the United States. He was the twenty eighth President of USA and served 2 terms from the year 1913 to 1919. First he was President of Princeton University and then became New Jersey’s Governor. When he was a governor he led progressively arguing for labour rights, anti-trust legislations and a central government that could be much stronger.

It was for idealistic humanitarianism that his foreign policy was well noted for. He pledged to keep USA out of the World War I which went on for 4 years. However, in early 1917 after the submarine warfare’s resumption, he was obliged towards declaring a war on Germany. Wilson was not too keen on military affairs, however he recognized it was important for the economy in America which provided ammunitions and food the army required in the war in France.

Once the war ended he became the first President of America who left the nation during his administration. In 1919 he went to Paris so that he could negotiate the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty did not adopt many of the Fourteen Points that Wilson advocated for democratic and human rights, since both Britain and France sought that Germany be punished. Creating the League of Nations was one of the Fourteen Points that was adopted by Wilson. Ratification of the treaty by the United States Senate was not possible for him. Due to this, USA did not join the League of Nations.

To end the hostilities of the World War I, a truce was signed on November 11, 1918. The Germany led Central Powers did not win. However United States, France and Britain, had won. Ten million lives were lost in the war leaving Europe in complete ruin. This war was termed, as a war to end all the wars.

Seeking an agreement on a peace treaty terms was the first and important task for Wilson. The angry Allies made a demand for a treaty to punish Germany. By destroying its industry and its military, the Allies wanted to make Germany weak. They wanted Germany to pay for all damages caused by war and in the process wanted to ruin Germany. The Allies wanted to ensure that Germany would never again go to war. Wilson was not in complete agreement with the Allies and instead was in favor of a peace treaty, not on the basis of bitterness, but on the basis of justice which in turn would ensure lasting peace.

Negotiations were also led by Wilson, in an effort to end the hostilities after which he was hoping to play a major role while making negotiations for the treaty for peace. For this, full complete support of the citizens of America was needed. Shortage of commodities and high taxes was something that the Americans had accepted, if they wanted to win. They forgot politics and Republicans and Democrats began working together.

What Georges Clemenceau (France) wanted from Germany after World War I and why?

Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman and a Radical Party leader, born on 28th September 1841 at Mouilleron-en-Pareds. He died on 24th November 1929. In the First World War, he led the country to victory. After 1870 he played a major role in the political field. From 1906 to 1909 he was the Prime Minister of France and then again from the year 1917 to 1920. At the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, he was one of the main architects of the Treaty of Versailles. Against Germany, which was defeated in the war, he had taken a harsh position. As far as paying huge amounts for reparations went, he ensured a win over Germany.

In 1918 the First World War broke out and he did not want to act as the justice minister. He criticized the government vehemently and complained that to win the war, it was just not doing quite enough. Whenever there were any talks related to peace or compromise, he kept rejecting them. When the others did not succeed, Clemenceau was the last person standing.

He was appointed as Prime Minister of France in November 1917 when things appeared really gloomy. He ensured to call for peace amongst senior citizens and disagreement within the parties was discouraged. Victory did not seem too close when he became Prime Minister. On the Front there wasn’t much activity as it was the belief that till support came from America, the attacks should be limited. Russia had discontinued fighting virtually and on the defensive side was Italy. It was believed that Russia and Italy would make peace with Germany separately. Resentment against the war increased at home and the government had to combat this and handle demonstrations held against the air raids, resource scarcity and war. Morale of the people of Paris was getting damaged.

The great Spring Offensive by the Germans began on March 24th, 1918. While the Allies were waiting for American troops to come, they were caught off guard. On 24th, the Germans advanced and the Fifth British army started retreating. A gap was created in the French and British lines, which helped in accessing Paris. The belief of Allies and Clemenceau’s belief was cemented by this defeat, that a unified and coordinated command only was the perfect option. Accordingly Foch was to be appointed as the supreme commander. While the German line continued advancing, Clemenceau began believing that the fall of Paris could not be ruled out. With Petain and Foch in power, he was sure that France would lose. He gave a speech to the Parliament that inspired everyone and won votes in his favor.

The Germans were pushed back by the Allied-counter-offensives with reinforcements from America. Winning the war was difficult for the Germans as they had no manpower or resources to continue attacking. An armistice was requested for by nations allied to Germany and that it would follow was quite obvious. With Germany, the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, which indicating that Germany had admitted defeat, but not the Germans. Admiring crowds embraced him on the streets. The key to the 1918 allied victory was the positive, energetic and strong leader, Clemenceau.

What David Lloyd George (Britain) wanted from Germany after World War I and why?

David Lloyd George was born in Manchester in 1863. He was brought up in North Wales, at Criccieth. He was a major politician from Britain who was present at the Treaty of Versailles. Between Woodrow Wilson from America and George Clemenceau from France, he tried playing the middle role. At Porthmadoc he did articleship with a solicitor, in 1990 for the Caernarvon boroughs, he won the elections as Member of Parliament. For 55 years he served the constituency as Member of Parliament. He was a Liberal party member for North Wales and the last stronghold while it started declining in the 20th century’s first half.

At the settlement at Versailles, he was the senior representative from Britain and had actually put himself in a tough situation. One hand was holding into account all those responsible for waging the war and on the other hand was smashing up Germany. Against the Germans, there was huge anger that was directed which was felt in Britain during that time. George had great concern for the 1917 Russian Revolution as well and did not want it to spread westwards as against the Communists, Germany would possibly act as a barrier. So his option was not having a Germany that was completed devastated as this would play into the Communist’s hands.

At Versailles he had to be at his best politically. On the Germans, the treaty had to come across as a tough one but at the same time he wanted Germany to also be strong sufficiently so that it could combat any kind of expansion westwards. After 1923, he was pro-German consistently. Whether it was recognizing the status of power or territorial concessions, he supported the demands of Germany. As far as security concerns of Belgium, Czechoslavakia, Poland and France was concerned, he hardly paid any attention. In the topmost circles of politics in Britain, he was welcomed by the Germans as a friend.

To talk with Adolf Hitler the dictator, he went to Germany in September 1936. Hitler termed him as the one who won the war which moved George. George was impressed with the many programs in Germany related to public works. For ‘The Daily Express’ article he wrote that the people of Germany had decided not to fight with his country again. According to him, Hitler, ‘Germany’s George Washington’ had started rearming the army nor for offensive war but for defense. George wanted Russia and Germany to be friends and that there wouldn’t be any war between them for a decade at least. However to exploit this, there was no British leader.

He had distaste for Chamberlain, the Prime Minister and by 1938, this led to disavowing appeasement policies of Neville Chamberlain. In May 1940, at the Norway Debate, which was his career’s important intervention in the Parliament, a powerful speech was made by him thus undermining, Prime Minister, Chamberlain. This helped in paving the way of Churchill who then offered the agriculture portfolio to him. George knew that Britain had dim chances in the war and hence made a remark that he would wait till Winston is bust. After the Battle of Britain, in an effort to advocate and negotiate peace with Germany, in September 1940, he wrote a letter to the Duke of Bedford.

Agreements and disagreements between Woodrow Wilson (USA), Georges Clemenceau (France) and David Lloyd George (Britain) at the Paris Peace Conference

The Allies who had gained victory decided to convene the Paris Peace Conference. A decision on making terms of peace with the Central Powers was to be decided at the conference. From January 19, 1919 to June 28, 1919 terms of peace were debated upon at the main sessions of the peace conference at Paris. Climax of this conference was the ceremony on June 28, 1919 for signing the Treaty of Versailles. The conference was continued by diplomats at the lower level which led to treaties with Bulgaria, Austria, Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. Opening of the conference took place with high minded idealism. Georges Clemenceau, Prime Minister of France, Vittorio Orlando, the Italian premier, Woodrow Wilson the US President and David Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister were the delegation heads. The delegation from Italy left the negotiations, thus resulting in the Big Three instead of the Big Four.

World War I took place in Europe, mainly in Belgium and France. The Allies were Britain, France, Russia, Italy in 1915, USA in 1917 and Japan. Due to exhaustion, Russia did not stay in the war till the end. The Central Powers were Germany, Bulgaria, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, Bulgaria and Serbia.

A decision on doing something with the defeated Allies was to be taken and hence on January 1919, there was a meeting between 32 different nations in Paris. President of America, Woodrow Wilson, Prime Minister of France, Georges Clemenceau and the Prime Minister of Britain, David Lloyd George were the three men or the ‘The Big Three’ who took charge of the meeting. No invitation was given to Germany and since Russia retired from the World War I, it was not supposed to get anything.

In France and Britain, the public opinion was not in favor of Germany. The big three, Woodrow Wilson (USA), Georges Clemenceau (France) and David Lloyd George (Britain) had self interest at hand. They agreed upon the following points.

Lloyd George

• Preventing a war in future
• Maintaining peace without taking revenge
• Punishing Germany, so that it could recover quickly to become the main customer for goods from Britain and also participate in politics
• Germany was not responsible for the war
• As per public opinion, it was decided that Kaiser would be hanged and Germany was made to pay reparations.

Clemenceau Was Big As Far As Public Opinion Was Concerned. His Terms Were:

• Compensation
• Revenge
• Coalfields at Saar
• Ensuring a harsh treaty
• Wanted assurance that France would not be invaded again due to its location on the border of Germany
• Rhineland control
• Breaking up of Germany into smaller states

Woodrow Wilson Was In Agreement Of The Following:

• Germany was not to be blamed for the war
• He wanted a fair treaty
• Elimination of any war cause in future
• All damages need not be paid by Germany
• The making of the League of Nations
• Ensuring that the world is made democracy fit
• Every country should rule itself
• No preventing navigation through the waterways
• Ensuring fair peace so that revenge would not be taken later
• No restrictions in the economy
• Encouragement of free trade
• Access to disarmament and sea by Serbia

Why were the people of Germany angry with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles

Since Germany was not allowed participation at the Paris Peace Conference, it disliked the Treaty of Versailles. Various terms were imposed on them. Germany was threatened by the Allies that they would go again to war if they would not agree to the terms and accordingly the terms were imposed upon them. Even if they were given treatment as a defeated nation, they did not consider themselves as defeated. In 1918, a ceasefire – an armistice was signed by them. The Germans were of the thinking that the 14 Points of Wilson were being thrust on them.

The Germans thought that they had been betrayed and tricked. As per the Clause 231, Germany was termed responsible for causing the war. The clause had given the Allies a moral right for punishing Germany which the Germans. All the Treaty’s harsh terms were validated by the clause. As far as the Treaty’s harsh clauses were concerned, it was an excuse. The Germans thought that Russia had to be blamed for starting the war.

The military power of Germany gradually reduced. They had just 6 battleships and no aeroplanes or submarines and an army of one hundred thousand soldiers making them completely powerless. To stop the riots in Rhineland, the Germans sent their troops in April 1920, however the French invaded it. Germany was not happy that they were not allowed to send their troops, to places inside their country which was an insult to them. Even against the smallest countries, the Germans felt powerless. It was an insult for them when the country was disallowed from joining the League of Nations.

A huge sum of $6600 million had to be paid by the Germans as ‘reparations’. This not only kept their children starving but also destroyed Germany’s economy. A lot of land also was lost by the Germans. France got back Alsace-Lorraine which a humiliation to the German nation. Britain and France got German colonies. Even Poland got huge German areas besides which it was disallowed from uniting with Austria. While other countries were allowed self determination following the Treaties of 1919-1920, the Germans felt that this was an unfair treatment given to them. A lot of Germans were not given the right to become a part of their country.

According to the Germans, the war was nothing but an act of self defense which had been mobilized on July 31, 1914 against Russia. All secret documents that existed right from 1914 were published by the Germans in the 1920s which was an effort to prove that they had tried stopping the war. The Treaty’s territorial terms led to Germany losing around ten percent of its land. Germany lost rich farming land like Upper Silesia and West Prussia, a valuable coalfield, Saar, a polish corridor that separated Germany from East Prussia, the industry of steel and iron and coalfields. They lost Alsace-Lorraine to France, Malmedy to Belgium, Memel to Lithuania, Schleswig to Denmark and forbade the annexation of Austria with Anschluss.

What were President Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points

President Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points
1. All economic barriers would be removed and conditions of equal trade to be established among countries that consented to peace and maintaining that peace.
2. In the territorial waters outside and upon the seas there would be freedom for navigation in both war and peace. Only in case of international covenant enforcement, action would be taken at international level.
3.The agreement helped in arriving at open covenants of peace. They would be no private understandings of any kind at international level. Diplomacy would prevail in public view only and frankly.
4. A guarantee would be adequately taken and given that there will be reduction in national armaments to the the lowest point that was domestic safety consistent.
5. The existence of an impartial, openminded and free adjustment of all claims by the colonies. These disputes would be decided on the basis of the principle that the interests of the populations should be taken into consideration along with those of the governments on an equal basis.
6.The whole world is to agree that Belgium must be restored and evacuated without limiting the sovereignity it enjoyed in commons with the rest of the free nations. This will help in restoring confidence in the countries where the laws are set by themselves and determine relationships of governments with each other. If there is no healing act like this then then validity and structure of the entire international law would be impaired forever.
7. Russian territory to be evacuated and all issues affecting Russia to be settled with the freest and best cooperation from other countries of the world. This would help in obtaining an embarrased and unhampered opportuntinty for determining a national policy and developemnt of the economy thus ensuring Russia’s entry into a society of free countries. Russia would be accorded treatment by the sister countries as a kind of acid test for their very own comprehension and goodwill of needs.
8.All frontiers of Italy to be readjusted and effected along lines of nationality that were clearly recognizable.
9.The citizens of Austria-Hungary to be accorded a free opportuntiy towards an autonomous development.
10. It was decided to free all French territory with restoration of invaded territories and righting the matter related to wrong done by Prussia to France in 1871, related to the issue of Alsace-Lorraine, so that peace could be secured in the interest of everyone.
11. Evacuation of Montenegro, Serbia and Romania and restoration of occupied territories was decided. Secure and free access to the sea to be accorded to Serbia. Relations of many of the Balkan states to be determined on the lines of friendly counsel, nationality and allegiance.
12. Secured sovereignty to be assured to the Turkish territory in the Ottoman Empire, however the other nationalities under the rule of the Turkish to be assured of autonomous development and security of life. Opening of Dardanelles on permanent basis as a free passage to commerce between other nations and ships under guarantee at international level.
13. Under particular covenants, there should be formations of a general association of countries to afford territorial integrity and guarantee of political independence, mutually for both small and great states.
14. Erection of an independent Polish state including areas inhabited by Polish people assuring secure and free access to the sea. An international covenant to guarantee the territorial integrity and economic development should also exist.

What were the terms of the Treaty of Sevres and the Treaty of Lausanne

At the end of the World War I, in August 1920, the Treaty of Sevres was signed. This was a peace treaty signed between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies. It was accepted by the Sultan who gave up all claims to territory that was non-Turkish. Under Mustafa Kemal Pasha’s nationalist government, however, this treaty was not recognized due to which it did not gain ratification. Turkey was obliged to renounce its rights over North Africa and Arab Asia. The treaty made provisions for Kurdistan that was autonomous and also for independent Armenia. It also gave control to the Greeks over the Aegean Islands with a command over the Dardanelles. The main aim of the treaty was partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. The treaty of Sevres stated that:

• Britain would have Iraq as its mandate. The British controlled, TPC – Turkish Petroleum Company was give concession on oil in the region.

• The Hijaz kingdom would become independent. Eventually the kingdom became Saudi Arabia.

• Syria would become a mandate of Palestine and France.

• The Democratic Republic of Armenia gained independence for the first time internationally.

• In the Aegean, all the Turkish islands and Eastern Thrace excluding Dodecanese and Rhodes were taken up by Italy.

• The occurrence of any blockade would be disallowed and no war would be committed there until and unless the League of Nations would decide this. Fifty thousand men were limited to the Ottoman Empire. The right to air force was restricted and it would have just six torpedo boats and seven sloops.

• The land surrounding Smyrna was received by Greece for a period of 5 years.

• Establishing the ‘Zone of Straits’ was one of the main points of this treaty. In Dardanelles, navigation would be allowed to all vessels in times of war and peace.

It was due to the revival of the nationalist movement in Turkey that the Treaty of Sevres’s terms were overthrown. In August 1922, at Lausanne, Switzerland, there were new negotiations that took place between USSR and the Treaty of Sevres. USSR was not included in the previous treaty.

The Treaty of Lausanne was signed in July 1923.

• Tenedos and Imbros the two Aegean islands and Eastern Thrace were returned by Greece to Turkey.
• Turkey’s modern state boundaries gained recognition. Possession of Cyprus by Britain and possession of Dodecanese by Italy was recognized by the treaty. Besides this, the straits in Turkey between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea were declared open for the purpose of shipping.
• The Turkish finances would no longer be supervised by the foreigners.
• As per the terms of the treaty, over all its territory, Turkey was able to recover complete sovereign rights. The foreign zones of capitulations and influence were abolished.
• Turkey gained international recognition as per the treaty. It became Ottoman Empire’s successor state.
• Demilitarization of the Straits took place. However Turkey was able to gain rights to close the Straits to warships of the enemy during the war.

What were the terms of the Treaty of Neuilly, Treaty of Trianon and the Treaty of St. Germaine

The Treaty of Neuilly

On November 27, 1919, after the World War I ended, the Treaty of Neuilly was signed with Bulgaria. During the war, Bulgaria had been one of Germany’s allies. None of the nations that had gained victory wanted to be sympathetic to Bulgaria. The terms of the treaty were:

• The ‘Big Three Nations’ were given Western Thrace which they handed over to Greece.

• Future Yugoslavia was given land in the western region of Bulgaria.

• From Bulgaria, land was taken with requirement of reparations.

• $100 million were to be paid as reparations by Bulgaria, as ordered.

• Bulgaria was asked to reduce its army to 20,000 like Austria and Germany.

Once the terms were learnt by the people of Bulgaria, they became outraged but could not do anything about this as they were in no position to do so. In World War II it took the side of Nazi Germany and got back all the land they lost in the Treaty of Neuilly.

The Treaty of Trianon

On June 4th, 1920, after the World War I ended, the Treaty of Trianon was signed with Hungary.

• Affirmation of the Associated and Allied Governments was clearly stated in the treaty. Hungary had to accept her own responsibility besides the allies due to damage and loss caused to the Associated and Allied Governments.

• Territorial loss to an extent of 75% was suffered by Hungary thus affecting the country’s military restrictions, economic strength and issues related to population. The lost Hungarian land was distributed to Czechoslovakia and Romania the newly created states.

• The breaking of Austro-Hungarian Empire into different entities was recognized at a legal level with the signing of separate treaties for peace with independent and separate states.

• Many of the ports in new Hungary had no access to the Mediterranean Sea, directly. This impacted the economy majorly, thus weakening it.

• Hungary was not allowed to have a navy or air force, besides which the army was reduced to around thirty-five thousand men.

• As per the terms of the treaty it was a deliberate policy to ensure that the new Hungary would have minimal economical growth thus preventing it from becoming a threat to peace in Europe again.

This treaty angered the people of Hungary and in grievance they lowered the national flag on government buildings. After the Munich Agreements the flags were flown at a third mast in 1938 when Hungary got back Southern Slovakia.

The Treaty Of St. Germain

After the World War I ended, the Treaty of St. Germain was signed on September 10, 1919 with Austria. During the war, Austria was an ally with Germany. Austria was referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the start of the war. After the treaty Austria, got its individual entity. The terms as per the treaty were:

• The independence of Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland was recognized.

• A formal dissolving of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was done.

• Within the new borders of Czechoslovakia, Germans speaking students amounting to 3 million were included.

• Austria received Burgenland from Hungary.

• Austria was not allowed to unite, economically or politically with Germany until the League of Nations would agree to it. Austria was disallowed from using ‘German Austria’ the first choice name for the new republic.

• From Austria, land was taken to be given to Italy. Some Dalmatian islands, Istria, Trieste, South Tyrol and Trentino were also handed to Italy.

• Austria had to deliver healthy livestock to Italy, Serb-Croat-Slovene government and the Rumanian government.

• Along with other defeated Central Powers, Austria had to pay for reparations and damages.

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