Was the Treaty of Versailles Fair to Germany?
The Treaty of Versailles’ was the peace settlement that ended World War One in 1918. The treaty itself was actually signed on the 28th June 1919 at the former palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, by Germany and the Allies. The treaty was a compromise between the countries, trying to satisfy each demand – but was it overall fair to Germany? The Treaty of Versailles was created to cripple Germany so that they could not start another war.
One side of the argument is that the Treaty was extremely unfair to Germany, as it took away some of her most valuable assets and fuelled nationalism. However, the other side of the argument is that as Germany caused a lot of damage, she deserved to be punished and prevented from stirring up more trouble. Germany was affected considerably by the terms of the Treaty, both in material and image. Firstly, she was forced to accept full responsibility for the war; establishing a foreground for a huge reparations bill.
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As it was decided that the entire war had been the fault of Germany and Germany alone, much to the outrage of the German citizens, she was expected to pay reparations to the countries affected; the Allies – to provide money to account for damaged land, compensation, etc. Two more terms from Versailles that largely affected Germany were the loss of land and army; around 10% of German land was taken away, including all overseas colonies, resulting in the loss of 12. 5% of her population, and her military was cut down to a mere 100,000. The military clause was the harshest and most damaging clause, and was greatly disapproved of by Germany.
The size and power of the German army was one of her greatest assets. By restricting her to an army of only 100,000 volunteers, the Treaty left her defenseless and vulnerable. For such a large country, an army of 100,000 men was just big enough to keep order within Germany, but was not large enough to defend Germany from other invading powers. The army was a symbol of German pride and an important political source of nationalism. Having almost half of it taken away ruined Germany’s Great Power status, and made her an easy target for other countries that could invade.