How was Germany punished by the Treaty of Versailles?
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How Was Germany Punished At Versailles?Germany was punished severely by the Treaty of Versailles, and in many cases, some of the terms seemed greatly unfair towards Germany. The treaty was put together by Woodrow Wilson who wasnt very keen on punishing Germany too harshly, as he believed that Germany would be intent on seeking revenge in the future, Georges Clemenceau who wanted to punish Germany for Frances losses, and David Lloyd George Who himself wanted a fair settlement, but also wanted to please the British Public, who were demanding that Germany would be punished for Britains losses.
The terms of the treaty were thought unfair by the Germans, but the two representatives didnt have a choice, as they knew refusing to sign would start the war all over again.
The most unjust term in the treaty was probably the War Guilt clause, where Germany was to accept all the blame for starting the war. The Germans bitterly resented being blamed for the war, as they felt they were getting the blame for losing. The leader of the German representatives had said, An admission that we alone are guilty is a lie, as Austria-Hungary was also responsible for the start of the war, as they first declared war on Serbia.
Other terms included limiting German military strength. The German army was cut to 100,000 men. Only voluntary soldiers could join, conscription was banned. The navy was only allowed 6 battleships, and Germany wasnt allowed to build any submarines, planes, and tanks. They were also banned from keeping any troops in the Rhineland, and it was agreed that Allied troops would be stationed there for 15 years. German soldiers and sailors werent very happy about this, they had wanted to rebuild their forces. Yet instead of keeping a massive army, Germany kept a small, professional army that could quickly train extra troops if necessary.
Germanys colonies and some land were taken from them, Alsace-Lorraine and the Polish corridor were the largest losses of German territory, in addition, Germany lost the small districts of Eupen, Moresnet, and Malmédy to Belgium. The treaty ordered that there should be a plebiscite/vote in North Schleswig, to see whether the local people wanted to stay in Germany or join Denmark, the result was that North Schleswig became a part of Denmark. The colonies were given to the Allies. Since Germany was no longer distracted by protecting the overseas Empire, it could concentrate on its position in Europe.
It was also decided that Germany was to pay for the War damage, Germany was to pay £6600 million reparations in gold and goods. Germany found this impossible, the USA had to lend huge amounts of money to Germany to help it pay. This also caused Hyper-Inflation in Germany, which caused an economic crisis.
The Treaty of Versailles may have seemed fair to the Allies, but it was very unfair on the losing side, Germany alone should not have been held responsible for the war, and although their allies were punished, they should have also been charged, and paid part of the reparations. Although Austria-Hungary was split up, and the Ottoman Empire was broken up, they were not punished as badly as Germany.
Bibiliograpy:Societies in Change – Peace and War