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Verdicts on the Treaty   

Nothing less depends upon this decision, nothing less than the  liberation and salvation of the world.

Woodrow Wilson, speaking in September 1919 

Links

Signing the Treaty - newspaper quotes from the time

   

Spidergram:

•  The Big Three and the Treaty of Versailles

     

Podcast:

- Giles Hill on reactions to Versailles

- BBC debate-podcast on whether the ToV was fair

      

  How did the ‘Big Three’ feel about the Treaty of Versailles?

  What were ‘reparations’, and what changes were made to the Treaty of Versailles over the issue of reparations 1919–1932?

  

It is often claimed that the Treaty of Versailles was a failure.

   

Many historians say that the Treaty angered the Germans, and did not even satisfy the Big Three.      

New Words

Demilitarised zone: an area where the army is not allowed to go.

Senate: the ‘parliament’ of the United States.

  

  

Did You Know?

The Treaty of Versailles did NOT bring peace to Europe after 1919 (although it might be claimed that its terms were never carried out).   

It certainly helped the rise of Adolf Hitler to power in Germany, and many historians believe that it was one of the crucial causes of World War II.

   


Woodrow Wilson

Wilson got:

1.   A League of Nations,

2.   Self-determination for the peoples of Eastern Europe, 

   

But he was disappointed with the Treaty:

a.   Some of his ‘Fourteen Points’ did not get into the Treaty,

b.   When Wilson went back to America, the Senate refused to join the League of Nations, and even refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles.

   

   

Links

Wilson on the Treaty

America and the Treaty (clear notes)

  Wilson on campaign trying to raise support for the Treaty and the League  

Reasons not to ratify the Treaty - two speeches in the American Senate  (and     Warren G Harding's argument)

   

      

Source A

That we should have thus done a great wrong to civilization at one of the most critical turning points in the history of the world is the more to be deplored because every anxious year that has followed has made the exceeding need for such services as we might have rendered more and more evident and more and more pressing...

Woodrow Wilson, speaking in 1923.

   

   

Activities:

Imagine you are Woodrow Wilson.   What would you have said about the following articles of the Versailles Treaty:

a.   Article 231.

b.   The German army set at 100,000 men and the German navy disbanded.

c.   £6,600 reparations for the damage done during the war.

d.   Germany lost Alsace-Lorraine, other land in Europe, and all her colonies.

   


Georges Clemenceau

liked the harsh things that were in the Treaty:

1.   Reparations (would repair the damage to France),

2.   The tiny German army, and 

3.   The demilitarised zone in the Rhineland (would both protect France),

4.   France got Alsace-Lorraine, and German colonies.  

  

But he was disappointed with the Treaty:

a.   He wanted the Treaty to be harsher

b.   He wanted Germany to be split up into smaller countries.

   

Links

Clemenceau on the Treaty

  

  

  

  

  

 

 

A French map of how Germany ought to be split up

          

Source B

Finally were there not, as to-day, Germans, beaten but not crushed, ready by a rare blending of shameless trickery and pugnacity to aspire to hegemony?

Georges Clemenceau, writing in 1921 about the need to subject Germany to harsh terms in the Treaty.

   

Activities:

Imagine you are Georges Clemenceau.   What would you have said about the following articles of the Versailles Treaty:

a.   Article 231.

b.   The German army set at 100,000 men and the German navy disbanded.

c.   £6,600 reparations for the damage done during the war.

d.   Germany lost Alsace-Lorraine, other land in Europe, and all her colonies.

e.   The Rhineland was to be demilitarised.

   

David Lloyd George

Many British people wanted to ‘make Germany pay’, and Lloyd George liked:

1.   The fact that Britain got some German colonies (expanded the British Empire),

2.   The small German navy (helped Britain to continue to 'rule the waves').  

  

But Lloyd George hated the Treaty:

a.   He thought that the Treaty was far too harsh and would ruin Germany,

b.   He thought it would cause another war in 25 years time (see Source A).  

   

Links

British reactions to the Treaty

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source C

We shall have to fight another war again in 25 years time.  

Lloyd George, talking about the Treaty of Versailles.

           

 

   

Activities:

Imagine you are David Lloyd George.   What would you have said about the following articles of the Versailles Treaty:

a.   Article 231.

b.   The German army set at 100,000 men and the German navy disbanded.

c.   £6,600 reparations for the damage done during the war.

d.   Germany lost Alsace-Lorraine, other land in Europe, and all her colonies.

 

   

Opinions  

Harold Nicolson, a British delegate at Versailles, declared the treaties 'neither just nor wise', and called the delegates 'very stupid men'.   But Winston Churchill believed that the treaty was the best that could be achieved, and that 'the wishes of the various populations prevailed'.

 

Powerpoint presentation explaining the cartoon

   

Links

Channel 4 Learning - plain introduction 

 

How did the Treaty establish peace? - Overview of people's verdicts over the years  

 

Plus:

The Hated Treaty - clear statement by Donald Wileman

A comment by Prof Gerhard Rempel

A Harsh Treaty - John D Clare's evaluation

HAL Fisher on the Treaty - difficult language, but the opinion of someone writing in 1935  

 

  

◄  Source D

'Peace and future cannon fodder' - a cartoon of 1920 by the Australian artist Will Dyson.  

 'The Tiger' was a nickname for Clemenceau.   In the caption, Clemenceau is saying: 'Curious!   I seem to hear a child weeping'.

Click here for the interpretation

   

Extra:

1.  Does Source D suggest that there was a good chance of maintaining peace in Europe after 1919?

  

2.   What do YOU think of the Treaty of Versailles?

megaphone  HAVE YOUR SAY

on Mr Clare's History Blog - Versailles Verdicts.