Jacksonian Era Essay, Research Paper
Why the Versailles Peace Treaty did not work
When World War I came to a close in mid-November of 1918, many ideas came
about in Europe as to what the peace settlement should be. In Britain, leaders were
thinking about how to increase British colonial power. In France, many wanted to
permanently punish the Germans, partly in revenge for Germany’s aggression in World
War I. In Germany, citizens were worried about how radical changes after the war could
affect their daily lives. Finally, in the United States, President Wilson was already putting
together a system of permanently preserving European peace. All these confusion,
worries, plans, and ideas came together in Paris in 1919, with the Treaty of Versailles,
establishing the post-war peace in Europe. Yet just twenty years later, war would once
again break out in Europe. So why were the peace settlements of World War I unable to
prevent the outbreak of war twenty years later in World War II?
The treaty was signed on the 28th of June 1919, it was mainly put together by
David Lloyd George, representing Britain and Georges Clemenceau, representing France.
Woodrow Wilson was the representative of the United States, but Wilson s fourteen
points to a peaceful Europe was immediately ignored by France and Britain.
The Treaty of Versailles had two main issues on which it focused: Germany’s post
war territory and also the amount of reparations Germany must pay.
Not only were Britain and France overly nasty in assessing these reparations,
but they were also blind in thinking they would receive anything beneficial out of it. In
essence, Britain and France demanded all of Germany’s money, nonetheless they also
took away all territory from Germany that could produce this money. By taking away
Germany’s colonies, they, in result, eliminated all of Germany’s investments and
belongings in their Colonial power. Future income and industry generated from these
colonies would not be there for Germany.
German violent behavior was very much aroused by the outrageous and often
mistaken territorial adjustments made by Britain and France. The Allies were very
unaware in this case, ignoring the fact that they were brewing hatred all throughout
Germany by taking territories that were almost 100% German away from Germany. This
event conclusively showed that Clemenceau was out for revenge, not looking for
Britain and France had now completed one of the most upsetting peace treaties
in history. Mistakes had been made that would increase German aggression, and would
drive Germany to desperate options. The economic impacts and the territorial changes
worked in together to do this. Germany had no ability to pay the reparations, without
having their territories and colonies. If Germany refused to pay the reparations, even
more territory would be occupied. This gave Germany reason to rearm and aggressively
retake their territories such as the Saar Basin and the Rhineland. In addition, the political
situation in Germany easily allowed the rise of radical ideas.
All these factors, ignored by those who created the treaty, easily allowed Adolf
Hitler to come to power. Hitler was a very charismatic leader, and an excellent speaker,
and was offering solutions to the economic and social hardships of Germany, combined
with national pride. The German people right away were willing to join his cause, no
matter how radical it was. Soon, Hitler began to remilitarize Germany, planning to regain
the territories lost with the Versailles Treaty, with great nationalist support from the
German people. Britain and France were frequently to busy worrying about their own
economic and social problems of the time to worry about foreign affairs, yet alone wage
another war. Hitler and Germany were able to take over the Rhineland, the Saarland, the
Sudetenland, (which had been given to the nation of Czechoslovakia by the peace
settlements)and align with Austria. Finally, on the 1st of September 1939, just 20 years
after the end of World War I, Hitler invaded Poland. The Treaty of Versailles had failed;
Europe was once again at war.