The Treaty of Versailles and the Impact on Germany

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The Paris Peace Conference opened on January 12, 1919. Meetings were held at various locations in and around Paris until January 20, 1920. Leaders of 32 states representing about 75% of the world's population, attended. However, the five major powers, the United States, Britain, France, Italy, and Japan dominated negotiations. Important figures in these negotiations included Georges Clemenceau (France) David Lloyd George (Britain), Vittorio Orlando (Italy), and Woodrow Wilson (United States). The Versailles Treaty was one of the products of the conference. The Germans believed that the treaty would be based on President Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which offered a framework for a just peace, and the hopes that any future international tension would be prevented. The Germans believed the Fourteen Points would have resulted in drastically less devastation to Germany if used in the treaty. However, the Big Four were determined to punish Germany for the war, and so they did. This treaty held Germany solemnly responsible for WWI. Germany was forced to pay reparations totaling 132,000,000,000 in gold marks, they lost 1/8 of its land, all of its colonies, all overseas financial assets, a new map of Europe was carved out of Germany, and the German military was basically non-existent. To the German people they were being ruthlessly punished for wars not only were not responsible for but had to fight. The main terms of the Versailles Treaty was: (1) The surrender of all German colonies as League of Nations mandates (2) The return of Alsace-Lorraine to France (3) Cession of Eupen-Malmedy to Belgium, Memel to Lithuania, the Hultschin district to Czechoslovakia, Poznania, parts of East Prussia and Upper Silesia to Poland (4) Danzig to become a free city (5) Plebiscites to be held in northern Schleswig to settle the Danish-German frontier (6) Occupation and
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