“A compromise that satisfied nobody.” How far do you agree with this verdict on the treaty of versailles?’’ The treaty of versailles was the peace settlement signed after the WWI between the allied powers and Germany which aimed to make Germany accept the responsibility of causing the war and therefore pay for its consequences. It took six months of negotiations to conclude the treaty as nations had different aims. France urged to cripple Germany thoroughly through maximum reparations and disarmament while Britain and USA were on a more lenient stance. As a result, the final treaty failed to satisfy their individual aims completely. The peace treaty did not satisfy France as it was not harsh enough in the eyes of France.
The reason why the League of Nations was idealistic was because Britain and France would be forced to accept Germany’s induction. Britain and France would be the last countries to come to Germany’s aid after the war and now Wilson was asking them, in a way, to simply forgive and forget. Actions such as these have caused historians to debate whether the TOV was killed because Wilson was a man too ahead of his time, and his Fourteen Points were to idealistic for the other World Powers to accept, or it was Wilson himself that prevented the Treaty from being truly effective in preventing future wars because of his unwillingness to yield to even a single compromise. Wilson was indeed a visionary idealist, made evident by his assumption that nations had the ability to simply get along after the war. He saw the best in men, mostly due to his inexperience with foreign affairs and the fact that he was a progressive.
Moreover, as Britain was one of the major power of the WWI, the effects on both of their men and arms were not recovered from the WWI. This also led Chamberlain hesitant to take part for a large war at this time. Thus, making an appeasement with the Germans was the best solution for them to be recovered and prepared later in the future because rather than fighting a big war against advanced army with unprepared-no men army, they would fight a war with recovered army even if the opponents might grow more. ! Back again to 1919, the Treaty of Versailles made conclusions to the German’s territorial, armed forces, colonies, preparations and indemnity, and the war guilt issues.
The pact was the final cause of war as Hitler could now invade Poland without any interference from Stalin. Britain and France had declared war on Germany as they guaranteed Poland’s independence. However, the policy of appeasement in the 1930’s also played a big role in causing the Second World War. Appeasement had led Hitler to believe that Britain and France were weak. Britain and France gave Germany the Rhineland, the Sudetenland and they were allowed to have an Anschluss with Austria.
France thought the war would not only help by stopping Germany’s increase in power. It would also help Napoleon III to regain his popularity after some of his failures after the commencement of his dictatorship, such as the Mexican adventure of 1867. I will now go onto the short term reasons. Firstly, Spain needed a king and Bismarck saw his chance to send Prince Leopold to become king there. France protested because they thought that having German influence on both sides would be too much if conflict would have occured.
The Treaty of Versailles was a compromise, and it completely satisfied nobody. Georges Clemenceau, Prime Minister of France, did not get everything he wanted out of the Treaty. He was satisfied with clause 231 (which blamed Germany for the war), the disarmament clauses of the Treaty (reducing the army to 100,000, only 6 battleships, no air force or submarines), getting back Alsace-Lorraine, and being given German colonies as mandates on behalf of the League of Nations. But even this did not go far enough. Clemenceau had wanted Germany weakened to the point where it would never be a danger to France ever again.
A German diplomat named Bismarck knew that Germany’s neighbouring European Powers’ reaction would be to unite against their new empire. He was determined not allow the nation to become isolated or overpowered, so it was he who began the chain of international alliances which would form over following years. Bismarck practised a particular type of diplomacy called ‘Realpolitik’. This is defined as politics based on strictly practical, rather than idealistic, notions. However this particular style of diplomacy was also described as unprincipled and unscrupulous.
The British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, realised the severe implications that this could have and so wanted a more lenient peace treaty. The American public had little interest in Post War Europe but their President, Woodrow Wilson, wanted a Germany that would make a good neighbour in Europe, hence his fourteen points. To reach a compromise a meeting was needed at the small palace of Versailles, not far from the French capital, Paris. Here the leaders of ‘The Big Three’ (Clemenceau, Wilson and George), tried to find a lasting peace of Europe. This meeting was intended to bring stability and peace into a crippled Europe.
This therefore led to him signing the Nazi-Soviet pact. The Nazi-Soviet pact was signed between Hitler and Stalin on the 23rd August 1939. Stalin wanted the pact for three reasons, firstly, time. Stalin said, ‘we got peace for our country for eighteen months, which let us make military preparations.’ Secondly, his hope to gain. He believed the only way Russia could gain from the war was if it lasted for a long time and France, Britain and Germany exhausted themselves.
To what extent did Britain achieve its foreign policy aims in the Great War and via the post war treaties? World War I was to be the ‘the war that ended all wars’ and by 1919 there was a strong British sentiment that another war should be avoided at all costs and this belief shaped British foreign policy in the following post war years. Although Britain largely wanted to withdraw from Europe its main aim was to maintain its status as a ‘great power’ across the globe. Invariably this meant Britain was linked to Europe as from this stemmed other aims; to ensure no single power would dominate Europe, to avoid getting involved in European wars, to avoid long term alliances or creating long term enemies (as this would make war more likely) and to maintain naval domination. These aims were achieved to varying degrees of success.