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Reports & Essays: History - World War I & II History

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WWI Peace Settlement
The First World War started in 1914 and ended in 1918. Germany and her Allies, Austria - Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria lost the war with the British Commonwealth, France, Belgium, Russia and Serbia, who with Japan formed the Allies and who were later joined by Italy, Rumania, USA and some other countries. Millions of people were killed during the war, empires were broken up, countries were half bankrupt so the First World War left whole nations suffering. Idealists on both sides vowed that a disruption like this should never repeat. So The Treaty of Versailles was the way to maintain peace among nations. So, in January 1919, President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, Georges Clemenceau of France and Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Britain who were otherwise known as the ^Big Three^ and representatives of twenty nine other victorious nations met in Paris to draw up a peace treaty. The Treaty of Versailles, which was based on Wilson^s Fourteen Point Programme for Peace, dealt with Germany and the rest of the losers of the First World War. The Peace Treaty mainly dealt with three kinds of arrangement which were territorial, military and war guilt. The treaty was signed on the 28th of June 1919. The Germans considered the treaty to be too harsh, inhuman and unfair. Germany was not allowed to be represented at the Peace Conference, they had no say. The Germans were appalled at the severity of the treaty the Allies expected them to sign. The treaty was practically forced upon them followed by a threat by the Allies saying that they will invade Germany if they do not agree to sign, there was no room for negotiation. The Germans were bitter and felt extremely humiliated and embarrassed. Another reason which caused ill feeling between Germany and the Allies was the treaty terms itself. Germany hated having to be disarmed with her army reduced to a very low number as 100 000 volunteer men and been forbidden to have tanks, only a small navy and no air force and moreover no troops were to be allowed into the Rhineland. The Rhineland was handed over to the League of Nations. War guilt was another major point. Germany had to agree with the allies^ statement that Germany and her allies alone were to be blamed for starting the war. They had to pay for damage and were forced to pay heavy reparations. They had to pay some payments in goods as well. Germany lost 13 1/2 per cent of her territory, with seven million of her people, to neighbouring countries. They were most bitter about being forced to give up Alsace and Lorraine to France. Germany considered all these terms to be too harsh. The last point of Wilson^s fourteen points was to set up a Parliament where nations would meet together to settle argument instead of going to war. In 1920 the League of Nations was formed. But undoubtedly there were major weaknesses in the League. One was that the defeated nations such as Germany were not allowed to join at first. So Germany was literally cut off from European affairs all together and that spoiled the relationship between Germany and the Allies even more. Another reason that caused ill feeling between the Allies and Germany was that in 1923 when Germany declared that she could not afford to make any further payments the French occupied the Ruhr which was one of the major industrial areas of Germany and forced Germany to pay reparations. The German workers went on strike in protest at the French army^s occupation so as a result of this the German government went bankrupt from printing too much money and the German Mark soon became worthless. Even though there were many disputes before, between the years 1924 to 1929 the relationships between European countries improved. This period was called the era of hope because Europe was starting to settle most of its problems. In 1924 Germany got help from USA to pay her reparations, she received huge loans from the US and Germany was given more time to pay as well. So the Dawes plan and Young plans were a big relief for Germany. In 1925 the forming of the Treaty of Locarno took place. Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Czechoslovakia signed the treaty. One of the most important points made in the treaty was that Germany, France and Belgium were not to wage war on each other but find a peaceful solution. In 1926, Germany joined the League of Nations, and was given a permanent seat in the council with the other great nations. So this definitely put Germany back into European affairs. The late 20s were prosperous. Production, trade and personal incomes were rising. So Europe was getting itself wealth and power back. During the late 20s anti-war feeling was very high in most countries. In 1929 Remarque^s anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front became a best-seller in several languages. So that showed that there was hope that Europe would not get into another Great War. The treaty of Versailles was harsh on the Germans in a way and that caused ill feeling between Germany and the Allies because the Germans thought the treaty way too tough and that the Allies were trying to pull Germany down as much as they could. But during the latter part of the 1920s Europe some what ^got their act together^, tried to settle their disputes and tried to find solutions to prevent another war and they definitely started to look towards the future more positively.

 



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