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Versailles: The Allies’ “Last Horrible Triumph” Case Study

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Updated: Oct 23rd, 2020

Introduction

The causes of World War 2 were actively discussed. Among the arguments, there was one which related the way World War 1 finished the inevitability of World War 2. In 1919 at the Versailles Peace Conference in Paris, the German delegation announced their objections to the Treaty of Versailles which treated Germany rather harshly. This document is known as “Comments of the German Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference on the Conditions of Peace” and some of its issues are discussed in this paper.

The Treaty of Versailles and the German Economy

The Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 in Paris and is considered to be a document that ended World War 1. Apart from some sound decisions, the Treaty claimed that Germany had the major “war guilt” and had to provide reparation payments for the reconstruction of Europe (Sanders, 2014). However, the punishment was too harsh for Germany because apart from compensation payments, the punishment included the withdrawal of German colonies and some of its territories as well as reduction of the size of the German army.

Such a decision was a disaster for the German economy. Compensation payments will not allow the country to provide restoration of its industries. Withdrawal of colonies and other territories will deprive the country of resources necessary for production and a significant part of the outlet area. On the whole, according to “Comments of the German Delegation” (n.d.), the Treaty violated Germany’s fundamental right “of self-preservation and self-determination” (para. 1).

Germany’s View on Possible Application of President Wilson’s Principles

President Wilson believed that World War 1 was not caused by a single fact, and the whole of Europe was “in a deeper sense responsible for the war” (“Comments of the German Delegation,” n.d., para. 1). Moreover, he considered that the actions of the commission which was to decide on the size of German compensation payments were not fair because the commission consisted of German enemies only. According to Wilson, every county involved in the war had to take equal blame and responsibility. In case Wilson’s principles had been applied, Germany would not have been treated as a single country responsible for the war.

Moreover, peace and equal rights for all countries would have allowed the recovery of all European economies including German. As a result, the whole world could have benefited, because Germany’s economy had a significant impact on European and world economies.

The Higher “Fundamental Laws” to Strengthen German Assertions

According to “Comments of the German Delegation” (n.d.), the war gave rise to a new fundamental law “which the statesmen of all belligerent peoples have again and again acknowledged to be their aim: the right of self-determination” (para. 7).

Also, the right to self-preservation was considered to be another “fundamental law.” German delegation claimed that these fundamental laws should have been a common practice to strengthen their assertions. The facts of taking away German territories and colonies as well as making the country guilty of World War 1 and forcing to pay compensations and reduction of the army were violating these higher fundamental laws. Under the decisions of the Treaty, Germany could not make any decisions about its future or plan the restoration of the country because of outside interference.

Reflection on the Treatment of Germany

I believe that Germany was being poorly and unfairly treated according to the decision of the Treaty of Versailles. World War 1 exhausted and devastated all the countries involved in the war. Their economies were weak, the industries were ruined, and millions of people were killed. Consequently, every country needed time and resources to restore its potential and return to a peaceful life. Certainly, the guild of Germany in starting the war could not be denied.

Still, there are always at least two opponents in any war, and Germany cannot be the only party to blame. However, the enemies of Germany desired to make the country the only responsible party for the war and destroy its economy. The fact of taking away territories and colonies as well as compensation payments were killing the economy, which was already weak. However, the situation could have been changed if the defenders of the Treaty responded to Germany’s complaints by reducing their blame and punishment. It would have allowed the quicker restoration of Germany’s economy to the benefit of the whole of Europe.

Conclusion

On the whole, the issue of Germany’s treatment by its enemies after World War 1 is a case for many arguments. On the one hand, the supporters of the Treaty of Versailles and its decisions wanted to punish the country which started World War 1. On the other hand, the harsh punishment applied to Germany hurt not only the country it was aimed to punish. The economies of all European countries have always been interconnected, and problems of one frequently influence the others. Moreover, the unfair treatment led to the desire of Germany’s leaders to return the country’s positions, which, after all, led to World War 2.

References

. (n.d.). Web.

Sanders, T. (2014). The world in the twentieth century: From empires to nations (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

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IvyPanda. "Versailles: The Allies' "Last Horrible Triumph"." October 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/versailles-the-allies-last-horrible-triumph/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Versailles: The Allies' "Last Horrible Triumph"." October 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/versailles-the-allies-last-horrible-triumph/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Versailles: The Allies' "Last Horrible Triumph"'. 23 October.

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