Treaty of Versailles: An Unjust Treaty to Germany

Dee Khun
Government

The Treaty of Versailles formally ended the war between Germany and the Allies in 1919. It was important because it carved up Europe and inadvertently laid the ground work for World War II. The treaty was negotiated by the Allied powers, the Big Four. These world leaders were the United States, Italy, France, and Great Britain. Each of them joined the treaty with different objectives. For example, the US wanted world peace. US president Woodrow Wilson proposed his idea, the Fourteen Points which he felt should govern the peace treaty ending World War I. Italy, on the other hand, wanted part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. In addition, France and Great Britain wanted Germany to pay for Allied war debts. They wanted to take away some of Germany\'s land in Europe. France\'s objectives however, were harsher to Germany than those of Great Britain because France wanted to damage Germany permanently so it could never be a threat to France. As a defeated country, Germany was not included in the treaty discussions. Its delegates never had the opportunity to negotiate face to face with Allied leaders. Because these different national interests opposed to Wilson\'s idea of forming a just peace, the Fourteen Points had vanished before the treaty was signed. As a result of the treaty, Germany was forced to solely accept the financial responsibility for the war, and the country lost much of its territory. These punishing elements of the Treaty of Versailles were unjust to Germany and proved costly to the whole world.
The unfairness to Germany can be seen in at least two major provisions of the treaty. First, the treaty mandated Germany to surrender the following five territories: (1) Alsace-Lorraine to France, (2) the Saar Valley to the League of Nation\'s authority and the Saar coal mines, a region rich in coal and iron, to French control, (3) minor border regions to Denmark and Belgium, (4) parts of Posen and West Prussia to the nation of Poland and (5) Danzig, a Baltic sea port, for Polish use. Moreover, to enforce the peace, joint Allies forces occupied the Rhineland and the Saar for fifteen years. Having foreign armies in their land for a long time created bitterness and humiliation among the Germans. This hard feeling could have been avoided if Wilson\'s Fourteen Points were used in the Treaty of Versailles. Several of the Fourteen Points were concerned with the adjustment of European boundaries in accordance with the principle of nationality, that is, the right of any national group to self - determination regarding its own government and the formation of an independent national state. Every settlement therefore, should have been made in the interest and for the benefit of the population concerned. In addition, the stripping of Germany\'s land in Europe also created economic hardships because both the Rhineland and the Saar were very important to Germany\'s economy. Rhineland was important to Germany\'s industry while the Saar was the source of Germany\'s coal and iron deposits. These minerals were essential to Germany which was the first industrial nation of Europe. As a result of the treaty, Germany lost 25,000 square miles which included one-seventh of its farmland, one-eighth of its live stock, and one-tenth of its factories, and vast mineral resources. The treaty, therefore, caused an economic ruin to Germany. Now Germany had to buy these goods from other countries. The draining of Germany\'s natural resources caused poverty which proved very costly to the German economy.
The second unfair provision of the treaty also caused poverty and destroyed Germany\'s economic. It was a demand for reparations, or payments for damage which led to inflation. This devalued of German mark was based on the fact that the war had ruined Europe financially. The Allies had borrowed money from the United States and wanted money to pay back their loan. France and Great Britain demanded reparations from Germany. Despite the reality that other countries such as India, Australia, and Canada that supported Germany and should be guilty with her; the Treaty of Versailles required Germany to accept sole responsibility for causing all the loss and damage. Article 231 of the treaty, called the \'war guilt\' clause, provided that Germany accepted the responsibility for