Treaty of Versaille. Exam Question. « Which were more serious for Germany- The economic consequences of Versailles or the political consequences ? » . What was the Treaty of Versailles ?.
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The Treaty of Versailles was the Peace Settlement between the Allies and Germany at the end of the First World War signed in 1918. The German authorities had little choice but to accept the terms of the Treaty presented by Great Britain, France and Italy, who met in Paris to discuss the terms. The three most important politicians who were present at the vast Palace of Versailles near Paris were Georges Clemenceau, David Lloyd George, and Woodrow Wilson.
The Versailles Palace was considered the most appropriate place simply because of its size. Hundreds of people were involved in the process and the final signing ceremony in the Hall of Mirrors could host hundreds of dignitaries.
The Treaty triggered a number of political reactions. Firstly the government of the day resigned, having refused to sign it. The incoming government had no choice but to sign the Treaty. This manifests itself in uprisings such as the Kapp Putsch and the Munich Putsch, though there are other factors which led to these uprisings.
The Treaty also called for the trial of the former Kaiser. This never happened as the Dutch government refused to hand him over, but this effectively stopped any chance of restoration of the monarchy in Germany. In Western Europe the Treaty signaled the beginning of a period of isolation for Germany. She became an outcast in international politics and was feared and distrusted by the Allies. This had a significant impact on the role that Germany would, and potentially could, play in European and World affairs in the early post war climate. However, whilst it is evident that Germany became politically isolated in the West, there was scope for Germany to develop relations in the east.
The Treaty of Versailles radically changed the Geography of Europe. The Treaty had clauses that resulted in areas of land being taken from Germany. The following maps illustrate the scale of these losses:
From these maps it is clear that Germany suffered large territorial losses. In total, Germany lost over one millions square miles of land and 6 million inhabitants. It was not just in Europe that German suffered territorial losses. All of Germany's overseas colonies were annexed by the Allies, either to become colonies or areas that were managed until independence could be maintained autonomously.
The Treaty of Versailles blamed Germany for the First World War. As a result of this Germany was also held accountable for the cost of the war and the Treaty dictated that compensation would have to be paid to the Allies. These payments, called reparations, would be paid monthly and would total £6,600 million (This figure was agreed by the Allies in 1921). Germany would have to reconstruct her own economy at the same time as paying Reparations. In addition, Germany had lost some of her most precious sources of Raw materials as her colonies, and some of the areas ceded to other countries, were rich sources of income. These factors would make it harder for the German economy to cope. Also, Germany lost 1.7 million men during the war, and a further 4.2 million are listed as being wounded. The result of all of this was an inflation that was so bad that prices were literally increasing by the minute. Their land, their homes, and their property layedin ruins. Millions were forced to flee with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Millions did not have enough to eat or to wear. Inflation raged.The average German would be able to purchase a plate every five years, a pair of shoes every twelve years, and a suit every fifty years.
The loss of vital industrial territory was a severe blow to any attempts by Germany to rebuild her economy. Coal from the Saar and Upper Silesia in particular was a vital economic loss. Combined with the financial penalties linked to reparations, it seemed clear to Germany that the Allies wanted nothing else but to bankrupt her.Germany was also forbidden to unite with Austria to form one superstate, in an attempt to keep her economic potential to a minimum.