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After World War I (1914–18), the victorious Allied powers (Serbia, France, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, the United States, and nineteen other nations) held the Paris Peace Conference (1919–20) to carve new nations out of defeated the countries that made up the Central Powers. The Central Powers were Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire, and a different treaty was signed with each of the Central Powers. The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to give up territory to Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, and Poland. Germany also forfeited all its overseas colonies and turned over coal fields to France for the next fifteen years. The treaties of St. Germain and Trianon toppled the former empire of Austria-Hungary, which had started World War I in 1914 by declaring war on Serbia after Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary (1863–1914) was assassinated by Serbian terrorist Gavrilo Princip (1894–1918). The empire was divided into two separate nations, Austria and Hungary, each of which occupied less than a third of its former land mass. Austria-Hungary's former territory was divided among Italy, Romania, and the countries newly recognized by the treaties—Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the kingdom that later became Yugoslavia. The Treaty of Sevres took Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), Palestine, and Syria away from the Ottoman Empire (which later became the Republic of Turkey). Bulgaria lost territory to Greece and Romania through the Treaty of Neuilly. The new borders would serve to heighten tensions among some countries, as the territorial claims of the newly redrawn nations overlapped one another.
Further Information: Martin, Gilbert. The First World War: A Complete History. New York: Henry Holt, 1994; "The Paris Peace Conference and Treaty of Versailles." AP European History. [Online] Available http://www.eurohist.com/the_paris_peace_conference.htm, October 25, 2000; "Treaty of Versailles." MSN Encarta. [Online] Available http://encarta.msn.com/index/conciseindex/3B/03B81000.htm, October 25, 2000.
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