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To what extent was the Treaty of Versailles a fair treaty?

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quafflesnitch | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 9, 2013 at 12:31 PM via web

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To what extent was the Treaty of Versailles a fair treaty?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 9, 2013 at 1:55 PM (Answer #1)

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The Treaty of Versailles was certainly a highly punitive treaty, forcing massive, debilitating reparations on Germany and limiting that nation's armed forces to a skeleton force. Whether this was fair or not hinges on the issue of the War Guilt Clause of the Treaty. Under this passage, which was not forced on any of the other Central Powers at Paris, Germany had to acknowledge their unilateral and exclusive guilt for beginning the war. While German military leaders did in fact assume a highly belligerent position in during the Balkan crisis in the summer of 1914, giving Austria-Hungary free rein to deal harshly with the Serbian government, it is difficult to say that they alone bore responsibility for the outbreak of hostilities. Austria and especially imperial Russia certainly played major roles in the march to war as well. So because the reparations and other punitive aspects of the treaty were based on this clause, it could be argued that the treaty was unfair. Apart from this consideration, it could also be argued from a diplomatic standpoint that the Versailles Treaty was ill-considered as a means of securing a lasting peace in Europe, thus might be said to have been unfair.

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