Treaty of Versailles Questions and Answers

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Based upon your examination of the excerpts of the Treaty of Versailles, did the peace treaty heed Wilson’s warning about “peace forced upon the loser”? Explain.

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Greg Jackson, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As you do not specify which parts of the Treaty of Versailles that your excerpts refer to, I cannot comment on any part specifically. That being said, when you look at the treaty, it is clear that it did not conform to the wishes of President Wilson.

Wilson grew up in the post-Civil War South. He understood first-hand what it was like to live in a defeated society and the resentment it caused. He hoped to avoid this for Germany. He wanted peace that brought an end to the conflict, but that was not overly punitive to the losers. In fact, he did not want there to be any victors or losers, just a lasting peace. The European victors, namely Great Britain and France, saw things differently. They had suffered much higher casualties than the United States. In the case of France, much of the war had ravaged their own territory. They wanted to see Germany punished and they wanted payback.

There are a number of clauses and stipulations in the Treaty of Versailles aimed at forcing a peace upon Germany that Wilson greatly disapproved of. Germany was forced to pay massive reparations to the victors that ended up crippling the country's economy. They were barred from having any meaningful military. Germany lost a significant amount of its territory and all of its overseas colonies. This was all in conflict with Wilson's vision. Furthermore, it was a huge embarrassment to Germany. Many Germans did not understand why they should be the losers in this war and the punitive measures of the treaty fed a sense of resentment which would eventually give rise to fascism in their nation.

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