How do Woodrow Wilson's fourteen points compare with the Treaty of Versailles?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Wilson's attempt in his Fourteen Points at allowing nationalities to rule themselves fell apart quickly. While the Allies used a team of academic experts in order to redraw the territorial boundaries of Europe, in many cases it was impossible to divide countries by nationality alone. Even many villagers did not claim a nation; rather, they said that they were from that particular village. Because of this, many German-speakers were estranged from Germany when the Allies created Poland. Yugoslavia would also be a mix of the different groups of the region who still did not have self-rule.

Part of Wilson's attempts at peace did stay in the Versailles Treaty and the immediate aftermath. There was some attempt through the Treaty of Versailles at open negotiations through the creation of the League of Nations, but ultimately the organization had little power and would be proven ineffective before WWII. There was some attempt to disarm through the Washington Naval Conference in the early 1920's but this attempt at arms reduction only angered another rising power, Japan. Wilson's Fourteen Points were cheered by many in Europe who were sick of war, but the leaders of Europe were cynical when Wilson wanted peace without vengeance.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Many of the elements of the Fourteen Points, including freedom of the seas, territorial rearrangements based on nationality in Eastern Europe, restoration of Alsace-Lorraine to France, and insistence on open agreements (i.e., no secret alliances) were incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles. But the general spirit of the Fourteen Points, which was that punitive action should not be taken against a defeated Germany, was not observed. Germany was forced to accept blame for the war in the Treaty, and faced major limitations on their armed forces that were not reciprocated by the Allies, particularly France. In addition, the Allies forced Germany to pay billions of dollars in reparations, which contributed to the economic catastrophe in Germany after the war.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial