How did people react to the peace treaties in World War I?

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The way people reacted to the Treaty of Versailles which ended World War I depended largely on which country they were from. When the conditions laid out in the treaty were publicly announced in June of 1919, people reacted in a number of different ways. While individuals responded to the...

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The way people reacted to the Treaty of Versailles which ended World War I depended largely on which country they were from. When the conditions laid out in the treaty were publicly announced in June of 1919, people reacted in a number of different ways. While individuals responded to the treaty differently, we can consider the following explanations to generalizations of the way different nationalities reacted.

Many Americans disapproved of the Treaty of Versailles. Even though the United States fought against Germany, many, including President Wilson, felt the treaty to be unduly harsh. They wanted Germany to be punished, but they felt that the treaty was being used as an instrument of revenge, not peace. Some even considered it a scheme to benefit the French and British exclusively. In the end, Congress did not even ratify the treaty. By the time the treaty was signed, many Americans were growing weary of involvement in foreign affairs and did not concern themselves too much in considering the conditions of Versailles.

The Germans found the treaty to be unduly harsh. They had no role in drafting the treaty but were forced to sign it nonetheless. Since the treaty greatly limited the size of Germany's armed forces, reduced its territory, and required the payment of reparations, most Germans considered the treaty to be a raw deal. Many were absolutely outraged by the terms of the treaty which they considered foisted upon them without their consent.

The British, for the most part, considered the Treaty of Versailles to be fair and just. Some even felt that Germany should have been punished even more harshly. Most people in Britain seemed happy that the treaty would reduce the threat of Germany in the future and would sufficiently punish the country for the deaths of so many young Englishmen. After some time though, many British came to see the treaty as being too punitive on Germany. By the 1930s, British politicians willingly failed to enforce the conditions that limited the size and scope of Germany's military as the Nazi army began to grow and mobilize.

The French mostly agreed with the terms of the treaty. They received a large portion of the reparations that Germany had to pay and gained lucrative territory as well. Much of the war was fought on French soil and had caused an incredible amount of destruction. Therefore, severely punishing Germany was a personal matter for many French citizens. Consequently, they tended to react positively to the treaty.

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