I am considering writing a research paper comparing Treaty of Versailles with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Do you have any suggestions for how I can get specific about the comparison of these two treaties?

To get specific about a comparison between the Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, speak to how the former treaty overwrote the latter treaty and was only loosely enforced.

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To get specific about the Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, talk about the different conditions in which the treaties were made and note that the former treaty ultimately vanquished the latter one.

Russia and the Central Powers (i.e., Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria) signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918. By this time, Russia wanted out of World War I. Things were going terrible for them. Russian soldiers lacked food, weapons, and uniforms. They joined forces with the Russian people to topple Tsar Nicholas II, who, as ruler of Russia, was held accountable for the privations that many Russians suffered.

Eventually, communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin took control of Russia. To focus on domestic issues, Lenin surrendered to the Central Powers by agreeing to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The terms were exacting: they lost about a million square miles of land and a third of their population. It’s possible to see the punishing terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as a precursor to the draconian stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles.

Remember, the Treaty of Versailles marked Germany’s own surrender in World War I. Just as Germany had done to Russia, the Allies (which included America, England, and France) forced Germany to surrender massive amounts of land, including what they acquired in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Basically, the Treaty of Versailles overwrote the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. If the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk had remained valid, Germany likely would have fared better in World War I—a development that might have prevented Adolf Hitler from gaining power.

As harsh as the Treaty of Versailles is usually portrayed, one could point out that it was regularly adjusted in order to be more favorable to Germany. The terms that stuck around weren’t strictly enforced. When Hitler began to rearm Germany, which he wasn’t supposed to do according to the treaty, the Allies did not stop him. When Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in 1936, which also violated the terms of the treaty, the Allies did not stop him.

Maybe history would have turned out differently if the Allies had actually taken concrete steps to hold Germany to the terms of the treaty that took the place of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

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