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The Treaty of Versailles, the official end of World War I, was signed June 28th 1919 in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles in France.
The treaty was basically an admission of guilt by Germany for starting the war; it was punitive in that it took away territory from Germany and gave it to nations that were most heavily impacted from the war, disbanded the German army and disallowed them any tanks. They could only have 100,000 men in the armed force. And Germany had to pay reparations to France and Belgium a damage price to be determined later. The later damages that Germany was required to pay amounted to over 6,000,000 dollars, something that Germany could not afford.
Why is the treaty unfair? Germany started the war, caused huge losses in human life and destroyed buildings in other countries during the fight. The losses of civilian lives (women, children, non-combattants) have never been determined as there was no one assigned to accurately counting collateral damages at that time in history.
It is unfair because it took both land and required cash payments. The industrial base upon which Germany might have been able to make a cash payment was primarily in the lands that were confiscated by Belgium and France. Alsace-Lorraine was a very rich coal deposit area and a source for energy for the German factories.
Germany was not allowed much in the way of a military, however the limited standing army was side-stepped by keeping those who had served in the reserves who could be called up at any time. Thus that portion of the treaty was side-stepped.
The harshest element of the Treaty of Versailles was the war guilt clause which forced Germany to admit to full guilt for starting the war in the first place. The other countries who were allied with Germany through secret pacts and alliances were left out of the "war guilt" clauses in their treaties: TREATIES OF SAINT-GERMAIN-EN-LAYE, TRIANON, AND SEVRES which ended the Austrian Empire, Hungarian Empire and Ottoman Empire respectively and redrew land boundaries. However, there were not cash reparations in these treaties as there were in the Treaty of Versailles.
Because the terms of the Treaty of Versailles were so harsh, and the French were so insistent on the cash payments, the U.S. loaned a sum of money to Germany to assist them in payment of their fines. This war debt only added to the misery of the German economy. It also set the stage for the Nationalistic furor that would begin World War II.
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