Who punished Germany at the end of World War I?
The nations that signed the Treaty of Versailles, especially France and Great Britain, punished Germany. After the war, Woodrow Wilson, the President of the United States, advocated a "peace without victory" that would refrain from punishing Germany and the other defeated Central Powers. In fact, his "Fourteen Points," which laid out the principles of such a postwar arrangement, were issued well before war's end, and were viewed by the Germans as promises. But when Allied leaders met at the Paris Peace Conference at Versailles, Georges Clemenceau of France and David Lloyd George of Great Britain advocated taking a harder line against the Germans than Wilson was comfortable with. Clemenceau in particular was eager to punish the Germans, stripping that country of valuable territory, imposing restrictions on military buildup, and demanding billions of German Marks in reparations payments. They were backed by popular opinion in both nations--having endured such horrible sacrifices, the people they represented were not eager to take a conciliatory stance toward the defeated Germans. So the Treaty of Versailles contained many of these measures, which were justified by a clause in which the Germans accepted the blame for starting the war. The treaty left the German people stunned and humiliated, and the new German government (the Kaiser having abdicated in 1918) hamstrung financially heading into the 1920s.