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To What Extent Was the Treaty of Versaille Harsh and Unfair on Germany? Essay Sample

To What Extent Was the Treaty of Versaille Harsh and Unfair on Germany? Pages
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In this essay I will be discussing whether or not the Treaty of Versaille was ‘harsh and unfair’ too Germany. The treaty was set up to cripple Germany so it had no power anymore to start another war. In the conditions in the Treaty of versaille Germany had too accept all blame for the war, lost 10% of it’s land, had to pay £6600 million in reparations, had it’s army cut too just 100,000 men and was not allowed into the league of nations until it could prove the country was peaceful. The treaty was signed on June 28th 1919. By the end of this piece of writing I will have weighed up both sides of the debate and decided using evidence whether the treaty was unfair.

The first clause I will talk about that was set in the Treaty of versaille will be the territorial clause which includes the land lost by Germany. Germany lost vast amounts of land which included permanent loss of Alsace-Lorraine, Eupen-Malmedy and Schleswig-Holstein. Germany also received temporary loss of the Saar Basin, the Polish corridor and Upper Silesia. The loss of this land had quite a large economic impact on Germany which could be looked as quite harsh and unreasonable on Germany. Germany lost 10% of it’s resources including people, agricultural land and raw materials. Although this may seem harsh, if you look at what Germany planned too do if they won World war one which was too take the whole of Luxemburg and translate it into German land it could be seen as repaying Germany for there future plans. The territorial clause also had a huge social and political effect. German speaking people where now all around Europe due too the land separation and it was causing serious problems for these people. This may also seem harsh but if Germany would have succeeded in world war one then people from all European countries would have been occupied in German land and life would have been very difficult for them.

Another of the clauses related to reparations and war guilt. In this clause the Germans (and their allies) had to admit that they where solely to blame for the war and no other countries where ie. England and France. As Germany accepted blame for the war they also had to pay a huge amount of money. Although the treaty was wrote in 1919 the final sum was actually set in 1921 at £6600 million. This was never realistically going to be paid. The economic impact for Germany would be huge if they accepted to pay. If the Germans attempted to pay it would have a drowning effect on the German economy. The economy of Germany was already in tatters so German people where already worried that the sum of money would completely destroy there country.

This also links in with the social impact as the people where worried about the welfare of there country. For the setting of the reparations I feel it is fair that the Germans where fined as in most wars the losing side that accepts blame for the war was usually fined and in this case it was Germany. Although I do feel it is fair that Germany should be fined I feel the fee is an awful lot for a country that was already in an economic catastrophe. The social and political impact as many German people felt they had been treated severely unfairly. German people where also wondering how much Germany could be held responsible for the war. Many German’s where also humiliated at their country accepting blame for the war, as many nationalists still wouldn’t concede defeat in the war.

The final clause that concerned Germany in the treaty of Versailles related to International relations. In the detail of this clause a league of nations would be created which would keep the peace through collective security rather than by secret treaties and alliances. Although this was created Germany and its allies would not be allowed to join until they proved that they where no longer a threat to international peace. The same also applied to Russia. The league of nations was created to keep peace but in all fairness in my view it resulted in looking like a ‘league of victors’. For this clause there wasn’t much of a economic impact on Germany other than other countries being very wary of trading with them.

The social and political impact for Germany was much larger. German’s felt that they had well and truly been demoted to a second class power. Therefore when it came to international relations Germany very rarely put it much effort, which isn’t surprising as the effect of this clause will have been very disappointed. However when Germany realised there was a difference in attitude between France and England they took advantage and quickly adopted a policy of co-operation which allowed them to manipulate events and they eventually joined the league of nations. For this clause I do not feel that the treaty was harsh enough on Germany as it did not take long for them to be able to join the league of nations again. It did not prove that it wasn’t going to disrupt international peace but still gained admission to the league of nations.

In conclusion, I feel that some parts of the treaty of Versailles are harsh on Germany yet other clauses are not harsh enough. The treaty was harsh in that it wasn’t just ‘a peace’ with ‘no winners, no losers’. Also Germany was fined an unrealistic amount of money which was un-payable for any country, never mind Germany when it was already financially unstable. The new republic was also partly to blame as they had signed the treaty. Consequently it became another issue where the old powerful elites could criticise and undermine the republic. Although there is a few points for why the treaty is harsh I do not feel the treaty of Versailles was ‘harsh and unreasonable’.

Firstly this is because if you consider what Germany was planning if they won the war (wanted to become an elite power in the world and take over northern France and annexed Belgium). Another reason that the Treaty wasn’t unfair is that if you remember how the German’s treated Russia in the Treaty of Brest Litovsk when they ordered Russia to pay them 6 billion marks. Also as Germany accepted blame for the war they should have readied themselves for the consequences which where always going to be huge. Finally if you remember that by the 1930’s Germany where left with 90% of it’s resources and Germany became a huge military power, could it really have done this if it had been truly crippled by the treaty? I don’t think it could have.

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