The Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. This treaty formally ended World War I, created the League of Nations andlaid the foundations forWorld War II. The Treaty was preceded by the conference of 27 states, opened in Paris on January 18, 1919, which destined the fate of Germany without its participation.The .German government .of the .Weimar .Republic hoped for a peace treaty with some territorial losses and reasonable war indemnity. But the Treaty exceeded their worst expectations. The Treaty, signed in the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles, became the symbol of absolute triumph of the winners and utter humiliation of the vanquished.The Treaty was signed by 27Allied and Associated Powers and defeated Germany. Germany and Russia were not invited, at the same time certain signatories were warring parties only formally and did not participate in the war in fact (Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, etc.). Three states were formed in the period between the surrender of Germany and signing of the Treaty (Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes).After the Treaty Germany lost 1\8 of its territories and control over colonies but remained a united country that made Generalissimo Foch proclaim his well-knownprophecy"This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years".
The Treaty cannot be considered to be just as two huge powers – Germany and Russia were totally excluded from the political arena. Itwas perceived by almost all Germans as an outrages and unlawful act: because of territorial concessions, primarily in favor of the newly formed Poland, material hardships in the form of reparations, loss of colonies and military restrictions which were collectively justified as the payment for the guilt of the German Empire and its allies in the Great War. The allies tried to turn Germany intoaminor country. Berlin did not even have full sovereignty over its territory. All German airports had to be open for the aircraft of the Entente. The Kiel Canal, which is deep inside the territory and has strategic importance, had to be always open not only for the merchant fleet but warships of the winners also. The Elbe, the Oder, the Niemen and the Danube (from Ulm up to the Black Sea) were declared as free international routes.The Versailles-Washington system has created a lot of large and small problems, which together led to war. So, East Prussia was cut off from the rest of Germany and had no train and motorway connections with it. Separate existence of the city of Danzig did not satisfyeither Poland or Germany (German population totally prevailed in the city). USSR lost almost all bases of the Baltic Fleet. Soviet fleet could be based only in Leningrad after the Treaty.Germany was unable to pay huge reparations to the Western countries. This was the reason why the French army occupied the Ruhr in 1923, whichwas the most developed industrial region of Germany. 10% of the German population lived in the Ruhr. It produced 40% of steel, 70% iron and 88% of coal were mined there. Occupation of the Ruhr only exacerbated the economic crisis in Germany.
Many problems were not resolved during the Versailles Conference and after signing the Treaty. The new treaties were called to deal with the unsolved challenges: Treaty of St. Germain(1919), which established the current borders of Austria. Treaty of Trianon (1920) of the victorious nations and Hungary. Washington Naval Conference (1921-1922), etc.The direct consequences of the Great War and the Treaty of Versailles were so called small wars: Romania and Serbia against the Hungarian Soviet Republic (1919).Greco-Turkish War (1919-1921). Soviet-Polish War (1920). Polish-Lithuanian War (1920). Irish War of Independence (1919-1921 and 1922-1923).France and England, who humiliated the Germans dignity, created preconditions for establishment of the National Socialist dictatorship in the country which, in turn, led to the next World War. Japan and Italy, who considered themselves deprived, became allies of Germany in the Second World War.
Lederer, I. J. (1960).The Versailles Settlement – Was it Foredoomed to Failure? Boston: D. C. Heath.
The Treaty of Versailles