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Interpretation: Treaty of Versailles
Who wrote the Treaty of Versailles and what did it say?

A group of men sat in judgement of Germany. They were known as the 'Big Four'.



© IWM

Vittorio Orlando - Italian premier who wanted territory promised in Treaty of London (1915), and maybe more.
David Lloyd George - British prime minister who wanted the support of the British public by punishing Germany.
Georges Clemenceau - French prime minister who wanted the Treaty to prevent Germany from attacking France ever again.
Woodrow Wilson - American president who wanted the League of Nations formed, and a fair treaty for Germany.

The Fourteen Points transformed into the Treaty:



Fourteen PointsTreaty of Versailles
Reduce military to the 'lowest point consistent with domestic safety'.Germany’s army was reduced to 100,000 men. They were forbidden to have tanks or an air force. The area between France and Germany - the Rhineland - was made into a demilitarised zone, which meant that no military forces could enter this area. Allied troops were stationed there for fifteen years.
'Impartial adjustment of all colonial claims'Britain and its Dominions split up the main African colonies. Germany was forced to renounce any claims in Asia.
Leave Russian territorySome of the land that Germany had taken in Brest-Litovsk was made into new states: Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
Leave BelgiumBelgium was also given some German territory.
Leave France and return Alsace and LorraineAlsace-Lorraine was given to France. France also received the coal mines Germany's Saar Basin, though the area was to be governed by the League of Nations.However, Denmark and Czechoslovakia also received German territory.
Italy gets back the land that Austria-Hungary had taken.Italy received territory that was promised by the Allies in the secret Treaty of London. No more.
'An independent Poland to be established, with free and secure access to the Sea'Territory from Russia taken by the Germans was used to create Poland. Land from East Prussia gave Poland access to the Sea. Upper Silesia, a strong industrial centre between Poland and Germany, was given temporary independence.
'Freedom of the Seas.' (Britain protested this)Germany was not allowed to keep any submarines, and could only keep six large ships.


Germany was expected to pay reparations, but the amount was not set by the Treaty. The Allies took the 'blank cheque' approach that had been so difficult at the beginning of the War. In 1921, the amount was set at an impossible £6.6 billion.

Map of land taken from Germany, 1919

Why do you think the 'lenient' Fourteen Points became a 'harsh' treaty?

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A - Wilson was weak and could not control France and Britain.

B - The 'points' got the Germans to unconditionally surrender, which left them open to any demands.

C - Wilson had too much faith that the League of Nations would sort everything out later.

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