Attitudes to the Paris Peace Settlement

In 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed, many sections of the British public had wanted Germany to be severely punished.

By the 1930s this opinion had altered. Large numbers had looked at the complaints by Germany and believed that they were justified.

The economist John Maynard Keynes had taken part in the Paris Peace Settlement. He believed that the Treaty of Versailles had been harsh on Germany and threatened European economic recovery.

quote
The treaty includes no provisions for the economic rehabilitation of Europe, – nothing to make the defeated central empires into good neighbours, nothing to stabilise the new states of Europe, nothing to reclaim Russia; nor does it promote a compact of economic solidarity among the allies themselvesJohn Maynard Keynes

Keynes believed that the settlement would lead to economic misery and resentment.

The idea of fighting to defend the Treaty of Versailles was also criticised. This was clear in 1936 when Germany reoccupied the Rhineland. Many such as Lord Lothian believe that Hitler was justified. Others questioned why the British should fight if the French would not fight when they were directly threatened.

Versailles had resulted in many German-speaking peoples being included in the countries that had been formed after 1919. The idea of these people being allowed the same principle of self-determination that had been applied to others seemed fair.