What were the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles?

Demonstrators stood on steps in protest to Treaty of Versailles.
Demonstration of the German student body against the Treaty of Versailles

Firstly, Germany was very angry about this ‘dictated peace’. They had not been invited to discuss the terms of the treaty and they had been forced to admit full responsibility as well as pay money that they could not afford. German people were angry with their own government for signing the treaty but, in truth, they had little choice.

When the world faced economic hardship in the late 1920s and early 1930s Germans turned towards extremist parties like the Nazis who used the terms of the Treaty of Versailles to channel the people’s anger.

The failure of the League of Nations

The League of Nations faced a number of crises. Two in particular led to its failure. In 1932, the League supported China in a conflict with Japan over the territory of Manchuria. However, Japan simply left the League and remained in Manchuria. There was nothing the League could do and this showed that it was not working. In 1935, Italy invaded Abyssinia (now Ethiopia). The League said that Italy was wrong but there was a secret agreement between Italy and some of the League’s members (France and Britain). This made the League look weak and pointless.

The policy of appeasement

As a result of the League failing, Great Britain decided to instead adopt a policy of appeasement to prevent war. Led by new Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, the policy of appeasement saw Britain give Germany little bits of what they wanted in order to keep them happy and stop them from starting a war. Some historians still believe that this was the right thing to do. However, many use the fact that World War Two began shortly afterwards to claim that it was the wrong decision and played into the hands of Hitler. What do you think?

It started with Germany slowly trying to expand its army, which it had been banned from doing in the Treaty of Versailles. Germany also demanded control of the Sudetenland which the Treaty of Versailles had given to Czechoslovakia. Britain and France gave it to them without even asking Czechoslovakia. Germany invaded Czechoslovakia and, now that it had been able to regain its military power, invaded Poland as well. By this time, enough was enough for Britain and war was declared on Germany (1939).