"History is past politics, and politics present history." John Robert Seeley

"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see." Winston Churchill

"What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing." Aristotle

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The Paris Peace Settlement (1919)

At the end of the First World War in 1918, the European Powers and USA agreed to meet to bring about a formal conclusion to the social and political destruction created by the war. The Paris Peace Conference, held in Versailles in the ‘Hall of Mirrors’ was the setting for these discussions. In truth, the whole process was a ‘fait accompli’ as the German delegation were given no voice at the meetings. This was the embodiment of the‘War Guilt Clause’ whereby Germany and her allies assumed all responsibility for the war.President Woodrow Wilson (USA) brought with him his concept of ‘Fourteen Points’, one of which was ‘self-determination of small nations’. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was entirely broken up, creating individual nations such as Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Interestingly, Sinn Féin’s delegation sent by Dáil Eireann, was entirely ignored in its effort to secure recognition for the Irish Republic by the ‘Big Four’;

  • Lloyd George (UK),
  • Woodrow Wilson (USA),
  • Clemenceau (France) &
  • Vittorio Orlando (Italy)

The Treaty of Versailles (1919)
In this treaty, the most contentious and controversial of all, Germany was made responsible for all the loss, human and material, of the First World War.

  • This was known as the ‘War Guilt Clause’ (Article 231).
  • Germany lost all her overseas colonies (Article 22) which were split between the victorious allies.
  • Germany’s navy was drastically reduced and her U-Boats banned.
  • The German army was reduced to 100,000 men and conscription banned.
  • Most damaging of all, Germany was required to pay ‘reparations’ for damage to the countries she invaded and attacked. These reparations were to cost Germany 6.6 billion pounds.

Territorial Losses
Germany also lost a large amount of her national territory.

  • The Alsace-Lorraine region, which was German-speaking, was to be ceded (given) to France, which she had lost to Germany in the 1871 Franco-Prussian war.
  • Northern Schleswig was given to Denmark following a plebiscite.
  • The Saar Region was to be put under League of Nations control until a plebiscite was arranged 15 years later to decide its destiny.
  • The city of Danzig & East Prussia in north-east Prussia was made a ‘Free City‘. Its port was vital to any German Navy and also for trade.  This move cut it off from Germany.
  • The large Province of Posen was also given to Poland.

 

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