Versailles Treaty

The Versailles Treaty ended the First World War and effectively left Germany in a state of disrepair. The allies viewed Germany as the aggressor, and thus required them to make full reparations for the damages that the war caused. From the allied perspective it is easy to understand why they came down so harshly on Germany for all the suffering that was caused, however the demands were unrealistic, prompting future conflict by creating an unsettled atmosphere that ultimately contributed to Hitler’s rise.

The treaty was especially harsh in terms of Germany and her territories. Articles 45, 51, 119, and 156 were meant to strip Germany down to a mere shell of its former self by forcing the cession of many territories. The coal mines in the Saar Basin were to be ceded to France as compensation for the destruction of coal mines in the north of France, frontiers from 1871 were restored, and claims to overseas possessions were renounced. Many of these land cessions were to the direct benefit of France because out of all of the Allied countries, France took the harshest blows from the war because a lot of the fighting took place on French soil. To this day there are still regions in France that are unlivable because large amounts of live munitions remain undiscovered.

It was also evident that the Treaty intended to prevent a future war with Germany by imposing severe limitations on the capabilities of its armed forces, which is demonstrated in Article 160. Although this may have seemed like a viable solution at the time, in hindsight it is apparent that such a policy was nearly impossible to enforce. This policy lead to a series of appeasements, which allowed Germany to slowly rebuilt its armed forces while under Allied watch, ultimately allowing them to accumulate a powerful arsenal that was at Hitler’s disposal.

After the Second World War the Allies approached the post-war rebuilding process far differently. Applying unfair and impossible demands to a defeated country leaves the political atmosphere ripe for radicalism. They learned from their mistakes and adopted a policy that was less harsh and more constructive.