Following the First World War, the Allied Powers convened at the Paris Peace Conference to establish the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers. The Armistice of November 11, 1918, which effectively ended the war, had already set out provisional terms for Germany's retreat and reparations, however the Treaty of Versailles, which was the most important peace agreement to emerge from the Conference, built upon these terms and went into much more detail and depth. The Treaty was signed on June 28, 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and took effect on January 10, 1920.
League of Nations
The leaders of the five Principal Powers made most of the major decisions relating to the Treaty of Versailles, while the finer details were made by their respective foreign ministers, with input from delegates from the remaining states (although the German delegates were excluded). Part I of the Treaty was the Covenant of the League of Nations, establishing an international organization whose primary goal was to maintain global peace. The League's founding was spearheaded by US President Woodrow Wilson (who received a Nobel Prize for his endeavors), although the League was dealt an early blow when the US Congress refused to join.
Restrictions and territorial losses
Parts II to XV of the Treaty related specifically to Germany and the post-war borders of Europe. Several new states were founded in Eastern Europe, and the Treaty of Versailles outlined which territories Germany conceded to these new states, and detailed the new borders with Germany's other neighbors. All of Germany's overseas territories were annexed, bringing an end to the German overseas empire. Territorial losses meant that approximately twelve percent of the mainland population and 13 percent of European territory was lost, as well as a significant portion of Germany's natural resources. The German army and navy also had heavy restrictions placed upon them, with manpower (infantry, cavalry and navy), weapons and munitions all receiving strict limitations. Additionally, the military hierarchy was restructured, and the manufacturing of warplanes, submarines and tanks was forbidden.
The War Guilt Clause
The most controversial and criticized aspects of the Treaty revolved around financial reparations. Article 231 specifically was met with widespread condemnation throughout Germany. This clause stated that Germany was legally responsible for all damages to the Allied Powers during the war, and was therefore responsible for compensation. Although the clause was included in all peace treaties, it was not met with such disdain in the other Central Power countries (the authors also did not intend for it to have such significance). However, German politicians and commentators focused on Article 231 when attacking the unfairness of the Treaty.
The Reparations Commission set Germany's reparation total at 132 billion Deutsche Marks (paid in capital or in physical assets, such as livestock, natural resources, or annexed ships), but Germany's inability to meet these repayments resulted in France and Belgium's annexation of the Ruhr area in 1923. Revised schedules and totals helped Germany manage its reparations schedule by 1928, though the Great Depression in 1929 and Hitler's ascension to power in 1933 saw the abandonment of all responsibilities relating to the Treaty. Following the Second World War, Germany re-assumed its reparation responsibilities; the final reparations payment for the First World War was made by the German government on October 3, 2010. Most modern historians agree that Germany was more than capable of meeting its financial obligations in the inter-war period, and that the Allied Powers had secretly intended to help Germany meet these repayments and become financially stable; thus making Germany a powerful trading partner whom the Allies had some measure of control over.
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In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 21 most important statistics relating to "Treaty of Versailles".