Wilson's 14 Points vs. the Treaty of Versailles
Length: 1243 words (3.6 double-spaced pages)
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When the peace processes were to start after the finishing of World War One, there were four people who were major components in the treaty of Paris: Clemenceau, George, Orlando, and Wilson. Clemenceau wanted revenge on the German's by punishing them through the treaties because he believed that they were at fault for the war; George was in agreement with Clemenceau although he did not feel that Germany should suffer severe punishment; Orlando who wanted the irredenta to be re-established; and President Wilson of the United States of America wanted to create a mild peace with Germany in a fair way. In view of this, Wilson created fourteen points that he wanted accomplished in full as a result of the peace treaties. His fourteen points were his plan for a world peace and included plans for the end of secret treaties, freedom of the seas, free trade, arms reduction, the just settlement of colonial claims, the establishment of a League of Nations, and the evacuation of occupied territories and national self-determination. Many of his points were carried out in the Treaty of Versailles, although not all of them were successful or followed completely.
Wilson's fourth point in his plan was the reduction of national armaments. He stated that there should be "adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments [would] be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety." In the Treaty of Versailles, it was stated that the German army was to be limited to 100,000 and that Germany was not allowed to draft its citizens or to have an air force. Also, Germany was no longer allowed to operate submarines because of the unrestricted submarine warfare that they had displayed during the war, and their naval ships were limited in size and in the amount that they were permitted to own. Furthermore, the Rhineland was to be permanently disarmed and occupied by the Allies for fifteen years to ensure that there would be no attacks against France that might start another war. In addition to this, it was stated that Germany would never be allowed to unite with Austria because they would form an incredibly strong fighting force. This resulted in much complaining by the Germans on the account that they believed they were being left without a military force significant enough to protect themselves. Also, the treaty did not require any of the other countries to perform even the slightest demilitarization.
After a certain point, the Germans found ways to avoid the law, and when Hitler came to reign he defied them completely by beginning to draft citizens again, building the status of the navy and air force, and he also began the construction of submarines again. He went so far in his power that he was even able to annex Austria. Even though Wilson's point had been made a part of the treaty, it was a failure because of Hitler's actions and because the rules were difficult to enforce. The result of the laws not being enforced was the beginning of World War Two.
The fifth point of the president's was the just settlement of colonial claims. He stated that "a free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principal that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government . . ." should be decided upon. It was decided in the settlement in Paris that Alsace and Lorraine would be given to France as they had lost these territories in 1871. Eupen and Malmédy would be given to Belgium as compensation for their sufferings that they went through during the war. Popular vote was to decide what would happen to Schleswig, just as a plebiscite was also to determine Upper Siberia's future. Some of Germany's eastern territory was moved in order to give Poland a direct route to the Baltic, as this was promised to Poland from Wilson's plan. Also, under the League of Nations, Danzig became a free city. Germany was also required to surrender all of its other colonies to place outside of Europe, which was not part of Wilson's 14 points. Although Wilson's wish to have the colonies distributed was granted, the results or reasons for how the colonies were dispersed were not what he had stated in his points. For example, the parts of eastern Germany should not have been distributed because it diminished its self-determination and divided the country in two. In addition to this, many of the territories that were ceded to other places were done so in compensation or revenge against Germany. Furthermore, there were many German's who lived in Danzig and the Corridor. This led to arguments over these territories, which gave Germany sufficient reason to invade Poland, cutting off that country's access to the Baltic Sea. Since the welfare of the people living in many of the distributed territories were not considered before they were distributed, much unrest occurred and was another cause that eventually led to World War Two.
The American president's fourteenth point was to establish a League of Nations, which would serve as an organization for international peacemaking. He stated that "a general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike." It was agreed in the Treaty of Versailles that "the Covenant of the League of Nations 'promote international co-operation . . . peace and security.'" The League was established but it did not have a large amount of power, and it didn't function well enough to prevent international problems from occurring, or to resolve them when they occurred. Also, the USA refused to join, which meant that the parliament went against the president's wishes because they did not want the country that they had fought so hard for to have independence to be bound internationally again. In this way, Wilson was successful in establishing a League of Nations, however, he was not successful in convincing his own country to join or in having the organization have a sufficient amount of power to be considered a strongly influential force internationally.
Although Wilson wished to create a mild peace with Germany, the Treaty of Versailles twisted his points into forms of punishment and revenge against Germany. Wilson wished to have all places go through an arms reduction, while the treaty required that only Germany's army was restricted, leaving them with almost no defense forces of their own. He had also wished that the colonies would be spread equally and with consideration for those who lived in them, however the lives of the people were not taken into consideration and the results were that Germany was divided into two while many territories were returned to their original owners, which created much unrest. In addition to this, he had wished to create a League of Nations to conduct mutual guarantees of politics and territory and to maintain international peace. He could not convince his own country to join this, and the League itself, even though it was formed, held no real power and could efficiently deal with international problems. It was in this way that Wilson's fourteen points were compromised in the Treaty of Versailles, and many of the parts that were accomplished were not abided by or caused problems later on.