The Treaty of Versailles

A Violation
The Treaty of Versailles was a violation of Wilson’s ideals. The Treaty is one of the most important agreements (or disagreements) that shaped 20th century Europe socially and physically. Woodrow Wilson on January 22, 1917 in an address to the United States Senate called for a peace without victors, but the Treaty signed by the participating nations was everything but that. The blame for the war was placed on Germany and justified the reparations that were outlined by the treaty for the war. The terms of the treaty were very harsh to the Germans and they took on great resentment. It was a fragile peace agreement that would be used as fuel to keep hostilities going 20 years later.
When the details of the treaty were published in June 1919 most Germans were horrified. Germany had not been allowed to the Peace Conference and was told to accept the terms or else. Most Germans however, had believed that the Treaty would be lenient because of Wilson's Fourteen Points.
Many people in other lands thought that the treaty was a way of making legal the punishment on the Germans and this was in violation of Wilsonian idealism. The peacemakers should have been able to set aside hatred that was built up from the past in order to come up with a more proper and fair settlement. Instead of doing this, they placed the blame on the Germans by forcing them to pay for reparations they couldn't afford, insulting them with the accusation of guilt from the war and taking away their territory. The treaty would only intensify the hatred felt by all the parties involved in the treaty and heighten German nationalism. This was a poor beginning for democracy in Germany and for Wilson's New World.
President Woodrow Wilson had hopes for a New World. For Wilson, the war had been fought against autocracy. A peace settlement based on liberal-democratic ideals, he hoped, would get rid of the foundations of war. None of Wilson's hopes seemed better than the idea of self-determination -- the right of a people to have its own state, free of any foreign domination. In particular, this goal meant the return of Alsace and Lorraine to France which had been lost to Germany in the Franco-Prussian war, the creation of an independent Poland, the changing of the frontiers of Italy to include Austrian lands where Italians lived, and an opportunity for Slavs of the Austro- Hungarian Empire to form their own states.

More about The Treaty of Versailles

Get Access