Russia’s defeat in 1917 meant the Germans were able to bring thousands of troops from the Eastern Front to the West. In early 1918, the Germans launched the ‘Ludendorf Offensive’, which nearly overwhelmed the Allied defences. They recovered, and then launched their own offensives which took them into Germany. Germany was exhausted and on the point of collapse.
With the failure of the Ludendorf Offensive, and with the exhausted state of Germany, the German generals recognised that it was time to sue for peace with the Allies. The Kaiser was forced to abdicate on the 8 th November and a new democratic republic was established. But how would the Allies deal with a defeated Germany?
On 8 th November 1918, Imperial Germany came to an end when a democratic republic was established. Though it was intended to have Wilhelm tried as a ‘war criminal’ he was eventually allowed to spend the rest of his life in exile in the Netherlands. He died in 1941.
David Lloyd-George [Great Britain] Victoro Orlando [Italy] Georges Clemenceau [France] Woodrow Wilson [USA]
Introduction to Versailles Peace Treaty The Treaty of Versailles was the peace settlement signed after World War One had ended in 1918 and in the shadow of the Russian Revolution and other events in Russia.World War One Russian Revolution Russia The treaty was signed at the vast Versailles Palace near Paris - hence its title - between Germany and the Allies.
The three most important politicians there were David Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau and Woodrow Wilson.David Lloyd GeorgeGeorges ClemenceauWoodrow Wilson The Versailles Palace was considered the most appropriate venue simply because of its size - many hundreds of people were involved in the process and the final signing ceremony in the Hall of Mirrors could accommodate hundreds of dignitaries. Many wanted Germany, now led by Friedrich Ebert, smashed - others, like Lloyd George, were privately more cautious.Germany Friedrich Ebert Lloyd George
The total deaths of all nations who fought in the war is thought to have been 8.5 million with 21 million being wounded. Alongside these statistics, was the fact that vast areas of north-eastern Europe had been reduced to rubble. Flanders in Belgium had been all but destroyed with the ancient city of Ypres being devastated. The homes of 750,000 French people were destroyed and the infrastructure of this region had also been severely damaged. Roads, coal mines, telegraph poles had all been destroyed and such a loss greatly hindered the area's ability to function normally.
The victors from World War One were in no mood to be charitable to the defeated nations and Germany in particular was held responsible for the war and its consequences. During mid-1918, Europe was hit by Spanish flu and an estimated 25 million people died. This added to the feeling of bitterness that ran through Europe and this anger was primarily directed at Germany.
THE TERMS OF THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES 1919 WAR GUILT CLAUSE GERMAN NATIONAL TERRITORY GERMANY’S MILITARY FORCES REDUCED GERMAN OVERSEAS TERRITORRIES NO UNION WITH AUSTRIA REPARATIONS Germany had to accept blame for starting WW1 - Army restricted to 100,000 men. - No modern weapons such as tanks, military air force. - Navy could not have battle ships over 10,000 tons and no U-Boats. - Germany lost national territory which was given to Belgium and Denmark, most went to Poland. Germany lost Chinese ports [Amoy and Tsingtao], Pacific Islands, and African colonies [Tanganika and German SW Africa]. RHINELAND TO BE DE-MILITARISED Germany forced to pay massive fine for war damages - 1,000,000,000 Marks (6.6bn pounds). The Treaty was designed to cripple Germany militarily, territorially and economically
Versailles is one of the largest and most lavish palaces in the world. It is a short train ride from Paris.
The German reaction to the Treaty of Versailles After agreeing to the Armistice in November 1918, the Germans had been convinced that they would be consulted by the Allies on the contents of the Treaty. This did not happen and the Germans were in no position to continue the war as her army had all but disintegrated. Though this lack of consultation angered them, there was nothing they could do about it. Therefore, the first time that the German representatives saw the terms of the Treaty was just weeks before they were due to sign it in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles on June 28th 1919. There was anger throughout Germany when the terms were made public. The Treaty became known as a Diktat - as it was being forced on them and the Germans had no choice but to sign it. Many in Germany did not want the Treaty signed, but the representatives there knew that they had no choice as German was incapable of restarting the war again.
In one last gesture of defiance, the captured German naval force held at Scapa Flow (north of Scotland) scuttled itself i.e. deliberately sank itself. Germany was given two choices: 1) sign the Treaty or 2) be invaded by the Allies. They signed the Treaty as in reality they had no choice. When the ceremony was over, Clemenceau went out into the gardens of Versailles and said "It is a beautiful day".
The consequences of Versailles The Treaty seemed to satisfy the "Big Three" as in their eyes it was a just peace as it kept Germany weak yet strong enough to stop the spread of communism; kept the French border with Germany safe from another German attack and created the organization, the League of Nations, that would end warfare throughout the world.League of Nations
Above all else, Germany hated the clause blaming her for the cause of the war and the resultant financial penalties the treaty was bound to impose on Germany. Those who signed it (though effectively they had no choice) became known as the "November Criminals". Many German citizens felt that they were being punished for the mistakes of the German government in August 1914 as it was the government that had declared war not the people. However, it left a mood of anger throughout Germany as it was felt that as a nation Germany had been unfairly treated.
‘Perhaps it would gee-up better if we let it touch earth.’ A British newspaper cartoon, by David Low. Briand, French Prime Minister SOURCE WORK: 1) First, describe the storyline shown in the cartoon. 2) Then, relate the political message intended by the cartoonist – what does the horse represent, what does the cart represent, why is it stuck in the air, who are the two men, why is one carrying a whip and one a shovel – what is the political message ? Lloyd-George, British Prime Minister What is this referring to? What does the horse represent? Why is the cart up- ended? What is meant by the caption? Why is Lloyd-George holding a shovel? Why is Briand holding a whip? Why is a shovel left here? ‘Perhaps it would gee-up better if we let it touch earth.’
‘Punch’ was Britain’s main political magazine of the period. What does the ‘Angel’ represent? 1.Describe the scene shown, what is the storyline? 2.Then, assess the individual features in the cartoon. 3.Then, identify the political message intended by the cartoonist. Why the candle ‘snuffer’? What political message does it represent? What does the candle represent? What is the general political message of the cartoon?
THE FINISHING TOUCH 1.Describe the scene shown, what is the storyline? 2.Then, assess the individual features in the cartoon. 3.Then, identify the political message intended by the cartoonist. ‘Who’ / or, ‘what’ is the man representing? What does the plank represent What is being represented by the ‘hand’? What is the political message of this cartoon?
Describe the condition of the room in which this family is living? How is the child shown? Why? Look at the caption, what is its political message? How reliable is this source? HOW USEFUL IS THIS SOURCE AS HISTORICAL EVIDENCE: i. What do we learn from it about the period being studied? ii. How reliable is this source?
Name the people emerging from the building. What does the building represent? What is meant by this comment? Why is the ‘child’ weeping, and what is meant by ‘1940’? HOW USEFUL IS THIS SOURCE AS HISTORICAL EVIDENCE: i. What do we learn from it about the period being studied? ii. How reliable is this source?
Vengeance! German Nation Today in the Hall of Mirrors of Versailles the disgraceful Treaty is being signed. Do not forget it! The German people will with unceasing labour press forward to reconquer the place among nations to which it is entitled. Then will come the vengeance for the shame of 1919. From the ‘Deutsche Zeitung’ [‘The German Express’] newspaper. Only fools, liars and criminals could hope for mercy from the enemy. In these nights hatred grew in me, hatred for those responsible for the dead. By Adolf Hitler, who had served in the army and became a future leader of Germany