How harsh was the treaty of Versailles?

Essay by DrGuiA-, October 2006

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The Treaty of Versailles (1919) was the peace treaty, which officially ended World War I between the Allies and the German Empire. After six months of negotiations, which took place at the Paris Peace Conference, Germany was "forced" to sign the treaty and accept therefore the full responsibility for causing the war. The German empire was punished militarily, territorially, and had also to finance the reparations of France and Belgium after the war. But was it to harsh on Germany and was she really the only responsible country for causing the war?

Firstly, it is important to know how the treaty was ratified. In January 1918, President Wilson of the USA proposed to Germany fourteen points to end up the war such as: no secret alliances, free trade... and he also suggested creating a league of powerful United Nations called The League of Nations. This is the predecessor to the United Nations created after World War II.

The League's goals included disarmament; preventing war ;settling disputes between countries through negotiation; and improving global welfare. However, this way of treating Germany after all the troubles she caused was seen as too soft and idealistic by the French and English governments who wanted to punish severely the German Empire. The league of Nations did not have the purpose to condemn the German Empire but as the United States did not want to be part of it (because they thought they were already too much involved in European conflicts), the countries remaining in the league were all rather in favor of a harsh treatment of Germany particularly France led by Clemenceau (France had suffered very heavy casualties during the war; some 1.24 million military and 40,000 civilians dead;, and much of the war had been fought on French soil leaving much of the...