The treaty of Versailles.

A stamp showing the signature page of The Treaty of Versailles. Image by Topical Stamps

The Peace Treaties

The treaties of World War I

The following major treaties were signed at the end of the First World War.

  1. The treaty of Versailles. (Germany 1919)
  2. The treaty of Saint Germaine (Austria 1919) otherwise known as the treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
  3. The treaty of Trianon (Hungary 1920)
  4. The Treaty of Sevres (Turkey 1920) replaced the treaty f Luasanne.
  5. The treaty of Neuilly (Bulgaria)

The treaty of Bret-Litovsk was signed between Russia and Germany in 1918 to end Russia’s participation in World War I.

Important figures/countries at the peace treaties.

  • Woodrow Wilson                (U.SA)
  •  Lloyd George                       (Britain)
  • George Clemenceau            (France)
  • Victor Orlando                     (Italy)
  • Von Stressman                    (Germany)

Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points.

  1. There should be no more secret treaties.
  2. There should be freedom of navigation of the high seas.
  3. Countries should encourage free trade.
  4. Armaments were to be reduced.
  5. The interests of the people living in colonies shall be taken into account whenever determining the fate and countries’ claims on colonies.
  6. German troops should leave Russia.
  7. German troops should leave Belgium.
  8.  Alsace and Lorraine should be returned to France.
  9. A readjustment of the borders of Italy should be made along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.
  10. The people of Austria-Hungary should be given the opportunity to be independent and sovereign.
  11. Serbia, Montenegro and Romania should be evacuated and their territories restored and Serbia should be granted access to the sea.
  12. People of the Turkish empire who were not Turks should be given independence.
  13. An independent Poland should be created and given access to sea.
  14. An international organisation should be set up to protect the independence of all states.

The main interests of the major representatives at the peace treaties

Georges Clemenceau

  • He wanted to see Germany crippled economically, politically and militarily so that Germany would no longer be a threat to France again.
  • He saw this as an opportunity to revenge the humiliation France had suffered as a result of the Franco-Prussian law.

Woodrow Wilson

  • He wanted a more peaceful world.
  • He suggested his 14 points be used as guiding principles by the peace makers at the Paris Peace conference to achieve lasting peace.
  • He did not want Germany to be treated harshly because he foresaw the problems of such actions.

David Lloyd Geroge

  • Please note that his surname was Lloyd-George and his first name David. Most history textbooks make the mistake of mentioning his name as Lloyd.
  • He wanted Germany to recover so she could trade with Britain.
  • He agreed with Clemenceau that Germany should be punished but not the extreme extent that Clemenceau wanted.

Victor Orlando (Italian name: Vittorio Emanuele Orlando)

  • Often known by his anglicized name Victor in history textbooks. You can use this name or his actual Italian name.
  • He wanted land promised to Italy by the Allied Powers before he joined the war on the side of the allied powers.

Problems encountered by the statesmen during the peace conference.

1.  Lack of unity of purpose.

-The statesmen lacked unity as Wilson and Clemenceau were on extreme opposites and Lloyd George acted as a voice of reason between the two.

2. Pressure from the people back home.

-The statesmen had to make decisions which met with the expectations of the people at home for example Lloyd George had promised to deal harshly with Germany during the 1918 elections so he was compelled to fulfill the promise.

-The French wanted revenge against Germany and the venue in Paris exerted more pressure on the conference since it was on their homeland resulting in an environment not conducive to the peace talks.

3. The attitude of the United States of America.

-The Americans were not interested in European affairs so Woodrow Wilson was there against the wishes of his people.

4. Chaotic Environment

-The general situation in Europe was tumultuous at the time the conference was being conducted.

5. Fear of Communism

-The statesmen feared that communism which had started in Russia, would spread to other nations in Europe so they wanted to quickly make pace before communism spread in Europe.

The peace treaties.

The Treaty of Versailles (Germany 1919)

  • It was singed by Germany in 1919 after six months of negotiation at the Paris Peace Conference.
  • The terms of the treaty of Versailles are divided into the territorial and non territorial terms.

Territorial terms

  • Alsace and Lorraine were to be handed back to France.
  • The Rhineland was to be demilitarized and to be occupied by allied troops.
  • The Saar basin was to be administered by the League of nations commission for 15 years.
  • Poland was to receive Upper Silesia and Possen.
  • Poland was to become independent.
  • Poland was to get Polish Corridor giving her access to the sea.
  • Part of Danzig was placed under the League of Nations as a free city.
  • Eupen, Morenset and Malmedy were to be taken by Belgium.
  • North Schleswig was to be given back to Denmark.
  • Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland were to be independent.
  • Memel was given to Lithuania.
  • The union between Austria and Germany was forbidden
  • The Carolyn Islands (sometimes spelt Caroline Islands), were to be transferred to Japan while Cameroon and Togoland were to be given to France.
  • Samoa went to New Zealand.
  • Germany lost most her territories in Europe and all her overseas colonies.

Non teritorial provisions

  • The disarmament clause-Germany was to reduce her army to 100 000 men, with no conscription, no heavy artillery and no poison gas.and to reduce her battleships to 6 light cruisers, 12 destroyers, 12 torpedo boats and no submarines. The navy was limited to 15 000 men. Germany was also to disband its air force.
  • The war guilt clause-Germany was made to accept that she was responsible for causing the outbreak of the First World War and the resulting destruction of European infrastructural destruction and loss of life.
  • Germany was supposed to pay £6 600 million to the allies for the losses and damages incurred during the course of the war.

Fairness of this treaty

  • Germany had done the same thing to the Russians after the Russians had conceded defeat at the treaty of Bret-Litosvk and which might be taken as proof that had Germany won the war she would have extracted the same concessions from the allied powers.
  • Germany gave unconditional support to Austria-Hungary which encouraged the later to act aggressively to other countries contributing to the outbreak of the war.
  • Germany was partly responsible for bringing about the outbreak of the war: she had a war plan (the Schlieffen Plan), participated aggressively in an arms race and naval race with Britain signifying that she wanted war.
  • Germany’s aggressive actions such as the First and Second Moroccan crisis spurred other powers to form alliances against her.
  • Germany can be blamed for declaring war on Russia and attacking Belgium on her way to attack France.
  • Germany’s harsh treatment of France in The Treaty of Frankfurt were turned around on her in this treaty.

Unfairness of the treaty.

  • Germany was not represented at the peace conference yet she was asked to accept and sign the treaty so the terms were dictated to her.
  • Nationality was not considered when Germany lost her territories which had German nationals.
  • The amount of reparations imposed on Germany was impractical and un-affordable and resulted in the complete collapse of the Germany economy a fact Hitler seized upon to rise into power.
  • Germany was not the only country that caused the war: Britain, Russia, France, Austria-Hungary, Serbia among other countries all played their part.
  • The unification of Germany and Italy created large states which led to competition and aggression between European states thus leading to war.
  • The Berlin conference of 1878 which divided European territory also contributed to the outbreak of the war.
  • Germany was unfairly forbidden from joining with Austria.
  • Germany was forced to reduce her army to about 1/3 of its original size leaving her feeling vulnerable.
  • The seizure of her colonies was a clear act of sharing the spoils of war rather than an act of justice.

The treaty of Saint Germain (Austria 1919)

Territorial terms

  • Hungary became independent of Austria.
  • A new state of Czechoslovakia was created from the Austro-Hungary empire.
  • Galicia was given to Poland.
  • Bukovina was given to Romania
  • Istria and Tyrol were given to Italy.
  • Austria lost about 4 million Germans to her neighbors.
  • Dalmatia and Carniola were ceded to Yugoslavia
  • Her total area was reduced from about 300 000 square kilometers to about 78 000 square kilometers.

Non territorial provisions

  • Autocracy was banned and Austria became a republic.
  • The Austrian army was reduced to 30 000 volunteer men with no navy.
  • She was to pay reparations of a “large some of money” but the amount was never set because the country went bankrupt before the amount could be determined.
  • Austria was also forced to accept causing World War I
  • An alliance with Germany was forbidden.

Fairness of the treaty

  • As with Germany Austria had played a big role in bringing about the outbreak of World War I for example the invasion of Serbia over the death of just one man!
  • However she was not the only party responsible as Germany, Britain, Russia, France and Serbia played their own parts.
  • She was not represented at the conference but she was just forced to sign.


The treaty of Trianon (Hungary 1920)

Territorial provisions

  • Slovakia and part of Lithuania were given to Czechoslovakia.
  • Bosnia and Croatia were also given to Czechoslovakia.
  • 3 million Magyars were placed under foreign rule.
  • Transylvania was given to Romania.
  • Burgenland was given to Austria.

Non territorial provisions

  • She lost about two thirds of her territory and populations from about 20 million to 8 million.
  • Her army was reduced to 35 000 volunteer men and 3 patrol boats.
  • She was to pay reparations of 200 million gold crowns to the allies as she was found guilty of causing the war.
  • She was forbidden to unite with Austria.

Fairness and unfairness of the treaty

  • Hungary’s aggressive behavior was partly responsible for the outbreak of the war.
  • As with the other treaties Hungary was not solely responsible for causing the war.
  • Nationality was not considered when giving out her territories to other countries.
  • She lost access to the sea.
  • “Tolls” made railway transport for Hungary expensive.
  • She lost her most important financial institutions with the loss in territory.

The treaty of Sevres (Turkey 1920)

Territorial provisions

  • Syrian and Lebanon were given to France.
  • Iran and Transjordan were taken by Britain.
  • Arabia gained Independence.
  • Eastern Thrace went to Greece.
  • Cyprus went to Britain.In

Non territorial provisions

  • The army was limited to 50 000 soldiers, seven sail boats and six torpedo boats.
  • They were forbidden to have an air force
  • There were no reparations to be paid.
  • The allies had the right to reform the electoral system of the Ottoman empire.

The treaty of Laussane later replaced the treaty of Sevres

  • Turkey regained some of her territory at the expense of Greece.
  • River Mamsta was declared to be a frontier between Greece and Turkey.
  • Eastern Thrace was returned to Turkey.
  • Italy kept Docleconese Islands and Britain’s ownership of Cyprus was affirmed.
  • A customs union for former Turkish people was created and taxes were abolished.
  • Arrangements were made to send all Greeks in Turkey and all Turks in Greece to their respective countries.

Treaty of Neuilly (Bulgaria 1919)

Territorial terms

  • Bulgaria lost her territories along east-western boundary to Yugoslavia.
  • She lost access to the Auegean sea to Greece.

Non-territorial provisions

  • Her army was reduced to 20 000 volunteers, four torpedo boats and no air force.
  • She was to pay reparations of 2.25 billion francs.

N.B All the terms of these treaties were harsh, vindictive and dictated to the defeated central powers and their allies.