The unfair Treaty of Versailles laid the seeds of WW2

"The Second World War took place not so much because no one won the First, but because the Versailles Treaty did not acknowledge this truth."

Historian Paul Johnson, 1972

Woodrow Wilson exalts after the Treaty is signed by the Germans. There was nothing to celebrate really as history unfolded later.

Germany is a great country. It;s people are clever, brilliant and hard-working. And they are very proud of their country. When such a country is humiliated, one can be sure the results will be disastrous. The framers of the documents of the Treaty of Versailles did not understand this in 1919. The consequences were seen twenty years later in 1939 when the German blitz hit Europe.


"We were preparing not Peace only, but Eternal Peace. There was about us the halo of some divine mission. We were bent on doing great, permanent noble things."

-- Harold Nicolson, British delegate to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference
The Treaty of Versailles was very humiliating for the Germans. Germany was stripped of approximately 13% of its pre-war territory and all of its over-seas possessions. The Ruhr - Germany's industrial heartland - was to be occupied by allied troops. The size of Germany's military forces was drastically reduced. The treaty further stipulated that Germany would pay for the devastation of the war through annual reparation payments to its European neighbors. The victors ignored the bitter complaints of the German delegation.

This is what the Treaty was for the Germans. The French in order to ensure that Germany did not attack France again was chiefly responsible for the harsh provisions. But it was a stupid way to do things.

The Treaty of Versailles includes 440 articles. The principal items are:

# Germany has to cede Alsace-Lorraine to France.
# Germany has to cede the coal mines in the Saar-area to France.
# Germany has to cede an area with Moresnet, Eupen, Malmédy and St. Vith to Belgium.
# Germany has to cede the main part of West-Prussia and almost the whole province of Posen to the new state of Poland.
# Germany has to cede all colonies: Togo en Cameroun, the territories in East- and South-West Africa, islands in the Pacific and possesions in China.
# All German properties in foreign countries are confiscated.
# Germany has to cede al war material to the allies.
# German compulsory military service is abolished, as well as the General Staff.

A German tank being demolished.

# Germany is not allowed to have tanks, airplanes, submarines, large warships and poison gas.
# During 15 years Germany is not allowed to station troops on the left border of the river Rhine and in a 50 km strip on the right border of the Rhine.
# The total size of the Germany army is not to exceed 100.000 men.
# The German navy has a maximum of 15.000 men.

# Germany is allowed a total of 4.000 officers.
# Germany is not to take part in the League of Nations.
# Austria has to cede South-Tirol to Italy.
# Turkye has to cede all foreign possesions. England gets Iraq, Palestine and Trans-Jordan, France gets Syria and Libanon.
# Germany has to cede to the allies all seagoing ships with a carrying capacity exceeding 1600 Brt, plus half of all ships between 1000 and 1600 Brt. Furthermore one fourth of the fishing fleet and two fifths of the inland navigation fleet has to be ceded.
# Germany has to cede large amounts of machinery and building materials, trains and trucks.
# Germany has to deliver certain amounts of coal, chemicals, dye and fuel for many years.
# All German subocean telegraph cables are confiscated.
# Germany has to pay 20 billion goldmarks.

This was how the Germans perceived the Treaty. And rightly so.

Here is a first hand account of signing of the Treaty of Versailles by the German representatives. Sir Harold Nicolson was a member of the British delegation to the Treaty of Versailles. He offers his observations of its signing on June 28, 1919.

"We enter the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors). It is divided into three sections. At the far end are the Press already thickly installed. In the middle there is a horse-shoe table for the plenipotentiaries. In front of that; like a guillotine, is the table for the signatures. It is supposed to be raised on a dais but, if so, the dais can be but a few inches high...There must be seats for over a thousand persons. This robs the ceremony of all privilege and therefore of all dignity.

...the delegates arrive in little bunches and push up the central aisle slowly. Wilson and Lloyd George are among the last. They take their seats at the central table. The table is at last full. Clemenceau glances to right and left. People sit down upon their escabeaux but continue chattering. Clemenceau makes a sign to the ushers. They say 'Ssh! Ssh! Ssh!' People cease chattering and there is only the sound of occasional coughing and the dry rustle of programs. The officials of the Protocol of the Foreign Office move up the aisle and say, 'Ssh! Ssh!' again. There is then an absolute hush, followed by a sharp military order. The Gardes Republicains at the doorway flash their swords into their scabbards with a loud click. 'Faites entrer les Allemands,' says Clemenceau in the ensuing silence.

Through the door at the end appear two huissiers with silver chains. They march in single file. After them come four officers of France, Great Britain, America and Italy. And then, isolated and pitiable, come the two German delegates. Dr. Muller, Dr. Bell. The silence is terrifying. Their feet upon a strip of parquet between the savonnerie carpets echo hollow and duplicate. They keep their eyes fixed away from those two thousand staring eyes, fixed upon the ceiling. They are deathly pale. They do not appear as representatives of a brutal militarism. The one is thin and pink-eyelidded. The other is moon-faced and suffering. It is all most painful.

They are conducted to their chairs. Clemenceau at once breaks the silence. 'Messieurs,' he rasps, 'la seance est ouverte.' He adds a few ill-chosen words. 'We are here to sign a Treaty of Peace.' The Germans leap up anxiously when he has finished, since they know that they are the first to sign. William Martin, as if a theatre manager, motions them petulantly to sit down again. Mantoux translates Clemenceau's words into English. Then St. Quentin advances towards the Germans and with the utmost dignity leads them to the little table on which the Treaty is expanded. There is general tension. They sign. There is a general relaxation. Conversation hums again in an undertone.

The delegates stand up one by one and pass onwards to the queue which waits by the signature table. Meanwhile people buzz round the main table getting autographs. The single file of plenipotentiaries waiting to approach the table gets thicker. It goes quickly. The Officials of the Quai d'Orsay stand round, indicating places to sign, indicating procedure, blotting with neat little pads.

Germany never forgot. It hit back twenty years later. With Blitzkrieg.

Suddenly from outside comes the crash of guns thundering a salute; It announces to Paris that the second Treaty of Versailles has been signed by Dr. Muller and Dr. Bell. Through the few open windows comes the sound of distant crowds cheering hoarsely. And still the signature goes on.

We had been warned it might last three hours. Yet almost at once it seemed that the queue was getting thin. Only three, then two, and then one delegate remained to sign. His name had hardly been blotted before the huissiers began again their 'Ssh! Ssh!' cutting suddenly short the wide murmur which had again begun. There was a final hush. 'La seance est levee' rasped Clemenceau. Not a word more or less.

We kept our seats while the Germans were conducted like prisoners from the dock, their eyes still fixed upon some distant point of the horizon."

Harold Nicolson's account appears in: Nicolson, Harold, Peacemaking, 1919 (1933); Elcock, Howard, Portrait of a Decision: The Council of Four and the Treaty of Versailles (1972); Goldberg, George, The Peace to End Peace; the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 (1969).

Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles was the peace settlement signed after the Great War, ending the state of conflict between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on June 28, 1919, after months of argument and negotiation among Great Britain, France, and the United States, as to what the treaty should contain. The leaders of these three nations were known as the “Big Three.” They were Prime Minister David Lloyd George of England, Georges Clemenceau of France, and President Woodrow Wilson of the United States. Article 231 of the Treaty laid sole responsibility for the war on Germany, which was held accountable for all the damage done to civilian population of the allies, even though the allied countries were as much responsible for the outbreak of World War I. Article 231 was written based not on justice, but on cultural prejudices. For instance, the Germans were referred to by the Allies as the “Huns,” “the Wolves,” or the “Barbarians.” But if one reads the terms of the this treaty, then one wonders who were the wolves? Germany became the scapegoat, the center of evilness of humankind.

The Treaty of Versailles terms, which was imposed on Germany, were humiliating and rapacious, stripping Germany of huge chunks of territory. Not only did Germany have to hand over the German territories of Alsace and Lorraine, which the French had greedily wrenched away from Germany before right after the Thirty Years War with the Treaty of Münster and Osnabrück, but also she had to surrender big portions of West Prussia, Posen and Silesia, to Poland, which isolated East Prussia from the rest of Germany. The new territory gained by Poland ended in the Polish Corridor, which gave this country access to the Baltic Sea. The eastern banks of the Rhine also had to be handed over to the French. In the south, Germany was forced to cede the Sudetenland region, in which ethnic Germans lived, to form a new nation, Czechoslovakia. In the north, Germany also had cede Schleswig to Denmark. In the West, Eupen and Malmedy were given to Belgium. Finally, the Saar, Danzig and Memel were put under French control and the people of these regions would be authorized to vote whether they wanted to stay within Germany or not in a future referendum.

Germany was also forbidden to unite with Austria to form a larger Nation to make up for the lost land. Germany’s army was reduced to 100,000 men and was not authorized to have tanks. She was not permitted to have an airforce, too, and was allowed only six main naval ships and no submarines at all. The west of the Rhineland and 50 kilometers east of the Rhine River was turned into a demilitarized zone. No German military unit was allowed to be stationed in this zone. The Allies deployed an army of occupation on the west bank of the Rhine for 15 years.

The loss of natural-resources-containing territory would be a severe blow to any attempts by Germany to rebuild her economy. This had great economic consequences on the German population in the 1920’s when a percentage of her population suffered from starvation. Coal from the Saar and Upper Silesia in particular represented a huge economic loss. Combined with the financial penalties linked to reparations, it was clear to that the Allies wanted nothing else but the bankrupcy of Germany. Article 248 of the Treaty of Versailles established that until May 1, 1921, the German Government shall not export, and shall forbid the export or disposal of, gold without the previous approval of the Allied and Associated Powers acting through the Reparation Commission. The total sum of war reparations demanded from Germany amounted to £11,600,000,000.

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Snippets From History

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Hubert Menzel was a major in the General Operations Department of the OKH (the Oberkommando des Heers, the German Army headquarters), and for him the idea of invading the Soviet Union in 1941 had the smack of cold, clear logic to it: 'We knew that in two years' time, that is by the end of 1942, beginning of 1943, the English would be ready, the Americans would be ready, the Russians would be ready too, and then we would have to deal with all three of them at the same time.... We had to try to remove the greatest threat from the East.... At the time it seemed possible.'

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Berlin after it fell to the Russians, 1945

"Vladlen Anchishkin, a Soviet battery commander on the 1st Ukrainian Front, sums up the horror of the whole event, when he tells how he took personal revenge on German soldiers: 'I can admit it now, I was in such a state, I was in such a frenzy. I said, 'Bring them here for an interrogation' and I had a knife, and I cut him. I cut a lot of them. I thought, 'You wanted to kill me, now it's your turn.'
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Points To Ponder....

The fall of France was shocking. It reduced France to virtually a non-player in the Second World War. The efforts of Charles de Gualle were more symbolic than material. But the martial instincts of the French must never be doubted. Under Napoleon they were a formidable military power. The French definitely have more iron in their blood then say, the Italians [I do not mean it in a derogatory sense. War never makes sense]


Bias Of Western Historians

Soviet resistance made possible a successful Allied invasion of France, and ensured the final Allied victory over Germany.

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Eastern Front: Bias Of Western Historians