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8.4 Versailles Conference and Peace Settlement

#parispeaceconference

#worldwar1

⏱️  2 min read

written by

Bretnea Turner

bretnea turner

June 11, 2020


Paris Peace Conference

Each of the members of the conference entered negotiations with their own agendas.

Great Britain

Wanted Germany punished for their actions in expanding the war, but wanted Germany to recover economically so they could contribute to European trade and avoid the spread of communism. 

  • Wanted to maintain naval supremacy, 

  • Expand their colonial control at the expense of Germany and the Ottoman Empire

  • Force Germany to pay manageable reparations for war damages in Belgium

France

Still upset from the Franco-Prussian War, France had the largest agenda against Germany at the Conference

  • Alsace and Lorraine to be returned to France from Germany

  • Rhineland used as a buffer state between France and Germany

  • Poland to be created from German and Russian lands

  • France receives colonies from Ottoman Empire

  • Germany to pay large sums of reparations to take blame for war, pay for war damages and expenses

  • German military and navy to be diminished

United States

President Woodrow Wilson and the US Congress developed 14 Points for peace with no victor, aimed at ensuring there would be no further conflict. 

  • Reduction of all European colonial territories

  • Poland an independent state

  • Ottoman Empire broken into independent states

  • Free trade among all nations

  • No private alliances

  • Alsace and Lorraine to France

  • Establish the League of Nations to ensure future world peace

Italy

Italy switched sides during the war after they were promised territory if they didn’t aid the Germans.

  • Wanted colonies from former Ottoman Empire

  • Expand Italy into Austria-Hungary

  • Reparations from Austria-Hungary

Germany

Germany wanted to avoid blame for the entire war so they could focus on rebuilding their economy back home.

  • Avoid expensive war reparations

  • Keep terms of treaty with Russia

  • Form a German Republic

Paris Peace Treaty / Treaty of Versailles 1919

President Woodrow Wilson of the United States sought to end the war with peace. He feared that allowing a victor would create a future rivalry and more conflict. This idealism clashed with the very real wounds of WWI that France, Britain, and other European nations experienced. France sought the harshest of punishments against Germany to seek revenge for the Franco-Prussian War and the Moroccan Crisis in addition to the damages from WWI. Ultimately, France and Britain accepted most of the moderate terms in Wilson’s 14 Points. They, however, ensured Germany would pay severe war reparations, no longer ally with Austria-Hungary, and cut their military forces drastically. 

These conditions, specifically crippling reparations, helped plunge Germany into hyperinflation. This kept the Weimar Republic in Germany from stabilizing and they were overthrown. 

Additionally, the United States does not agree to its own idea of the League of Nations, effectively rendering it with no viable military force and no funding.

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