Treaty of Versailles

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The Big Four. Left to Right:David Lloyd George of Britain, Vittorio Orlando of Italy, Georges Clemenceau of France, and Woodrow Wilson of the United States, the principal architects of the Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allies. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of World War I were dealt with in separate treaties. Although the armistice, signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty.

Of the many provisions in the treaty, one of the most important and controversial required "Germany [to] accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage" during the war (the other members of the Central Powers signed treaties containing similar articles). This article later became known as the "War Guilt" clause. The treaty forced Germany to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions, and pay very scale reparations.

The "War Guilt" clause and the rest of the treaty were widely seen as unfair, in particular in Germany, but also elsewhere, and contributed to the rise of National Socialism and attempts by National Socialist Germany to change the situation. The reparations were indefinitely postponed in 1932, in part due to the Great Depression.

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