WWI ended in 1919, but the terms were still being discussed in Versailles, near Paris. The terms for peace were discussed by delegates from 32 countries, who discussed how to create a lasting peace.

  • The Allies Meet and Debate

    The major decisions were made by the Big Four: Woodrow Wilson from the US, Georges Clemenceau of France, David George of Britain, and Vittorio Orlando of Italy. Russia was not represented because it was in the middle of a civil war. Germany and the other losers were also not invited.

    • Wilson’s Plan for Peace
      • In 1918, President Wilson created the 14 points, which outlined a way to achieve lasting peace.
      • These points included:
        • No more secret treaties
        • Freedom to travel over sees
        • Free trade
        • Smaller national armies and navies
        • Fairness to colonies and their people
        • 6-13 are suggestions for changing borders and creating nation.
      • Self-determination was a guiding principle, giving people the choice to live under whatever government they wanted.
      • The 14th point proposed a union of nations that would try to guide and protect both large and small states. This organization would try to peacefully resolve world conflicts.
    • The Versailles Treaty
      • Both Britain and France disliked Wilson’s vision of peace, as they wanted to strip Germany of all war-making power. These differences led to arguments, before they finally reached the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty adopted the 14th point and created the League of Nations, which would try to keep peace.
      • The treaty also punished Germany, taking land and power away. The harshest provision was Article 231, which blamed Germany for the war and forced the to pay reparations.
      • All German colonies became territories and were taken charge of the League of Nations until they were ready for independence.
  • A Troubled Treaty

    The Versailles treaty was one of the five treaties. However, these treaties created feelings of unhappiness among victors and the defeated.

    • The Creation of New Nations
      • The Western Powers signed treaties with each other, which caused large land losses for the Central Powers. New countries were created – Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.
      • The Ottomans had to give up their empire, only retaining Turkey. The lost land was split into mandates – Palestine, Iraq, and Transjordan for Britain, Syria and Lebanon for France.
      • Russia also lost land to Romania and Poland. Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania became independent from Russia.
    • “A Peace Built on Quicksand”
      • The Treaty of Versailles led to a temporary peace, especially because the United States rejected it. Americans believed that they should stay out of European affairs. The US came up with a separate treaty with Germany years later.
      • Also, the treaty with Germany, especially the war-guilt section left bitterness. The losers felt cheated by the Allies and colonies continued under the mandate system.
      • Without the support of the United States, the League of Nations was too weak to take any action and the world would soon fall into another great war.