The Big Three:
- Woodrow Wilson: Wanted a 'fair and lasting peace' and had written a plan the Fourteen Points to achieve this. He wanted the armed forces of all nations reduced, not just the losers, and a League of Nations created to ensure peace.
- Frances Clemenceau: Wanted Germany to pay dearly for the war, including being stripped of land, industry and their armed forces. Also wanted heavy reparations.
- Lloyd George: While he personally agreed with Wilson, he was affected by public opinion in Britain which agreed with Clemenceau.
The result was a treaty which tried to compromise, and many of the details were passed down to un-coordinated sub committees to work out, which thought they were drafting a starting point, rather than the final wording. It was an almost impossible task, with the need to pay off loans and debts with German cash and goods, but also to restore the pan-European economy; the need to sate territorial demands, many of which were included in secret treaties, but also allow self-determination and deal with growing nationalism; the need to remove the German threat, but not humiliate the nation and breed a generation intent on revenge, all while mollifying voters.
Selected Terms of the Treaty of Versailles:
- Alsace Lorraine, captured by Germany in 1870, was returned to France.
- The Saar, an important German coalfield, was to be given to France for 15 years, after which a plebiscite would decide ownership.
- Poland became an independent country with a 'route to the sea', a corridor of land cutting Germany in two.
- Danzig, a major port in East Prussia (Germany) was to be under international rule.
- All German and Turkish Colonies were taken away and put under Allied control.
- Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Czechoslovakia were made independent.
- Austria-Hungary was split up and Yugoslavia was created.
- The left bank of the Rhine was to be occupied by Allied forces and the right bank demilitarised.
- The German army was cut to 100,000 men.
- Wartime weapons were to be scrapped.
- The German Navy was cut to 36 ships and no submarines.
- Germany was banned from having an Air Force
- An anschluss (union) between Germany and Austria was banned.
Reparations and Guilt:
- In the 'war guilt' clause Germany has to accept total blame for the war.
- Germany had to pay £6,600 million in compensation.
The League of Nations:
- A League of Nations was to be created to prevent further world conflict.
- The map of Europe was redrawn with consequences which, especially in the Balkans, remain to the modern day.
- Numerous countries were left with large minorities groups: there were three and a half million Germans in Czechoslovakia alone.
- The League of Nations was fatally weakened without the United States and its army to enforce decisions.
- Many Germans felt unfairly treated, after all they had just signed an armistice, not a unilateral surrender, and the allies hasn't occupied deep into Germany.