"The Peace Treaty of Versailles: This is not Peace.
It is an Armistice for twenty years." -- Foch
Neither side was defeated in The Great War. With the entry of the United States on the side of the Allies,
the German side saw that victory was not possible and sought a mutual end to the fighting.
Germany applied directly to President Wilson by agreeing to accept his Fourteen Points for Peace.
An armistice was signed, the fighting ended Nov 11, 1918, and the troops
marched home to rebuild their countries.
The Allies considered themselves victors and wished to punish Germany for the years of war and
to make them pay for what had been suffered and for the millions of lives lost. "The Follies of the Victors"
at the Peace Conferences in Paris were held without German
participation. When Germany presented objections, the allies prepared to resume the
war and Germany reluctantly signed. This high handedness led to a resumption of war in the next generation.
- Wilson stressed Fourteen Points of self determination which violated established principles of
European politics. Compromises were reached on unnatural points with financial terms and
separate treaties of assistance.
The emotions of the people were not satisfied.
- A democratic government was imposed on Germany, the Weimar Republic, without a sovereign for
which the people could identify. The Republic was regarded as a foreign imposition and its
overthrow by Hitler was supported by the people.
- The Austro-Hungarian Empire was broken-up; the newly independent nations exposed unconstrained
rivalries that continue to this day.
- France sought a boundary with their traditional enemy to be the Rhine as a natural and
defensible border. However, the
German speaking provinces of Alsace and Lorraine were later returned to Germany.
- France was assured security by a League of Nations. However, when President Wilson
returned to the US, he had a stroke and his agreements were not ratified by the Senate. His
administration, which had been elected because of a "He kept us out of War" platform, was replaced
with an isolationist government.
- Germany was condemned to pay fabulous reparations.. Unable to pay it all, a billion of assets
were transferred from 1.5 billion lent by the United States, of which 1/5 was repaid.
Hatred expanded because of the excessive demands ; unappreciation abounded.
- When France demanded Germany be squeezed for money, the German government simply printed paper
money making the payments worthless, but in doing so wiped out the economy of her people with runaway
- France marched into western Germany and stayed for over two years.
- Germany was disarmed. This resulted in tremendous savings during a time of
need and the German economy eventually recovered more quickly than France.
Just as no one won the war, so too, no one won the peace.
- All European participants lost a generation of young men. Thirteen
- Germany was bankrupt, lost land, and had lost two million men.
- Austro-Hungary was disbanded; lost over one million.
- France was deprived of her secure land borders, her repatriation payments, her international
guarantees, and 1-2/3 million men. France felt she had to build and support a large
military at the same time as attempting to rebuild the nation.
- Italy had entered the war with promises of obtaining lands along the
Adriatic, which were obtained at a cost of over one million lives. Mussolini
Fascists took control in 1922.
- Russia had been destroyed by her participation in the War and
had been subjected to civil war which ended in the victory of the Bolshevik Revolution.
Four million died.
- The United States (109,740 killed) had the opportunity to lend billions with not much hope of return,
but attained a leadership role in world affairs.
- Japan (301 killed) and Australia (61,829 killed) got some Pacific Islands.
Concerning the Pacific
- Japan entered the war on the allied side with the goal to conquer the German colony
of Kiaochow in China.
- China also offered to enter the war on the allied side,
if granted sufficient compensation.
- Japanese troops made up the majority of allied troops sent into Siberia, after
Bolshevik Russia withdrew from the war, to keep supplies from being sent to Germany.
- Japan emerged in a strong economic, trade and political position.
- In the Paris peace negotiations, Japan, having fought on the allied side, was granted
mandate over the German Pacific Islands north of the equator. Australia got those to the south.
- The US convinced the Allies, England and Japan, to reduce naval levels to that of the
depleted nations. Although Japan agreed to a smaller ratio of naval arms by the Naval Treaty
of Washington, it was greater than the Pacific half of the American allowance.
- England was pressured to give up her close relationship with Japan who was considered a
rival by the United States. This removed all European influence over Japanese policy.
- Japan contributed to international trade with China by policing the railroads and
eventually took over Manchuria as the puppet state of Manchukuo before the other world
powers concluded that Japan had overstepped the bounds.
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Last updated on July 4, 2000
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