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Treaty of Versailles (Death of an Era)

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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 Allied Powers.

Legal restrictions

  • Charges former German Emperor, Wilhelm II with supreme offense against international morality. He is to be tried as a war criminal.
  • Tried many other Germans as war criminals. As above, none where tried nor a tribunal was established.
  • Germany accepts that it collaborated to cause the war.

Military restrictions

Part V of the treaty begins with the preamble, "In order to render possible the initiation of a general limitation of the armaments of all nations, Germany undertakes strictly to observe the military, naval and air clauses which follow."

  • The Rhineland will become a demilitarized zone administered by Austria-Hungary and France jointly.It will then become an independent republic under Hapsburg protection.
  • German armed forces will number no more than 100,000 troops, and conscription will be abolished.
  • Enlisted men will be retained for at least 12 years; officers to be retained for at least 25 years.
  • German naval forces will be limited to 15,000 men, six battleships (no more than 10,000 tons displacement each), six cruisers (no more than 6000 tons displacement each), six destroyers (no more than 800 tons displacement each) and 12 torpedo boats (no more than 200 tons displacement each). No submarines are to be included.
  • The manufacture, import, and export of weapons and poison gas is prohibited.
  • Armed aircraft, tanks and armoured cars are prohibited.
  • Blockades on ships are prohibited.
  • Restrictions on the manufacture of machine guns (e.g. the Maxim machine gun) and rifles (e.g. Gewehr 98 rifles).

Territorial compensations

According to the Versailles Treaty Germany's overseas territories where allotted between the UK, France,Austria,and Japan has war payments.

  • In Africa, German Kamerun (Cameroons) divided between British Cameroons (UK) and French Cameroun (France). The former German colony of Togoland was split in British Togoland and French Togoland. German East Africa (Tanganyika) was given to Austria-Hungary. German South West Africa was given to the Union of South Africa.
  • In the Pacific, the Marshall, Carolines, Marianas, and Palau Islands where given to Japan, along Kiautschou in China. German Samoa was assigned to the United States. German New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and Nauru to Australia. Although the US never signed the Treaty it assumed control and ownership of German Samoa by the London Settlement of 1921.
  • Saarland, Danzig, Ruhr and Memelland where given to the League of Nations for their administration. Plebiscites, would determine their future status. The date and organization of the plebiscites is to be determined unanimously by the Council and Assembly of the League of Nations.
  • East Prussia becomes an independent state and is forbidden to enter any political, military or economic union with Germany unless approved by the League of Nations.

War payments to the allies

Has consequence of the War Guilt Clause, much of the rest of the Treaty set out the reparations that Germany would pay to the Allies.

The total sum of war reparations demanded from Germany—around 226 billion Reichsmarks — was decided by an Inter-Allied Reparations Commission. In 1921, it was reduced to 132 billion Reichsmarks (then $31.4 billion, or £6.6 billion).

The Versailles Reparations came in a variety of forms, including coal, steel, intellectual property (eg. the trademark for Aspirin) and agricultural products, in no small part because currency reparations of that order of magnitude would lead to hyperinflation, as actually occurred in post-war Germany (see 1920s German inflation), thus decreasing the benefits to France and the United Kingdom.

The reparations in the form of coal played a big part in punishing Germany. The Treaty of Versailles declared that Germany was responsible for the destruction of coal mines in Northern France, parts of Belgium, and parts of Italy. Therefore, France was awarded full possession of Germany's coal-bearing Saar basin for a period. Also, Germany was forced to provide France, Belgium, and Italy with millions of tons of coal for ten years.

International organizations

Creation of League of Nations by the Covenant of the League of Nations (LoN) that is part of the Treaty. The International Labour Organization is also created in an annexed treaty.

Further international commissions were to be set up to administer control over the Elbe, the Oder, the Niemen (Russstrom-Memel-Niemen) and the Danube rivers.

The former Ottoman provinces of Lebanon and Levant where given by the UK and France has mandates under the supervision of the LoN, regardless of the negotiations of a final treaty with the Ottoman Empire.

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