Revolutionary Review: The Treaty of Versailles

By Val Reynoso

The Treaty of Versailles was a peace settlement that ended WWI and obligated Germany to provide reparations and compromises. This peace treaty was signed by the Allied powers of France, the UK, the Soviet Union/Russian Empire and by Germany on June 28th, 1919, in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, France.

When Germany failed to make reparations payments in 1922, France occupied an important industrial area in Germany, resulting in further economic stress. German industries were on strike, augmenting this more. Germany’s colonies were taken away and given to France and England, who already had numerous colonies.

The German public was angry about section 231 of the treaty which forced them to admit responsibility for the war. Economic sanctions on Germany starved the population including children. Hitler promised to overthrow treaty of Versailles, make Germany great again, regain conquered territories, make Germany into prosperous economic powerhouse. He sabotaged restrictions on Germany’s military, reunited with Austria. The National Socialist German Worker’s Party, otherwise known as the Nazi Party, was founded in 1919 and promoted white nationalist German pride and anti-Semitism, along with a disdain for the Treaty of Versailles.

The Treaty had also included a covenant establishing the League of Nations, which had its first council meeting on January 16th, 1920 in Paris and was established to “promote international cooperation and to achieve peace security.” The founding of the League of Nations was initiated and organized by US President Woodrow Wilson, who founded the Fourteen Points in January 1918. The Fourteen Points explicated a post-WWI plan to transform world politics via the open managing of multilateral relations, self-determination of countries and discouragement of the use of military force to settle disputes.

On November 1st, 1920, the headquarters of the League of Nations was moved from London to Geneva, where the first General Assembly was held on November 15th, 1920. The League was composed of a General Assembly, a permanent secretariat, an Executive Council which limited membership only to the great powers. The League overall was composed of 58 states. Despite these efforts, the League failed to prevent WW2. The League served as a forerunner to the United Nations, which replaced the League following the brink of WW2 on October 24th, 1945.

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