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The military hostilities of World War One ended at 11am on 11th November 1918 but a final diplomatic end of the war was not reached until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1919, Lloyd George of England, Orlando of Italy, Clemenceau of France and Woodrow Wilson from the US met to discuss how Germany was to be made to pay for the damage world war one had caused.

Wilson had devised a 14 point plan that he believed would bring stability to Europe.

  1. Open Diplomacy – There should be no secret treaties between powers
  2. Freedom of Navigation – Seas should be free in both peace and war
  3. Free Trade – The barriers to trade between countries such as custom duties should be removed
  4. Multilateral Disarmament – All countries should reduce their armed forces to the lowest possible levels
  5. Colonies – People in European colonies should have a say in their future
  6. Russia – Russia should be allowed to operate whatever government it wanted and that government should be accepted, supported and welcomed.
  7. Belgium – Belgium should be evacuated and restored to the situation before the war.
  8. France – should have Alsace-Lorraine and any lands taken away during the war restored.
  9. Italy – The Italian border should be readjusted according to nationality
  10. National Self -Determination – The national groups in Europe should, wherever possible, be given their independence.
  11. Romania, Montenegro and Serbia – Should be evacuated and Serbia should have an outlet to the sea
  12. Turkey – The people of Turkey should have a say in their future
  13. Poland – Poland should become an independent state with an outlet to the sea.
  14. League of Nations – An assembly of all nations should be formed to protect world peace in the future.

Germany expected a treaty based on these fourteen points. However, negotiations between the ‘big four’ Lloyd George of England, Orlando of Italy, Clemenceau of France and Woodrow Wilson of America did not go smoothly. Wilson believed that his fourteen points was the only way to secure everlasting peace. The French however, wanted the defeated nations to be punished severely and believed Wilson’s plan too lenient. Privately Lloyd George sided with Wilson although he was concerned about the threat from Communism, however, the British public, like Clemenceau, wanted Germany punished severely. Lloyd George knew that if he sided with Wilson he would lose the next election.

After prolonged discussion agreement was eventually reached. The Germans were summoned to Versailles to sign the treaty on 28th June 1919.

The final treaty bore little resemblance to Wilson’s fourteen points:

Although Germany was not happy with the Treaty they had little choice but to sign. This cartoon clearly shows the situation Germany was in.

Terms of the Treaty of Versailles

There were a total of 440 clauses in the final treaty. The first 26 clauses dealt with the establishment of the League of Nations. The remaining 414 clauses spelled out Germany’s punishment.

General Clauses

The establishment of the League of Nations
War Guilt clause – Germany to accept blame for starting the war.

Financial Clauses

Reparations – Germany was to pay for the damage caused by the war. The figure of £6,600 million was set some time after the signing of the treaty.

Military Clauses

Army – was to be reduced to 100,000 men and no tanks were allowed
Navy – Germany was only allowed 6 ships and no submarines
Airforce – Germany was not allowed an airforce
Rhineland – The Rhineland area was to be kept free of German military personnel and weapons

Territorial Clauses

Anschluss – Germany was not allowed to unite with Austria.
Land – Germany lost land to a number of other countries. Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France, Eupen and Malmedy were given to Belgium, North Schleswig was given to Denmark. Land was also taken from Germany and given to Czechoslovakia and Poland. The League of Nations took control of Germany’s colonies

This map shows the areas that Germany lost following the Treaty of Versailles

The Other Defeated Nations

The Treaty of Versailles determined the punishment that Germany should face. Other treaties determined the fate of those countries that had fought with Germany – Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. Austria and Hungary were divided and therefore signed separate treaties

Austria – The Treaty of St Germain 10th September 1919

Land – Austria lost land to Italy, Czechoslovakia and Serbia (Yugoslavia).
Army – To be reduced to 30,000 men.
Anschluss – Union with Germany was forbidden
Reparations – Austria was to pay reparations but went bankrupt before the rate could be set.

Hungary – The Treaty of Trianon 4th June 1920

Land – Hungary lost land to Austria, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Serbia (Yugoslavia) reducing its size from 283,000 sq km to less than 93,000 sq km. Population was reduced from 18.2 million to 7.6 million.
Army – To be reduced to 35,000 men
Reparations – Hungary was to pay reparations but the amount was never set

Bulgaria – The Treaty of Neuilly 27th November 1919

Land – Bulgaria lost land to Greece, Romania and Serbia (Yugoslavia).
Reparations – Bulgaria had to pay 90 million pounds in reparations
Army – restrictions were made on the size of Bulgaria’s army

Turkey – The Treaty of Sevres 20th August 1920

Land – Turkey lost land to Greece. The League of Nations took control of Turkey’s colonies.


This article is part of our larger selection of posts about World War One. To learn more, click here for our comprehensive guide to World War One.

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