Germany and the end of World War 1

How Did The Peace
Treaties At The End Of
World War I Affect
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What role did Germany play in the peace process?
In 1918 it was clear to the Germans that they couldn’t win
the war. The Allies were prepared to discuss peace and so,
rather than lose more lives, the Germans agreed.
The Allies stated that the Kaiser and generals needed to
give up some power and allow Germany more democracy
before they would negotiate.
This led to a revolution in Germany, the Kaiser was forced
to abdicate and a German Republic was established.
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In January 1919, the Allies began working out a peace
treaty. The German delegation was not allowed to
negotiate. The Germans were expecting a fair treaty as
they had done as the Allies asked and elected a
democratic government with no Kaiser.
On 7 May the Allies announced the terms. The Germans
were horrified; they were given total blame for the war
and the terms of the treaty were crippling. The Germans
felt they had been betrayed and the politicians who had
signed the armistice were called the ‘November
Criminals’. This was a dictated peace – should they
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The dictated peace
The Allies would not listen to the Germans’ protests.
They were told to sign within five days or be invaded.
The German government would not sign the treaty. The
German army began to draw up defence plans, and the
navy, who were being held by the British in Scapa Flow
port, sunk their fleet in defiance. Was the war about to
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Field Marshall Hindenburg gave advice to the German
president Ebert:
“In the event of a resumption of hostilities we can …
defend our frontiers in the east. In the west, however,
we can scarcely count on being able to withstand a
serious offensive … The success of the operation as a
whole is very doubtful…”
So Ebert formed a new government who were prepared
to sign the treaty. They got a message to the Allies
saying they were prepared to sign only 90 minutes
before the deadline.
Do you think Ebert’s political career will last long?
Explain your answer.
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How did Germans perceive the treaty?
On 28 June 1919, two German ministers signed the
Treaty of Versailles.
“Vengeance! German nation! Today in the Hall of Mirrors at
Versailles a disgraceful treaty is being signed. Never forget
it! On that spot where, in … 1871, the German Empire in
all its glory began, today German honour is dragged to the
grave … There will be vengeance for the shame of 1919.”
From the Deutsche Zeitung, 28 June 1919 (a German
The Germans called the treaty a ‘Diktat’ – a dictated
peace. The Allies had drawn up the terms and forced the
Germans to agree to them without discussion. Germans
were especially upset about being blamed for the war, as
there were other countries who were just as much to
blame. But was it really that devastating for Germany?
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What did the Treaty of Versailles do to Germany?
As well as territorial losses, which are on the next slide,
Germany had to accept a many restrictions, including:
the army was to be limited to 100,000 men
Germany was not allowed any tanks
Germany was not allowed any powered aircraft
the navy was to be limited to only six battleships. No
submarines were allowed
Germany had to pay £6,600 million in compensation to the
Germany was no longer allowed to unite with Austria
Germany was to lose all overseas colonies
a quarter of the German fishing fleet was to be handed
For a country the size of Germany, what
problems could these terms bring?
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The Treaty of Versailles
Danzig made a
free city & run by
the League of
Schleswig given
to Denmark
Eupen & Malmedy
given to Belgium
placed under
French rule
for 15 years
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Posen & Silesia
lost to Poland
Rhine made a
Alsace & Lorraine returned to
France, who’d lost them in 1871
Sudentenland now part of
Austria & Hungary now two separate
countries & forbidden to unite with Germany
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The effect on Germany
League of Nations
had no army
3,000,000 Germans lived in
Look again at the map. List as many potential problems as
possible with the change to Germany.
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Land and reparations
The treaty took one-tenth of Germany’s land. This meant
losing people, factories, farms and mines. This would have
repercussions when it came to paying the steep reparations
which the Allies were demanding.
Perhaps the most crippling blow was losing the Saar
coalfields. This was Germany’s main source of energy.
Without them, how could the country rebuild its industry and
afford to pay back the Allies?
Do you think the Germans were fairly treated by the
What do you think will be the likely outcomes of this
Who was to blame for the Treaty?
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Who was to blame?
An enquiry was called into who was to blame for the
disastrous peace.
Read Field Marshall Hindenburg’s evidence:
Whom is he blaming?
How does it differ from his previous advice to President
“The German army was stabbed in the back. No blame is to
be attached to the sound core of the army … It is perfectly
clear on whom the blame rests.”
He was referring to the Socialist politicians who signed
the armistice in November. Hindenburg felt that the
breather it provided allowed the Allies to build up even
more strength, whilst the Socialist revolution caused the
German armed forces to fall into disarray.
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