Class Topic - Paris Peace Conference [april]

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Class Topic - Paris Peace Conference [april]

Post  Mira W. on Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:03 pm

Following the allied victory in WW1, Great Britain, France, and the United States had differing national interests as they entered the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. How did their interests differ? How did the final resolutions of peace settlement in Paris seem likely to lead to future conflict?

All three nations of the victorious allies had specific interests concerning the outcome of World War I, forcing the appointed delegates to discuss the topic during a long Paris Peace Conference. Debates were held regarding Germany’s punishment – the country who reluctantly accepted full blame for the outbreak of war, the division of the fallen empires, and the construction of a lasting peace. Eventually, the conference lead to the formation of a compromise, balancing the countries’ wishes. Unfortunately, passing the blame onto a single country later proved to have severe, negative effects, later leading to WWII.

On November 11th, 1918, Germany was coerced into signing an armistice, surrendering to the Allies. Following the end of the war, France, Great Britain, and the United States of America appointed lead representatives; George Clemenceau, David Lloyd George, and Woodrow Wilson respectively. While both Clemenceau and Lloyd George desired to force Germany to fund all reparations, France valued security as top priority, being located alongside Germany and under highest threat of attack. The French premier claimed his country had suffered the most due to Trench warfare and wished to strip the offending nation of all its weapons, including their navy. On the other hand, the idealistic Woodrow argued their main focus should be creating a lasting world peace. The American president listed 14 points, suggesting that democratic governments within a union of nations would be the best method of achieving such goal, leaving war as a last resort. The representatives met in Paris for a final settlement in January, 1919, where all repercussions of World War I were presented.

The compromise proved to be a successful fusion of the nations’ wishes – America’s proposition was accepted and the League of Nations was formed, France was guaranteed security as Germany was stripped of its navy and allowed a standing army of only 100,000 soldiers, and Britain received all funding for reparations. Unfortunately for the Germans, they also were obliged to sign a guilt clause in which they admitted to being the main causes for WWI.  On the other hand, the Austrian-Hungarian and the Ottoman Empire also had to be dealt with. They both ceased to exist; independent republics such as Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Turkey were formed.

However, the harsh consequences which Germany had been forced to endure was likely to return to haunt the Allies; the hatred that built within the hearts of German citizens soon boiled over. Germany had no way of defending themselves should a country attack, nor did they have financial stability. It couldn’t have been hard to realize that loading all blame onto a single country would have negative results, yet the absence of a German representative at the Paris Peace Conference led to such decisions being made. Nevertheless, the hundreds of people attending the conference should have been responsible enough to understand it takes two to fight a war; it simply couldn’t have been the fault of a sole nation.

Countless delegates entered The Paris Peace Conference aiming to tie up the loose ends after the first World War. France, Great Britain, and the U.S. successfully managed to receive most of their wishes within a compromise, and the major fallen empires were smoothly dealt with. At a first glance, it appeared to be a mature way of dealing with the war, yet the delegates manages to further tangle the strings by pointing fingers at Germany. The compromise was successful in dealing with the victories nations as well as the newly formed independent ones, but failed to ensure world peace. This suggests the ever-present greed of leaders, whose main focus hadn't been creating world-wise harmony, but improving their countries. While the final peace settlement pleased many, it also effectively brought feelings of rage to Germans, which later proved to be enough to disrupt the calm that had settled after years of cruel war.
Mira W.
Mira W.
Research Assistant
Research Assistant

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