Ratification of the Versailles Treaty

Essay by bubbleyblonde_07College, Undergraduate July 2005

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When American and her allies sat down at the negotiating table with Germany, they did so with power. That is, if the Germans refused any part if the unconditional surrender, the Entente would occupy Germany and end its newly-found statehood. Unwilling to risk this, Germany was forced to succumb to a number of harsh, infuriating demands. Some say that the Versailles Treaty was too harsh to allow Germany to reintegrate itself into a "new" post-war Europe, but too weak to completely destroy Germany's ability to make war.

        Woodrow Wilson was a very liberal president in a time where progressivism was the fad. He submitted 14 points that he believed the German government should submit to. Wilson believed that the total aim of the peace treaty should be to prevent war from ever again happening. In order to encourage a German surrender, Wilson promised a treaty that would go fairly light on Germany.

For better or worse, he was unable to deliver on this promise due to American's relative lack of involvement in the war which had as its result America's loss of bargaining power and influence among the Entente.

        The Entente gladly incorporated all this into the Treaty but exaggerated many of them to further weaken Germany. They limited the German army to a size of 100,000 men, demilitarized a large section of Germany nearest France, and forbade the German ownership of military aircraft, poison gas, or any naval units. The merchant marine and navy were to give their ships to Britain. Further, huge war reparations were to be paid, the extent of which were undetermined at the time. Expectations concerning these reparations were huge since the Entente wanted Germany to pay their war expenses and damages done to France and Belgium. The treaty also required Germany to put many...