Back      Donald G Wileman, The Peace of Paris - 1919

One of the few safe comments to make about the Treaty of Versailles is that nobody ever loved it.

The Germans denounced it as a fraud and a cheat which barely had a nodding acquaintance with the 14 Points.

The French cursed the treaty because they had been led to exchange solid advantages — particularly German territory — for British and US security guarantees — guaranties which then fell through when the US did not ratify the treaty.

By the 1920s most Britons deplored the Treaty as well, both for being unfair to Germany and for being so harsh economically that it kept the economy of Europe from fully recovering from the War.

The US, of course, rejected the Treaty fairly massively.   US citizens saw it as a document which — particularly through the League of Nations, whose Charter was written right into the Treaty — tried to embroil them in the corrupt politics and quarrels of old Europe — which the USA had supposedly been designed as an escape from!

Once another Great War broke out, only 20 years later, the discredit of the Treaty of Versailles was complete.   There are scholars who speak of the time between the wars as a 20 years armistice and nothing more.

George Kennan, the diplomat who designed the US’s “containment” strategy after World War II, has said that neither the Treaty itself, nor the 25 or so international conferences that subsequently played around with it, are even worth studying, because they were boring and ultimately sterile — a very tempting argument indeed!

DONALD G WILEMAN PhD. is a lecturer at York University, Ontario, Canada.

This passage was taken from an article (for University students - VERY difficult) at (now unavailable)