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Treaty of Versailles

What were the terms of the Treaty of Versailles?


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June 08, 2016 4:31AM

Note. Separate treaties were signed with Austria (St Germain), Hungary (Trianon), Bulgaria (Neuilly) and the Ottoman Empire (Sevres). Collectively, they are referred to as the Paris Peace Settlement. (However, the Ottoman Empire resumed fighting and a new treaty, much more favourable to Turkey, was signed at Lausanne in 1923).

The main terms of the Versailles Treaty were:

  • The surrender of all German colonies overseas as League of Nations mandates;
  • The return of Alsace-Lorraine to France;
  • Cession of Eupen-Malmedy to Belgium, Memel to Lithuania, the Hultschin district to Czechoslovakia;
  • Most of the province of Posen, and also most of West Prussia to Poland;
  • A part of industrial Upper Silesia to Poland;
  • A plebiscite to be held in another part of Upper Silesia to decide whether it should become a part of Poland, stay with Germany or be split between the two countries:
  • Danzig to become a free city;
  • Plebiscite to be held in Northern Schleswig to settle the Danish-German frontier;
  • occupation of and special status for the Saar under French control;
  • Demilitarization and a fifteen-year occupation of the Rhineland;
  • An acceptance of Germany's guilt in causing the war;
  • German reparations of £6,600 million;
  • A ban on the union of Germany and Austria;
  • Provision for the trial of the former Kaiser and about 885 others for war crimes;
  • Limitation of Germany's army to 100,000 men with no conscription, no tanks, no heavy artillery, no poison-gas supplies, no aircraft and no airships;
  • The limitation of the German Navy to vessels under 10,000 tons, with no submarines.

Germany was invited to comment but not allowed to negotiate the treaty at all and signed under protest. Whenever they tried to query any detail they were told that they had started the war and had no right to complain about anything in the treaty.


This Treaty was designed to make Germany pay for the war that it had allegedly started. Another aim was to weaken Germany.

All German overseas possessions were over handed to the allies as League of Nations Mandates, the primary benefactors being the British and French, although the Japanese were allowed to keep several islands they had taken from Germany in the Pacific. Second, the Rhineland was demilitarized, and Germany was forbidden to have troops there. In fact, Germany was forbidden from rearming itself beyond defensive purposes.

Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France; large tracts of Western Prussia and the province of Posen were restored to the newly created Poland; East Prussia was separated rest of Germany by what came to be known as the Polish Corridor. Germany was also forced to pay exhorbitant reparations to Britain, France, Belgium, the US and Japan. The Treaty did also established a League of Nations to mediate international conflicts and enforce international law, but the Europeans had little desire for mediation and America just wanted to get out of European affairs.