Treaty of Versailles

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Versailles, Treaty of,

any of several treaties signed in the palace of Versailles, France. For the Treaty of Versailles of 1783, which ended the American RevolutionAmerican Revolution,
1775–83, struggle by which the Thirteen Colonies on the Atlantic seaboard of North America won independence from Great Britain and became the United States. It is also called the American War of Independence.
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, see Paris, Treaty ofParis, Treaty of,
any of several important treaties, signed at or near Paris, France. The Treaty of 1763

The Treaty of Paris of Feb. 10, 1763, was signed by Great Britain, France, and Spain.
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, 1783.

In the Franco-Prussian War

The Preliminary Treaty of Versailles of 1871 was signed at the end of the Franco-Prussian WarFranco-Prussian War
or Franco-German War,
1870–71, conflict between France and Prussia that signaled the rise of German military power and imperialism. It was provoked by Otto von Bismarck (the Prussian chancellor) as part of his plan to create a unified German
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 by Otto von BismarckBismarck, Otto von
, 1815–98, German statesman, known as the Iron Chancellor. Early Life and Career

Born of an old Brandenburg Junker family, he studied at Göttingen and Berlin, and after holding minor judicial and administrative offices he was elected
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 for Germany and by Adolphe ThiersThiers, Adolphe
, 1797–1877, French statesman, journalist, and historian.

After studying law at Aix-en-Provence, Thiers went (1821) to Paris and joined the group of writers that attacked the reactionary government of King Charles X.
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 for France. It was ratified (1871) in the Treaty of Frankfurt. France ceded AlsaceAlsace
, Ger. Elsass, former province and former administrative region, E France. It is separated from Germany by a part of the Rhine River. It comprises the departments of Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, and the Territory of Belfort (a department created after the Franco-Prussian
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 (except the Territory of BelfortBelfort, Territory of,
department (1990 pop. 134,400), E France, in Alsace, on the Swiss border. The city of Belfort is the capital.
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) and part of LorraineLorraine
, Ger. Lothringen, former province and former administrative region, NE France, bordering in the N on Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany, in the E on Alsace, in the S on Franche-Comté, and in the W on Champagne.
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, including Metz, to Germany and agreed to pay an indemnity of 5 billion francs ($1 billion). German occupation troops were to remain until payment had been completed (only until 1873, it turned out, because of prompt French payment).

In World War I

The most important treaty signed at Versailles (in the Hall of Mirrors) was that of 1919. It was the chief among the five peace treaties that terminated World War I. The other four (for which see separate articles) were Saint-GermainSaint-Germain, Treaty of
, any of several treaties signed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, France. 1 The Treaty of Saint-Germain of 1570 terminated the first phase of the French religious wars (see Religion, Wars of).
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, for Austria; TrianonTrianon, Treaty of,
1920, agreement following World War I in which the Allies disposed of Hungarian territories. The internal chaos in Hungary that followed the dissolution (1918) of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy delayed the signing of a peace treaty with the Allies of World War
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, for Hungary; NeuillyNeuilly, Treaty of
, 1919, peace treaty concluded between the Allies and Bulgaria after World War I. It was signed at Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. Bulgaria ceded part of W Thrace to Greece and several border areas to Yugoslavia; S Dobruja was confirmed in Romanian possession.
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, for Bulgaria; and SèvresSèvres, Treaty of,
1920, peace treaty concluded after World War I at Sèvres, France, between the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), on the one hand, and the Allies (excluding Russia and the United States) on the other.
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, for Turkey. Signed on June 28, 1919, by Germany on the one hand and by the Allies (save Russia) on the other, the Treaty of Versailles embodied the results of the long and often bitter negotiations of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.

The outstanding figures in the negotiations leading to the treaty were Woodrow WilsonWilson, Woodrow
(Thomas Woodrow Wilson), 1856–1924, 28th President of the United States (1913–21), b. Staunton, Va. Educator

He graduated from Princeton in 1879 and studied law at the Univ. of Virginia.
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 for the United States, Georges ClemenceauClemenceau, Georges
, 1841–1929, French political figure, twice premier (1906–9, 1917–20), called "the Tiger." He was trained as a doctor, but his republicanism brought him into conflict with the government of Napoleon III, and he went to the United States,
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 for France, David Lloyd GeorgeLloyd George, David, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor
, 1863–1945, British statesman, of Welsh extraction.
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 for England, and Vittorio Emanuele OrlandoOrlando, Vittorio Emanuele
, 1860–1952, Italian statesman and jurist. He held several cabinet posts from 1903 to 1917 and was premier from 1917 to 1919. At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, he demanded the fulfillment of the secret Treaty of London of 1915, by which the
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 for Italy—the so-called Big Four. Germany, as the defeated power, was not included in the consultation. Among the chief causes of Allied dissension was Wilson's refusal to recognize the secret agreements reached by the Allies in the course of the war; Italy's refusal to forgo the territorial gains promised (1915) by the secret Treaty of London; and French insistence on the harsh treatment of Germany. Wilson's Fourteen PointsFourteen Points,
formulation of a peace program, presented at the end of World War I by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in an address before both houses of Congress on Jan. 8, 1918.
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 were, to a large extent, sacrificed, but his main objectives, the creation of states based on the principle of national self-determination and the formation of the League of NationsLeague of Nations,
former international organization, established by the peace treaties that ended World War I. Like its successor, the United Nations, its purpose was the promotion of international peace and security.
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, were embodied in the treaty. However, the U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty, and the United States merely declared the war with Germany at an end in 1921.

The treaty formally placed the responsibility for the war on Germany and its allies and imposed on Germany the burden of the reparationsreparations,
payments or other compensation offered as an indemnity for loss or damage. Although the term is used to cover payments made to Holocaust survivors and to Japanese Americans interned during World War II in so-called relocation camps (and used as well to describe
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 payments. The chief territorial clauses were those restoring Alsace and Lorraine to France; placing the former German colonies under League of Nations mandatesmandates,
system of trusteeships established by Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations for the administration of former Turkish territories and of former German colonies.
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; awarding most of West Prussia, including Poznan and the Polish CorridorPolish Corridor,
strip of German territory awarded to newly independent Poland by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. The strip, 20 to 70 mi (32–112 km) wide, gave Poland access to the Baltic Sea.
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, to Poland; establishing Danzig (see GdańskGdańsk
, formerly Danzig
, city (1993 est. pop. 466,700), capital of Pomorskie prov., N Poland, on a branch of the Vistula and on the Gulf of Gdańsk. One of the chief Polish ports on the Baltic Sea, it is a leading industrial and communications center.
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) as a free city; and providing for plebiscites, which resulted in the transfer of Eupen and Malmédy to Belgium, of N Schleswig to Denmark, and of parts of Upper Silesia to Poland. The Saar Territory (see SaarlandSaarland
, state (1994 pop. 1,080,000), 991 sq mi (2,567 sq km), SW Germany; formerly called the Saar or the Saar Territory. Saarbrücken is the capital; other cities include Völklingen, Saarlouis, and Sankt Ingbert.
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) was placed under French administration for 15 years; the RhinelandRhineland
, Ger. Rheinland, region of W Germany, along the Rhine River. The term is sometimes used to designate only the former Rhine Province of Prussia, but in its general meaning it also includes the Rhenish Palatinate, Rhenish and S Hesse, and W Baden.
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 was to be occupied by the Allies for an equal period; and the right bank of the Rhine was to be permanently demilitarized. The German army was reduced to a maximum of 100,000 soldiers, the German navy was similarly reduced, and Germany was forbidden to build major weapons of aggression. Germany, after futile protests, accepted the treaty, which became effective in Jan., 1920.

Later German dissatisfaction with the terms of the treaty traditionally has been thought to have played an important part in the rise of National SocialismNational Socialism
or Nazism,
doctrines and policies of the National Socialist German Workers' party, which ruled Germany under Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1945.
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, or the Nazi movement. While Gustav StresemannStresemann, Gustav
, 1878–1929, German statesman. A founder (1902) and director (until 1918) of the Association of Saxon Industrialists, Stresemann entered the Reichstag in 1907 as a deputy of the National Liberal party and represented the interests of big business.
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 was German foreign minister, Germany by a policy of fulfillment succeeded in having some of the treaty terms eased. Reparations payments, the most ruinous part of the treaty, were suspended in 1931 and were never resumed. In 1935 Chancellor Adolf HitlerHitler, Adolf
, 1889–1945, founder and leader of National Socialism (Nazism), and German dictator, b. Braunau in Upper Austria. Early Life

The son of Alois Hitler (1837–1903), an Austrian customs official, Adolf Hitler dropped out of high school, and
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 unilaterally canceled the military clauses of the treaty, which in practice became a dead letter; in 1936 he began the remilitarization of the Rhineland. A vast literature has been written on the Paris Peace Conference and on the Treaty of Versailles, and controversy continues as to whether the treaty was just, too harsh, or not harsh enough.


See J. M. Keynes, Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919, repr. 1971); H. W. V. Temperley, ed., A History of the Peace Conference of Paris (6 vol., 1920–24); H. Nicolson, Peacemaking, 1919 (1933, repr. 1965); Lord Riddell et al., The Treaty of Versailles and After (1935); W. E. Stephens, Revisions of the Treaty of Versailles (1939); F. S. Marston, The Peace Conference of 1919 (1944); M. Dockerill and J. D. Gould, Peace without Promise: Britain and the Peace Conferences, 1919–1923 (1981); M. MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World (2002).

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