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Critique of the historical debate on the Versailles Treaty

Uploaded by sarahryan70 on May 01, 2005



The treaty of Versailles that closed the First World War was set up as a way to ensure peace. It was hoped that the treaty would ensure that the first world was had been ‘the war to end all wars’however this was not to be and the treaty became the subject of much scrutiny pretty much from the get-go. Many of the youthful insiders from the American and British delegations claimed immediately after the conference that Wilson had abandoned his earlier plans and had in effect betrayed his supporters. Others felt that Wilson had kept his main objective in mind; peace while others had tirelessly sought other benefits from the treaty, mostly revenge and money. The level of hostility towards the treaty by many historians and veterans of the conference set a standard that was to continue of heightened emotion where the treaty was concerned. The unsympathetic ruling of the treaty against Germany and the strongly different opinions that emerged after it was finished set the scene for the abundance of hostile debate that was to follow for some years to come on the various issues surrounding the treaty.

The first and most famous critic of the Versailles peace treaty was John Maynard Keynes. Keynes was the senior treasury official sent as a member of the British group to the Versailles peace conference. Keynes did not agree with the terms laid out in the conference especially those related to the reparations payments that Germany was expected to begin paying. After his later resignation and possibly due in part to his annoyance at his suggestions for the reparations repayments being ignored he wrote an extremely controversial book entitled ‘The economic consequences of the War’ within which he outlined his disagreements with the treaty and claimed that not only was it not possible for Germany to pay the reparations given their economic situation but and even more controversially that the issue of reparations would eventually cause further conflict in Europe and possibly the outbreak of another war. Keylor in his article ‘A re-evaluation of the Versailles Peace’ reflected that Keynes’ strong opinions on the peace settlement may have been due to his personal sense of guilt at having served in government during the war while his pacifist friends objected to it and regularly expressed disapproval at his position. This, Keylor believed may have given him feelings of guilt thus giving him...

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Uploaded by:   sarahryan70

Date:   05/01/2005

Category:   World War I

Length:   6 pages (1,332 words)

Views:   2501

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