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The Agreement That Ended The War

Among the many provisions of the treaty, one of the most important and controversial requires that “Germany assume responsibility for Germany and its allies for the cause of all loss and damage” during the war (the other members of the middle powers signed treaties with similar articles). This article, Article 231, later became known as the war guilt clause. The treaty required Germany to stoop down, make major territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers. In 1921, the total cost of these repairs was estimated at 132 billion gold marks ($31.4 billion at the time, or £6.6 billion, or about $442 billion, or £284 billion in 2020). At the time, economists, particularly John Maynard Keynes (a British delegate to the Paris Peace Conference), predicted that the treaty was too harsh – a “Carthaginian peace” – and said that the number of reparations was excessive and counterproductive, views that have been the subject of sustained debate among historians and economists ever since. On the other hand, prominent figures on the Allied side, such as French Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch, criticized the treaty as too lenient. This treaty and the separate peace agreements between Britain and the nations that supported the American cause – France, Spain and the Dutch Republic – are known together as the Peace of Paris. [3] [4] Only Article I of the Treaty, which recognizes the existence of the United States as a free, sovereign and independent state, remains in force. [5] In the past, peace treaties aimed at ending wars were usually involved in parties that considered each other equivalent under international law, if not in terms of military power.

But peace agreements today include rebel groups and central governments, former secessionist movements and nations from which they separated, as well as major powers and non-state parties. The Treaty of Versailles led to the creation of several thousand miles of new borders, with maps playing a central role in the negotiations in Paris. [169] [170] Referendums launched following the treaty have elicited many comments. Historian Robert Peckham wrote that the question of Schleswig “rests on a gross simplification of the region`s history. Versailles ignored any possibility that there was a third way: the type of pact represented by the Swiss Federation; a bilingual, or even trilingual, State of Schleswig-Holstein”, or other options such as “a state of Schleswig in a loose confederation with Denmark or Germany or an autonomous region under the protection of the League of Nations”. [171] With regard to the East Prussia referendum, historian Richard Blanke wrote that “no other controversial ethnicity has ever made such a unilateral declaration of national preference under laid-back conditions.” [171] Richard Debo wrote: “Berlin and Warsaw believed that the Soviet invasion of Poland had influenced the East Prussian referendums.

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