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The Effects of the Treaty of Versailles on Modern Day Wars

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After World War I, the Big Three signed a document called the Treaty of Versailles, punishing Germany for being the cause of the Great War. The Treaty of Versailles had effects on many European nations both inside and outside Europe, the effects being mostly negative for the countries involved. The Treaty of Versailles, most of all, caused social political and economic unrest in Germany. The country was required to pay millions of dollars to the allied nations in order to pay off the debt from the war, and as a result of the difficulties, the people resorted to following Hitler as their new leader. Some effects of the Treaty of Versailles were immediate such as the economic inflation countries had to withstand, and other effects were exceptionally long term as in the reparations that Germany had to pay in order to fulfill the guidelines of the Treaty.

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“Total war” killed many soldiers, men, women, and children in every participating European country. At the Paris Peace Conference, the representatives of Great Britain and France (Georges Clemenceau and David Lloyd George) wanted revenge on Germany, whom they had believed started the Great War. Woodrow Wilson, the United States representative wanted a “just and lasting peace” for all nations. At the Peace Conference, the delegates came up with the Treaty as an agreement of the three countries. Adopting the Treaty would be a mistake and greatly harmful to the people of Germany, as it would kill innocent civilians in the midst of a territorial feud, introduce a lack of production of natural resources, and an inability for the German people to emigrate from their crumbling homeland.

The Treaty of Versailles states that Germany would have to give up their Merchant Marine and and vessels suitable for foreign commerce. Germany would also discontinue relations with “Allied and Associated countries”. This would result in lack of resources and importing goods. Without enough goods enabled to be imported to Germany, her people end up starving. This change was harmful to other countries in Europe as well as the United States because if Germany had their imports frozen, the other countries had one less option to export their products to.

Natural resources became an issue once the Treaty of Versailles was adopted. Germany would lose a large portion of its eastern territory, eliminating 21% of food that is harvested in the country. Because of the changes, the rate of agricultural production would be slowed. Importation of raw materials indispensable for the production of fertilizer would be hampered, and because of the Treaty there would be a large shortage of coal. There was a loss of almost a third of the production in the coal fields, as well as a ten year required exportation of coal to various Allied countries. Additionally the Treaty of Versailles would result in exportation of three-quarters of ore production, and three-fifths of zinc production. After these massive changes, Germany would no longer be in a stable position to import raw materials abroad. “As a matter of course an enormous part of German industry would thus be condemned to extinction”.

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As stated above, Germany would not be able to import these products, just as the necessity of the importation increases. Because of the inverse relationship that took place, Germany could not produce a sufficient amount of bread to feed its population. The people unable to afford food would have to emigrate to survive, but due to the ban of German emigration, that was not possible. Germans in other countries would have to stay is those foreign countries, as it would be impossible and impractical to return to Germany. When the Treaty of Versailles was adopted, the estimated statistic for resulting German death was several million people. “Those who sign this treaty, will sign the death sentence of many millions of German men, women and children” (Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, head of the German delegation on May 15, 1919).

John Maynard Keynes, an English economist, predicted the effects of the Treaty of Versailles in Europe. Keynes had attended the Paris peace conference in 1919, but fled the meeting in protest of the Treaty. It was clear to Keynes that the new proposed Treaty of Versailles would have little in common with Wilson’s fourteen points. “On June 5, 1919, Keynes wrote a note to Prime Minister Lloyd George informing him that he was resigning his post in protest of the impending ‘devastation of Europe’” (History.com). In disgust of the Treaty and what it offered, Keynes wrote The Economic Consequences of Peace which was published late in the year of 1919. Germany was held weak and unstable economically while trying to pay off the reparations imposed by the Treaty. As he had predicted, Germany collapsed in result of the reparations and conditions of the Treaty of Versailles.

Before and during the Great Depression, Germany experienced major inflation. The value of the German Mark relative to the United States dollar went up from 4.2 marks equivalent to one dollar in 1919 to 4,200,000,000,000 equivalent to one US dollar in November of 1923. In an attempt to help, Germany lowered the average working wage by about twenty-five percent. Because the mark went down in value so much, people began to buy almost anything in hopes that they would be worth something when the depression was over. Because of issues like these, the United States made the Dawes Plan. The Dawes Plan first lowered the reparations that Germany still had to pay, and corresponded the payments with the capability of the country. Also, the Dawes Plan gave Germany an $200 million loan for its recovery. After the Dawes Plan took place, the whole of Europe “brief prosperity” and “opened a door for heavy American investment” there.

Eventually, because of the many issues that came along with the Great Depression like hunger and lack of resources, the crime rate rose. But because of the cost of housing the criminals, the sentencing shortened. People who committed murder and didn’t get imprisoned started selling their victims for meat because food was so scarce.

The Great Depression led to war in a lot of different ways, and they’re all arguable. But I think some of the reasons are that during the depression people started looking more towards communism as a way out. But there were still people and countries that didn’t like communism. The disagreement on government type may have partly led to World War II. People also started getting separate for a solution, and begin to follow leaders like Adolf Hitler for help. And Hitler, as did many, seeked revenge on the Allies, thus leading to the beginning of World War II

Many things contributed to the cause of World War II. Some of those main causes included effects from the Treaty of Versailles and how it caused the Great Depression in Germany as well as impacted the rise of Hitler, Adolf Hitler’s power and decisions in Germany and Japan’s actions in the war.

In November of 1923, Hitler lead an uprising on the Munich government. The uprising, which was called the Beer Hall Putsch, ended and Hitler was put in jail. There he wrote Mein Kampf, a document of his beliefs. In 1932, Hitler’s Nazi party had 800,000 members and was the largest party in the Reichstag. In 1933 Hitler was appointed to chancellor. Two months later on March 23, 1933, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act which allowed the government to disregard the constitution while they attempt to rid Germany of her major economic problems, mostly resulting from the Treaty of Versailles. As a result of the Enabling Act, Hitler was able to become dictator.

At the Munich Conference in 1938 Britain and France agree that Germany can acquire Sudetenland. In six months time after taking Sudetenland, Hitler also takes the whole of Czechoslovakia. A year later, Germany wants the Polish Corridor back. At the same time Great Britain and France try to ally with the USSR and Britain give protection to Poland. On September first, 1939 Germany fakes a Polish attack on themselves to justify the invasion of Poland. This is considered the beginning of World War II. Directly after the attack on Poland in 1939, the main conflict of war is between Great Britain and France, as they declare war on Germany On the third of September 1939, Germany, Poland, and the USSR. All Hitler really wants in World War II is for the whole of Germany, and surely the rest of the world, to follow under his command; because that would bring peace. This idea is called appeasement. “Policy based on belief that if European states satisfied the reasonable demands of dissatisfied power, the dissatisfied powers would be content, and stability and peace would be achieved in Europe,” (Pollack).

In 1931 Japan gained control of Manchuria which upsets the helpless League of Nations, and Northern China in 1937. During 1937 in Nanjing, the capital of China, the Rape of Nanjing occurs. As a result of this massacre over 300,000 Chinese civilians were brutally killed. On December 7, 1941 Japan declared war on the United States in the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In the attack on Pearl Harbor 2,402 Americans were killed, 350 aircraft destroyed or damaged, and eight battleships were sunk or damaged. Also in December of 1941, the Germans reach Moscow. It was icy cold there, and German soldiers only had short sleeved summer uniforms. Their fuel freezed and their tanks became useless, But Hitler refused to order a retreat. Finally 500,000 German soldiers died in early December of 1941 on the outskirts of Moscow. The main conflict at that point was between the United States and Germany, after the US entered the war after the bombing at Pearl Harbor.

The leading causes of the second World War were from the Treaty of Versailles’ effects on Germany and Japan’s decisions. Adolf Hitler is positively the main perpetrator of WWII, and the actions of Germany and her allies.

World War II impacted many different types of people in many different ways. One of those types of people being non-combatants. Civilians in Japan, Germany, and every country involved in the war were killed due to pure human brutality. Examples of situation where said brutality takes place are the bombing of Japan, and the internment of United States citizens of Japanese ethnicity.

On the 19th of February in 1942 the Executive Order 9066 was signed by United States

President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The order gave clearance for all Americans of Japanese descent to be sent to internment camps. This took place posterior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by the Japanese government. At the time, all Japanese people were considered a threat to the United States by many non-Japanese Americans. There were 127,000 Japanese Americans living in the continental United States at the time of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. In result of the Executive Order 9066 more than 120,000 Japanese of all ages and sexes, 65% being American born, were incarcerated for up to three years. The signing of Executive Order 9066 was an unconstitutional action and this goes to show that the rule of law may be abandoned under the circumstances of war, whether it be morally correct or not.

Adverse situations bring out the best and worst in people. In many cases people are not publicly prejudice, or maybe not prejudice at all until they feel threatened and afraid. In this case, many caucasian Americans felt threatened by the Japanese in the United States. While studying the internment of ethnically Japanese in the past I’ve heard many stories about Japanese people and their experiences in America around the time of the Executive Order 9066. One that I remember distinctly is about a Japanese family who was gathered to be taken to an internment camp in 1943, that is told from the point of view of their neighbor’s daughter. When the girl’s Japanese neighbors are taken, she soon comes to realize that there are people in town that are outwardly racist who were not before the internment camps.

Bombs were dropped on Japan frequently throughout the years of World War II. The Unites States participated in extensive bombing of the civilian population in Japan. On March 9, 1945, Tokyo was firebombed by US troops. 100,000 innocent Japanese citizens were killed in this war act. In bombing Japan, the Americans were attempting to destroy the will of the Japanese citizens and soldiers to continue fighting the war.

When witnessing the deaths of tens of thousands of their fellow citizens, Japanese had to face drastic character challenges. For example, in the film Grave of the Fireflies, Seita had to make major decisions in caring for his sister, like leaving their aunt’s house, and stealing to feed her. In Seita’s case, the adversity of the situation brought out the good in him. On the other hand, Seita and Setsuko’s aunt reacted extensively different to the stresses of the war. She was uptight and rude to the children and ended up kicking them out of the house with full knowledge of the health and safety risks they would face.

In the winter of 1918, former American president, Woodrow Wilson, wrote and presented “the Fourteen Points” to the American Congress. The document could be applied to a range of regions worldwide, the middle east in particular. Wilson’s fifth point, which stated that “all decisions regarding the colonies should be impartial” among others, would later serve as a source of guidance to the reconstruction of the middle east.

Concealed beneath a film of secrecy, the United Kingdom, represented by Sir Mark Sykes, and France, represented by Francois Georges-Picot, formed an agreement: the Sykes-Picot of 1916. The agreement was formed in regards to the division of Arab provinces that had once belonged to the mighty Ottoman Empire. The secret treaty, however, met an abrupt termination when the Bolsheviks, following the Russian Revolution, brought to light the agreement.

The Balfour Declaration was a letter authored, after extensive periods of negotiation, by Arthur James Balfour, a British Foreign Secretary. In the November of 1917, the letter was sent to Lord Rothschild, the president of the British Zionist Federation. The letter publicly expressed Britain’s support for a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine. The declaration, however, did not support undermining the rights of the non-Jewish peoples already living there. Ultimately, in the July of 1922, the proposal was accepted by the League of Nations, this acceptance gave the British temporary control over Palestine.

Western Allies, in an attempt to gain Arab support against the Ottoman Turks during World War I, had vowed to recognize the independence of Arab countries within the Ottoman Empire in exchange for support during the Great War. In the end, the war did, in fact, succeed in breaking apart the Ottoman Empire. A change of heart by the western allies, however, followed the end of the war. Instead of, as promised, being recognized as independent states, France assumed administrative control over Lebanon and Syria; and Britain over Iraq and Palestine. The outcome of these acquisitions resulted in the formation of the mandate system; a system in which a nation could govern another country on behalf of the League of Nations, although the governing nation would not own the land.

Today, conflict stirs within a divided Israel. Establishing the mutual recognition of the control of Jerusalem, borders, water rights, security, and the endless search for a resolution to the refugee question remain sensitive, and controversial topics, even so, both sides often fail to make and maintain commitments. Recent discussion of creating two separate states, a Palestinian state and a Jewish state, within the given territory seems a rare, but possible compromise, though both sides hesitate to surrender half their treasured country to the opponent. Because of an immortal disagreement, violence has become a common aspect of life in Israel since the conflict first began early in the 20th century, although deaths have not been limited to military personnel.

Wilson thought that letting the people have a say and letting them make the calls, and letting majority rule was what being an American was truly about. The Chinese and Vietnamese, similarly, wanted to be able to choose their type of government. As a result, some Vietnamese and Chinese nationalist turned to the Russians, in particular Lenin, because they liked his ideas and concepts of Communism, Ho Chi Minh being one.

Lenin took power and was head of the Communist party in Russia, but he wanted to continue to expand. He convinced Western Europe to join him and his party in rebelling against their leaders. The United States did not like that, considering the free-thinking democracy they seemed to have. The United States believed that Communism was aggressively expansive and posed a threat to any country with a government that did not follow the Communist beliefs. They saw how Lenin was trying to gather other nations and turn them against Capitalist countries like the United States. The French and the British were wary because they did not want the soviets controlling them. The French and British may have been cautious because they did not want to deal with another revolution. The French just ended one, and that did not end up lasting long.

In 1920, Lenin adopted a new strategy of trying to spread communism past the borders of Europe. Lenin attempted to create an international way of thinking, and so he spread his ideas throughout Asia. Ho Chi Minh went to the peace conference looking to get their land back from their the French, and hoping to be heard. Ho Chi Minh also wanted be in charge, and desired to rule his own government. At the conference, he received neither. Tired of the people in power, he decided to join the French Communist party. Towards the end of the 1920’s every colony in Asia followed a communist way of thinking. Ho Chi Minh started the Vietnamese Communists in the 1920’s. The United States feared that because they did not like that other nations were beginning to resort to Communism, following the path of Russia.

The Chinese owned and controlled the Shantung peninsula in the earlier years. To dominate the Shantung Peninsula was a big deal. Whatever country possessed Shantung commanded the yellow River, the southern flank of peking, as well as the Grand Canal; the gateway between northern and southern China. It had a large supply of natural resources for whomever gained control

Germany owned a portion of land near the Shantung Peninsula. While gaining resources and such, the Germans were very generous to China and it’s government. But when the Japanese attacked China and seized the Peninsula, and the kaiser said that the only thing he could do to help China was to keep the Chinese in his thoughts. Mao, the Chinese leader, wanted his prized peninsula back at the Treaty of Versailles, but he too like Ho Chi Minh received no fulfilment. This resulted in all the railways, ports, and the mines in Japan’s control. Japan in the end gained control of Shantung and China was left without it.

A recurring pattern continues to crop up where powerful leaders put effort and faith into the concept of Self Determination. Long term issues between democratic-capitalism and communism during the Cold War and even beyond, could never settle. Communists will want to conform everyone to be the same and and a capitalist government, like in the United States, will allow for the honest say of the people, free elections, and fresh ideas. But without this conflict the Vietnam War and the Korean War may not have happened. The single most impacting effect of the ongoing conflict of communism and capitalism is the continuous resort to violence and revenge simply as a result of a lack of similarities.

The Cold War is a result of the conflict between the United States and the USSR in the end of World War II. The Yalta Conference was held in February of 1945. There, the Allies proposed that all liberated European or former Axis satellite countries have free elections. There they also decided that they would only accept full and unconditional surrender from the Germans, and upon surrender, Berlin would be split up into four different occupied territories for Great Britain, the United States, France, and the USSR. There was also an agreement made that Stalin would enter the war against Japan 90 days after Germany’s defeat.

After that came the Potsdam conference, held in July and August of 1945. President Truman of the United States and Churchill of Great Britain decide to drop the atomic bomb on Japan without telling Stalin until July 25. Even then they left it vague by saying the the United States have a “new weapon on unusually destructive force”.

The definition of the Cold War, as stated by Mr. Pollack, is “The state of diplomatic hostility between the United States and the Soviet Union in the decades following WWII”. In March of 1947, President Truman came up with the Truman Doctrine that stated that “It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures”. In the Doctrine the United States Congress authorized $400 million to Greece and Turkey because they are on track to becoming communist. The Marshall Plan is when George Marshall discussed that America give $13 billion dollars to any European country. In this the Soviet Union refused to partake, and so did the satellite states.

Many claim that the Treaty of Versailles was the cause of many wars in modern history. If you look at the facts and sequence of events, it seems to me that that is true. The Treaty lead to World War II and World War II lead to the Cold War, and there are still conflicts due to those wars going on today. War leads to war, and our only solution is peace. Now comes the struggle of finding it.

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The Effects of the Treaty of Versailles on Modern Day Wars. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 23, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-effects-of-the-treaty-of-versailles-on-modern-day-wars/
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