The 1900’s were a very eventful era with many new innovations and inventions, some deadly and some beneficial. A crucial event during this time period was the Paris Peace conference in 1919. The need for this conference was caused by World War I and the big three (Woodrow Wilson, David Lloyd-George and Georges Clemencueau). The Paris Peace Conference had many outcomes such as the Treaty of Versailles, the formation of the League of Nations, L’ Organisation de la Paix (1921-27) and the Dawes plan. World War I commenced after the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne, Franz Ferdinand in Serbia.
The Black Hand Gang were Bosnian terrorists who were behind the assassination. Their motive was to protest again the seizure of their own country by Austria-Hungary. After Franz Ferdinand and his wife had been killed Austria-Hungary announced war. The alliance system at the time was intricate between all of the European Nations. Russia was allies with Serbia and France and Britain were allies with Russia so they declared war on Austria-Hungary and Germany who were allies. The empires overseas colonies then joined in the war. The technology in World War I was highly advanced during this time period.
Many inventions such as the Fokker, U boat, tanks, personal weapons, grenades, gas and trenches created horrific violence and death for both sides. Trenches destroyed French land. Germany created the Fokker, an aircraft that was priceless and The U boat, which was a submarine, a very clever and sneaky innovation. Tanks provided more force on the ground. The effects of ‘modern war’ were physically and emotionally damaging to the men fighting for their country and their families at home. Since personal weapons and gas had been created there was no need to fight face to face with the opposite side.
Men were made to feel like hardware, and small mechanism on the big scale of war, as though they were disposable. This was also mentally damaging. Artist Otto Dix shows this, portraying men as half robot half men as though war had changed them forever, physically and emotionally. People wanted peace and serenity in their lives. After Germany surrender in November on the 11th, 1918 the Paris Peace Conference materialized. During the war the German government was running on the emperor system however they changed their government structure to a democracy system.
Germany thought that this would minimise their punishment after signing the peace treaty however, they were very wrong. Twenty-one countries attended the Paris Peace Conference in January 1919. Germany was not invited to attend. The big Three, USA (President Woodrow Wilson), Britain (Prime Minister David Lloyd-George) and France (Premier Georges “Tiger” Clemenceau) were all major influences. They all wanted to protect and look out for their own countries and all wanted different outcomes of the Paris Peace Conference.
Woodrow Wilson was the President of the USA during the time of the Treaty Versailles. He thought that the punishments being laid upon Germany were too harsh and opted for a softer punishment. He incorporated his 14 point plan into the treaty and believed there should be “peace without victors or vanquished”. He wanted the end of old empires and arranged for new countries to be formed such as Poland, Czechoslovakia and Finland. He thought that if the treaty was not so harsh Germany would not start another war again in order for revenge.
David Lloyd George was the Prime Minister of Britain during this time. Britain was never invaded by Germany but many British soldiers fought and died on the front line. Many British people wanted revenge so David supported harsh penalties but not to the same extent as France. He wanted to “squeeze Germany until their pips squeak” but privately wanted to be soft; he didn’t think harsh measures were fair. He wanted to ensure that France did not become too powerful in Europe and wanted the German economy to remain strong to balance the power of Europe.
He was worried about Wilson’s 14 point plan for “self determination”, offering colonies the right to their own say in their future, he wanted to preserve their Empire. Georges Clemenceau or “tiger” as he was otherwise known, had been defeated by Germany in both WW1 and the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. He wanted to ensure security from another invasion and partly wanted revenge for being humiliated and defeated. Much of WW1 had been fought on French soil, which led to huge damage to historic and important buildings and resources. France shared a Border with Germany so Georges wanted punishment to be harsh and make Germany weak.
He wanted Germany to pay for all the destruction they had caused. He demanded harsh penalties for Germany so France would be protected. The consequences of the Paris Peace Conference were extensive and vast. It created treaties, alliances, groups and rules that otherwise would not of been formed if the Paris Peace Conference had not existed. The Treaty of Versailles was the first outcome of the Conference. This treaty affected Germany mainly however they were not allowed to negotiate the treaty with the big three, they we arguably forced into it.
If Germany did not sign then war would resume. The treaty aimed to weaken Germany by reducing their Territory, reducing their military, weakening their economy and shaming them through a war guilt clause (article 231). Their military was reduced to 100 000 soldiers in the army and the navy and air force were terminated. Germany caused a lot of damage to France during war and was set to pay reparations. This also weakened their economy so that they could not afford to start another war. Their territory was reduced by 13. % and they lost all their overseas colonies Germany was furious at this treaty but they had no choice but to sign. The next day the newspaper headlines read; “vengeance German Nation! ” The next consequence of the Paris Peace Conference was the Dawes plan. Germany was struggling to pay France and Britain the war reparations and without the money France and Britain could not pay the USA their war debts. So Dawes and politician created the Dawes plan, which, was a money go round plan. The USA would lend money to Germany to pay France and Britain reparations and then France and Britain could pay the USA.
This was called ‘artificial prosperity’, because the peace or the prosperity relied on the US economy and when the stock market crashed in 1929 it sent the countries relying on the USA into deep economic depression. After the Paris Peace Conference the League of Nations was formed. This was a part of Wilson’s 14-point plan for peace. It was the creation of an international body that looked after itself and international issues. The proposal was a ‘league of nations’ that would reject war as a means of solving disputes, instead relying on diplomacy and negotiation. The U. S government did not support their president and refused to join the league even though it was his idea. They believed in ‘isolationism’ and wanted nothing to do with the European issues. This caused problems because the USA was superpower. Germany and Russia were also not invited to join and they were communist. L’ organisation de la Paix was the French security measure. The French were not prepared to rest on ideals for their defence. They refused to disarm (an idea for the league of nations for peace) and set about building up a set of military alliances to surround Germany.
The French were worried that if Germany became strong again that they would attack. They also built a physical barrier between themselves and Germany called the Maginot line, in 1927. By 1926 Germany was invited to join the League of Nations. The conference created at decade of peace through Europe. However, after the stock market had crashed (which resulted in the world entering depression) the political party the Nazis overtook Germany and showed their hatred toward the treaty of Versailles and The League of Nations which resulted in world war II.
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