The big 3 all had different needs and objectives from the Treaty of Versailles, most of the allies had different aims, to aid themselves, the French wanted security, whilst the USA wanted a progressive peace. But other articles from the treaty were designed to support themselves together, for example article 231: the War Guilt Clause, where everything was blamed on Germany, it was designed to punish the Germans.
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Woodrow Wilson wanted “a peace without victory”, however that didn’t go well with France who had lost too much to even consider not Wilson’s perspective. The fourteen points targeted the causes of the war; the secret alliances, militarism, nationalism, imperialism and one statement that Wilson believed highly in, free trade (The USA joined the war because of Germany targeting ships heading to Britain).
The Progressive Peace Wilson was aiming to achieve, didn’t exactly reach the standards he wanted. Wilson believed in self determination, and fought for countries such as Poland had the right to freely choose their political status. He managed to succeed in granting countries their freedom. However Wilson couldn’t win over anti-imperialism against the allies. The USA also wanted disarmament over not only Germany but also the allies however Georges Clemenceau wanted Germany crushed to a pulp, so disarmament was kept to minimum and only Germany was affected by this. What Wilson believed highly in was freedom of the seas and free trade, but Britain didn’t give up the Royal Navy. One of Wilson’s crowning achievements was creating the League of Nations; however the constitution wouldn’t allow the USA to be part of Europe’s affairs anymore.
Wilson didn’t want Germany punished as much France did, so most of his aims were eliminated by France and Britain. So the USA got very little benefit from the Treaty.
France saw the treaty as chance to cripple Germany. France’s main objective was to gain as much security as it could from the treaty, the tried to achieve this by weakening Germany as much as possible, draining its financial resources and its arms resources. Georges Clemenceau also thought that dividing Germany into different territories would prevent another war.
France needed security. Clemenceau did everything he could to crush Germany and divide. The Rhineland became a demilitarised zone, but Clemenceau wanted the Rhineland to become an entirely different country although Wilson argued against it. This means there is no way of Germany attacking Germany with an ambush. This also benefits France in the way that France could march deep into Germany if Germany broke the terms of the treaty. When the Austrian-Hungary Empire collapses, Austria aren’t allowed to come back into Germany, this improved French security. The North of Schleswig wanted to go to France, the South to Germany, resulted in the Schleswig plebiscite improved French security. And like Wilsons self determination, West Prussia and Posen becomes known as the Polish Corridor. This gives Poland a coastline; however East Prussia still belongs to Germany.
Allsaice-Lorraine was a long standing issue with France and with the rest of the Allies, even Wilson agreed something had to be done. Even though France’s main priority was security, France saw Allsaice-Lorraine as an excuse to take all the revenue out of the Saarland. The allies compromised for the reparations to be set at £6600 million. France wants Germany nailed, and the reparations will still crush them, but the allies are perhaps more content with the money, than Germany. However in 1929 the price was changed in the young plan to almost a third of the original price.
Georges Clemenceau had lived to see France be attacked by Germany twice in his life, and wanted Germany punished and crushed. Although he wanted Germany weak, he also wanted security; however the Treaty of Versailles didn’t give the Tiger as much security as he felt he needed. For example when Clemenceau asked for the whole of the Rhineland to be separated from Germany, Wilson argued against it.
David Lloyd-George had to strike a very thin line between Wilson and Clemenceau. Although he knew that Germany would be needed in the near future, he had trouble convincing the rest of Britain, Clemenceau and Wilson what was best.
The British Election in 1918 resulted in the British public becoming very anti-German due to losing 750 thousand, and 1.5 million wounded in the war. Slogans such as “Hang the Kaiser” and “Squeeze Germany until the pips squeak”. The public had the same view on Germany as Clemenceau did, to crush them, and to crush them again. But Lloyd-George realised that weakening Germany would solve nothing, as Germany and Britain have a long standing trade relationship. But he couldn’t easily tell the public that, as they would just re-elect someone who would pummel Germany. So due to the public swaying his view over, he perhaps was forced to side with Clemenceau more than Wilson.
The Treaty of Versailles benefited Britain in a way that Lloyd-George didn’t really want it to. The public probably agreed with the terms more than Lloyd-George and the rest of Parliament.
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