The Versailles Treaty

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The Versailles Treaty

In the peace settlement Germany was forced to accept sole
responsibility for causing World War I. This was a totally justifiable
demand on the part of the victorious powers.

The Treaty of Versailles was enacted into history in June 1919 with
Germany forced to accept sole responsibility for causing World War I.
Since then there has been considerable debate concerning the war but
even today historians still cannot fully agree upon the causes. Some
support has been given to the theory that Germany was totally
responsible for the war however substantial evidence does not
support that view. Therefore the insistence by the victorious powers
to include in the Treaty that Germany accept total blame cannot be
justified. This essay examines certain events and actions prior to the
July crisis. These caused tension and hostility among nations but did
not have a direct bearing upon the war. Also it has been determined
that there were decisions and courses of action taken by several
nations following the assassination of Franz Ferdinand heir to the
Austrian-Hungarian throne which did have a direct bearing upon World
War I.

Development of political and military alliances caused tension and
hostility among nations leading up to World War I. Two major alliance
systems developed due to conflicting national interests which had
been evident during the past two decades throughout Europe. These
were the "Triple Alliance" of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy and
the "Triple Entente" of Britain, France and Russia. Also several smaller
countries became indirectly involved in the alliances which effectively
divided Europe into two "Armed Camps". Russia pledged to support
Serbia in order to prevent further Austrian-Hungarian expansion into
the Balkans. Germany stated its support for Austria-Hungary and
Britain had given its support for Belgium's neutrality in 1839. However
while these political and military alliances existed there is no direct
evidence to indicate that any nation declared war on that basis. There
had been several 'crisis' during the period 1905-1913. First the
Moroccan crisis involving France and Germany during 1905 and 1911.
No wars eventuated only tensions and fears regarding Germanys
aggressive expansionist policies. Britain supported France being
involved in Morocco and France conceded some territory in the Congo
to Germany. Second the 1908 Balkans crisis eventuated because of
the collapse of the Ottoman [Turkish] Empire. Austria-Hungary
annexed the provinces of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serbia was insensed
and sought Russian assistance. Germany became involved and Russia
backed down. Finally two wars developed in the Balkans. The first
Balkan war [1912] was between Turkey and the Balkan League
[Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece] with Turkey being driven out of the
Balkans. The second Balkan war !

[1913] occurred between Bulgaria and Serbia/Greece. Winning this war
strengthened Serbs position and this gave Austria-Hungary concern
regarding its influence in the Balkans. The main significance of the
Balkan wars was the position of Britain and France placing restraint on
Russia and Germany restraining Austria-Hungary. This did not happen
with the July crisis of 1914 which resulted in World War I. [Condron -
The Making of the Modern World] Also the two Balkan wars resulted in
renewed antagonism between Bulgaria and the other Balkan states
especially Serbia and caused general dissatisfaction because of the
interference of the great powers in Balkan politics.[Grolier - World
War I]. Evidence does support that while the various events discussed
did not contribute directly to World War I they did indeed contribute
to extreme tensions and suspicions between the great powers and
certainly fueled the arms race which in effect prepared nations for the
total disaster that was to follow the July crisis.

The arms race which mainly involved Britain and Germany began in
1896 when Germany took the decision to significantly expand its navy.
This intense competition which developed created significant tensions
between nations. The intensity to expand was further fueled following
each major crisis which developed during the period 1905-1913.
Britain hardened its position towards Germany. The arms race also
extended to other areas such as the expansion and modernization of
armies. Evidence suggests that due to the large increase in
expenditure on navies and armies together with transport and
equipment Britain and the European nations were in fact preparing for
a war that they

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