Today, historians believe that, “the Treaty was the best that could be hoped for in the circumstances”. How far do you agree with the statement? Justify your response.
The treaty of Versailles was the first treaty after world war one that dealt with Germany. The treaty was first discussed by the allied powers of France, England and USA as well as Japan and Italy. Germany was not invited to discuss the terms of the treaty and the terms, once decided, were to be signed by Germany. Certain terms, while beneficial to the allied powers, dangerous and provoking towards Germany while other terms were consider not harsh enough by some nations. It was difficult to come up with a treaty that both dealt with Germany (hereby making the people happy) but at the same time wasn't too harsh (to stop from provoking of a relapse of world war 1). I feel the treaty was too harsh and the points below help establish why.
The circumstances were such that the allied powers had to keep the community happy and punish Germany while at the same time they had to make sure Germany wouldn't retaliate. Harold Nicholson feared the worst and stated "The historian, with every justification, will come to the conclusion that we were very stupid men... We arrived determined that a Peace of justice and wisdom should be negotiated; we left the conference conscious that the treaties imposed upon our enemies were neither just nor wise." Other criticism includes "The Peace of Versailles was an unsatisfactory compromise with little chance of ensuring an enduring peace. Each of the 'Big Three' had different aims which had to be modified in order to reach an overall agreement and the Germans were not even allowed to take part in the negotiations. Germany was humiliated, the French didn't feel completely secure, the British had wanted the re-establishment of trade more than anything else and the Americans had had to give up on their ideals of self determination where Germany was concerned. All this was a recipe for disaster in my opinion." which was cleverly said by Carole Faithorn who was the Head of History at an 11-18 Catholic Boys school in Avon, England.
Since Germany wasn't the only country who took part and lost in the war it would only be fair that the other countries paid their share of the punishment. This was not the case. Though the other countries did face punishment Germany received the worst part of it. Germans also felt that they also faced losses and that they shouldn't be forced to pay £6.6 billion (roughly equivalent to US $442 billion or UK £284 billion in 2013 about 28 lakh crore rupees). Germany also faced losses of millions of citizens so they also thought that they should receive reparations. The reparations were also unfair they had to sign without knowing what they were signing for the final bill was only presented in 1921. The amount was unrealistic and would economically cripple a country like Germany which was in shambles.
The terms saw several flaws...