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The Paris Peace Treaties And Right Of Self Determination

1111 words - 4 pages

The Paris Peace Treaties and Right of Self Determination

When conflict ended in 1919 a series of peace treaties were signed
between the ally and axis powers. Woodrow Wilson's 14 points signified
a clear move to restore the pre war geographical state of Europe, with
slight reforms concerning the Alsace Lorraine regions and the Ottoman
Empire. However the most a controversial issue in nearly all of the
treaties was the question of territory. Self determination was banned
outright in most of the axis countries thus worsening the economic
effects of the treaties, as for many countries annexation would have
eased the economic strain of reparations and war debt. But to what
extent were the treaties based upon self-determination, as a historian
I aim to investigate and judge the level of restriction concerning
self-determination in the Paris peace treaties.

During the conflict all of Germanys colonies had been lost to the
allied powers, it was decided that these colonies would not be
returned, annexed or given immediate independence. Instead they were
to become mandates of the allied powers under the League of Nations
supervision in preparation for independence at a later date. However
the mandated countries were treated as colonies of the allies and so
the mandate did little to please Germany.

Germany was distressed further when the industrial coalfields of Saar
went to France for a 15-year probationary period ending in a
plebiscite between France, Germany and League control. The decision to
give France the Saar was mainly due to French insistence. The strength
of Frances demands was so strong that it nearly ended the peace talks
thus forcing such a harsh compromise upon Germany. The French felt
they were justified industrial compensation for the loss of their
coalmines and iron ore works in the north.

However the major German industrial centre, the Rhineland remained
under German leadership despite an allied occupation for 15 years to
ensure Germanys respect for the treaty. The Rhineland was to be
demilitarised for an unspecified period, but mainly due to Frances
concerns a formal agreement was made ensuring British and American
support if an unprovoked attack was made upon France by Germany.

Germany suffered at the hands of Wilson, whose limited knowledge of
European geography is startlingly obvious. The Creation of the Polish
Corridor violated Posen and West Prussia as well as the port of
Danzig. This meant Germany would be ripped in half, contradicting
Wilson's own policies on self-determination. However with pressure
from Lloyd George Danzig became a free city, under league
administration. And plebiscites were offered to many of the Prussian
providences. Coupled with the territorial divisions an Anscluss with
Austria was completely forbidden. This careless division of...

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