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Understanding The Enemy Essay

1866 words - 8 pages

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner”. By speaking these words Nelson Mandela shines a light into what should be the goal of every peace treaty. After a war a treaty must seek peace, not through subjugation of the losers, but by bringing both sides of the war together, to unite for a better tomorrow. However Mandela’s words are difficult to follow after a period of war. Following much death and despair it would be hard for anybody to befriend those they recently fought. This can be shown in World War I’s widely criticized Treaty of Versailles. After the war, Germany remained the only strong power in the central powers and ...view middle of the document...

The Paris peace conference consisted mainly of “the Big Four”, the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy. The big four fought over the treaty to end the War and what it should contain. The treaty contained rules for the new League of Nations, new country borders, and mandates to subjugate Germany. Although many of the big four did not get all of what they wanted, like Woodrow Wilson and the United States who desired his fourteen points, the Treaty came into affect June of 1919. A mere 20 years later however a second world war began, with Germany once again at the center. With World War II having commenced so soon after World War 1, many people have argued whether or not this was in spite of, or because of the Treaty of Versailles.
This is a question many historians have answered. One such historian is Michael S. Neiberg. Neiberg is a professor at the U.S air force academy and author of many articles concerning the military, war, and treaties. Neiberg argues that the Treaty of Versailles is actually less severe compared to treaties in Europe’s past. In fact Germany used many of the provisions from the Treaty of Versailles earlier in the Franco-Prussian War on France. Neiberg then continues to blame World War II not on Versailles, but on Germany’s misconstrued perceptions of atrocities done to them, and a failing global economy. French statesman Georges Clemenceau shares this idea of the treaty not being too severe. He thought that doing any less then what the treaty dictated would show weakness to Germany, and may cause a future war. Paul Du Quenoy from Georgetown University is another historian, who has written many articles about war in Europe, and he argues that the Treaty of Versailles was less of an instrument of peace and more one of vengeance. He claims that mutual disarmament was an empty promise, and the Germany’s limitations were never made easy to enforce. It was all too easy for countries to pass on the responsibility to control Germany, and due to this all limitations on Germany became in name only. Quenoy also states that while the limits were temporary, German embitterment would last much longer. Quenoy argues that from the decline in limitations and the rise in embitterment the Treaty of Versailles could never have made a lasting peace. William Gibbs McAdoo sympathized with his viewpoint. McAdoo, son in law to Woodrow Wilson, thought that the land and economic adjustments to his father in law’s plan would cause the treaty to fail.
These massive land adjustments to the treaty McAdoo feared justly, for they caused great discontent in the German populace. Reparations of Germany include land taken from all sides, including land filled with mostly German ethnics. (Treaty of Versailles 231-236). German ethnics were outraged by the land changes in the treaty, especially those concerning Poland. The land given to Poland contained over 1 million Germans, and just fewer than 2 million Poles (Rene Albrecht-Carrie 8) With over a...

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