Why did the Treaty of Versailles fail?
The Treaty of Versailles ended World War I between Germany and the Allied Powers. Because Germany was the loser in the war, the treaty was unfair against her.
The Versailles Treaty forced Germany to take liability for the war damage sustained by the Allies and levied reparations. It also called for the League of Nations to be created.
Right from the outset of the peace conference in Paris, where the Treaty of Versailles was inked, it became clear that the three allied Powers, namely The US, Britain and France, had their own contradictory agenda and disagreed on how best to treat Germany.
The British – were concerned about the “balance of power” on the continent.
For France, the future containment of Germany was the most important issue on the agenda.
As for the US, president Wilson, wanted the result of the conference should be “just peace”.
Britain and France wanted to punish Germany whereas the United States wanted to forge a lasting peace. President Wilson was concerned that an unjust peace treaty would trigger German anger which could eventually lead to a possible war.
The Germans hated the Treaty of Versailles because they had not been allowed to take part in the Conference and were shocked at the reparations they were handed down.
The War Guilt clause, which explicitly and directly blamed Germany for the outbreak of the war, was the most contentious term of the treaty. The Versailles treaty forced Germany to disarm, make territorial concessions, and to pay $33 billion reparations to the Allied powers, a huge sum which Germans felt was just designed to destroy their economy.
As a result of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany lost one tenth of its population (some 6.5 million people) and about 1/7 of its territory (around 43,000sq km). Alsace-Lorraine was handed back to France.
However, in June 1919, The German Government had agreed to sign the Treaty of Versailles under protest and the United States did not ratify the treaty.
The Treaty of Versailles was, therefore, doomed to fail for the following reasons:
a) Britain and France tried to enforce the treaty, but failed.
b) Germany ignored the limits placed on its rearmament.
C) Payment of reparations proved disastrous. The $33 billion in reparations crippled the German economy leading Germany into a severe economic depression in the 1920s
d) Germany refused to accept the terms of reparations and abandoned it after the start of the Great Depression.
e) The treaty became unpopular in Germany and opposition groups used the treaty to claim that it had humiliated the German people.
Thus, the Treaty of Versailles failed to maintain peace and prevent wars. It turned out to be weak and failed to achieve its aims and avert another war (Second World War).