Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source3
Comments of the German leaders on the draft terms of the Treaty of Versailles, 7 May 1919
(Catalogue ref: FO 374/19)
  • The original plan of the Big Four allies (Britain, France, the USA and Italy) was to meet early in 1919 and decide what peace terms they would offer Germany. They would then discuss these terms with Germany.
  • This did not happen. Germany was simply presented with terms that had to be accepted in May 1919. They were given no opportunity to discuss the terms, but they were allowed to comment in writing. This document contains extracts from their written response.
  • At this time, Germany was in a bad way. Its economy was crippled by war. Thousands, possibly millions, had been killed by a flu epidemic that had affected all of Europe. Germany was also suffering from a civil war between Communists and their opponents (see source 5 in this case study).
  • The Germans were hoping for a lenient peace treaty. The military leaders who had taken Germany into war had stepped down and allowed a democratically elected government to take power. They thought this new government would get a better deal.
  • As this document shows, the Allies were not much affected by the change of government. They were also aware of the tough Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that Germany had imposed on Russia.
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