The Cabinet Papers banner

Treaties and legislation

Treaty of Versailles

In negotiating a treaty with Germany, Clemenceau compromised on his initial demands. He agreed that the Rhineland would remain part of Germany and only be occupied for a limited time, as would the Saar coalfields. The allies were unable to agree on the level of German reparations and the question was referred to a Commission. The Treaty of Versailles was signed with Germany in June 1919 but the Americans rejected the treaty, and signed a separate treaty in August 1921. Germany lost its colonies.

Treaty of St Germain

In the Treaty of St Germain of September 1919 Austria lost its non-German areas and around a third of its population. Unification with Germany was forbidden and German-speaking minorities were included in Italy and Czechoslovakia.

Treaty of Neuilly

In November 1919 the Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria ceded Western Thrace to Greece, and other territories to Serbia and Romania. Bulgaria lost access to the Mediterranean.

Treaty of Trianon

In the Treaty of Trianon of June 1920 Hungary lost two-thirds of its pre-war territory and population. Substantial Hungarian minorities were included in Romania, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.

Treaty of Sevres

The Treaty of Sevres of August 1920 with Turkey (superseded by the Treaty of Locarno in 1923) required the loss of territory by Turkey and international control of Constantinople and the Dardanelles.

Treaty difficulties

In practice, the terms of the treaties were unsatisfactory. Agreement on a formula for German reparations proved difficult. The US withdrew from the Reparations Commission in February 1921, and France, increasingly insecure without the promise of military assistance, insisted on harsh measures.

Germany defaulted on payments, which were made up in part by confiscated raw materials, leading to continuing renegotiations of terms. Further German defaults led the French and Belgians to occupy the industrial area of the Ruhr. The American Dawes Plan of 1924 provided a loan to Germany, with the idea of enabling payment of modified levels of reparation over a period of 59 years.

Opposed by the US, in November 1920 Italian territorial plans were dashed by the Treaty of Rapallo with Yugoslavia, and Italy was alienated from the settlement. The terms imposed upon Turkey proved impossible to execute, provoking a nationalist war led by Mustafa Kemal. This led to the restoration of Constantinople and Turkish integrity at the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.

The peace terms imposed upon Germany and the rejection of Italian claims to territory along the Dalmatian Coast, contributed to the rise of the fascist dictatorships of Hitler and Mussolini. Despite the 'Fourteen Points', in many cases the treaties ignored the principle of self-determination, and many ethnic groups were included in foreign states. The origins of the Second World War to a large extent lie in the inadequacies of the First World War peace settlement.

Content