Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source2
Extracts from a document setting out British Prime Minister David Lloyd George's views on a treaty with Germany, 25 March 1919
(Catalogue ref: CAB 1/28)
  • This document sets out the views of the British leader, David Lloyd George, about the plans for a peace treaty with Germany in 1919. The original plan was for Britain, France, the USA and Italy to meet early in 1919 and agree on the terms they would put to Germany. They would then discuss these terms with Germany.
  • This did not happen. Germany was simply presented with terms that had to be accepted. The Big Four all had slightly different views.
  • Lloyd George wanted a peace treaty that would punish Germany, but not cripple it. He wanted Germany to recover its economic strength in order to pay its reparations to Britain. Also, Germany had been Britain's number two trading partner (after the USA) before the war. Lloyd George wanted to see new jobs created in companies that were selling goods to Germany. If Germany were economically crippled, that would mean unemployment in Britain as well.
  • Lloyd George also wanted to avoid leaving Germany feeling bitter and unjustly treated. He argued that this would lead to another war once Germany had recovered.
  • In this document, "retribution" means revenge. "Exasperation" means feeling annoyed or angry. "Redress" means putting things right.
  • Lloyd George was also extremely concerned about Communism because there was a strong Communist movement called the Spartacists in Germany. In February 1919, the Spartacists tried to take over the country (see source 4 in this case study). They were finally defeated in May 1919 by the army and bands of ex-servicemen called Freikorps.
  • The result of war was chaos and misery for ordinary Germans. It was these conditions that had caused a revolution in Russia in 1917. By early 1918, the Bolsheviks were in power. The Bolsheviks were Communists, led by Vladimir Lenin. They did not believe in Christianity or democracy or a free market for trading goods. They believed that there should be no bosses. Workers would control industry and the economy and share out all the profits equally. Anyone who owned property or wealth would be forced to give it up. These ideas appealed to the millions of poor and hungry people in Russia who felt that they had been exploited by the wealthy. Lloyd George worried that Germany would turn to Communism as well and that Germany and Russia would ally.
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