Europe was the center of World War I. There were two opposing camps in the war, namely the Allied Powers and the Central Powers. The Allied Powers were also known as the Triple Entente. As many as 70 million personnel were a part of the war. More than 9 million personnel were killed in it. It is said to be the second deadliest war fought in the world.
The immediate cause of World War I was the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on June 28, 1914. He was the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. There was an ultimatum given to Serbia. The military engagement started on July 28, 1914, with the invasion of Serbia by Austria-Hungary. The dynamics of the war kept changing, owing to a number of powers joining or withdrawing from the war for different reasons. The diplomatic negotiations over the war came to an end exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, with the signing of the treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.
What was the Treaty of Versailles?
There were many peace treaties signed at the end of World War I. The most prominent of them was the treaty of Versailles. It was with this treaty that the war between Germany and the Allied Power ended. For the other powers involved in the war on the side of Germany, different treaties were signed. The war actually ended on 11th November 1918 after the signing of the armistice. The negotiations took as long as 6 months.
What were the Provisions of the Treaty?
The most important provision asked Germany to accept the whole and sole responsibility for the war. However, Germany refused to accept the provision. The Foreign Minister at that time, Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau replied saying, "We know the full brunt of hate that confronts us here. You demand from us to confess we were the only guilty party of war; such a confession in my mouth would be a lie". This clause was called War Guilt clause.
The provisions of the treaty also asked Germany to disarm itself. Germany had to concede a number of territories. At the same time, a huge amount of money had to be given by Germany to the Entente powers as cost of reparations. This treaty has an important place in world history, as it is often said to be the cause of World War II.
Accepted Provisions of the Treaty
The provinces of Alsace and Lorraine were to be returned to France. An important coal mine in Germany, the Saar, was to be handed over to France for a period of 15 years. After the said period of time, a plebiscite was to be conducted to decide about the ownership. Poland was made an independent country, and was given access to the sea by dividing Germany into two.
Danzig, an important port in Germany, was placed under international rule. German and Turkish provinces were taken away, and placed under the Allied rule. The provinces of Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Czechoslovakia were made independent provinces. The countries of Austria and Hungary were divided and Yugoslavia was created.
The provinces located on the left bank of the Rhine river were to be put under Allied rule, while the provinces on the right bank were to be demilitarized. The German army would consist of 100,000 men only. The navy was to have 36 ships. No submarines or aircraft were to be in possession of Germany. All the weapons used during the war were to be scrapped. Germany and Austria could no longer or form any union.
After the treaty of Versailles, was signed the League of Nations was created. The Secretariat of the League of Nations registered the treaty on October 21, 1919. It was after the signing of the treaty of Versailles that the map of Europe was redrawn, which gave rise to a number of conflicts, especially in the Balkan region. Some of the conflicts exist to this day. The Germans felt humiliated, which is one of the causes of the Second World War.