What Was the Importance of the Treaty of Versailles?

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The Treaty of Versailles ended the state of war between the Allied Powers and Germany. The Treaty was signed, on June 28, 1919, at the Versailles Palace near Paris, hence its name. Other central powers on the German side were dealt with in separate treaties.

Despite the fact that nearly 30 nations took part in the proceedings, Italy, Great Britain, France and the United States would dominate and become known as the “Big Four.” The Treaty of Versailles also included a plan to form the League of Nations, which would serve as an international collective security arrangement and forum.

Germany was viewed as the chief instigator of the First World War and the Allied Powers decided to impose stringent treaty obligations on them. The defeated Germany was forced to concede territories to Poland, Czechoslovakia and Belgium. All German colonies overseas became League of Nation mandates, and the City of Danzig (currently Gdansk), became a free city.

Under the terms of Article 231, commonly referred to as the “War Guilt Clause,” it was stipulated that the Germans accept full responsibility for initiating the war. As such Germany was liable to pay financial reparations to the Allied Powers. The treaty also stipulated that the German Navy and Army be limited in size, the country could no longer have an air force and that Kaiser Wilhelm and other high-ranking German officials be tried as war criminals.