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The Treaty of Versailles Punished Defeated Germany With These Provisions

June 25, 2019 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

Some disarmed the German military, while others stripped the defeated nation of territory, population and economic resources, and forced it to admit responsibility for the war and agree to pay reparations.

In January 1919, two months after the compelled Germany to turn over its coal mines in the Saar Basin to France, although they technically were under control of the League of Nations.

“After a 15-year period, there was supposed to be a plebiscite and residents could choose whether to be German or French,” explains Karl Qualls, a professor of history at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. When the election finally was held in 1935, 90 percent of them voted to be part of Germany.

Article 51 took the territory of Alsace-Lorraine, which Germany had seized during the 1871 and gave it back to France.

Articles 42-44 and Article 180 forced the Germans to dismantle their fortifications along the Rhine river. Demilitarization of the Rhineland “was a big initiative of France,” says Qualls. “They were trying to prevent Germany from being an aggressive power again, and also weakening them by allowing for an invasion by France as well.”

Article 80 required Germany to respect the independence of Austria.

Treaty of Versailles with signatures of Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, Andrew Bonar Law and James Balfour.

Articles 81-86 compelled Germany to renounce territorial claims and recognize the independence of Czechoslovakia, a new nation formed from several provinces of former German ally Austria-Hungary, whose western portion had a sizable minority of ethnic Germans.

Articles 87-93 gave what had been German West Prussia and other territory with ethnic German inhabitants to newly-independent Poland.

Article 119 stripped Germany of its colonies in China and Africa, which Qualls explains was a particularly humbling provision. Prior to the war, “if you were going to be a European power, you had to have colonial possessions,” he says.

Limits on Arms, Forces and Equipment

Articles 159-163 reduced the size of the German army, which had reached 1.9 million troops during World War I, to just 100,000, and mandated that the force “shall be devoted exclusively to the maintenance of order within the territory and to the control of the frontiers.”

It even specified strict limits on the number of infantry, artillery and engineers, and limited the officer corps to 4,000. The German military was just neutered, basically,” Qualls says.

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