(i) Explain the different aims of the three leaders, Clemenceau, Lloyd-
George and Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference after WW1.
The 18th of January 1919, is a stand-still moment in History as 75%
of the world’s leaders came together and prepared to discuss a single
topic, the situation of the post-war world. With the exclusion of the
defeated states, there was a total of 32 Leaders that attended the Paris
Peace Conference. Whilst there was a large majority of attendees, there
were three that wielded more power over the other nations. These major
participants consisted of Clemenceau from France, Woodrow from USA and
Lloyd-George from Britain, because of the power they possessed the name
“The Big Three” 1 was given to them.
Georges Clemenceau was appointed to be the French Prime Minister in
1916, immediately he clearly conveyed his ideas for Germany to be smashed
so that she could never again embark on a war.2 The devastating blow that
the French took during the war and especially at Verdun was still apparent
in the French publics mind. Clemenceau would not take the chance of Germany
once starting another war, so he proceeded to argue his aims as being of
high importance. Clemenceau believed the complete stripping of Germany was
the only sure way to know they would be harmless and not be seen as a
strong power in the future. This meant the removal of their navy, air-force
and a decrease in the size of their army. France wanted their border to
meet with Germany’s along the Rhine and to lose all of their overseas
territories, the more important being the return of Alsace-Lorraine.
Clemenceau also felt the need to restrict the relations of Austria-Hungary
and Germany in order to make sure the two countries would not once again
join forces together. His nationalistic ways shown at the Paris Peace
Conference meant that his views often conflicted with those of Wilson’s.
“President Wilson had come to Europe with a program of peace for all men.
His ideal was a very high one, but it involved great difficulties, owing to
these century-old hatreds between some races.” (Clemenceau) 3
Woodrow Wilson was the American President and came to Paris with a
great reputation of being a peace maker.4 Wilson is perhaps better known
for his 14 idealistic aims for a peace initiative. These were in his mind,
the perfect way to produce peace between the struggling nations and to
restore power to its rightful owners; however these aims were viewed as
impractical and too far-fetched. One of the more important points included
was “self determination” for the successor states in Europe. There was also
to be no secret treaties between powers like the treaties that had helped
to cause the First World War. (Open Diplomacy) 5 This was similar to
Clemenceau’s aim to destroy the Austria-German relation. Some of his more
general points were the freedom of the seas, free trade and the creation of
a League of Nations which observed world events and offered peaceful
solutions. “A statement that I once made that this should be a peace
without victory holds more strongly today than ever. The peace that we make
must be one in which justice alone is the determining factor.” 6 Wilson
sincerely believed that only through justice could peace be restored, and
an established society rebuilt.
David Lloyd-George became the British Prime Minister in 1916 and
already had an established background. His creation of the Defence of the
Realm Act meant he knew what lengths Britain had to extend to in order to
fight in the war. Lloyd-George acted as a mediator between Clemenceau’s
harsh nationalism and Wilson’s idealistic nature. Lloyd-George’s biggest
aim was to reduce the threat of a German up rise, but he didn’t want them
to become economically inadequate. With an economically strong German
country, Lloyd-George believed they would be able to uplift the European
trade industry. The threat of communism was also a problem, and if Germany
was a weaker power at the time, they were at risk of becoming a communist
nation, in turn affecting the immediate countries surround Germany.
The aims of these three leaders differed by the degree of punishment
they thought Germany deserved. Clemenceau had a more aggressive stance and
wanted revenge on the German people for their particularly violent acts at
Verdun. Wilson tried to take a more passive approach towards Germany; he
had 14 strong points but was not forceful enough to put them all into
place. Finally, Lloyd-George wanted to keep Germany economically stable to
use them as an advantage to the European industry. The three leaders were
all looking at the best interests of their own country and they wanted
Germany to repay the sufferings caused.
(ii) Explain the extent to which each of the three leaders, Clemenceau,
Lloyd-George and Wilson were satisfied with the final terms of the Treaty
The Treaty of Versailles was created as a result of the Paris Peace
Conference, where it was finally signed after four months. The Treaty
seemed to satisfy the “Big Three” but only toa limited degree. Germany
had been weakened yet they were still strong enough to stop the spread of
communism. The French border with Germany was safe from another German
attack and they created the organisation, the League of Nations, that would
end warfare throughout the world.
Clemenceau seemed the most satisfied with the Treaty because most of
the aims that he had during the Paris Peace Conference had been accounted
for in the Treaty. The fear of a German uprise was no longer in the minds
of France as all the land that Germany was required to hand over, was
returned with the most important being Alsace and Lorraine. Germany’s
military army was down sized to a limit of 100,000 men without the use of
tanks. The air force was banned and she was only allowed 6 naval ships an
no submarines. The land 50km east of the Rhinewasannounceda
demilitarised zone, where no soldier with a weapon could enter. Overseas
land previously owned by Germany was given to different European countries.
The Saar, Danzig and Memel were put under the control of the League of
Nations. One of the more important outcomes was the “War Guilt Clause” that
had Germany take on full responsibility for starting the war, this was
important as it would bring France into the light, and let the world know
that they were only defending against the German attacks. This also meant
that Germany would have to pay reparations to France for the physical
damage caused during the war. Clemenceau was the most satisfied out of the
three leaders with the humiliation of Germany, and Frances new found power
in the world.
Wilson was very pleased because as a result from the Paris Peace
Conference, his idea of the League of Nations had become a reality. The
League would make it possible to solve conflicts all over the world in a
peaceful manner, which displays Wilson’s need for peace, “To promote
international co-operation and toachieveinternationalpeaceand
security.” (Wilson) 7 The losses of the United States was not on the same
scale as Britain and France because of the late entrance to the war,
therefore reparations did not need to be paid. The cost of creating the
League was losing his other 13 original ideology points to gain the global
support that was necessary to start the League and making it a success. As
the post-war world was in struggle of finding peace, there were a lot of
countries intrigued by the international organisation that promised to
bring the world peace. Wilson’s peaceful nature was clearly angered by the
great number of restrictions and reparations Germany had to agree to.
Wilson was left feeling ashamed of the harsh conditions that were imposed
on Germany, but was very satisfied with the start of the League of Nations.
Lloyd-George was perhaps the least satisfied with the final terms of
the treaty because of Clemenceau’s persistence to bankrupt the German
economy. As Lloyd-George’s key point was to keep Germany’s economy as
stable as possible to increase the European market, he was not happy with
the end result. Most people in Great Britain had wished for revenge on
Germany, and they got their satisfaction as many of Germany’s colonies went
to Lloyd-George. This was the most rewarding, as they could then recover
power and wealth quickly. With the decrease in size of the Germans navy,
the seas could once again be controlled by the British navy. With Lloyd-
George’s constant “on the fence” attitude at the Paris Peace Conference he
was over thrown largely by the other two in his requests. This cause more
frustration with Lloyd-George and among the British public who thought more
reparations could be given to Britain. Lloyd-George was reasonably happy
with the colonies gained, but was more upset with the state of the German
For all three leaders, not all of their needs were met, but at least
one was to keep them content. Clemenceau received the most satisfaction out
of the humiliation of Germany and marvelled at the down sizing of their
army. Wilson was not content with the unforgiving treatment of the Germans,
but was very satisfied with the commencing of the League of Nations even
though he was “compelled to surrender thirteen of his points in exchange
for realisation of the one that he held most dear – the League of
Nations.”8 Lloyd-George was not as happy as the other two because of the
destruction of Germany’s economy, resulting in no help from the Germans to
increase the European market.
(iii) Explain the purpose and intent of the League of Nations when it was
established in 1921.
“What we seek is the reign of law, based upon the consent of the
governed, and sustained by the organized opinion of mankind.” (Wilson) 9.
During the war, proposals of an international organisation were formed to
ensure that another world war would never break out again. In result, The
League of Nations was established on January 25th 1919. It was an
organisation that would solve international disputes 10, maintain the
peace, increase living conditions, limit armaments and constant arbitrating
between the nations. The League also aimed to promote international
cooperation in economic and social affairs.
The League focused on many of the economic and social problems that
were found throughout the world. Such problems as women’s rights, child
welfare and poverty. To help with these issues, the League created small
sectors that would be in control of a specialised area such as health and
refugee provisions. The League of Nations also set out to decrease the
number or armaments that countries possessed. The complete down sizing of a
nations army, air force and naval services was predicted to produce world
security. However, this was a dangerous task to try and carry out, because
if there was one nation that refused to cooperate, there was a possibility
of another war breaking out, the complete opposite of theLeagues
objectives. To help settle legal disputes in the world, a World Court was
formed to help give unprejudiced justice to the countries in trouble.
Wilson sincerely believed that the most civilized approach was to go
through the justice system to rebuild an established society. Ironically a
reparations commission was setup in the League to calculate the exact
amounts that Germany owned to a number of different countries, even thought
Wilson thought the reparations were too harsh at theParisPeace
If there was one member of the League that was the victim of an
attack, it was agreed upon that all other members would provide aid to the
country in need of help. This was an attractive “bribe” for being a member
of the League. This ensured your nation that there will be assistance ready
at hand when needed in the case of an attack. The other nations would
completely isolate the attacking nation and cut off any supplies going into
the country. If this was not enough, the League would use force, with the
bigger military force having a great advantage over the foe.
Wilson believed with World Cooperation and justice, peace amongst the
nations could be possible. “Interest does not bind men together: interest
separates men. There is only one thing that can bind men together, and that
is common devotion to right.” (Wilson) 8 World security was a big issue in
the League, which meant the prevention of a war ever occurring again. This
meant the League could enforce the disarmament of a nation if they thought
the threat of war was arising from a particular country or state. The
disarmament to nations was important in keeping good relationships with not
only neighbouring countries, but countries from all across the globe.
“Political liberty can exist only when there is peace. Social reform can
take place only when there is peace.” (Wilson)11
The League of Nations sole purpose was to maintain peace throughout
the world, in a non-violent, civilised manner. This could be done with
special commissions and smaller organisations the helped with economic and
social issues. The “all for one and one for all,” attitude amongst members
in the League created a safer environment and nations became more willing
to trust other nations. The intent was to look at the best interest of the
nations and to prevent another World War at all costs.
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