German Comments on the Paris Peace Conference

As the authors of “Comments of the German Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference on the Conditions of Peace “, the allies would take control over Germany’s rivers, canals, and railroads, which would evidently hurt the country’s economy. Furthermore, the authors of the document also mentioned coal pits in Saar region. While the region was under the administration of League of Nations, it was clear that the profit gained from the coal pits would not become Germany’s financial support but would be divided by the League of Nations (“Comments of the German delegation”, 1919). Furthermore, a similar story happened with Eupen, Malmedy, and Prussian Moresnet, which were annexed by Belgium. It should be pointed out that a valuable zinc mine located in one of the regions also was under Belgian administration, and Germany had no control over it and no financial revenues as well (“Comments of the German delegation”, 1919).

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The next provision expressed in the treaty concerned Danzig and Memel, which were exacted from Germany; both commercial towns were the centers of trade, which had the potential to partly restore the losses Germany had experienced during the war and after its defeat. Danzig was administered by the League of Nations, but economically it was tied to Poland (“Comments of the German delegation”, 1919). The areas that became the part of the Czecho-Slovakian State were also sources of revenues for Germany in the past, but the treaty denied Germany any control over these areas.

According to the authors of the document, it was unfair that Germany had to pay for all reparations and was not allowed to take part in determining the amount of these compensations, although President Wilson stated that the whole European system was responsible for the war (“Comments of the German delegation”, 1919). Furthermore, none of the areas and cities discussed above (Danzig, Memel, Malmedy, Moresnet, etc.) would be annexed if the right of self-preservation and self-determination was applied to Germany and German citizens (“Comments of the German delegation”, 1919). Thus, Germany’s position was not equal compared to other countries, members of the Allies; Germany was not even included in the League of Nations, which also outraged the authors of the document (“Comments of the German delegation”, 1919).

The fundamental laws mentioned in the document were “the right of self-preservation and self-determination”, which Germany used to point out the injustice of the treaty; while other countries had the right of self-preservation, Germany’s areas and cities were divided between the Allies.

The fairness of the treaty is debated by many because some scholars assume that it was the conditions expressed in the treaty that eventually led to the beginning of the World War II (Schmidt, 2012). On the one hand, it is reasonable to assume that Germany’s terrible financial state, growing unemployment, and poverty resulted in the nations’ wish for a stronger leader. On the other hand, it appears that the main aim of the treaty was to prevent the history from possible repetition. Without the plants and mines and with poor economics, Germany was not able to restore its military power and could not remain a powerful political and diplomatic player. Furthermore, some of the areas annexed by other countries were annexed by Germany or Prussia long before the war. Thus, Germany wanted to return those areas that the state had previously annexed. That is why Germany’s appeal to self-preservation appears to be hypocritical in a certain way.

References

Comments of the German delegation. (1919). Web.

Schmidt, R. J. (2012). Versailles and the Ruhr: Seedbed of World War II. New York, NY: Springer.

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