Treaty of Versailles

In this unit, students will consider the key question “Were the peace treaties of 1919–23 fair?”. They will consider the peace treaties of 1919–23 focusing on the roles of individuals such as Wilson, Clemenceau and Lloyd George in the peacemaking process and the impact of the treaties on the defeated countries. They will also consider contemporary opinions about the treaties.


By the end of this unit it is expected that all students will be able to: describe the different themes of the unit.

Most students will be able to explain, with supporting evidence: the motives and aims of the ‘Big Three’; why the victors didn’t get what they wanted; the impact of the Treaty on Germany up to 1923; whether the treaties could be justified at the time.

Some learners will have progressed further and will be able to: explain the various themes of the Treaty with conviction and be able to confidently link the different themes of the unit.

Key assessments (see below for assessment guidance)

2 whole questions split into 3 parts each looking at different aspects of the  Versailles Peace Conference.  One question is based on sources.

Extended homework assignments

‘Aims of the Big Three’ research and question.

How to help your child

Consider the following questions with your child:
Who was more and less pleased with the Treaty out of the Big Three ?#
What made Germany most angry about the Treaty of Versailles ?
Was the Treaty fair ?

Look at cartoons about the Treaty with your child at: (this looks at how to interpret a cartoon)

Assessment guidance:


You have to know the detail of the military restrictions placed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles. This includes army, de-militarisation, navy, air force.

You need to know and be able to explain in detail why the ‘Big Three’ disagreed over how to treat Germany. There are many reasons which you can put forward. Think about what Wilson, Clemenceau and Lloyd George wanted from the Treaty. Having started with that, then consider why they disagreed.

You need to be able to explain in detail to what extent the Treaty could be justified at the time. There are many angles you can take on this if you think about it from the view of different people/countries. In a good answer, you will discuss all the different perspectives. Remember too that the peacemakers faced very complex problems. Did they do the best they could given the circumstances?


Key Knowledge Required:

Military restrictions imposed on Germany

No airforce, no tanks, Army limited to 100,000 men, Navy limited to 15,000 men, no tanks, only 6 battleships allowed, no conscription, Rhineland de-militarised

Territorial restrictions imposed on Germany

Alsace-Lorraine returned to France

North Schleswig to Denmark

Saar Region taken over by the League of Nations

Union (Anschluss) between Austria and Germany forbidden

Danzig became a free city under League of Nations control

Upper Silesia to Poland

West Prussia and Posen to Poland

Eupen and Malmedy to Belgium

Colonies taken away


Germany forced to pay £6.6Billion in reparations to the allies to pay for the damage and loss of life caused by the war. Figure set by Reparations Commission in 1921.

War Guilt Clause

Article 231, the War Guilt Clause stated that Germany had to accept full blame for starting the war


The Aims and Motives of the Big Three


Justifying Treaty of Versailles

You must answer a question that asks you to justify the terms of the Treaty of Versailles or that asks you to consider whether it was fair or not, by looking at it from different perspectives. For example:

What the German perspective might be – hated the terms of the treaty. Caused a number of problems in Germany, for example: high unemployment, hyperinflation. Many Germans displaced by the territorial terms so felt insecure. War guilt clause hated because Germans felt that they were not solely responsible for starting the war (a reasonable complaint). Reparations added to the problems. For Germans, very difficult to justify

What the French perspective might be – Lots of damage done to French soil, huge military and civilian losses. Alsace-Lorraine returned, reparations agreed to help France pay. German military severely weakened. Pleasing to a certain extent, but did it go far enough for many French people

What the British perspective might be – Understood need to punish Germany. Reparations justified, limits to German military justified. Some felt that the terms were too harsh and would lead to future problems

With hindsight – Easy to be critical today, but what else could allies have done given the pressures they faced.


You must make reference to the terms of the treaty when attempting to explain the extent to which it could be justified.


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