The Paris Peace Conference

The Paris Peace Conference (1919), which ended World War I, was a series of closed-door negotiations between Britain, France, Italy and the United States. The Russians did not participate because they had withdrawn from the war due to their revolution. The Germans were not allowed to participate. They were not even granted visas to enter France while negotiations were going on, except in minor occasions. The Germans were handed the results of the conference and were given basically no choice but to accept them, as were the other losing powers.

The Paris Peace Conference contrasted with the Congress of Vienna, which had been an open-door meeting of all the major powers after the French Revolution. France had been allowed to participate, while in 1919 Germany was not. Another contrast between the two was that the major powers didn’t want Germany to get off as easily as France had.

There were several treaties discussed and signed during the Paris Peace Conference. However, the one involving Germany was the Treaty of Versailles. Woodrow Wilson, the U.S. President, wanted the League of Nations established, his Fourteen Points put into effect, and also a “peace without victory” (see World War I). However, while the League of Nations was created, the Fourteen Points and a “peace without victory” were ignored.

The last especially was ignored because Germany was forced to pay for all the expenses caused by the war. The Germans were merely informed of their fate and they were forced to disarm themselves till they had a tiny army. Another blow to the Germans was that they had to give back all the territories they had gained in the East.

The United States never ratified the Treaty of Versailles and never joined the League of Nations, despite Wilson’s insistence. It didn’t want to be obligated into war for another country because it was a free nation.

The Paris Peace Conference ended World War I. But, although the Conference was expected to bring lasting peace, it failed and World War II occurred just twenty years later.

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