Analysis of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I

In the peace settlement Germany was forced to accept sole

responsibility for causing World War I. This was a totally

justifiable demand on the part of the victorious powers. The Treaty of

Versailles was enacted into history in June 1919 with Germany forced

to accept sole responsibility for causing World War I. Since then

there has been considerable debate concerning the war but even today

historians still cannot fully agree upon the causes. Some support has

been given to the theory that Germany was totally responsible for the

war however subeztial evidence does not support that view.

Therefore the insistence by the victorious powers to include in the

Treaty that Germany accept total blame cannot be justified. This

essay examines certain events and actions prior to the July crisis.

These caused tension and hostility among nations but did not have a

direct bearing upon the war. Also it has been determined that there

were decisions and courses of action taken by several nations

following the assassination of Franz Ferdinand heir to the

Austrian-Hungarian throne which did have a direct bearing upon World

War I.

Development of political and military alliances caused tension

and hostility among nations leading up to World War I. Two major

alliance systems developed due to conflicting national interests

which had been evident during the past two decades throughout Europe.

These were the ?Triple Alliance? of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy

and the ?Triple Entente? of Britain, France and Russia. Also several

smaller countries became indirectly involved in the alliances which

effectively divided Europe into two ?Armed Camps?. Russia pledged to

support Serbia in order to prevent further Austrian-Hungarian

expansion into the Balkans. Germany stated its support for

Austria-Hungary and Britain had given its support for Belgium?s 2.

neutrality in 1839. However while these political and military

alliances existed there is no direct evidence to indicate that any

nation declared war on that basis. There had been several ?crisis?

during the period 1905-1913. First the Moroccan crisis involving

France and Germany during 1905 and 1911. No wars eventuated only

tensions and fears regarding Germanys aggressive expansionist

policies. Britain supported France being involved in Morocco and

France conceded some territory in the Congo to Germany. Second the

1908 Balkans crisis eventuated because of the collapse of the Ottoman

[Turkish] Empire. Austria-Hungary annexed the provinces of

Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serbia was insensed and sought Russian

assiezce. Germany became involved and Russia backed down. Finally

two wars developed in the Balkans. The first Balkan war [1912] was

between Turkey and the Balkan League [Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece]

with Turkey being driven out of the Balkans. The second Balkan war

[1913] occurred between Bulgaria and Serbia/Greece. Winning this war

strengthened Serbs position and this gave Austria-Hungary concern

regarding its influence in the Balkans. The main significance of the

Balkan wars was the position of Britain and France placing restraint

on Russia and Germany restraining Austria-Hungary. This did not

happen with the July crisis of 1914 which resulted in World War I.

[Condron - The Making of the Modern World] Also the two Balkan wars

resulted in renewed antagonism between Bulgaria and the other Balkan

states especially Serbia and caused general dissatisfaction because

of the interference of the great powers in Balkan politics.[Grolier -

World War I]. Evidence does support that while the various events

discussed did not contribute directly to World War I they did indeed

contribute to extreme tensions and suspicions between the great powers

and certainly fueled the arms race which in effect prepared nations

for the total disaster that was to follow the July crisis.

The arms race which mainly involved Britain and Germany began

in 1896 when Germany took the decision to significantly expand its

navy. This intense competition which developed created significant

tensions between nations. The intensity to expand was further fueled

following each major crisis which developed during the period

1905-1913. Britain hardened its position towards Germany. The arms

race also extended to other areas such as the expansion and

modernization of armies. Evidence suggests that due to the large

increase in expenditure on navies and armies together with 3.

transport and equipment Britain and the European nations were in fact

preparing for a war that they knew would eventuate at some stage.

Germany ignited the arms race with its aim to develop a navy two

thirds the