The Treaty of Versailles, signed on June 28, 1919, ultimately ended in failure. An agreement that was designed to prevent another global war like World War I from happening again simply did not work out for several reasons (Brown and Sanders, 2014). One of the primary purposes of the treaty was to restrict Germany’s power by debilitating their armed forces and forcing them to pay war reparations. However, the treaty was extremely strict in what it required from Germany, and the unfair treatment levied against the German people created the backdrop for Adolf Hitler and Nazism to take hold. Therefore, the attempt to prevent the second World War did not happen. In 1935, Germany began to blatantly violate the treaty when they started to rebuild their armed forces, eventually forcing conflict.
The treaty also required all members to join the League of Nations and implement several strict points in the treaty that included: no more secret treaties, a reduction in military power, nation self-determination, and the division of Germany into smaller states. These things simply did not happen as the Allied nations were not interested in implementing those policies, and there was no mechanism for forcing these things to happen, especially when a nation wanted to expand (Brown and Sanders, 2014). Additionally, as a result of Germany’s actions, the countries known as the Axis powers eventually withdrew from the treaty.
A third reason for failure was that the United States never participated in upholding the treaty. While the US signed the treaty, it never fully joined the league or ratified the treaty as it felt the points of the treaty affected state sovereignty and the ability to govern its own affairs. Instead, the US decided to remain along its course of isolationism and provided no original help or actions to back up the treaty when conflicted threatened in Europe. While the US was the primary isolationist, other countries involved in the treaty were reluctant to follow up with their responsibilities. Creating a long-lasting treaty was difficult for two main reasons: (1) a reduction in military power meant a reduction in ability to enforce the treaty, and (2) a lack of willingness to actually enforce the treaty.
Brower, D. R., & Sanders, T. (2014). The world in the twentieth century: From empires to nations. Boston, MA: Pearson.
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