Primary Documents - Treaty of Versailles, 28 June 1919

Lloyd George, Orlando, Clemenceau, Wilson This section of the website details the full contents of the Peace Treaty of Versailles, signed on 28 June 1919 by Germany and the Allied powers at the Palace of Versailles.  A sizeable document, the treaty featured some 440 Articles, with the addition of numerous Annexes.

Begun in early 1919 and completed in April after several months of hard bargaining, it was presented to Germany for consideration on 7 May 1919.

The German government was given three weeks to accept the terms of the treaty (which it had not seen prior to delivery).  Its initial response was a lengthy list of complaints, most of which were simply ignored.  The treaty was perceived by many as too great a departure from U.S. President Wilson's Fourteen Points; and by the British as too harsh in its treatment of Germany.

Controversial even today, it is often argued that the punitive terms of the treaty supported the rise of the Nazis and the Third Reich in 1930s Germany, which in turn led to the outbreak of World War II.

The Versailles treaty deprived Germany of around 13.5% of its 1914 territory (some seven million people) and all of its overseas possessions.  Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France, and Belgium was enlarged in the east with the addition of the formerly German border areas of Eupen and Malmedy.

Among other territorial re-arrangements, an area of East Prussia was handed over to Lithuania, and the Sudetenland to Czechoslovakia.

The German army was limited to a maximum of 100,000 men, and a ban placed upon the use of heavy artillery, gas, tanks and aircraft.  The German navy was similarly restricted to shipping under 10,000 tons, with a ban on submarines.

The contents of the treaty have been divided into fifteen sections, each of which deals with a particular aspect of the treaty.  These can be accessed via the sidebar to the right.

Description Articles
The Covenant of the League of Nations Articles 1-30 and Annex
Political Clauses for Europe Articles 31-117 and Annexes
German Rights and Interests Outside Germany Articles 118-158 and Annexes
Military, Naval and Air Clauses Articles 159-213
Prisoners of War and Graves Articles 214-226
Penalties Articles 227-230
Reparations Articles 231-247 and Annexes
Financial Clauses Articles 248-263
Economic Clauses Articles 264-312 and Annexes
Aerial Navigation Articles 313-320
Ports, Waterways and Railways Articles 321-386
Labour Articles 387-399
Procedure Articles 400-427 and Annex
Guarantees Articles 428-433
Miscellaneous Provisions Articles 434-440 and Annex

'White Star' was a German mixture of chlorine and phosgene gas, so-named on account of the identification marking painted on the delivery shell casing.

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