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France and Treaty of Versailles

Treaty_of_Versailles,_English_version.jpg2. Objectives of France in Treaty Negotiations
France had suffered the worst damage from the First World War. Thus, when Georges Clemenceau, the Premier of France, represented his country at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, he desired to secure promises of compensations for these damages, as well as the assurance of national security. Through the Treaty of Versailles, France sought full financial reparations from Germany to be repaid with no time limit. It also demanded the rightful return of their territory, Alsace-Lorraine, which has previously fallen into the control of the Germans in 1870 after the Franco-Prussian War. France also hoped to ensure its security against future invasions from its neighbouring country, Germany, by limiting the German military; France also claimed that the German Rhineland should become an independent natural frontier, so as to prevent the Germans having an easy route of invasion into France from the East.

4. Objectives of France Met by the Treaty
After much negotiation, the finalized terms of the Treaty of Versailles closely met what France had desired. Not only was Alsace-Lorraine returned to France, but other territories overseas that were former German colonies were divided among the Allied winners. Germany’s military was significantly reduced to only 100, 000 troops and was limited to only having six capital naval ships; the Allies had possession of the rest of the German naval vessels (ex. submarines). Furthermore, having an air force was prohibited. Because an unlimited time frame for paying reparations seemed , the treaty stated that Germany should pay reparations of what it could manage within thirty years to France, on the condition that this time period could be lengthened if needed to be. France would be given 52% of Germany’s total $30 billion reparation bill. As well, in order to make up for the damages to French coal mines during the of German occupation, France was granted rights to Germany’s Saar Valley, a valuable coal field, until 1935. As making the German Rhineland become independent would violate the idea of the outlined national self-determination (a country having freedom over its own affairs), the 50 km east of the Rhine River was made into a demilitarized zone (no German soldiers or fortification allowed), with the west bank being occupied by the Allies for the following fifteen years.

6. Graphs
*attached as Microsoft Document*

7. France's Involvement int WWI & Treaty Negotiations
August 1
France mobilizes military, after Germany had declared war on Russia
September 6
First Battle of Marne= Germans advance/ 250, 000 French casualties
October 19 to
November 22
First Battle of Ypres= Allies vs. Germany
Objective= obtain Ypres (strategic town), in Belgium
April 22 to
May 15
Second Battle of Ypres
*Germany’s first use of poison gas
April 25 to
January 8, 1916
Gallipoli/Dardanelles Campaign= joint French & British operation
Try to capture Istanbul (Constantinople), capital of Ottoman Empire
Obtain safe sea route to Russia
70,000 French, British, Commonwealth troops under heavy fire
October 5
French & British forces arrive at Salonika= fight Germany (trying to expand in Balkans region)
February 21 to
December 18
Battle of Verdun= French vs. German troops at Mort-Homme Ridge
362, 000 French deaths
July 1 to
November 18
Battle of the Somme= French & British vs. German troops
Fight German occupation of large areas of France, since its invasion in August 1914
Over 1 million casualties of troops involved
April 16 to
May 9 and
October 24
Second Battle of Aisne= main part of French Nivelle Offensive
Objective= obtain long (80km) ridge with caves that shelter German troops from French fire
Great number of deaths= causes mutinies to rise in French army
July 31 to
November 6
Third Battle of Ypres (aka Battle of Passchendaele)
Objective= control of village & ridge of Passchendaele, in Belgium
September 22
Balkans= Allies victory
November 8
Armistice negotiations begin (Allies & Germany)
November 11
Armistice Day (11:00 AM)
January 18
Paris Peace Conference
January 25
Outline of League of Nations
June 28
Treaty of Versailles signed
1919 to 1946
League of Nations= international body to ensure collective peace & security (world)

8. Quotations
“It is far easier to make war than to make peace.” – Georges Clemenceau
By this, Georges Clemenceau, Premier of France, meant how it is always easier to start a conflict than trying to resolve one. This reflects the situation of the First World War, in which, it did not take much more than a spark (the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to Austro-Hungarian throne) to set fire on the tensions already accumulated between various European countries (based on nationalism, imperialism, militarism, alliances, anarchy) and start a war. However, it takes more effort and time to actually pause and re-evaluate the consequences of one’s/nation’s actions, and eventually try to settle the disagreements by negotiating options that appeal to the majority of the parties.

“War is too important a matter to be left to the military.” – Georges Clemenceau
What Premier Georges Clemenceau said could serve as the reason behind the actions of the different countries involved in the First World War. Ironically, war was not viewed as merely a physical fight, but as an opportunity (if won) to gain more favourable advantages politically and economically. Rather than having the conflict be settled by those who have the best knowledge on fighting (soldiers), the war is played according to very different rules when politicians become involved. In addition to waging precious lives, war is waged at the expense of gaining new territories, more power, and eventually, a higher reputation.

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” – Marshal Ferdinand Foch, French Commander of Allied Armies
By this, Marshal Foch meant how a human mind with thoughts and ambition is the most dangerous weapon, rather than a gun or a tank, because the potential of things that a person can devise in his or her head has unlimited boundaries. This reflects how the First World War has started. Even though it may have been the bullet that ended the life of Archduke Ferdinand, this object would not have been projected if it was not triggered by the finger of a Serbian nationalist. A gun has no thoughts; the way that it is handled depends on the thoughts of its user. In this case, it was the overwhelming sense of nationalism that caused Gavrilo Princip to fire, which would set off a chain of tragic events to follow. The results of imperialism and militarism (rivalry, violence) are also based on each country's (leader's) greed to obtain more territories and power; and such conflicts that arise are more often due to the clash of opinions and values of different people.

“This is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.” – Marshal Ferdinand Foch, French Commander of Allied Armies
Marshal Foch mentioned this on June 28, 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles was being signed. The Paris Peace Conference was a meeting that took place with the Allied winners outlining the "peace terms" for the countries that lost. He challenges the very purpose of the Paris Peace Conference and the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, because at the time, he had realized how the terms were not fair. If these two things were supposedly trying to promote peace and collective security,the countries that had "lost" (ex. Germany) should also have been included for their opinion during the negotiation process. As well, it is ironic how the terms that were supposed to ensure peace and order became, later, one of the very sources for causing more tensions to arise between the nations (Germany vs. Allies) and eventually, segmenting into the cause of the Second World War.

“Whatever you do, you lose a lot of men.” – French General Charles Mangin
French General Charles Mangin was known for being an aggressive commander during the First World War. However, even he in despair said these words because he could see the futility of certain battles. Regardless of how much planning one does beforehand, this cannot guarantee how the events will actually turn out in a battlefield. A commander carries the weight of many lives, as war cannot be executed exactly by a manual and always involves the risks of casualties.

9. Works Cited:
Allan, Tony. “The Peace That Never Was.” The Causes of World War I. Chicago, Illinois: Heinemann Library, 2003. 40 – 41. Print.
Ross, Stewart. “The Victors at Peace.” Causes and Consequences of the First World War. London: Evans, 2003. 63 – 67. Print.