What were the main aims of the “Big 3” leaders involved in the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 and how happy were they with the end result?

The Treaty of Versailles was negotiated by the leaders of the 3 main Allied countries who had been fighting against Germany during the First World War: the U.K., France and the U.S.A. Below is a summary of what each of these leaders wanted from the Treaty and what they thought of the end result.


1) The U.K.- represented by David Lloyd-George: Lloyd-George wanted to make sure that the U.K. had a share in Germany’s colonies and that Germany’s navy would be reduced as this could threaten the U.K. He was also under pressure from the British public to punish Germany and make it pay for the damages of the war (reparations). This was balanced by a desire to keep Germany strong enough to be a useful trading partner for the U.K.

End result: Lloyd-George was unhappy with the final Treaty- he thought it was too harsh and that Germany would want revenge. (he was right!) However, the British public were happy and re-elected Lloyd-George.


2) France-represented by Georges Clemenceau: Clemenceau wanted to make sure that France was safe from future attack by Germany and so wanted to impose arms restrictions on it. He also wanted to regain the province of Alsace-Lorraine which was on the border between France and Germany and had been going back and forth between the 2 countries. As France had been so heavily damaged by WW1, he was also seeking significant reparations from Germany.

End result: Clemenceau thought the final Treaty was not harsh enough in the light of how much France had suffered. The French public agreed and did not re-elect Clemenceau to office.  


3) The U.S.A.-represented by Woodrow Wilson : America had suffered far less than the other countries involved so Wilson was inclined to be less harsh towards Germany. He was more interested in peace. He put forward his 14 Points for Peace in January 1918 to help promote peace in Europe. Some of the main points included: self-determination (i.e. a country’s right to decide its own future), movement towards disarmament, no secret treaties between countries, freedom of the seas and setting up a League of Nations to promote communication between countries. He felt it would be best to help Germany re-build and encourage everyone to focus more on peace.

End result: Wilson was very unhappy with the final Treaty- for him it was too harsh. He felt the amount of reparations given to Germany (£6.6 billion) was far too high and he was also displeased with the lack of self-determination Germany was given. However, some of his 14 Points, such as the creation of a League of Nations, were carried through. 

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