How World War I Ended
In 1918, the Allied Powers facing Germany in Western Europe decided to start attacking. They put a plan in place called the Hundred Day Offensive that included multiple battles where the Allied forces would consciously attack the German forces. These battles included the Somme, the Battle of Amiens, and the Second Battle of the Somme. By the end of the Hundred Day Offensive, German troops were battled out of France and forced back to Germany. Germany was out of strength, food, and supplies, so they requested an armistice. An armistice is when both countries agree to temporarily end the fighting until a peace treaty is negotiated.
The Paris Peace Conference
In 1919, the Allied Powers held the Paris Peace Conference, in Paris, to decide how to deal with the countries of the Central Powers after World War I. The Main countries at this conference were:
- Great Britain, represented by its Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
- France, also represented by its Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau.
- The United States, represented by President Woodrow Wilson.
- Italy, represented by its Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando.
In this conference, there were multiple opinions on what Germany’s fate should be. American President Woodrow Wilson thought that Germany should not be punished too harshly for World War I. He also told the other three leaders that any harsh consequences on the German economy would affect all of Europe in the long run.
The French Prime Minister, however, thought that Germany was the only country responsible for starting the war. He wanted Germany to pay a huge amount of money as war reparations.
The League of Nations
During the Paris Peace Conference, the Allies decided to find a way to preserve the peace in order to prevent a new World War from breaking out. An organization called the League of Nations was formed with initially 42 members of countries that agreed to resolve future conflicts through this organization rather than going to war.
The Treaty of Versailles
Later in the same year, Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles with the Allied Powers. The most famous part of this treaty is the war reparations Germany had to pay to the Allies. It was 132 billion Marks, which are estimated to be close to 500 billion dollars in today’s money (2019).
This condition wrecked the German economy and left the German people suffering from poverty as well as losing their dignity and pride after losing World War I. The harsh conditions of the Treaty of Versailles are considered to be a direct reason for World War II in 1939.
New countries with new borders
After World War I ended, two large empires had fallen. The Russian Empire came to an end via the Bolshevik Revolution and the Ottoman Empire collapsed after losing the war. While the Russian Empire was replaced by the Soviet Union and the Ottoman Empire was replaced by Turkey, many small countries emerged from the fallen empires as independent countries like Czechoslovakia, Finland, Yugoslavia, and Poland. All those countries had their borders re-assigned as well as Germany which had to give up territories it had taken over in France during World War I.
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