When was the Treaty of Versailles signed?
The Treaty of Versailles, which ended the First World War, was signed on June 28, 1919 in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. The treaty was negotiated between the Allied Powers, led by France, the United Kingdom and the United States, on the one hand, and Germany, the Central Empires and the Ottoman Empire, on the other.
The belligerents had begun to call for an armistice in 1918, after four years of bloody fighting and destruction. The Allies had succeeded in defeating the Central Empires and the Ottoman Empire, and Germany was forced to sign the armistice on November 11, 1918.
The French government and the French army staff had wanted to impose heavy financial and territorial reparations on Germany, as well as a symbolic humiliation. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had proposed a 14-point plan to establish a lasting peace in Europe, but his proposals were rejected by the Allies.
Negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles began on January 18, 1919, with the participation of German plenipotentiaries. The final text of the treaty included clauses such as the recognition of Germany’s responsibility in the war, the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France, the reduction of the German army, the loss of its colonies, as well as extremely heavy financial reparations.
The Treaty of Versailles was imposed on the Germans as a diktat, because they did not participate in the negotiations. It was signed under pressure from the Allied powers, but it also had serious consequences for Europe and for Germany. It contributed to the rise of nationalism and extremism in Germany, which eventually led to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and the Second World War. The Treaty of Versailles also created the League of Nations, an international organization aimed at preserving world peace and security.
The centennial commemorations of the end of the war in 2018 were an opportunity for historians to recall the importance of this war and its consequences. War memorials, memorials and commemorative ceremonies keep alive the memory of the millions of dead and wounded of the First World War.