Analysis of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I

In the peace settlement Germany was forced to accept sole
responsibility for causing World War I. This was a totally
justifiable demand on the part of the victorious powers. The Treaty of
Versailles was enacted into history in June 1919 with Germany forced
to accept sole responsibility for causing World War I. Since then
there has been considerable debate concerning the war but even today
historians still cannot fully agree upon the causes. Some support has
been given to the theory that Germany was totally responsible for the
war however subeztial evidence does not support that view.
Therefore the insistence by the victorious powers to include in the
Treaty that Germany accept total blame cannot be justified. This
essay examines certain events and actions prior to the July crisis.
These caused tension and hostility among nations but did not have a
direct bearing upon the war. Also it has been determined that there
were decisions and courses of action taken by several nations
following the assassination of Franz Ferdinand heir to the
Austrian-Hungarian throne which did have a direct bearing upon World
War I.

Development of political and military alliances caused tension
and hostility among nations leading up to World War I. Two major
alliance systems developed due to conflicting national interests
which had been evident during the past two decades throughout Europe.
These were the “Triple Alliance” of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy
and the “Triple Entente” of Britain, France and Russia. Also several
smaller countries became indirectly involved in the alliances which
effectively divided Europe into two “Armed Camps”. Russia pledged to
support Serbia in order to prevent further Austrian-Hungarian
expansion into the Balkans. Germany stated its support for
Austria-Hungary and Britain had given its support for Belgium’s 2.
neutrality in 1839. However while these political and military
alliances existed there is no direct evidence to indicate that any
nation declared war on that basis. There had been several ‘crisis’
during the period 1905-1913. First the Moroccan crisis involving
France and Germany during 1905 and 1911. No wars eventuated only
tensions and fears regarding Germanys aggressive expansionist
policies. Britain supported France being involved in Morocco and
France conceded some territory in the Congo to Germany. Second the
1908 Balkans crisis eventuated because of the collapse of the Ottoman
[Turkish] Empire. Austria-Hungary annexed the provinces of
Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serbia was insensed and sought Russian
assiezce. Germany became involved and Russia backed down. Finally
two wars developed in the Balkans. The first Balkan war [1912] was
between Turkey and the Balkan League [Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece]
with Turkey being driven out of the Balkans. The second Balkan war
[1913] occurred between Bulgaria and Serbia/Greece. Winning this war
strengthened Serbs position and this gave Austria-Hungary concern
regarding its influence in the Balkans. The main significance of the
Balkan wars was the position of Britain and France placing restraint
on Russia and Germany restraining Austria-Hungary. This did not
happen with the July crisis of 1914 which resulted in World War I.
[Condron - The Making of the Modern World] Also the two Balkan wars
resulted in renewed antagonism between Bulgaria and the other Balkan
states especially Serbia and caused general dissatisfaction because
of the interference of the great powers in Balkan politics.[Grolier -
World War I]. Evidence does support that while the various events
discussed did not contribute directly to World War I they did indeed
contribute to extreme tensions and suspicions between the great powers
and certainly fueled the arms race which in effect prepared nations
for the total disaster that was to follow the July crisis.

The arms race which mainly involved Britain and Germany began
in 1896 when Germany took the decision to significantly expand its
navy. This intense competition which developed created significant
tensions between nations. The intensity to expand was further fueled
following each major crisis which developed during the period
1905-1913. Britain hardened its position towards Germany. The arms
race also extended to other areas such as the expansion and
modernization of armies. Evidence suggests that due to the large
increase in expenditure on navies and armies together with 3.
transport and equipment Britain and the European nations were in fact
preparing for a war that they knew