“Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace.


Select one peace treaty and, by examining its clauses, explain how the winners
treated the losers, and if you agree with the quotation””
The Treaty of Versailles of 1919 imposed on the defeated German nation and
drawn up by the winners of World War 2 failed significantly in its attempt to make
long lasting peace. The aims of the leaders who presided over the Paris Peace
Conference which established this Treaty were to doom its effectiveness from the
start. A failure which then became apparent in its inability to deal with the
consequences of the war and the humiliating treatment of Germany which
inevitably urged its people to seek vengeance. The disheartening reality that
“Those who can win a war well can rarely make good peace” however only
applies partly to the Treaty of Versailles as its winners won a questionable victory
where the line between winner and loser was drawn only through this treaty’s
intrinsic desire to triumph over the German people – an unwise move in light of
the historical events which were to follow.
The conflicting aims of the Big Four in relation to the Treaty of Versailles
essentially foreshadowed its failure. France, represented by French President
Clemenceau sought only to revenge and please its people’s desire to crush the
nation that had caused them significant harm during the war – a bitter
resentment which had inflamed the remnants of the 1870-1 war with Prussia
where they themselves had experience the humiliation of being defeated. 1.3
million dead, 2.8 million wounded and an anxious desire to contain Germany’s
power for the future protection of the French nation meant that Clemenceau
would have overseen any pacifist approach but rather, would have privileged
dominance over equal cooperation with Germany. Britain on the other hand had
achieve most of its aims especially in relation to containing Germany’s naval
power that had previously rivalled the British Empire’s control of the seas prior to
1914. British Prime David Lloyd was hence significantly more pacifist. The United
States’ President Woodrow Wilson on the other brought to the negotiations the
sense of hope and faith in a new world order where conflict would no longer
exist. As seen by his 14 points and his desire to implement a League of Nations,
British historian Sir Michael Howard argues "Wilson may have thought that the
war had been fought for national self-determination and democracy. The French
thought that it had been fought for the security of France. The Italians thought it
had been fought for the expansion of Italy. The British thought it had been fought
for the preservation of the British Empire. And no way was Wilson interested in
any of those things." These desires reflected in each leaders’ dreams for the
Treaty of Versailles created a disagreement so extensive that no clear outcome
could possibly result from it. As described by American historian Robert Woh,
“The peace negotiations in Paris are like a grand bazaar where all kinds of
merchants come and spread their wares – what they have to offer, what they
want to buy, what they feel is theirs by right.” Notwithstanding, this whole
myriad of indecisiveness and disagreement was plagued by a shared belief that
Germany could potentially be the key to stopping the spread to the rest of
Europe of Bolshevism and the communism that took control of Russia following
its 1917 February and October revolutions – a risk further amplified by the falling
in some Eastern nations such as Hungary to this feared new political regime
viewed as anti-democratic and foreign to any Western values. In spite of this, the

Each side lost and won battles whether it was the Battle of the Somme in 1916 or the Battle of Tannenberg against Russia in 1914.000 men and a few naval ships. To quote once again Wolgang Mommsen. the strong opposition to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles clearly demonstrated a German public opinion that rejected the dominance the winners of the war were aiming to impose. Comparatively. “Hitler sold the Second World War to the Germans as righting the wrongs of Versailles”. This was hence characterized by the clauses of the Treaty of Versailles and how in its humiliating and supercilious treatment of the Germans. provoked into righting this wrong that deeply impacted their national pride. urged on by the pressure of public opinion. Perhaps it is indeed out of the uncertainty of this victory that the Allied powers were so intent to establish their dominance over Germany. French and British historians Stephane Audouin Rouzeau and Sir Michael Howard both agree that the Treaty went too far. territorial concessions to new states such as Poland. This impending new strength would be accompanied by a desire to reverse the unfair and hated clauses of the Treaty. The war was not won “well” by the allies. British historian Anthony Wood hence supports this view point as he explains that “The fundamental significance of Versailles was emotional rather then rational.” This instability being further increased by the actual circumstances that surrounded the victory of the Western powers. All countries engaged in this war of attrition had used all of their resources and were dealing with a completely drained economy accompanied by severe social unrest as seen by France’s desire for high reparations to avoid placing high taxes – taxation having only covered one sixth of the cost of war and being greatly indebted to the US. German historian Wolfgang Mommsen explains that “Mentally. It would also mean however that the Germans would be outraged and in some sense. economy and army began to grow again. demilitarisation of areas such as the Rhineland and reparations of 1 billion gold Marks to be paid to the winners of the war may have satisfied somewhat their leaders and assured them that Germany would be sufficiently weak whilst they themselves rebuilt their nation. no peace could possibly have been achieved in the long term which both dealt with the war’s consequences and prevented future discord. the restriction on the German army to only 100. the quote “Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace” can only apply in part to the Treaty of Versailles and the way in which it was conducted as the actual defining victory of the Allies was never as straightforward as the clauses of the treaty would suggest and hence. Hence. the placing of a war guilt clause solely on the German nation reflected a disregard of the origins of war which were accounted for by documents brought to light by German officials which deeply angered this country who had not even been included in the negotiations of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Britain with nearly 1 million dead was no different proportionally to Germany who lost an estimated 2 million. to accept defeat.” Indeed. Germany was not prepared in 1919. Firstly. which eventually would serve as the tool Hitler would . have made peace in spirit of revenge and not to guarantee national security. the loss of their colonies. it did not settle the balance of power in Europe as the Germans had the potential to be the most powerful state as soon as their industries. its treatment of the German population made them even more difficult to accept. Allied statesmen.aims of the winning nations’ leaders led to the creation of a treaty that was just as unstable as the environment it was born from.

in no way did the winners of World War 1 achieve significant peace through the Treaty of Versailles. “Those who can will a war well can rarely make good peace” is most definitely an inauspicious statement that was reflected in the Treaty of Versailles’s origins. In conclusion. In spite of this. clauses and consequences.use in 1933 to unite the German people in their hate against the powers they were prepared once again to fight despite the horrific consequences of what was supposed to be the last of all wars. the actual uncertainty surrounding Germany’s defeat and its population’s resolve to reject the terms of the treaty meant that revenge based on the humiliation and temporary weakness of the German nation was only a matter of time. . The inconclusiveness of the treaty’s clauses originated from such differing aims on the winners’ side that the effects it would have on the German population reasonably foreshadowed that future conflict was inevitable. Furthermore.