The end of the Great War
Two days before the fighting of the Great War came to an end the German Kaiser Wilhelm II fled to Holland and a German Republic was proclaimed, the first act of the Social Democratic Government was to accept an armistice on the most humiliating terms.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of November 1918 the guns fell silent and the fighting ceased as the Armistice was signed that brought an end to the hostilities of The Great War.
After 4 years of heavy fighting the war was finally over, People were celebrating in the streets, their sons, husbands, fathers or brothers would soon be back home safe in their loving arms.
It was a time of reflection too, for those who had lost loved ones during the conflict, a time to remember those who died and it was a time to prepare for the homecoming of injured, disabled and mentally unbalanced family members who would be arriving home soon.
The war had taken its toll, 16 million soldiers and civilians killed 2 million dead from illness and disease. 21.2 million Wounded and 7.8 million became prisoners of war.
Although the signing of the Armistice brought an end to the hostilities, a political battle was just beginning and the war was not officially over until the signing of the Versailles Treaty on 28th of June 1919.
The Big Four at Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles Video
The Treaty of Versailles
In January of 1919, the conference was summoned to Paris to design the terms for peace and to re-draw the map of Europe, strangely although the fate of their country was being decided there was no invitation for German delegates to attend.
The four main delegates at the conferences were, Britain's Prime Minister David Lloyd George, American President Woodrow Wilson, Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando and The French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau.
The Big Four as they became known would become The Big Three when Vittorio Orlando stormed out of the meeting over a land dispute and took no further part in the negotiations.
After months of negotiation and horse trading the Treaty of Versailles was finally signed on May 28th 1919 bringing an end to the Great War.
Map of Europe Before the versailles Treaty
Map of Europe After Versailles
Germany pays the price of war
The Versailles treaty, forced Germany, under "The War Guilt Clause", to accept the blame for causing the war.
The Main terms of the Versailles treaty
· Germany would have to pay £6,600 million plus interest to the victors.
· The German Military was reduced to 100,000 men with few military supplies or ammunition the navy was also restricted and the German air force was abolished. Aircraft, tanks and submarines were not permitted
· Germany had to surrender all of their colonies, German East Africa (Tanganyika), German South West-Africa, The Cameroons, and Togo-land.
· Alsace-Loraine would be returned to France.
· Eupen-Malmedy was given to Belgium.
· Northern Schleswig given to Denmark.
· Poznan and other parts of East Prussia went to Poland.
· The French took control of The Saar coalmines.
· The Rhineland was demilitarised and placed under allied occupation for 15 years.
The Treaty also contained the Covenant of the League of Nations.
America's Congress refused to ratify the treaty and Germany only signed it under Protest.
Many today still believe that The Treaty of Versailles was one of the Major causes of World War 2.
The League of Nations
Creation of The League of Nations
To keep the peace amongst the nations new and old Woodrow Wilson, in his 14 point plan, pushed for a League of Nations, a body that would resolve future conflicts by political means rather than by war.
The League of Nations Was established in Geneva in 1920 however, it had at best, mixed success. When the assembly met for the first time the United States was absent; the US Congress had declined to join.
Bolshevik Russia also refused membership, and Germany was deemed unfit to join until 1926, in an organisation set up to solve world problems peacefully many of the key players were absent.
Whole Cities were Destroyed During World War 1
Rebuilding Europe After War
During the 1920s Europe was a building site, homes and buildings that had been destroyed by war were being rebuilt, Industries were starting back on production but there were major setbacks along the way.
Because of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany began paying back the £6,600 million debt to the victors of war, in 1921 they managed to pay back 2 billion in Gold Marks, Weimar Germany was allowed to pay in kind and most of their payment was made with coal, wood and Iron.
Why did France occupy the Ruhr in 1922?
In 1922 Germany could not afford to make their payment, and the allies, mainly France did not believe them, French and Belgian troops invaded the Ruhr, Germany's most industrial area, and took control of the iron and steel factories, coal mines and railways.
Workers who were said to be non cooperative with the troops were imprisoned and their food was taken. The French and Belgians were in direct breach of the brand new League of Nations. France was one of the League’s most powerful members and in was fragrantly breaking their own rules.
Weimar's Government, ordered the workers of the Ruhr to go on strike and the people were ordered to passively resist the soldiers, told not to confront the soldiers and not to help them in anyway. This led to 8 months of violence in which over 130 people were killed and over 150,000 Ruhr Germans evicted from their houses.
Without production in the Ruhr, Germany's biggest producer by far, the German economy began to suffer, to cover the cost of re-housing the evicted workers and to pay the striking workers Germany did the worst thing that they could possibly have done, they started printing more money, The world outside thinking that Germany did not have enough money to cover its day to day running pulled out of all of their investments in Germany. This led to hyperinflation.
Hyperinflation in Germany
Between 1922 and 1923 hyperinflation in Germany was catastrophic. Prices went up quicker than people could spend their money.
In 1922, a loaf of bread cost 163 Marks, by September 1923, this figure had reached 1,500,000 Marks and at the peak of hyperinflation, November 1923, a loaf of bread cost 200,000,000,000 Marks.
By 1929 though the people were becoming more prosperous and the economy was beginning to stabilise.
French troops occupy the Ruhr
The Finantial Cost of World War 1 by Country
|Country||Cost in US Dollars|
The Cost of War
Almost a whole generation of young soldiers lost their lives in World War 1, families struggled with their losses and the world was struggling financially, the struggle continued well after the war, it was the War to end all wars but the world was just starting to get back on track when in 1939 we were at war again.
© 2012 Jimmy the jock
Navneet Thakur from India on June 02, 2012:
Out standing. Vote up and share
Sophie on May 07, 2012:
Wow, I am not a big fan of history..but this was a great read.. I wish history books were like this..lol :) Enjoyed your hub. Have a great day!
GClark from United States on May 02, 2012:
Extremely well-written account of World War I and would certainly recommend this to others. Voted Up! GClark
Brad Masters from Southern California on May 02, 2012:
Very good account of WWIs ending.
This was the War to end all Wars, but it didn't do that.
Wars are more easily won by the military, but even victory can be lost through the untiring effects of the politicians.
The wars that followed WWI ended militarily, but through the work of the politicians, it was only a deferment to another war.
WWII ended, then Korea, then Vietnam...
David Hunt from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on May 02, 2012:
Very nice summation of the after-effects of the Great War. Another effect was the brutalization of all concerned. From the war on land to the war on the seas to the war in the air, any notion of "chivalry" or "honor". like the 1914 Christmas truce, which scared the hell out of the generals, pilots honoring their downed foes, civilian lives, etc, all went by the wayside during the war. Voted up and interesting.
donnaleemason from North Dakota, USA on May 02, 2012:
Excellent as usual. A very good read.
Angela Michelle Schultz from United States on May 01, 2012:
Very interesting, and detailed. Great research!
Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on May 01, 2012:
Succinct easy to read history of the most dreadful war; useful to everyone who needs to know the facts.
Thanks so much.
Judi Brown from UK on May 01, 2012:
A complete disaster for all concerned really, other than the arms dealers.