The Peace of Paris

World War I was concluded by a series of treaties between the Allied victors and the individual defeated nations of the Central Powers. Collectively these agreements became known as the Peace of Paris and included:

  • Treaty of Versailles (June 28, 1919). The treaty with Germany was originally envisioned by Wilson as a ¬ďpeace without victory,¬" but pressure from the other Allies changed the document into a punitive means to keep an aggressive neighbor weak for generations.
  • Treaty of Saint-Germain (September 10, 1919). The formal name of Austria was changed from German-Austria to the Republic of Austria, which reflected a major concern of the European Allied nations. The Austrians pledged never to merge with Germany without prior authorization from the League of Nations. They recognized the independence of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Hungary. Further, Austria¬ís army was reduced to 30,000 men and they surrendered territory in Istria, Eastern Galicia, South Tyrol, Trieste and Trentino.
  • Treaty of Neuilly (November 27, 1919). Bulgaria, the smallest of the Central Powers, was forced to pay a heavy price for its involvement in World War I. They agreed to pay reparation in excess of $400 million, reduce their army significantly and surrender territory on the Aegean Sea. Bulgaria also agreed to recognize the independence of its new neighbor, Yugoslavia.
  • Treaty of Trianon (June 4, 1920). Hungary was drastically transformed by the terms of its peace with the Allies. They agreed to pay reparations, service a portion of the standing debt of the former Austia-Hungary and reduce its military to 35,000 men. About 75 percent of Hungary¬ís territory was divided among Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Romania.
  • Treaty of S√®vres (August 10, 1920). Under the terms of this agreement, the Ottoman sultan surrendered claims to all non-Turkish lands of the former Empire. The following territorial changes were imposed:
    • The Kingdom of the Hijaz, later Saudi Arabia, became an independent entity
    • France assumed Syria as a mandate
    • Greece was assigned administrative control of Smyrna for five years, then a plebisite was to be held; the Greeks also gained Thrace and various Turkish islands
    • Britain controlled Palestine and Mesopotamia as mandates
    • Italy gained Rhodes and the Dodecanese
    • Armenia was granted its independence
    • The Straits were internationalized and demilitarized
The conclusion of these agreements resulted in the ¬ďbalkanization¬" of Europe. New nations ¬ó Albania, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Yugoslavia ¬ó appeared on postwar maps . Fairness, however that might be defined, was not the prime concern; instead the Allies chose to reward those groups that had supported them and punish those who had opposed them.

Several problems created by these treaties would carry over to the 1920s:

  1. Many Germans believed that they had not been defeated militarily and were embittered by the harshness of the Versailles Treaty.
  2. Some of the newly created states were lacking in economic and political viability and would become tinder boxes in later years.
  3. The nationalist aspirations of many groups had not been answered by the peace treaties and these forces often worked to undermine the authority of the governments that ruled them.