Versailles (Historical Fiction Comp.)

My entry for the 'Historical Fiction' competition. I haven't done a comp. before but I hope you like it anyway.
Set in Germany, after the first world war when officials are forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles or face Invasion, Klara sees the effect on her country and wants to do something about it. Will she succeed when she breaks the rules?

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1. Historical Context

This chapter is entirely an authors note, made for those of you who are unsure what the treaty of Versailles is. If you don't like history, read the first paragraph and skip to the next chapter

 

At the end of the First World War, the victors from World War One were in no mood to be charitable to the defeated nations and Germany in particular was held responsible for the war and its consequences. Germany had two choices, to surrender and sign a treaty, or face an allied invasion. It was in a poor economic state and there were not enough soldiers to defend against Britain, France and especially America, which had recently joined the war, backing the other two countries up with many fresh soldiers and supplies. The leaders of Germany chose to sign a treaty. Woodrow Wilson of America, (David) Lloyd George of Britain and Georges Clemenceau of France met to discuss this treaty.

 

 

Their aims were different.

~David Lloyd George of Great Britain had two views on how Germany should be treated.

His public image was simple. He was a politician and politicians needed the support of the public to succeed in elections. If he had come across as being soft on Germany, he would have been speedily voted out of office. The British public was after revenge and Lloyd George's public image reflected this mood. "Hang the Kaiser" and "Make Germany Pay" were two very common calls in the era immediately after the end of the war and Lloyd George, looking for public support, echoed these views.

However, in private Lloyd George was also very concerned with the rise of communism in Russia  and he feared that it might spread to western Europe. After the war had finished, Lloyd George believed that the spread of communism posed a far greater threat to the world than a defeated Germany. Privately, he felt that Germany should be treated in such a way that left her as a barrier to resist the expected spread of communism. He did not want the people of Germany to become so disillusioned with their government that they turned to communism. Lloyd George did not want Germany treated with lenience but he knew that Germany would be the only country in central Europe that could stop the spread of communism if it burst over the frontiers of Russia. Germany had to be punished but not to the extent that it left her destitute. However, it would have been political suicide to have gone public with these views.

~Georges Clemenceau of France had one very simple belief - Germany should be brought to its knees so that she could never start a war again.

Most of the fighting had been done in France- millions of soldiers killed or wounded, with damage costing millions to pay

This reflected the views of the French public but it was also what Clemenceau himself believed in. He had seen the north-east corner of France destroyed and he determined that Germany should never be allowed to do this again. Clemenceau did not have to adapt his policies to suit the French public - the French leader and the French public both thought alike.

~Woodrow Wilson of America had been genuinely stunned by the savagery of the Great War. He could not understand how an advanced civilisation could have reduced itself so that it had created so much devastation.

In America there was a growing desire for the government to adopt a policy of isolation and leave Europe to its own devices. In failing health, Wilson wanted America to concentrate on itself and, despite developing the idea of a League of Nations, he wanted an American input into Europe to be kept to a minimum. He believed that Germany should be punished but in a way that would lead to European reconciliation as opposed to revenge.

 

 

Therefore, the three main nations in the lead up to the treaty were far from united on how Germany should be treated. The eventual treaty seemed to satisfy everyone on the sides of the Allies. For France, it appeared as if Germany had been smashed; for Britain, Lloyd George was satisfied that enough of Germany's power had been left to act as a buffer to communist expansion from Russia; Wilson was simply happy that the proceedings had finished so that he could return home.

 

(If anyone has any other questions or comments involving this chapter, feel free to post below and I will try to answer as best as I can- I have had one lesson on this at school and that's about it but I would like to thank my teacher of that lesson for giving me the inspiration for this nerdy as it might sound. I don't know exactly how bad life in Germany was after but the story is seen through Klara's eyes and this is fiction after all)

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