International Relations 1919-1939

Interwar

International Relations 1919-45 revision – quick links

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The Big Three at the Paris Peace Conference

The ‘Big Three’ and their different aims. Reference to the attitude of people at home, the effect of the war, and the arguments for and against treating Germany harshly.

The terms and effects of the Treaty of Versailles

The terms of the Treaty and an assessment of Germany’s reaction. How to approach an exam question about ‘how fair’ the Treaty of Versailles really was.

The Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles

A shorter podcast that condenses the content of the previous two on the aims of the Big Three at the Conference and the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

The Other WW1 Peace Treaties
(St Germain, Trianon, Neuilly and Sèvres)

The terms the treaties of St Germain with Austria, Neuilly with Bulgaria, Trianon with Hungary, and Sèvres with Turkey.

The League of Nations in the 1920s

The successes and failures of the League of Nations in the 1920s, along with suggested ways to approach these in IGCSE and GCSE History exams.

The League of Nations in the 1930s

The major events of the 1930s for the League of Nations including the Manchuria Crisis, the World Disarmament Conference and the Abyssinia Crisis.

The Road to World War II, 1933-39

The events in the run-up to World War 2 including Hitler's actions and the policy of Appeasement.

German involvement in the Spanish Civil War

What the Spanish Civil War was, why Germany got involved, and what they contributed. Originally created for CIE IGCSE History students, but relevant to all students who want to know more about this topic.
The 14 Points

Woodrow Wilson’s announcement of the 14 Points in 1918

On the 8th January 1918, United States President Woodrow Wilson made a speech to Congress in which he outlined his principles for world peace, known as the Fourteen Points. Keen to distance the United States from nationalistic disputes that fuelled European rivalries, he sought a lasting peace by securing terms that avoided selfish ambitions of the victors.

Three days earlier, on the 5th January, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George had outlined British war aims at the Caxton Hall conference of the Trades Union Congress. It was the first time any of the Allies had shared their post-war intentions and, as a result Woodrow Wilson considered abandoning his own speech since many of the points were similar. However, he was persuaded to deliver the speech anyway.

The Fourteen Points were greeted with some reluctance from France in particular. Georges Clemenceau, the French Prime Minister, is said to have remarked that, “The good Lord only had ten!” as a comparison to the Ten Commandments. However, the Fourteen Points speech became an instrument of propaganda that was widely circulated within Germany. Consequently it later served as a basis for the German armistice that was signed later that year.

However, France’s vastly different intentions meant that, when the time the Paris Peace Conference began on the 18th January 1919, there was significant tension between the negotiators. The fact that Wilson himself was physically ill meant that he was less able to argue for peace terms that reflected the Fourteen Points against Clemenceau – the Tiger – and his demands to cripple Germany. Consequently many Germans felt incredible anger over the final terms of the Treaty.

The Big Three at the Paris Peace Conference

This revision podcast is aimed at GCSE and IGCSE History students, although AS and IB History students may find it helpful.  The episode focuses on the background to the Paris Peace Conference. You may also wish to look through the Paris Peace Conference PowerPoint.

The revision podcast outlines the ‘Big Three’ (David Lloyd George, George Clemenceau and Woodrow Wilson) and the different aims that they each had. Their aims are explained with reference to the attitude of people at home, the effect of the war, and the arguments for and against treating Germany harshly. Specific details are given of the 14 Points, along with disagreements between the three leaders.

          

The Big Four at the Paris Peace Conference

The terms and effects of the Treaty of Versailles

This GCSE and IGCSE History revision podcast focuses on the terms and effects of the Treaty of Versailles.  You may also wish to look through the Paris Peace Conference PowerPoint. In this IGCSE and GCSE History revision podcast, the mnemonic GARGLE is used to outline the terms of the Treaty of Versailles:

  • Guilt
  • Arms
  • Reparations
  • German Territory
  • League of Nations

This is followed by an assessment of Germany’s reaction, and presents a number of specific examples that could be used to explain why Germany was unhappy with the terms. The final part of the podcast looks at how to approach an exam question about ‘how fair’ the Treaty of Versailles really was.  This is done by presenting evidence for and against the Treaty that could be used in an answer.

          

The Big Four at the Paris Peace Conference

The Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles

This is a short revision podcast which presents an overview of the Paris Peace Conference the Treaty of Versailles.

For more detailed revision podcasts, you should instead see the specific podcasts on The Big Three at the Paris Peace Conference and The Treaty of Versailles.

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Treaty of Trianon with Hungary

The terms and effects of the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary

The Treaty of Trianon was signed between Hungary and most of the Allies of the First World War.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire had begun to collapse by the autumn of 1918, and the Hungarian Prime Minister declared the termination of the joint state on 31 October. Austria signed the Treaty of St. Germain on 10 September 1919 in which it recognised Hungary’s independence.

The Treaty of Trianon went on to strip Hungary of nearly three-quarters of its territory. Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia received the vast majority of this land and population. The border changes meant that over 3 million ethnic Hungarians found themselves living in a different country. Furthermore, the Treaty specified that one year after the date of signing these people would also lose their Hungarian nationality.

The territorial changes had a dramatic effect on Hungary’s economy. Large parts of the country’s former infrastructure and industry lay outside the new borders, while the loss of the coastline meant that it was both difficult and expensive to engage in international trade. Unemployment skyrocketed, while industrial output declined.

The treaty also placed severe limits on Hungary’s military which was forbidden from possessing an air force, tanks, and heavy artillery. The army was limited to 35,000 soldiers and conscription was banned, exacerbating the already mounting unemployment.

The social, economic and political effects of the treaty later led the historian and former British Ambassador to Hungary, Bryan Cartledge, to describe it as ‘the greatest catastrophe to have befallen Hungary since the Battle of Mohacs in 1526’.

Other peace treaties

The ‘Other’ WW1 Peace Treaties

This GCSE and IGCSE History revision podcast focuses on the post-war treaties of St Germain with Austria, Neuilly with Bulgaria, Trianon with Hungary, and Sèvres with Turkey. They are often overshadowed by the Treaty of Versailles, but the four treaties had an enormous effect on Europe and the Middle East in the interwar period. This podcast is designed to give an overview of the terms of these treaties with Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria as well as exploring the specific effects of the Treaty of Sèvres with Turkey.

     

Scapa Flow

What happened when the German fleet was scuttled at Scapa Flow?

On the 21st June 1919, Admiral Ludwig von Reuter ordered the scuttling of the German High Seas naval fleet in Scapa Flow, a large natural harbor in the Orkney Islands in Scotland. The ships had been confined there under the terms of the Armistice that ended fighting in the First World War.

America had suggested that the fleet be interned in a neutral country but, as neither Norway nor Sweden agreed, Britain volunteered instead. The majority of the 74 German ships were in Scapa Flow by the 27th November, where they were guarded by British Battle Cruiser Force. The fleet was manned by a skeleton crew of less than 5,000 men that gradually reduced over the next few months as they were repatriated back to Germany.

Negotiations over the fate of the ships took place at the Paris Peace Conference, where the various representatives were struggling to agree on a resolution. While Britain wanted to destroy the ships in order to maintain their naval superiority, France and Italy each wanted to take a quarter each. Concerned that the entire fleet might be shared out between the victors, Admiral von Reuter, the German officer in charge of the interned fleet, began planning to scuttle or purposely sink the ships.

Shortly before 11.30 on the morning of the 21st June the order went out to scuttle the ships. By 5pm 52 of them had sunk. The sailors escaped on lifeboats, and were captured as British prisoners-of-war. Nine sailors were shot and killed, making them the last German casualties of the war.

Weimar Constitution

The signing of the Weimar Republic’s constitution

The Weimar Republic was officially established on 11th August 1919, when Friedrich Ebert signed the new constitution into law.

The National Assembly that created the constitution had convened in the city of Weimar, which is why the state of Germany from the inauguration of the new constitution until Hitler became Fuhrer is generally referred to as the Weimar Republic. However, its official name continued to be Deutsches Reich which had first been adopted in 1871.

The Weimar Republic was born amid civil strife and open revolt that engulfed cities across Germany in the closing weeks of the First World War. The November Revolution actually began at the end of October 1918, but quickly spread from the port of Kiel to reach as far as the southern city of Munich by the 7th November.

The “German Republic” was declared on the 9th November, shortly after Kaiser Wilhelm II’s abdication was announced. Power was swiftly transferred to Friedrich Ebert, who reluctantly accepted it and formed a coalition government known as the “Council of the People’s Deputies”. It was this government that therefore signed the armistice on the 11th November, and which authorised the brutal suppression of the Spartacist Uprising in January 1919. Just four days after the deaths of Spartacist leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht elections for the National Assembly took place, which convened in Weimar in order to avoid the unrest in Berlin.

It took the best of part of seven months for the delegates to agree on the terms of the constitution, and Ebert signed it into law while on holiday in Schwarzburg.

Make Germany Pay

‘Make Germany Pay’ – the Treaty of Versailles

An overview of the background to the Paris Peace Conference in 1918, and an explanation of the aims of the ‘Big Three’.  It goes on to describe the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and Germany’s reaction to them.