The Treaty of Versailles Simulation
This simulation has been designed to illustrate the diplomatic processes that were at work during the Versailles Conference in 1919. The simulation is designed for middle school students, but it can be used for all levels. Additional resources have been made available.
Divide the class into the following groups and distribute role playing prompts to each group.
Your group is led by David
Lloyd George, who was the prime minister of Great
Britain. In Britain most people wanted Germany
to be punished: "Make Germany
Pay" and "Squeeze them until the pips squeak" were popular
slogans, but Lloyd
George believed that:
Your group is led by Georges Clemenceau, who was the prime minister of France; he was nicknamed "The Tiger". He wanted to make Germany pay for all of the damage that France had suffered during the four years of fighting. Also, your nation has been attacked by Germany twice in the past half century. He also wanted to make sure that a war like this would never happen again. He had three main demands:
The Allies also gave Germany a new form of government based on proportional representation. It was intended to prevent Germany being taken over by a dictatorship, but it led to the creation of more than thirty political parties; none of them was big enough to form a government on its own.
had not been allowed to the Peace Conference and were told to accept the terms
or else. Most Germans had believed that the Treaty would be lenient because of Woodrow
Wilson's Fourteen Points. Many Germans did not believe that the German
army had actually been defeated in 1918 because Germany
had not been invaded. One of these people was Corporal Adolf
Hitler, who had been in hospital in November 1918 recovering from
gas-blindness. Like many others he came to believe that the army had been
"stabbed in the back" by the "November Criminals", the
politicians who had signed the Armistice which had brought the Great War to an
end on 11th November 1918.
Several of the clauses of the Treaty were thought to be very harsh. It was going to be almost impossible to pay the Reparations. In fact, the German government gave up after only one year, and the War Guilt Clause seemed particularly unfair. How could Germany be the only country to blame for the war? After all it had started when a Serbian shot an Austrian. It was felt that Germany had simply been made a scapegoat by the other countries for all that had happened.
The United States
Your delegation is led by Woodrow
Wilson, the President of the United State of America. The USA had only
declared war on Germany
in April 1917 and it had suffered no damage whatsoever. Wilson arrived in Europe
with the "Fourteen Points", which he hoped would help prevent wars in
the future. The most important of these were:
Your delegation is led by Vittorio
who was the prime minister of Italy.
had declared war on Germany
in 1915 after the Secret Treaty of London.
In the treaty France
and Britain had agreed that Italy
would be given the Adriatic coast at the end of the war.
When Orlando arrived at Versailles he expected France and Britain to keep their promise.
wanted to be given the two small areas of Istria and the South Tirol. The
Adriatic coast should be made part of a new country called Yugoslavia,
which included Serbia and Bosnia.
New Central European Nations (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria)
Most of the discussions were about Germany, but the leaders also tried to redraw the map of Europe. They wanted to break up the Austro-Hungarian Empire and give self-determination to the peoples of eastern and central Europe.
Give land to Belgium,
The land given to Poland
became known as the "Polish Corridor" and it separated the main part
from East Prussia.
were formed from land lost by Russia.
Czechoslovakia and Hungary were formed out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
1) Students will meet first within their own delegations. They must establish in writing their demands from the other groups and they must write what they are willing to give up as a nation. They can write a rough draft called a "proposal" using a chart of "concessions and "demands" on each side of the page.
2) Students will then meet in the hall of Mirrors. Each nation will present its demands and concessions. The teacher will summarize these on the board or over head.
3) Then distribute or display the sample treaty and have the delegations fill in blanks decided upon by the teacher. For each blank, have the delegations vote on the topic.
4) Have students sign the treaty according to national delegations.
5) If time remains, debate the treaty in a mock senate and have a student delegation from the Senate vote on the treaty. Discuss how history would have been different if such a treaty had been approved by the Senate.
Sample Treaty: http://www2.csn.net/~schroede/treaty.html
Cool WW1 site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-bin/history/pg.pl?engtexts=early204&title1=england&englinks=early20&template=single&default=england&site=timeline&contents1=england&
This page relies heavily on the BBC Overview of the Versailles Treaty at http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/modern/versaill/versahtm.htm
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