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The Treaty of Versailles

Grades 6-8 | Argumentative | Source-Based

Source Lexile®: 1440L-1700L

Learning Standards




Prompt: Today you will read and analyze three primary sources about the Treaty of Versailles. Write an argumentative essay in which you make a claim about whether the restrictions placed on Germany in the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I (WWI) were justified. Support your claim with evidence from all three sources. Be sure to include all aspects of an argument in your essay: state your claim, support your claim with logical reasoning, address opposing arguments (counterclaim), and include a conclusion.



Source 1

Excerpts from the Treaty of Versailles, June 28, 1919 (Primary Source)


Article 45

As compensation for the destruction of the coal-mines in the north of France and as part payment towards the total reparation due from Germany for the damage resulting from the war, Germany cedes to France in full and absolute possession, with exclusive rights of exploitations, unencumbered and free from all debts and charges of any kind, the coal-mines situated in the Saar Basin. …


Article 51

The territories which were ceded to Germany in accordance with the Preliminaries of Peace signed at Versailles on February, 1871, and the Treaty of Frankfort of May 10, 1871, are restored to French sovereignty…


Article 118

In territory outside her European frontiers as fixed by the present Treaty, Germany renounces all rights, titles and privileges whatever in or over territory which belonged to her or to her allies, and all rights, titles and privileges whatever their origin which she held as against the Allied and Associated Powers. …


Article 136

All goods and property in Siam belonging to the German Empire or to any German State, with the exception of premises used as diplomatic or consular offices, pass ipso facto and without compensation to the Siamese Government. …


Article 159

The German military forces shall be demobilized and reduced as prescribed hereinafter.


Article 160

By a date which must not be later than March 31, 1920, the German Army most not comprise more than . . . one hundred thousand men, including officers and establishments of depots. The Army shall be devoted exclusively to the maintenance of order within the territory and to the control of the frontiers. …


Article 181

After the expiration of a period of two months from the coming into force of the present Treaty the German naval forces in commission must not exceed: 6 battleships of the Deutschland or Lothringen type, 6 light cruisers, 12 destroyers, 12 torpedo boats, or an equal number of ships constructed to replace them. …


Article 198

The armed forces of Germany must not include any military or naval air forces. …


Article 227

The Allied and Associated Powers publicly arraign William II of Hohenzollern, formerly German Emperor, for a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties. . . . The Allied and Associated Powers will address a request to the Government of the Netherlands for the surrender to them of the ex-Emperor in order that he might be put on trial. …


Article 231

The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies.


Article 232

The Allied and Associated Governments recognize that the resources of Germany are not adequate, after taking into account permanent diminutions of such resources which will result from other provisions of the present Treaty, to make complete reparation for all such loss and damage. The Allies and Associated Governments, however, require, and Germany undertakes, that she will make compensation for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allied and Associated Powers. …


Article 249

There shall be paid by the German Government the total cost of all armies of the Allied and Associated Governments in occupied German territory from the date of the signature of the Armistice of November 11, 1918, including the keep of men and beasts, lodging and billeting, pay and allowances, salaries and wages, bedding, heating, lighting, clothing, equipment, harness and saddlery, armament and rolling-stock, air services, treatment of sick and wounded, veterinary and remount services, transport service of all sorts (such as by rail, sea or river, motor lorries), communications and correspondence, and in general the cost of all administrative or technical services the working of which is necessary for the training of troops and for keeping their numbers up to strength and preserving their military efficiency. The cost of such liabilities … shall be paid by the German Government to the Allied and Associated Governments. …


Article 256

Powers to which German territory is ceded shall acquire all property and positions situated therein belonging to the German Empire or to the German States, and the value of such acquisitions shall … [be subtracted from] the sums due for reparation Treaty of Peace with Germany


Citation: (Treaty of Versailles). June 28, 1919. The Law Library of Congress. Web.




Source 2

George Clemenceau's Letter of Reply to the Objections of the German Peace Delegation, May 1919 (Primary Source)


  1. They [Germany] were the first to use poisonous gas, notwithstanding the appalling suffering it entailed. They began the bombing and long distance shelling of towns for no military object, but solely for the purpose of reducing the morale of their opponents by striking at their women and children. They commenced the submarine campaign with its piratical challenge to international law, and its destruction of great numbers of innocent passengers and sailors, in mid-ocean, far from succor [assistance], at the mercy of the winds and the waves, and the yet more ruthless submarine crews.
  1. They drove thousands of men and women and children with brutal savagery into slavery in foreign lands. They allowed barbarities to be practiced against their prisoners of war from which the most uncivilized peoples would have recoiled.
  1. The conduct of Germany is almost unexampled in human history. The terrible responsibility which lies at her doors can be seen in the fact that not less than seven million dead lie buried in Europe, while more than twenty million others carry upon them the evidence of wounds and sufferings, because Germany saw fit to gratify her lust for tyranny by resort to war.
  1. The Allied and Associated Powers believe that they will be false to those who have given their all to save the freedom of the world if they consent to treat this war on any other basis than as a crime against humanity and right.

Citation: Clemenceau, George. "George Clemenceau's Letter of Reply to the Objections of the German Peace Delegation, May 1919." Letter to German Peace Delegation. 1919. Source Records of the Great War. Vol. VII. N.p.: National Alumni, 1923. N. pag. First World War.Com. Michael Duffy, 2009. Web. 15 June 2017.




Source 3

Source C (Primary Source): "A Bitter Pill to Swallow" Political Cartoon




Citation: "A Bitter Pill to Swallow." A British newspaper 1919: Print.










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