In 1919 the Treaty of Versailles was signed. This treaty was written mainly by the BIG THREE: Woodrow Wilson (USA), Georges Clemenceau (France) and David Lloyd George (UK). Germany was forced to agree to the terms of the Treaty, which were exceedingly harsh.
Clemenceau wanted to punish France harshly, because he believed Germany responsible for the outbreak of war. In addition, much of the war took place on French soil, resulting in huge damage to the infrastructure of France. Equally important to Clemenceau was historic French hatred of Germany, stemming from the loss of Alsace-Lorraine as part of the harsh settlement imposed by Germany after the French defeat of 1871.
Woodrow Wilson was an idealist. He wanted a fair treaty that would enable Germany to recover as a healthy and prosperous European nation. Wilson could afford to be idealistic as America was distant from European affairs and had entered the war late, resulting in few casualties. The American public wanted Wilson to concentrate on domestic concerns such as the American labour crisis and housing shortage, rather than tying America up in European affairs.
David Lloyd George was a realist. He knew that Germany had to be punished for the war, but he recognised that unfairness would result in future conflict as Germany would seek to overturn a harsh settlement. However, David Lloyd George had promised the British public that he would 'squeeze the German lemon till the pips squeak'. He promised this because the British public were psychologically scarred by the war and desired revenge. Lloyd George wanted to win the forthcoming election!
The following cartoons represent the attitudes of, and/or the pressures on, one or more of the BIG THREE at the Versailles negotiations.
1. Clemenceau's desire to crush Germany:
3. Clemenceau's desire to destroy Germany in order to extract reparations:
4. Wilson's desire to protect helpless Germany from Clemenceau's desire to destroy her. David Lloyd George is being pushed towards the Treaty by the clamour of the British public for retribution, even though he, personally, doesn't share their view.
5. The Tug-of-War between France and Wilson, with Britain trying to act as the half-way point.
6. The three judges at Versailles, with their alternative sentences:
7. Clemenceau destroying Germany, Wilson trying, hopelessly, to catch the fragments, ending with David Lloyd George's confused attempt to manage revenge and idealism.