On June 28, 1919, the victorious Allied leaders signed the Treaty of Versailles, officially ending World War I.
With little German involvement, the principal architects — Britain’s David Lloyd George, Italy’s Vittorio Orlando, France’s Georges Clemenceau, and America’s Woodrow Wilson — reassigned Germany’s borders and issued steep war reparations.
After the signing, the leaders joined the massive crowd gathered outside of the Palace of Versailles.
“As Premier Clemenceau, President Wilson and Premier Lloyd George emerged from the palace, the great crowd gathered outside swept aside the cordon of troops, cheering madly … Many soldiers broke ranks and joined in the demonstration, while guns boomed and low flying airplanes seemed to fill the air, ” the Associated Press in Versailles reported.
That treaty, known as the “unhappy compromise,” had harsh terms laid out in 15 parts and 440 articles. Those harsh terms spurred German nationalism, which in turn gave Nazi leader Adolf Hitler a political platform.
Germany finally paid its World War I debt over a period of 92 years.
Here’s what it looked like outside the room:
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