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100 Years Peace
Treaty of Versailles

  • 100 year commemoration of the Treaty of Versailles

  • Image depicting the Signing of Peace in the lavish Palace of Versailles

  • 5oz Sold Silver coin with 24-carat gold accents

  • Strictly limited exclusive of 199 coin worldwide

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The Great War had been fought for 4 years when on the 11th November 1918, Germany and the Allies signed an armistice. Although the armistice ended the actual fighting it took 6 months of Allied negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude a peace treaty. The result was the Treaty of Versailles, the most important of the peace treaties that brought the end to World War I, and the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28th June 1919 in the great Hall of Mirrors, located in the Palace of Versailles in Versailles, France.

The Paris Peace Conference was dominated by the national leaders known as the “Big Four”—David Lloyd George of Britain, Georges Clemenceau of France, Woodrow Wilson of the United States, and Vittorio Orlando of Italy. The first three in particular dominated the decision making. Germany nor any of the defeated nations had any say in shaping the treaty, and even the associated Allied powers played only a minor role.

Australia’s representatives at the Paris Peace Conference were Prime Minister, Billy Hughes, the Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Joseph Cook and Lieutenant Commander J.G. Latham, Royal Australian Naval Reserve.

Of the many provisions in the treaty, one of the most important and controversial was Article 321, which later became known as the War Guilt clause. This clause required Germany and her allies to accept responsibility for being the aggressor in the war and thus causing all the loss and damage during the war. This was criticized by the Germans, who faced having to pay reparations to certain countries that formed the entente powers- especially France and Belgium. At the time this was set at an amount of $33 billion in 1921 – an amount most economists declared a sum that could never be collected without upsetting international finances.

As well as Germany having to also make territorial concessions, the Big Four ultimately wanted to make sure that Germany would never again pose a military threat to the rest of Europe. Therefore the treaty contained a number of stipulations to guarantee this aim. Such as the German army was restricted to 100,000 men; the general staff was eliminated; the manufacture of armoured cars, tanks, submarines, airplanes, and poison gas were all forbidden.

Many historians claim that the combination of a harsh treaty and subsequent lax enforcement of its provisions paved the way for the upsurge of German militarism in the 1930s. The German reparations and the war guilt clause fostered deep resentment of the settlement in Germany, and when Hitler violated the treaty and remilitarized the Rhineland in 1936, the Allies did nothing to stop him, thus encouraging future German aggression. We all now know the horrors that followed.

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