"fair play had not been done at Versailles"
The Big Four
Public DomainThe Big Four - Credit: Edward N Jackson

The Peace Treaty of Versailles, signed in June 1919 to end World War 1, was widely considered too harsh a burden for Germany to bear, particularly as President Woodrow Wilson's fourteen points, intended to ensure a just and lasting peace, did not appear to have been met. In later years, it was thought that the humiliating conditions imposed upon Germany may have contributed to the rise of national socialism and the emergence of the Nazi regime.

Neither Wilson nor British Prime Minister David Lloyd George wanted to push Germany into severe recession, partly because the British and American economies would suffer as a consequence. However Lloyd George was caught in a dilemma, having promised the British people that he would make Germany suffer for the war.

French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and others were intent on punitive action to prevent any future invasions of France, and were determined to push the Treaty through as it stood without any concessions or compromises.

Photograph (left to right): Prime Minister David Lloyd George of the United Kingdom, Premier Vittorio Orlando of Italy, French Premier Georges Clemenceau, and President Woodrow Wilson of the USA, at the Paris Peace Conference 1918.