Treaty of Versailles - Content - Impositions On Germany - Territorial Changes

Territorial Changes


Germany′s borders in 1919 had been established nearly 50 years earlier, at the country′s official establishment in 1871. Territory and cities in the region had changed hands repeatedly for centuries, including at various times being owned by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kingdom of Sweden, Kingdom of Poland, and Kingdom of Lithuania. However, Germany laid claim to lands and cities that it viewed as historically "Germanic" centuries before Germany′s establishment as a country in 1871. Other countries disputed Germany′s claim to this territory. In the peace treaty, Germany agreed to return disputed lands and cities to various countries.

Germany was compelled to yield control of its colonies, and would also lose a number of European territories. Most of the province of West Prussia would be ceded to the restored Poland, thereby granting it access to the Baltic Sea via the "Polish Corridor" which Prussia had annexed in the Partitions of Poland. This turned East Prussia into an exclave, separated from mainland Germany.

  • Alsace and much of Lorraine—both originally German-speaking territories—were part of France, having been annexed by France′s King Louis XIV who desired the Rhine as a "natural border". After approximately 200 years of French rule, Alsace and the German-speaking part of Lorraine were ceded to Germany in 1871 under the Treaty of Frankfurt. In 1919, both regions were returned to France.
  • Northern Schleswig was returned to Denmark following a plebiscite on February 14, 1920 (area 3,984 km2 (1,538 sq mi), 163,600 inhabitants (1920)). Central Schleswig, including the city of Flensburg, opted to remain German in a separate referendum on 14 March 1920.
  • Most of the Prussian provinces of Province of Posen (now Poznan) and of West Prussia which Prussia had annexed in the Partitions of Poland (1772–1795) were ceded to Poland (area 53,800 km2 (20,800 sq mi), 4,224,000 inhabitants (1931)) without a plebiscite. Most of the Province of Posen had already come under Polish control during the Greater Poland Uprising of 1918–1919.
  • The Hultschin area of Upper Silesia was transferred to Czechoslovakia (area 316 km2 (122 sq mi) or 333 km2 (129 sq mi), 49,000 inhabitants) without a plebiscite.
  • The eastern part of Upper Silesia was assigned to Poland, as in the Upper Silesia plebiscite inhabitants of about 45% of communities voted for this (with general results of 717,122 votes being cast for Germany and 483,514 for Poland).
  • The area of Eupen-Malmedy was given to Belgium. An opportunity was given to the population to "protest" against the transfer by signing a register, which gathered few signatures. The Vennbahn railway was also transferred to Belgium.
  • The area of Soldau in East Prussia, an important railway junction on the Warsaw–Danzig route, was transferred to Poland without a plebiscite (area 492 km2 (190 sq mi)).
  • The northern part of East Prussia known as the "Memelland" or Memel Territory was placed under the control of France and was later annexed by Lithuania.
  • From the eastern part of West Prussia and the southern part of East Prussia, after the East Prussian plebiscite a small area was ceded to Poland.
  • The Territory of the Saar Basin was to be under the control of the League of Nations for 15 years, after which a plebiscite between France and Germany, was to decide to which country it would belong. During this time, coal would be sent to France. The region was then called the Saargebiet (German: "Saar Area") and was formed from southern parts of the German Rhine Province and western parts of the Bavarian Palatinate under the "Saar statute" of the Versailles Treaty of 28. 6. 1919 (Article 45–50).
  • The strategically important port of Danzig with the delta of the Vistula River on the Baltic Sea was separated from Germany as the Freie Stadt Danzig (Free City of Danzig).
  • Austria (see the Republic of German Austria) was forbidden from integrating with/into Germany.
  • In article 22, German colonies were divided between Belgium, Great Britain, and certain British Dominions, France, and Japan with the determination not to see any of them returned to Germany — a guarantee secured by Article 119.
  • In Africa, Britain and France divided German Kamerun (Cameroons) and Togoland. Belgium gained Ruanda-Urundi in northwestern German East Africa, the United Kingdom obtained by far the greater landmass of this colony, thus gaining the "missing link" in the chain of British possessions stretching from South Africa to Egypt (Cape to Cairo), Portugal received the Kionga Triangle, a sliver of German East Africa. German South West Africa was mandated to the Union of South Africa.
  • In the Pacific, Japan gained Germany’s islands north of the equator (the Marshall Islands, the Carolines, the Marianas, the Palau Islands) and Kiautschou in China. German Samoa was assigned to New Zealand; German New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and Nauru to Australia as mandatory.
  • In exchange for joining the Allied Powers in World War I, Kingdom of Italy was promised by Triple Entente to be granted several territories including former Austrian Littoral, western parts of former Duchy of Carniola, Northern Dalmatia and notably Zadar (Zara), Šibenik (Sebenico), and most of the Dalmatian islands (except Krk and Rab), according to the secret London Pact of 1915. After the compromise was nullified under pressure of President Woodrow Wilson with the Treaty of Versailles which made void Italian claims on Northern Dalmatia, Italy annexed territories that included not only ethnically mixed ones, but also exclusively ethnic Slovene and Croatian ones, especially within the former Austrian Littoral and the former Duchy of Carniola. They included 1/3 of the entire territory inhabited by Slovenes at the time and 1/4 of the entire Slovene population, who was during the 20 years long period of Italian Fascism (1922-1943) subjected to forced Italianization alongside with 25,000 ethnic Germans. According to author Paul N. Hehn, "the treaty left half a million Slavs inside Italy, while only a few hundred Italians in the fledgling Yugoslav (i.e. Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes renamed "Yugoslavia" in 1929) state".

Read more about this topic:  Treaty Of Versailles, Content, Impositions On Germany

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