98. The human, material, and political costs of World War I were staggering. The huge loss of life was made even worse in 1918 by a deadly pandemic of influenza. From France to Russia, homes, farms,factories, and roads had been bombed into rubble. Reconstruction costs and war debts would burden an already battered world. The Allies blamed the war on their defeated foes and insisted that they make reparations. Governments had collapsed in Russia, Germany,Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman empire. Out of the chaos, political radicals dreamed of building a new social order.
The victorious Allies met at the Paris Peace Conference to discuss the fate of Europe, the former Ottoman empire, and various colonies around the world. T˙e Central Powers and Russia were not allowed to participate. This would lead to problems regarding the issue of self-determination. The three main Allied leaders had conflicting goals. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George focused on rebuilding Britain. French leader Georges Clemenceau wanted to punish Germany severely. American President Wilson insisted on the creation of an international League of Nations, based on the idea of collective security. In this system, a group of nations acts as one to preserve the peace of all.
In June 1919. the Allies ordered representatives of the new German Republic to sign the Treaty of Versailles. The German delegates were horrified. The treaty forced Germany to assume full blame for the war. The treaty also imposed huge reparations that would burden an already damaged German economy and limited the size of Germany's military.
The Allies drew up treaties with the other Central Powers. Like the Treaty of Versailles, these treaties left widespread dissatisfaction, especially among many colonies that had hoped for an end to imperial rule. Many nations felt betrayed by the peacemakers. As a result of these treaties, new nations emerged where the German, Austrian,and Russian empires had once ruled. Outside Europe the Allies added to their overseas empires. The treaties also created a system of mandates. The one ray of hope was the establishment of the League of Nations. The failure of the United States to support the League, of Nations. The failure of the United States to support the League, however, weakened the League's power.
1. What were some of the human, material, and political costs of the war?
3. Why were German representatives at Versailles horrified?
3. Which three main Allied leaders negotiated the terms of the Treaty of Versailles?
4. What does the word widespread mean in the sentence?
5. How did the goals of the three main leaders at the Paris Peace Conference differ?