28 June 1919

2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

About the Treaty

The peace treaty formally concluded hostilities between Germany and the allied powers and was signed at the Palace of Versailles, outside Paris, on 28 June 1919. Criticised by liberal allied opinion as too hard, and by others as too lenient, the treaty deprived Germany of:

  • about 13.5 per cent of its 1914 territory
  • about 13 per cent of its economic resources
  • around 7 million of its people, and
  • all of its overseas possessions.

The treaty was one of five formulated at the Paris Peace Conference as part of the peace negotiations at the end of the First World War. The Treaty of Versailles related to establishing the conditions of peace with Germany.

The major sanctions imposed by the treaty included the disarmament of Germany, payment of very large reparations to the allies, and demilitarization of the Rhineland. The treaty also involved the surrender of territory which had been part of Germany prior to the First World War, including Alsace-Lorraine to France and substantial areas to Poland. Germany reluctantly signed the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919.

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

The Treaty of Peace between the Allied Powers and Germany

The Treaty document

Australia's authenticated copy

This document is Australia's authenticated copy of the Treaty of Versailles, bound into a volume with photographed facsimile pages of the signatures and official seals. The signatures and seals of Australia's delegates, Prime Minister Billy Hughes and Deputy Prime Minister Joseph Cook, are on the third page of signatures, following those of the US, British and Canadian delegates.

The Signing of the Treaty of Peace at Versailles, 28 June 1919 by Joseph Finnemore, 1919, oil on linen, 165 x 247 cm. Australian War Memorial ART16770

Artwork

'The signing of the treaty of peace at Versailles, 28 June 1919'

This work was painted by Joseph Finnemore in 1919 to commemorate the signing of the peace treaty in Versailles. It captures a moment of the signing ceremony which took place in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. (Oil on linen, 165 x 247cm. Australian War Memorial ART16770)

Last Post Ceremony

Last Post Ceremony

100th anniversary commemoration

The 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles will be commemorated at the Last Post Ceremony on 28 June 2019.

Collected Podcast branding image with text on it saying "Collected - Stories from the Australian War Memorial"

Podcast

Collected episode one - The Treaty of Versailles

Episode one of Collected looks at Australia’s official copy of the Treaty of Versailles, currently on display as part of the Memorial’s After the war exhibition. In conversation with Memorial curators Kerry Neale and Anthea Gunn, Louise Maher explores the history of this extraordinary document and the important role Australia played in its signing.

Professor Emerita Joan Beaumont with Director Dr Brendan Nelson and Mr Ashley Ekins

Free public talk

Australia and the Paris Peace Conference - 12pm, BAE Systems Theatre, 28 June 2019

Australia suffered more than 60,000 war dead during the First World War. How was this loss recognised at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919? What were Australia’s gains? Join Professor Emerita Joan Beaumont in the Australian War Memorial BAE Systems Theatre as she discusses Australia and the Treaty of Versailles.

Billy Hughes addressing troops on the Western Front, 3 July 1918. E02652

The meagre gains of war

Article by Joan Beaumont

The Treaty of Versailles may have been punitive, but it was small compensation for the 60,000 Australian dead.