Peace at last

With the fighting over, those countries that had fought through the war now had to turn to managing the peace. The Treaty of Versailles was one of five treaties formulated at the Paris Peace Conference, and imposed major sanctions on Germany. Not only was the defeated nation required to pay reparations, surrender territory, and demilitarise the Rhineland, but Germany was also forced to admit full responsibility for the war itself.

Joseph Finnemore’s work captures a moment during the ceremonial signing of the treaty at the Palace of Versailles in France. The British Prime Minister David Lloyd George can be seen seated at the table, adding his signature, while Australian Prime Minister William Hughes stands nearby, waiting his turn along with other representatives of the British Empire.

  1. What words would you use to describe the mood in this painting?
  1. The ceremony was held in the Hall of Mirrors, an elaborately decorated room inside the palace featuring 357 mirrors. Why might this location have been chosen for the signing?
  2. Explore the story behind Australia’s signed copy of the treaty. What was Australia granted? How else was the treaty significant for Australia?
  3. Read about reactions to the treaty in Britain and Germany. How did each nation respond? Imagine you were a British or German citizen at that time, and write a newspaper article explaining your opinion on the treaty.
  4. Research, summarise, and debate the main terms of the treaty: do you think they were fair? Why or why not?

Back   Next