In November 1918 the fighting in the first Great War ended with the signing of the armistice. In the summer of 1919 after six months of negations the Treaty of Versailles was signed. This treaty did many things. One of the more impactful articles in regards to Germany was article 231. This article later became known as the War Guilt Clause. This was the first article in part VIII of the Versailles Treaty called Reparations.
This War Guilt Clause or article 231 states “The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany her allies.”1. This article sets up later articles in the Reparations part of the Versailles treaty. In Sax and Kuntz’s book they talk about the effects that this article had on German life. “Article 231 identified Germany as the aggressor nation, which was there for liable for reparations payments to the Allied countries for their losses in the war. This demand placed a tremendous economic burden on a state that had itself suffered massive devastation in the war.”2
- http://net.lib.byu.edu/~rdh7/wwi/versa/versa7.html : Peace Treaty of Versailles, Articles 231-247 and Annexes, Reparations
- Inside Hitler’s Germany, Benjamin Sax and Dieter Kuntz, (D.C. Heath and Company: Lexington MA, 1992) page 27