The year 1919 represents one of the most important caesuras in our history: After the First World War had claimed millions of lives it was officially brought to an end by signing the Treaty of Versailles. In 2016 the days in which that historical contract was closed have their 97th anniversary.
After the Entente had already concluded a ceasefire with the German Empire and Austro-Hungary in 1918, the allied “victorious powers” came to the castle of Versailles from 18 Jan 1919 till 21 Jan 1920 for holding the so-called Paris Peace Conference. The aim of this conference was to negotiate terms for a durable ceasefire. Thus in the Treaty of Versailles was stipulated that the German Empire bore the sole responsibility for the outbreak of the First World War and that there were sanctions to be imposed on the German Reich, particularly sanctions like reparation payments, demilitarization and cessions of territory.
The Treaty of Versailles was signed by the German and other governments so that it became valid on 10 Jan 1920. It went down in history as “peace contract of Versailles” nevertheless its content is divisive until today, its effects on German domestic politics and on the incipient democracy of Weimar Republic were devastating.
Last but not least: Should somebody ask you where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, please don’t answer “On the bottom right!” This is no wrong answer at all, following contractual conventions you do sign contracts on the bottom right but in case you want to impress your conversational partner, you better tell him some facts about the imposing baroque castle of Versailles – it has an impressive story.