Treaty of Versailles: The War Guilt Clause

Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles, known as the War Guilt Clause, was a statement that Germany was responsible for beginning World War I. It reads as follows:

"The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the 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 and her allies."

The War Guilt Clause was added in order to get the French and Belgians to agree to reduce the sum of money that Germany would have to pay to compensate for war damage. The article was seen as a concession to the Germans by the negotiators. It was bitterly resented, however, by virtually all Germans who did not believe they were responsible for the outbreak of the war. This article was a constant thorn in the side of the Weimar leaders who tried to meet the terms of the agreement while trying to have these terms modified.

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