The Signing of the Treaty of Versailles (28 June, 1919)

Meeting of dignitaries in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, 28 June, 1919

It was supposed to be the treaty to end all wars but, as most historians now agree, it simply laid down the path to a greater, far more destructive conflict. One of the defining moments of the 20th century that technically ended the first World War, the now infamous Treaty of Versailles forced Germany and its allies to accept responsibility for the great conflict and forced the Germans to pay harsh reparations, cede large swaths of territory to its neighbors and almost completely disarm their armed forces. These punishments collectively were so harsh that they inevitably led to the rise of fascism in the country and the rise of the Nazi party and Adolf Hitler.

Of course, the hundreds of dignitaries that were present for the treaty’s signing on the 28th of June, 1919 (exactly five years to the day of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the event which triggered the war) could not have foreseen this. In their minds, by keeping Germany weak, they were ensuring the stability of the entire European continent. They had no idea of the anger and destruction that the terms of the treaty would eventually cause.

This particular photo was taken in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles.

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