10th Grade New York

Treaty of Versailles

The compelling question “Can peace lead to war?” offers students an opportunity to explore the historic controversy surrounding the extent to which the Treaty of Versailles caused World War II. Students consider not only the stipulations of the peace treaty but also the nature of historical interpretation by following the voices of historians throughout the inquiry. While progressing through the inquiry, students consider the original vision of the Treaty of Versailles, the conditions of the treaty itself, and the reactions to the treaty both at the time and by modern-day historians.


Compelling Question:

Can Peace Lead to War?

Staging the Question:

Read the Christian Science Monitor article “Germany Finishes Paying WWI Reparations, Ending Century of 'Guilt'” and discuss why some historians claim World War I did not end until 2010.

Supporting Question What did President Woodrow Wilson mean by “peace without victory”?

Formative Task Write a definition for the term “peace without victory” and explain why President Wilson saw this as a necessary component of the Treaty of Versailles.

Sources Source A: Excerpts from “Peace without Victory”
Source B: Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points
Source C: Woodrow Wilson—The Fourteen Points
Source D: Photograph: “The Big Four”


Supporting Question What did Germany lose by signing the Treaty of Versailles?

Formative Task List Germany’s losses of territory and armed forces, and write one or two sentences explaining why these losses would have upset most Germans.

Sources Source A: Excerpts from the Treaty of Versailles
Source B: Map of German territorial losses


Supporting Question Why was Germany blamed for World War I?

Formative Task Write a paragraph explaining how the Treaty of Versailles blamed Germany for World War I and how most Germans reacted to the treaty.

Sources Source A: War Guilt Clause (Article 231), Treaty of Versailles
Source B: Excerpts from von Brockdorff-Rantzau's letter to Clemenceau, president of the Paris Peace Conference


Supporting Question Did the German reparation payments stipulated in the Treaty of Versailles set the stage for World War II?

Formative Task Develop a claim supported by evidence that answers the supporting question.

Sources Source A: Excerpts from the Treaty of Versailles
Source B: Excerpts from The Economic Consequences of the Peace
Source C: Excerpts from “Ending the War to End All Wars”

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Did peace lead to war? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, or essay) that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical sources while acknowledging competing views.
Extension: Participate in a class debate on whether or not the Treaty of Versailles was too harsh on Germany or whether the treaty failed to go far enough to protect peace in Europe.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Research Germany’s current economic status.
Assess: Weigh the extent to which Germany could and/or should help other countries in the Eurozone that are in need of economic stimulus (e.g., Italy and Greece).
Act: Create a class wiki page that outlines students’ research on Germany’s current economy and proposes ideas for steps Germany should take or not take to help other parts of the Eurozone.