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German History in Documents and Images
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Mass Demonstration in front of the Reichstag against the "Brutal Peace" (May 15, 1919)
The conditions of the Treaty of Versailles met with harsh protest in Germany, from both the government and the population alike. All parties summarily rejected the territorial transfers in the west and east, as well as the reparations payments, which were regarded as excessively high. The strongest criticism, however, was reserved for the “War Guilt Clause,” which laid the blame for the war solely on Germany. Demonstrations leading up to the conclusion of the treaty sought to prevent Germany's leadership from accepting the harsh peace. In the face catastrophic food shortages and the helpless state of the military, however, the coalition government of the Social Democratic and Center parties saw no alternative to signing it. The radical right subsequently used the Treat of Versailles as an excuse for nationalist agitation.