Treaty of Versailles
10th Grade Treaty of Versailles Inquiry

Can Peace Lead to War?
Download Entire Inquiry Here


Staging the Compelling Question:
Source A: Isabella de Pommereau, article describing the effects of reparation payments, “Germany Finishes Paying WWI Reparations, Ending Century of 'Guilt’,” Christian Science Monitor, October 4, 2010

  • Teachers could stage the compelling question by having students read an article from the Christian Science Monitor, “Germany Finishes Paying World War I Reparations, Ending Century of  ‘Guilt.” Students should discuss why some historians claim that World War I did not end until 2010. As students read and discuss the article, they are previewing conditions of the Treaty of Versailles (e.g., reparations and guilt) and one historic interpretation of the event and its consequences that will be useful as the inquiry develops. (Click on the hyperlink to go directly to the article)
Supporting Question 1- What did President Woodrow Wilson mean by "peace without victory?"
Source A: Woodrow Wilson, speech to the United States Senate describing his approach to ending World War I, “Peace without Victory” (excerpts), January 22, 1917 .
Source B: Woodrow Wilson, speech to the United States Congress outlining his goals for ending World War I, “The Fourteen Points,” 1918.
Source C:  The Miller Center at the University of Virginia, description of Wilson’s vision for ending World War I, “Woodrow Wilson—The Fourteen Points,” 2015

 Source D: Edward N. Jackson, photograph of the World War I Allied leaders, “The Big Four,” 1919


  • The Big Four Allied leaders photographed May 1919 at the Paris Peace Conference. From left: British prime minister David Lloyd George, Italian premier Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, French premier Georges Clemenceau, and US president Woodrow Wilson.Public domain. Photo by Edward N. Jackson (US Army Signal Corps). US Signal Corps photo. Available at
Supporting Question 2- What did Germany lose by signing the Treaty of Versailles?

Source A: Allied and Central Powers, selected articles from the treaty ending World War I, Treaty of Versailles (excerpts), June 28, 1919. Public domain.

Source B: United States Holocaust Museum, map of German losses as a result of World War I, “German Territorial Losses, Treaty of Versailles, 1919,” no date
© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC. Used with permission.

Supporting Question 3- Why was Germany blamed for World War I?

Source A: Facing History and Ourselves website, discussion of the 1919 peace treaty clause assigning Germany the blame for World War I, “Treaty of Versailles: The War Guilt Clause
Copyright © Facing History and Ourselves. Reprinted by permission.  
Source B: Count Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau, leader of the German peace delegation, letter to Georges Clemenceau,  president of the Paris Peace Conference, on the subject of peace terms (excerpts), May 1919

Supporting Question 4- Did the German reparation payments stipulated in the Treaty of Versailles set the stage for World War II?

Source A: Selected articles dealing with reparations from the treaty ending World War I, Treaty of Versailles (excerpts), June 28, 1919

Source B: John Maynard Keynes, analysis of the economic impact of the treaty that ended World War I, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (excerpts), 1919 Source C: Margaret MacMillan, article analyzing the effects of World War I, “Ending the War to End All Wars” (excerpts), New York Times, December 25, 2010.