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The 100th Anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles became effective 100 years ago on the 10th of January 1920. The agreement, signed by European leaders on the 28th of June 1919, marked the end of World War I. Placing the blame on Germany for the unprecedented devastation of what was then considered as the “war to end all wars”, the treaty was signed at the Palace of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles laid out punishments on the Germans for the war which had caused about 40 million casualties and was signed in the most famous room in the palace: the Hall of Mirrors.

During the reigns of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI, the Hall of Mirrors was used as the location for major political and diplomatic events. And now, the Galerie de Glaces, built for Louis XIV between 1678 and 1684, would be reverted to its former use once again.

But what was the signification of the choice of the Hall of Mirrors as the location for the signing of the Treaty of Versailles?

The Hall of Mirrors was chosen because it was the precise location in which the German empire had been declared in 1871 by the Chancellor Bismarck, following the defeat of the French in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. To have the German Empire proclaimed in the very hall which’s decorations were dedicated to the political successes of the Sun King was quite humiliating.

Therefore, the Hall of Mirrors was chosen as the location for the signing of the treaty as a symbol of revenge. The Allies came to this choice during their meetings held at the nearby Trianon Palace hotel, where they also met with German officials to discuss their conditions for the peace treaties. After the Germans accepted the conditions, it was decided that the Treaty would be signed on June 28th, the fifth anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand which had sparked the war.

The Palace was then decorated for the occasion. Furniture was borrowed from the Mobilier National and The Hall of Mirrors’ parquet floors were covered by savonnerie carpets that had been woven for the Sun King. The treaty was signed on a desk that had belonged to Louis XV.

Many people believe that the Treaty of Versailles laid the foundations for World War II because of its deliberate and humiliating punishment towards Germany.

You can learn more about the Treaty of Versailles and other political events that occurred at the Palace which shaped our world on our Versailles Private Tour.

Article written by Sarah

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