On 11th November 1918, the First World War was ended by the signature of an armistice, after the war had caused around 20 million casualties, both military and civilian and leaving approximately 20 million invalids.
As early as the 18th January 1919, the peace conference started in Paris, at Versailles Castle, and did not end until 1923. Representatives of defeated countries were not invited to take part and the decisions made by victors were submitted to the defeated countries for ratification with no alterations. The most important of these treaties was the Peace Treaty of Versailles with Germany of 28th June 1919. Through this treaty Germany agreed to surrender Alsace-Lorraine, some parts of Prussia that were acquired during the division of Poland in the 18th century, and a nonsensical corridor between Poland and the Baltic Sea was created, along with the transfer of the predominantly German populated city of Gdańsk (Danzig) to Polish administration. It imposed reparations of astronomical sums on Germany, banned some types of armament and limited the size of its large armed forces.
The Treaties of Saint-Germain of 10th September 1919, and the Treaty of Trianon of 4th June 1920, were of the greatest importance to Slovakia. The so-called Minor Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye dissolved the Austro-Hungarian Empire and formed the Czechoslovak state (l’etat Tchéco-Slovaquie) from the Bohemian, Moravian, Silesian and Slovak nations. The so-called Major Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye determined the borders of Austria, identified reparations as well as imposed military and political restrictions, including a ban on joining Germany.
The Treaty of Trianon determined the terms for the defeated Hungary. It included the formation of an independent Hungarian state (The Kingdom of Hungary) and defined its borders. At the same time, it attached non-Hungarian territories to neighbouring states, with the same succession rights as the Kingdom of Hungary. Hungary recognised Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia as parts of Czechoslovakia, Transylvania as a part of Romania, Vojvodina, Croatia and the so-called Međimurje as parts of the later Yugoslavia and Burgenland as a part of Austria. At the same time, it imposed reparations on Hungary, limited the size of its armed forces and imposed an obligation to return artistic and other artefacts that had been taken from the territory of the other successor states after 1896.
The Paris Peace Conference created the so-called Versailles Peace System which was not approved by either Russia (it was not invited) or the USA. In the defeated countries, the system stirred up a wave of nationalism and revisionism which, after the accession of Nazis, led to the Second World War – mainly as a result of a policy of appeasement.
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