Lesson Plan

Deciding on Reparations

Explore primary sources outlining the outcomes of the Treaty of Versailles. Students will have discussions on the fairness of the Treaty of Versailles and whether or not there is truly a fair resolution to war.

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Enduring Understanding

Signing the Treaty of Versailles meant Germany agreed to limitations on their military, territory losses and devastating financial reparations.

Essential Question

  • 1What is the fair resolution to a world war? Is that even possible? If not, what are the likely consequences?


10 Min
Teacher's Note
Prior to this lesson students should have a general knowledge and understanding of World War I. If not, please go back to one of the lessons on World War I that could help prepare students for this lesson.

Talk with students briefly about the ending of World War I, how it ended soon after the U.S. got involved. Explain how the major powers came together at the Paris Peace Conference in order to negotiate a settlement and reparations. Note that there was no seat at the table for Germany, but for all of the main countries who fought against Germany during WWI. If possible, remind students about what the major players wanted to come out of the treaty–land, money, security.


20 Min

Ask the students to read the first paragraph on the first page of the US Army resource to get their bearings for the task at hand. Then ask students to examine closely the documents on page 2 and 3.

Prompt students that all the text, captions, and images are of great value to understanding the effect of the treaty on the German state.

Ask students to take notes on the geographic and population losses of both Germany and Austria. What trend do they notice? How might this make the country and its people feel? Give students 15 minutes for this exercise.


25 Min

Ask students to pair up with one another and share what they discovered through their examination of these documents. What did they find to be the most interesting element? What was the most confusing?

Have small groups share with the class, teasing out their confusion and helping them understand more clearly what the treaty meant. Give 10 minutes for the pairing and sharing.

Then, ask them to examine the document on page 5. Ask in an open discussion, what do they notice here? Is the reaction what they might have expected?

Finally, have the students reflect on one or all of the following questions in writing:

  1. What is a fair resolution to war? Is that even possible?
  2. Given the terms of the treaty, were the Allies seeking fairness or gain? Do the protesters in Berlin have any legitimacy, in your opinion?
  3. Can you imagine a more fair resolution? What would that look like?

Wisconsin Academic Standards

This lessons meets the following Academic Standards required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

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