Lesson Plan

War Guilt Clause

Students will learn about the War Guilt Clause added to the Treaty of Versailles.

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Enduring Understanding

As part of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was forced to sign the War Guilt Clause, taking full responsibility for starting World War I. Germans bitterly resented this addition to the treaty.

Essential Question

  • 1How was German aggression in World War II a response to Germany’s feelings of humiliation at the end of World War I?


5 Min
Teacher's Note
This short lesson on the Treaty of Versailles would best be paired with a lesson on Weimar Germany.

Explain to students that World War I was known to be the most destructive war the world had seen. It ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1918.

Share this image by Facing History and Ourselves with your students. What can you gather from this picture?


5 Min

Direct students to the resource ‘Treaty of Versailles: The War Guilt Clause’ by Facing History and Ourselves.

Explain to the class that in addition to taking full responsibility for the war, Germany would have to pay heavy reparations, had considerable territory losses, and was required to dramatically reduce their military.


10 Min

As a class, discuss the following questions:

  1. What is the significance of Germany taking the responsibility for starting World War I?
  2. How do you think the resentment in signing the War Guilt Clause played into the rise of Nazism?

Wisconsin Academic Standards

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

Teacher Primer

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