Marking 100 years since the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending the First World War
Friday, June 28 marked 100 years since the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the document that formally ended the First World War in 1919.
One-hundred-years-ago Haligonians witnessed Canadian soldiers returning home after fighting for their countries freedom in the First World War.
“Those who survived and those who were wounded in action throughout the course of the war came back to Canada through the Port of Halifax,” said Halifax Army Museum Curator, Major (Ret.) Ken Hynes. “So, it wasn’t, well, until 1919 that Halifax was still playing a very major role in the homecoming of our soldiers from their service overseas.”
A homecoming that was prompted by the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
“The shooting stopped on the 11th of November 1918, but it took over 6-months for the allies to develop the treaty terms and get to the point where the Germans would come in and sign the treaty,” said Hynes.
An original copy of the treaty is preserved on display at the Halifax Army Museum. Signed by world leaders including American president Woodrow Wilson, it was an attempt at a peace truce that some believe, led directly to another World War.
“One can say with some confidence that the seeds of the Second World War were within the Versaille Treaty, very harsh terms against Germany, huge reparation payments, loss of territory and a number of other factors that one could say led to the rise of Hitler in the early 1930’s,” explained Hynes.
“My grandfather was killed in the First World War,” said Richard Wilford, who is visiting the Halifax Army Museum from Arizona. “He was with the British forces in Vimy Ridge, so that has a real part of our heritage and heart, and that treaty, we wish it had a longer time but it was very, very important at the time.”
Although the Centennial Anniversary didn’t receive as much attention as the battle of Vimy Ridge, or the Armistice of November 11th, visitors to the museum agree that the significance of the historic document can still be felt today.
“It’s an important document that’s here, it’s 100 years old and it’s a very important piece of paper there,” said visitor to the museum, Ragesh Varadarajan, who is visiting from India.
“It did sow the seeds for the Second World War. It was a very important document that shaped life in Europe for the next few decades to come, and I think it’s really important that people remember history and why certain things happened, especially at a time when people are making important deals with countries going forward,” said Evan Sambasivam, who is visiting the museum from Toronto.
Hynes says the significance is especially poignant with Monday’s Canada Day holiday.
“If there is a good lesson that can be drawn from war, it certainly is the ability of our country to rise to the occasion in an International emergency and do things together, as Canadians,” said Hynes.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April