Treaty Of Versailles – Cartoon Analysis


In this cartoon, three men in suits are looking over their shoulder to a naked child weeping behind a pillar in a corner. The three men are drawn to be the Big Four- Georges Clemenceau, Woodrow Wilson and David Lloyd George. They are shown to be leaving a building, possibly the Palace of Versailles where the Treaty of Versailles was signed. Clemenceau who is drawn at the front of the other men is wearing a white suit, while the other two men are dressed in black. This makes Clemenceau stand out and seem to be the leader. The crying child represents Germany who was forced to sign the peace terms. Beside the feet of the young boy is the peace treaty, which explains that Germany does not agree with these terms, as they are harsh and incredibly one-sided. By drawing him naked, the illustrator tells the audience that what Germany had has been stripped away from them. The innocence of the boy crying creates a sense of sympathy towards Germany. Furthermore, this shows how powerless Germany was during the signing of the treaty. On the other hand, Clemenceau looking over his shoulder while commenting “Curious! I seem to hear a child weeping!” gets the audience to depict him as a pitiless and callous man. His comment suggests that he does not notice or understand Germany’s cries for more considerate terms. Georges Clemenceau earned the nickname ‘The Tiger’ for several reasons, but in this cartoon it is due to his fierce and harsh terms and punishment for Germany.

The title of the cartoon is “Peace and Future Cannon Fodder.” This phrase contradicts the two themes of peace and future cannon fodder. A “Cannon Fodder” is soldiers regarded or treated as expendable in battle. This title was given to this cartoon, as it was believed that all the Treaty of Versailles did was set up the future generations of the world to be nothing more than “cannon fodder”. In addition, this tells us that there is peace now but there will be war in the future. This suggests that the illustrator of this cartoon does not agree completely with the terms set by the powers on the Treaty of Versailles as he predicts that the present peace will just stir up anger in the Germans and eventually lead to future war.


In this cartoon, a horse is shown to be strapped to a cart with a load of ‘Unlimited Indemnity’ on it. Indemnity is the money paid as compensation. The load is drawn to be extremely heavy that the horse is lifted up and is unable to touch the ground. The horse represents Germany, as the name of the country is written across the neck of the animal. The large load represents the reparation settlement the countries had decided for Germany. £6.6 billion is an extremely large settlement to pay and this was the reason for the load on the cart. The horse being lifted up represents Germanys inability to move, as there are too many repayments on their shoulders. Under the illustration, the words “Perhaps it would gee-up better if we let it touch earth” are written. Gee-up is commonly directed at horses to move faster. This comment suggests that Germany should be carrying less of a burden in order for them to payback the reparation. There are two men in front of the horse; one is shown to be holding a whip, while the other is holding a shovel. The man with the whip is France, as in reality France wanted Germany to pay back for all the French land and lives destroyed. The man with the shovel is British. He is the one who says “Perhaps it would gee-up better if we let it touch earth.” This is true, as the British leader did not want Germany to be treated as harshly as the France wanted. The French man’s face expression shows disagreement towards Britain and hatred towards Germany. On the other hand, the British man’s face expression indicates worry and sympathy. The shovel in his hand tells us that he has been loading the ‘indemnity’ onto the cart for Germany to take as their responsibility. By holding onto the reigns of the horse, the audience can tell that France is in charge and has power over Germany.

Both these illustrators convey a similar opinion that the terms on the Treaty of Versailles are much too harsh for Germany to handle.

These messages don’t really differ in attitude towards Germany as they both convey a feel of sympathy towards her and extreme harshness from France. The “Peace and Future Cannon Fodder” cartoon is lightly more sympathetic of Germany’s situation because it involves an innocent child crying, which generally creates more sympathy from its audience.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. mam
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 05:48:00

    thanks. this was helpful


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