The Treaty of Versailles – military restrictions (1919)


The following extracts from the Treaty of Versailles contain some of the more significant military restrictions placed on post-war Germany:


In order to render possible the initiation of a general limitation of the armaments of all nations, Germany undertakes strictly to observe the military, naval and air clauses which follow…

Article 159. The German military forces shall be demobilised and reduced as prescribed hereinafter.

Article 160. By a date which must not be later than March 31st 1920, the German Army must not comprise more than seven divisions of infantry and three divisions of cavalry. After that date the total number of effectives in the Army of the States constituting Germany must not exceed 100,000 men, including officers and establishments of depots. The Army shall be devoted exclusively to the maintenance of order within the territory and to the control of the frontiers.

The total effective strength of officers, including the personnel of staffs, whatever their composition, must not exceed 4,000… The Great German General Staff and all similar organisations shall be dissolved and may not be reconstituted in any form…

The officers, or persons in the position of officers, in the Ministries of War in the different States in Germany and in the Administrations attached to them, must not exceed 300 in number and are included in the maximum strength of 4,000 laid down…

Article 162. The number of employees or officials of the German States such as customs officers, forest guards and coastguards, shall not exceed that of the employees or officials functioning in these capacities in 1913.

The number of gendarmes and employees or officials of the local or municipal police may only be increased to an extent corresponding to the increase of population since 1913 in the districts or municipalities in which they are employed. These employees and officials may not be assembled for military training…

Article 165. The maximum number of guns, machine guns, trench-mortars, rifles and the amount of ammunition and equipment which Germany is allowed to maintain during the period between the coming into force of the present Treaty and the date of March 31st 1920, referred to in Article 160, shall bear the same proportion to the amount authorized in Table No. III annexed to this Section…

Article 168. The manufacture of arms, munitions, or any war material, shall only be carried out in factories or works the location of which shall be communicated to and approved by the Governments of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, and the number of which they retain the right to restrict.

Within three months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, all other establishments for the manufacture, preparation, storage or design of arms, munitions, or any war material whatever shall be closed down. The same applies to all arsenals except those used as depots for the authorised stocks of munitions. Within the same period the personnel of these arsenals will be dismissed…

Article 170. Importation into Germany of arms, munitions and war material of every kind shall be strictly prohibited. The same applies to the manufacture for, and export to, foreign countries of arms, munitions and war material of every kind.

Article 171. The use of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases and all analogous liquids, materials or devices being prohibited, their manufacture and importation are strictly forbidden in Germany. The same applies to materials specially intended for the manufacture, storage and use of the said products or devices. The manufacture and the importation into Germany of armoured cars, tanks and all similar constructions suitable for use in war are also prohibited.

Article 173. Universal compulsory military service shall be abolished in Germany. The German Army may only be constituted and recruited by means of voluntary enlistment…

Article 177. Educational establishments, the universities, societies of discharged soldiers, shooting or touring clubs and, generally speaking associations of every description, whatever be the age of their members, must not occupy themselves with any military matters. In particular they will be forbidden to instruct or exercise their members or to allow them to be instructed or exercised, in the profession or use of arms. These societies, associations, educational establishments and universities must have no connection with the Ministries of War or any other military authority…

Article 181. After the expiration of a period of two months from the coming into force of the present Treaty the German naval forces in commission must not exceed six battleships of the Deutschland or Lothringen type, six light cruisers, 12 destroyers, 12 torpedo boats, or an equal number of ships constructed to replace them as provided in Article l90. No submarines are to be included. All other warships, except where there is provision to the contrary in the present Treaty, must be placed in reserve or devoted to commercial purposes.

Article 183. After the expiration of a period of two months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, the total personnel of the German Navy, including the manning of the Deet, coast defences, signal stations, administration and other land services, must not exceed 15,000, including officers and men of all grades and corps… The total strength of officers and warrant officers must not exceed 1,500.

Article 184. From the date of the coming into force of the present Treaty all the German surface warships which are not in German ports cease to belong to Germany, who renounces all rights over them. Vessels which, in compliance with the Armistice of November 11th 1918, are now interned in the ports of the Allied and Associated Powers are declared to be finally surrendered.