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The Treaty of Versailles was not a peace treaty.
Transcript of The Treaty of Versailles was not a peace treaty.
The Weimar Republic.
As World War One ended, Germany started a whole new chapter of existence. The end of the first great war meant punishment for Germany, which came in the form of the Treaty of Versailles. This Treaty hurt Germany on both economic and social levels. This treaty was meant to keep Germany from becoming a threat, but in fact did the opposite.
The German Revolution
Major uprisings occurred within
Germany between 1918 and
1919. The German revolution started in the Germany Navy, and spread throughout the entire
country. This led to the establishment of the Weimar Republic and the suppression of left wing political parties, which had reverberating effects throughout the 1920's and 1930's.
The Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles, although created as a peace treaty, was anything but. This treaty was developed by the Allied nations, and was forced upon Germany. If Germany did not accept the peace treaty, the Allied forces would invade all of Germany. The Germans had to accept full responsibility for causing all Allied losses and damages. In addition to this, the Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to allow Allied troops into the Rhineland, and forced Germans to pay reparations to the Allies.
The Weimar Republic was formed
in 1918, and is named after Weimar, the town in which the republic was formed. The development of the Weimar Republic was in no small part due to Friedrich Ebert, who was vital in composing the Weimar Constitution. Ebert had no choice but to sign the Treaty of Versailles, but he and the Weimar Republic were hated for it. The Weimar Republic represented all that Germans hated about the Treaty of Versailles, and this lead to several civil uprisings, such as the Beer Hall Putsch.
Consequences of the Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was meant to keep Germany from ever rising again. The German Government was forced to pay steep reparations to the Allies, and were also forced to admit that Germany was guilty for causing all loss and damage in the war through the infamous War Guilt Clause. In addition to this, Germany lost parcels of land vital to the German economy, such as Saarland, to countries such as France and Poland. The reparations crippled Germans economically, as did the loss of parcels of land, and the War Guilt Clause caused great unrest, as German honor had been violated. To damage Germany even further, a heavy restriction was placed on the number of permitted military units. The German Navy ended up being scuttled due to the restrictions, and German pride was wounded deeply.
The Treaty of Versailles was most definitely not a peace treaty, but instead, was an assurance of future war.
German Reaction to the Treaty of Versailles
Simply put, the Germans hated the Treaty of Versailles. The German Government was excluded from the drafting of the treaty, and was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles on the threat of annihilation. Germany had to accept responsibility for World War 1, and was forced to pay steep reparations. The German Government also had to give up roughly 10 percent of its prewar territory, and lost numerous vital industrial sectors, such as the Saarland and the city of Danzig. The Treaty of Versailles both economically damaged and dishonored the German Nation. The treaty fostered great hatred in Germany, and led to financial catastrophe in 1923, and again from 1929-1933. Germans of all political backgrounds loathed the Treaty of Versailles, and were constantly reminded of this hatred by the Weimar Republic. The Weimar continued to pay reparations until 1923, at which time the German economy collapsed due to hyperinflation. This led to French occupation of another parcel of land called the Ruhr, and a new payment plan. In 1924, payments were resumed, but the Weimar Republic constantly attempted to find a way to stop paying.
The Beer Hall Putsch, an attempted coup starting in Munich.
German troops surrendering.
Friedrich Ebert, First leader of the Weimar Republic.
The Beer Hall Putsch
The NSDAP was a far right political party. This party, led by Adolf Hitler, denounced the Treaty of Versailles, and the Weimar Republic. Also known as the Nazi Party, these Nazis caught Germany up in a nationalistic wave, with specific hatred towards the Treaty of Versailles and the Jewish race. The Nazi party came to power in 1933, when Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President Paul von Hindenburg. Due to the Treaty of Versailles, and the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Germans were willing to look to extreme political parties in order to be freed of reparations and high unemployment rates. Both the Spartakusbund, the German communist party, and the NSDAP became extremely popular. The German people were united in their hatred for the Treaty of Versailles, and those who developed the treaty. The Treaty of Versailles created huge economic problems for Germany, and those were expounded upon by the Great Depression. This lead to desperation from the German people. By 1932, reparations payments were canceled because Germany could not pay, and conditions continued to get worse. Germany was looking for a savior, and started to turn to radical measures in order to improve the economy. Thus came the reign of the NSDAP.
The Great Depression
The Great Depression caused major problems within Germany. By 1929, The German Government was making its reparations payments through loans from America. When the stock market crashed in October 1929, Americans demanded their money back, and also refused to lend more. This left Germany in a dire situation. The German Government was required to pay both reparations and return American loans, but could do neither. In 1930, emergency decrees were put in place, in essence turning Germany into an authoritarian state. The President of Germany, Paul Von Hindenburg, instated Heinrich Bruning as Chancellor of Germany, giving him control over Germany in an attempt to curb the Great Depression. However, Bruning's policies actually made the German Economy worse, and in Bruning's reign between 1929 and 1932, unemployment rates in Germany had quadrupled. By 1932, President Hindenburg's support for Bruning had ceased, and the president appointed Adolf Hitler as the new chancellor of Germany.
The beer hall putsch was the Nazi party's first attempt to seize power. The Nazis organized a full rally, with plans to overthrow the government in Germany, starting in Munich. This attempt to overthrow the German government failed miserably, and led to the death of numerous Nazi members, as well as the imprisonment of Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler.
The buildup toward World War 2
Radicalization of Germany
Adolf Hitler is one of
the most hated names in the history of mankind. However, Hitler was much loved by the people of Germany, especially during the 1930's. Hitler led the Nazi party for decades, and promised to void the much loathed Treaty of Versailles. This gave him immense support from the people of Germany, who were humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler offered both freedom and vengeance, and people took it, regardless of the future costs.
The Rise of the Nazis
The Nazis gained prominence throughout the 1920's, as they denounced the Treaty of Versailles, and used German Nationalism as a uniting force. The Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, was a phenomenal orator, and united the people in an anti-semitic, anti-Treaty of Versailles fervor, and became immensely popular because of this. In 1932, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany, and by 1934 Hitler had become the absolute ruler of Germany
Economic crisis in the 1930's led Germans to
look to radical political parties for solutions. Political parties, such as the NSDAP and the Communist party of Germany became increasingly popular. Between 1920 and 1932, Nazi support grew from under 10 percent of the vote to 43 percent of the vote.
A Nazi demonstration in 1930. Support continued to grow for the Nazis, and even when the Nazis were executing members of other political parties, the German people fully supported the Nazis.
By 1934, the Nazis had obtained complete power over Germany. Other political parties were banned, and any opposition was crushed. Anyone considered unfit for the new Germany was placed in concentration camps. These people included Jews, the mentally or physically disabled, homosexuals, and numerous other groups of people. However, the Nazis spent a majority of its power undoing the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler militarized Germany once more, although explicitly prohibited by the treaty. Austria was annexed and Czechoslovakia was invaded. German Foreign policy became one of disregard in respect to the Treaty of Versailles. The hatred of the Treaty of Versailles spurred the German people onward. Hitler was disregarding the treaty, and the people of Germany blindly followed him because of it.
A massive Nazi parade
A Nazi Membership Card
The Treaty of Versailles stripped Germany of large swathes of land and had humiliated Germans on a global level. The idea of war appealed to a large portion of the German people, as means to repossess that which was taken from them by the Treaty of Versailles. German rearmament took place in earnest after 1933, and led to numerous technological advancements within Germany. This rearmament also nearly eradicated unemployment within Germany. The toll of the Great Depression was reversed, and Germany once again became a world power.
Annexation of Austria and Sudetenland
World War 2
German Involvement in the Treaty of Versailles
The German Government had no involvement in the drafting of the Treaty of Versailles, and was given an ultimatum. The Germans could sign the treaty, or be invaded by the Allied forces. Due to the strict nature of the Treaty of Versailles, the first German diplomat at the Paris peace conference resigned rather than sign the treaty. The Treaty of Versailles was referred to as a Carthaginian peace, as it would seemingly destroy Germany through reparations payments and the loss of major industrial areas.
Philipp Scheidemann, the first leader of Weimar Germany, resigned rather than sign the Treaty of Versailles.
The Treaty of Versailles had led the Germans to World War 2. The German people came out of the Treaty of Versailles humiliated and economically destitute. The German people were looking for solutions, and along came Hitler. Throughout the 1930's, Germany was preparing for war. By 1938, Germany had fully rearmed, and had annexed both Czechoslovakia and Austria. On September 1st, World War 2 came to a brutal start, and the world would never be the same. The Treaty of Versailles instated temporary peace, but ultimately was a main cause for German Aggression, and in turn, World War 2.
German Nationalism was a key force leading up to World War 2. The Treaty of Versailles had severely damaged German pride, but united the German people against a common enemy. The Nazi Party would not have been nearly as successful as it was if not for German Nationalism. The mid-to-late 1930's marked years of prosperity within Germany, and nationalism flourished. The Nazis were bringing back what the Treaty of Versailles had taken from the Germans.
A German Parade
Between 1938 and 1939, Germany annexed Austria and had invaded Czechoslovakia. Germany had become increasingly aggressive throughout the 1930's and in order to avoid war, the allies had followed a policy of appeasement. Thus Germany expanded, although directly violating the Treaty of Versailles. The Allies hoped that in allowing Germany to annex Austria, and to invade Czechoslovakia, further expansionist ideas would be put to rest. However, this was not the case, and the invasion of Czechoslovakia was just a taste of what was to come.
Economic Disaster in Germany
In 1923, the German economy hit disaster. The German Government had failed to pay a reparations payment, and as a means of payment extraction, France and Belgium invaded the Ruhr. The Ruhr was the most industrialized area in Germany. Losing the Ruhr to France and Belgium was a severe blow, and furthered to weaken the German Economy. However, the occupation of the Ruhr was not Germany's biggest problem. Since the end of the war, the German Government had printed off more money than normal to pay bills. This was largely the fault of the reparations, which were demanded to be paid in gold or foreign currency, and led to high inflation rates which peaked in 1923. In 1919, a loaf of bread cost a single papiermark, which was the German currency. By 1923, the same loaf of bread cost 100 billion papiermarks. Reparations payments were temporarily halted, but it took over a year for Germany and its people.
German inflation by the numbers
A German carting a day's wages
The Numerous Faults of the Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles, created as a treaty to instate a lasting peace, did nothing of the sort. The Treaty of Versailles was riddled with problems, and was marked for failure before the treaty was even signed. The Allied forces refused to allow the German Government to be a part of the drafting Treaty of Versailles, and more or less forced them into signing the treaty. This spawned great hatred in Germany for both the Allies and the Treaty of Versailles. The reparations payments required of Germany further fueled hatred toward the Allies. This treaty had numerous other flaws, which will be mentioned further on.
Protest against the Treaty of Versailles
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