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- This topic has 7 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 2 years, 1 month ago by Phidippides.
After World War I, the Allied nations imposed strict rules on Germany’s military size and nature, its geographic holdings, and the amount it had to pay back to other nations due to economid damage inflicted during the war. The Treaty of Versailles was put together by France, England, and the United States, each with different goals in mind. During the succeeding years, the Weimar Republic’s economy was crushed, leading up to the succession of Adolf Hitler in 1933.
Was the Treaty of Versailles too oppressive in its terms on Germany? In the Wikipedia entry on the Treaty (of which most of this background information is based) it states some reasons why Versailles actually was not all that bad for Germany.
When we question how a nation could adopt a figure such as Hitler or a political party such as the Nazis, it's important to remember the conditions under which such madness incubated. Could it be that war terms which drag a society down too far will necessarily come back to haunt the victors down the road? This is particularly interesting considering the extent to which Iraq is being rapidly rebuilt with foreign aid - in the billions and billions of dollars.DonaldBakerParticipant
The war reparations were considerable (probably just), but they caused a deep resentment in the German peoples’ hearts. Hitler played upon this resentment and other resentments to seize power and deceive the German nation into following him off to their destruction. When Hitler conquered France, he made the French sign a similarly humiliating treaty in the very same rail car the Germans were made to sign the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler supposedly danced a jig in front of the vanquished French after the ceremony.peterkParticipant
It went far to far, Germany was never really beaten after WW1, no Allied soldiers ever set foot in Germany. the Treaty of Versailles just caused resentment and povrty in Germany. The reperations were extortionate, if they had kept paying them then they would only have finished in the 1980's. The Was Guilt Clause was however, in my opinion, the most unnessary part of the treaty.StumpfootParticipant
I believe it's harshness set the stage for german rebellion (against the rest of the world) and WW2. I know I read something a while ago that talked about how bitter Hitler was over the treaty and it's effect on Germany.
Hitler essentially used the “oppressive” measures of the Treaty of Versailles to help rally Germans behind him. When a country is down on itself after losing a war, leaders are sought and given power to bring the country out of chaos. Hitler had the right combination of charisma, attitude, and ruthless power to appeal to Germany of the 1930s. It's a lesson for modern-day wars; if we beat up on a country, we'd better be willing to help in the reconstruction efforts as well.StumpfootParticipant
It kind of reminds me of bullies. People get pushed to far, and like you said, they look for anyone who will help them pushback. They picked the wrong person. But when you tell a people that are down trodden and feel they are being persicuted that they are the master race and do it with conviction, this is what you get.
I think that there is a lot to consider when exploring the question of how the Germans could have allowed a man like Hitler to rise to power. In fact, this precise question was featured in the Dachau concentration camp museum, which I had the opportunity to visit a few years ago. It was a fascinating experience to learn how this could happen.One of the best online reads of the life of Hitler (and to understand how he gained the power he did) is found at http://spartacus-educational.com/GERhitler.htm ; it was informative to me, and perhaps others will find it informative as well.JimOParticipant
This is a debate that rages on and on.In one sense it did because it emasculated Germany but it provided the German leadership with the "we were stabbed in the back by Jews and Communists" argument. At the end of World War I, the front was still more or less completely within France and Belgium (the war in the east was over). Ordinary Germans never saw their armies beaten on the ground as they did at the end of the second war. There were actually some small zones of occupation but most German's never saw a foreign soldier. Add to that the crippling reparations and the currency crisis and the country was primed to beleive what Hitler was saying.Some would argue that it was not harsh enough and Germany should have been subjected to prolonged foreign miltary occupation and pacification. Perhaps that would have convinced the ordinary German that they had actually lost the war. I don't subscribe to that theory, but it is out there.
I’m going to revive this thread by saying that of course the Treaty of Versailles went too far!
First, it forced Germany to pay France and Great Britain huge amounts of payment while at the same time stripping Germany of some industries which could have helped them generate cash for repayments.
Second, it happened at a time when France and Britain both raised tariffs, which meant that Germany had a hard time making payments without being able to generate enough money through exports.
Third, because of its difficult position, Germany had to figure out a way to make its payments, and the way they did this was magic! Well, not really – they just printed more money, which led to higher and higher inflation. Eventually, this led to a depression in Germany.
Of course, there were other things making matters worse, such as the need for Britain to pay back what it borrowed from the U.S. to pay for the war. But how would it get money from Germany if Germany was in a depression?
The entire situation must have taught the victors a great deal, so that in the aftermath of World War II, the Marshall Plan did not seek to cripple Germany the way Versailles did, but instead to help rehabilitate victor states and vanquished states.