TheTreaty of Versailles was imposed on Germany by the Triple Entente, France,Russia, and Great Britain, at the end of World War 1.
France used the treaty toget revenge and security, while Britain wanted imperial gains and Italy andJapan wanted territorial gains. The treaty stated that Germany must:limit its army to 100,000 men, give up its colonialpossessions, pay reparations to the winning state, accept full responsibilityfor the war, and allow the Rhineland to be occupied for 15 years. Germany was also forced to sign the treaty in orderto remain a unified country. The United States wanted to gain world peace andcontinued world trade from the treaty.1Dueto this, Woodrow Wilson backed out of the treaty and withdrew the United Statesinvolvement. Wilson came to Versailles hoping that measures would be taken torestore peace with Europe.
However, once he read the treaty he soon learnedthat the last thing that would be achieved was peace. He was appalled by theenormous weight put on Germany’s shoulders, and even said, “the exactions ofthis treaty are more than the German people can bear.” Wilson wanted an end tocome to all the alliances that had started World War One. He thought the Treatywould achieve this, but in his opinion, it only increased the divide betweenGermany and other European countries. 2Wilsoneven offered a counter proposal stating that Germany offers to proceed withtheir own disarmament in advance, in order to show that they will help toreinforce the new era of the peace of justice. It also states that Germanytakes up her position unreservedly on the ground of the Wilson program, when itcomes to territorial concerns. There were many other requirements in thecounter proposal, all trying to re-establish order within Europe, while still keepingpeace and not putting all the blame on Germany. However, the Triple Entente didnot take Wilson’s suggestions into consideration, and changed nothing about thetreaty.
This left all of the blame for World War One, economicalresponsibility, and territorial changes on Germany’s shoulders. 3Tradewas limited in the First World War, due to the fact that Germany could notimport or export industrial goods. Instead of raising taxes, the Kaiserborrowed copious sums of money from selling war bonds to citizens. At the endof the war, the country was in a large debt because of all the money theyborrowed in order to support the war. Therefore, when the Treaty of Versailles statedthat Germany pay 6.6 billion pounds in reparation, this was an impossibleamount.
4TheTreaty of Versailles included nothing about economic revival of Europe afterthe war. There was nothing included to increase candor between Europeanempires, help stabilize the newly formed empires of Europe, or reclaim Russia.However, Britain, France, Italy, and the US, didn’t seem to find an issue withthis, as they made no efforts to change it. Making amends was their primaryconcern, and the way they saw best to fulfill this was by passing on theeconomic responsibility.
In the process, they were disregarding the economicstability of European countries, specifically Germany. They were also playingGod when it came to the future economic wellbeing of these countries, as it wasnow all in their hands. The weakened economic state of Germany caused thecountry to go into a depression. With mass amounts of people living in Germanyand lack of jobs, it became very hard for people to feed themselves. A GermanEconomic Commission report even states, 5″Wedo not know, and indeed we doubt whether the delegates of the allied andassociated powers realize the inevitable consequences that will take place ifGermany, an industrial state, very thickly populated, closely bound up with theeconomic system of the world, and under the necessity of importing enormous quantitiesof raw material and foodstuffs, suddenly finds herself pushed back to the phaseof her development that corresponds to her economic condition and the numbersof her population as they were half a century ago. Those who sign this treatywill sign the death sentence of many millions of German men, women andchildren.” 6Immense guilt was placed onGermany for the first war. This caused hostility between Germany and the otherEuropean countries.
The Treaty of Versailles weakened Germany in many ways. Itleft them in an economic depression due to the severity of the reparations theyhad to make. It also created deeper tension between Germany and the rest ofEurope. Seeing as they had just blamed Germany for World War One, theenvironment was hostile. However, the treaty united the German people becauseof their shared economic struggle and newfound lack of pride. Additionally, thetreaty had limited the German military. All these factors led to the lack ofcontrol over Germany, considering many vital aspects (economy, military, etc.
)were being controlled by outside forces through the Treaty of Versailles. 7Priorto the Great Depression in Germany, caused by the Treaty of Versailles, theNazi Party was a very small party. Exiting the first World War, the mood inGermany was solemn. The economic depression had a strongly negative impact onthe country. Many connected the Depression and mood of Germany to theirnational humiliation through the Treaty of Versailles.
To make matters worse,many Germans perceived the current government as weak and unable to fix thecurrent economic issues. All of these factors created the perfect environmentfor the Nazi Party to grow, and Adolf Hitler to rise in power. Hitler was avery skilled speaker.
He knew how to tap into the anger felt among citizens,and used that to attract the hopeless nation to him. He promised to restore theeconomy, restore cultural values, reverse the effects of the Treaty ofVersailles, take away the Communist threat, put many citizens back to work, andrestore Germany’s spot as a world power. Considering what the country had justbeen through, all of this was very attractive to German citizens. Hitlergarnered supporters by playing to the fear in all of them. Telling people thatthe Jews were responsible for the country’s problems gave them an easysolution. Hitler’s solution to the problems seemed to be the only way out formany desperate people.
However, Hitler knew his audience and tailored what hewas saying depending on who he was talking to. To citizens, he emphasized thatJews were to blame, since he knew they were hopeless and yearned for an answerto their problems. When speaking to businessmen, the Nazi Party’s anti-Semiticviews were lessened. Instead, anti-communist values were conveyed as their mainmessage. Nazi’ advertised the building up of the military and the return oflost German territory when conversing with nationalist interest groups, such assoldiers and veterans. Farmers were promised increased agricultural prices,while pensioners were told their monthly checks amounts and buying power wouldremain constant.
Hitler’s persuasion techniques promised everyone exactly whatthey wanted. The country was in search of a saving grace from all theirhardships, and Adolf Hitler seemed to have all the right answers. 8Theatmosphere in Germany was very impressionable, allowing Hitler to grow afollowing and further advance his ideals. He brainwashed the public in theirvulnerable state to view Jews as the source of pain in the country. The feelingHitler created in people was very nationalistic.
He emphasized that othercountries were to blame, which made people willing to go to war. All of thiscan be traced back to the Treaty of Versailles though. Without the weakenednation created by the treaty, Hitler would not have had fuel in order to evokesuch hatefulness and such passionate followers.