Presentation on theme: "Germany’s descent to WWII. The end of WW I saw the break up of many empires including the Russia empire, the German empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire."— Presentation transcript:
The end of WW I saw the break up of many empires including the Russia empire, the German empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The map of Europe looked a little different than it did in 1914 (below is 1914 before the start of the war).
The Treaty of Versailles not only ended the war, spelled out what the winners won, losers lost, and the reparations to be made, it also created new nation-states (see the map below). Finally, it set up the League of Nations, which was the predecessor to the United Nations.
Below is the list of things that were required of Germany. The reparations that are mentioned were finally set at 269,000,000,000 German Marks, which is roughly $32, 000,000,000 (about $395,000,000,000 in today’s money) which was 38% of her national wealth. 1. Germany was to accept guilt for causing the war under the "War Guilt Clause #231. 2. Germany was to loose the territory of Alsace-Lorraine 3. Germany was to return parts of Belgium 4. Germany was to forfeit her overseas colonies 5. Germany was to provide parts of West Prussia to Poland in order to give Poland an "outlet to the sea" 6. Germany was to be occupied on the West bank of the Rhine River for 15 years 7. Germany was to pay reparations for 30 years of an amount yet to be determined 8. Germany was to limit their armed forces to 100,000 men, maintain no air force and have a navy of six ships and no submarines
The indignity of it all was galling to the German people. Especially a veteran of the War, an Austrian corporal who fought with the German army. He is below and marked with an X. He is Adolf Hitler, and he will change the fate of Germany and the rest of the world with it.
Tensions in Germany at the end of WWI were running high, There was conflict between the conservative factions of society, Marxists, and other socialists. While the War progressed, Russia had succumbed to a Communist Revolution. While some in Germany desired a similar fate, some abhorred this thought.
Many people in Germany believed a rumor called the “dark-stab legend” or Dolchstoßlegende This legend claimed that the “undefeated army in the field” had been betrayed by the civilian government and Marxists back home. To give credence to this, the German Kaiser abdicated and left Germany for Holland, where he died in 1940. The legend was false, but was perpetuated by the upper echelon generals of the war. Dolchstoßlegende
To counter the Marxist surge, many people throughout Europe began conservative, militaristic organizations, movements, and even political parties.
The first person in Europe to consolidate these ultra nationalistic, militaristic, and conservative viewpoints into a codified doctrine, was Benito Mussolini in Italy. In fact, he came to power in Italy in the 1920’s. The new doctrine would be called Fascism, and it would include a demand of total devotion of the people towards the party, and their leader.
In Germany in the 1920’s the Reparations caused a steep inflation in the value of their currency, the Mark. Soon, it was worthless.
Throughout Europe, but certainly in Germany and Austria there was quite a bit of anti-Semitism (prejudiced thinking and persecution of Jews) in the 19 th and early 20 th Century. Jews were linked to Marxism and conspiracy theories.
In the early 1920’s Adolf Hitler got recruited to give political speeches to soldiers, especially on the evils of Marxism and the necessity of nationalism. He was also used as a spy to discover which political groups were preaching communist-style revolution. One such group intrigued him. It was not communist, but Nationalist and Anti-Semitic. It was called the German Worker’s Party (GWP). He did not, however approve of their organizational structure. While at a meeting spying, he jumped up to tell the party members everything that they were doing wrong. They were impressed with him, and offered him membership and a leadership position in the party.
Hitler accepted the position, became the propaganda officer and began to make speeches and to invite many of his colleagues to join the party. With them came funding from the army for the party. He became an excellent orator and began to institute many of his ideas to the party. One of which was to included the word “Socialist” to the Party’s name. Although not a proponent of social, racial, or sexual equality, Hitler knew that the word socialist was popular in the political thinking of Germany after WWI. It would draw more people to the party. And so it did. It also gave us the final name for Hitler’s party:: the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. NSDAP, or Nazi for short.
In 1923, in Munich, Germany Hitler convinced the Party that it was time to act. He planned and enacted an attempted overthrow of the regional government. This was called the Beer Hall Putsch, and it failed but it allowed Hitler an even larger venue for his ideas: the courtroom for his trial. A compassionate judge, jury, and witnesses allowed Hitler to enunciate his vision for days before he was finally convicted leniently.
In the end, Hitler was sentenced to 5 years, but barely served 10 months of the sentence in a minimum security prison. He was allowed a ground floor room with a great view. Visitors were allowed and even his personal secretary, Rudolph Hess, stayed with him for the duration of the sentence. It was here that Hitler dictated his vision to Hess, which would become the famous book Mein Kampf.
Although it was dismissed as long-winded ravings, Mein Kampf actually included Hitler’s plans for conquering Europe & his ideas for dealing with Jews and other undesirables. In retrospect, it is chillingly accurate. When Hitler assumed total power, every German was required to own a copy of his book. He used the royalties as his major source of income, in addition to a stipend from the Nazi Party.
Hitler continued to build the party up through his oration. He preached militarism, national pride, and Volk or racial purity. Many of the people who joined and admired Hitler and his ideas were less-than-respectable citizens. Many of these party members were criminals, drunks, addicts, pedophiles, brawlers, cutthroats, etc. Hitler used this element of the party as “security.” They became known as the SA, or “brown shirts” and were the paramilitary wing of the party. They were responsible not only for protecting party leaders and members, but also for intimidating rivals.
By 1933, the Nazis had gained enough votes to hold a slim majority in the Reichstag (Parliament.) Hitler cajoles, pleads, and strong-arms his opposition into making him Chancellor. The famous WWI General Von Hindenburg is the President, to give the government respectability. Once Von Hindenburg dies a few months into office, Hitler assumes total power. So even though he is elected legally, he used force, coercion, and little know political laws and procedures to gain total power. Germany will not know popular elections again until after WWII.
Almost immediately, Hitler began to secretly rearm in violation of the Versailles Treaty. Soon he will do so openly with no opposition from the allies. He strengthened the army, built an air force (Luftwaffe), and increased the number of ships in the Navy (and began to build U-Boats).
One of the issues that Hitler used to come to power was the idea of uniting German speaking territories across Europe. The first, closest, and most logical was Austria. The Nazis first attempted a coup in 1934 which failed, but in 1938 basically invaded (bloodlessly) with the support of Austrians who had been duped by Nazis within their own country. The annexation of Austria is the first aggressive move that Hitler makes, and the allies do nothing to stop him. This sets a very bad precedent.
Again snubbing his nose at the Versailles Treaty, Hitler sends the army to occupy the Rhineland against his generals’ advice. Hitler is correct in assuming that the Allies will do nothing. Following this, he declares his intent to occupy the Sudetenland-a German speaking area of Czechoslovakia. Again he acts against the wishes and belief of his Generals. And again, he is correct that the Allies do nothing, but try to appease him. Their theory is that if they let him get what he wants, there were not be another war. They believe he will be satisfied with the next goal. Then the next goal. Then the next goal…
Although Hitler had signed a non-aggression treaty with Joseph Stalin of the USSR, Hitler had no faith in the communists. He wanted a buffer between his Reich and the Russians, so he invaded Poland. The poor Poles could not resist the new military doctrine that the Germans used…Blitzkrieg, or lightening war…Poland fell…and World War II began.