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Post-WWI Germany How the `peace treaty` of Versailles helped sow the seeds of WWII.

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Presentation on theme: "Post-WWI Germany How the `peace treaty` of Versailles helped sow the seeds of WWII."— Presentation transcript:

1 Post-WWI Germany How the `peace treaty` of Versailles helped sow the seeds of WWII

2 Germany Accepts a “Humiliating” Peace By 1918, the German army was being defeated and pushed back towards Germany. The German Kaiser (king) abdicated and the government was then left to civilians. To avoid invasion and occupation and total defeat, the German government requested an armistice (cease fire). They created a new, democratic government known as the Weimar Republic (named because it met in the town of Weimar) It was this new German gov`t who was forced to accept the Treaty of Versailles (along with the anger of the German people for its harsh terms)

3 No Allied soldiers ever invaded Germany and the vast majority of German civilians saw almost nothing of the fighting in WWI Gov`t propaganda had spoken of `victories` and the success of the army, even as it was in retreat Most Germans were surprised by the government`s, seemingly, sudden surrender The army High Command claimed that they were technically undefeated and that the loss of WWI was the fault of `traitors, cowards and the Weimar gov’t. The army claimed they had been `stabbed in the back` by the Weimar Gov`t –a popular idea for a German public who felt beaten and demoralized

4 Problems in Post-WWI Germany The Treaty of Versailles Economic Problems The Great Depression Political Instability

5 How did the Treaty of Versailles worsen, or even help create, these problems?

6 Due to the anger of the victors (the Allies) the conditions of the WWI treaty were very harsh and Germany had been forced to accept them The loss of territory, colonies and their military was a massive blow to German pride. The War Guilt clause was seen as a stain on German honour The huge reparation payments Germany had to make were viewed as unjust and unduly severe. Many Germans had called for vengeance when they learned about the terms of the treaty TREATY OF VERSAILLES

7 Economic Problems Germany had huge debts from WWI They also had large reparation payments to make In order to pay their debts and the reparations, the government had to send massive amounts of money and resources out of the country Large amounts of new bills (currency) had to be printed

8 Economic Problems Since there was little to help create wealth (German industry was floundering) to back the currency this caused massive inflation The price of goods/ services skyrocketed while the buying power of the mark (German currency) fell rapidly

9 Economic Problems In 1922, 300 Marks was equal to $1 US By 1923, $1 US cost 50 000 Marks Germans now needed millions of marks simply to buy bread or other simple goods.

10 Economic Problems People would have to carry bags of currency in order to do their shopping The mark’s value kept dropping and peoples’ life savings became worthless overnight. Meanwhile, Germany could not keep up with its debt or reparation payments

11 By 1929, Germany was beginning to get inflation under control However, the 1929 Stock Market Crash and the following Great Depression devastated Germany US banks could no longer lend the German gov’t and industry money German businesses went bankrupt and there was massive unemployment The Great Depression

12 The Great Depression, that was so terrible in Canada, was even worse in Germany People were starving in the cities and farmers had to protect their crops with guns Over half of Germany’s workforce was unemployed. Some deliberately tried to get arrested so they could get a meal On top of this, Germany still had to try and pay its war reparations to the Allies The Great Depression

13 The terrible conditions in Germany meant that people were ready to listen to anyone who might have a solution Tough, frightening times usually means that extreme ideas can take root The fragile German democracy (started after WWI) was unable to get a handle on the situation Politics were dominated between the Communists, Social Democrats (like our Liberals) and the National Socialists Political Instability

14 The country split its support among the parties and no one could get a clear majority. The parties (especially the communists and the Nazis) hated one another Violence and intimidation were part of political campaigns As it seemed that democracy could not solve Germany’s problems, people began listening to the more extreme ideas of the political groups Political Instability

15 When people are desperate... All of these issues collided to create a endless stream of problems in Germany The Weimar Gov`t was paralyzed by division, squabbling and fear (of Communist revolution) Conditions were terrible and the German public were willing to listen to anyone who offered hope and promised them solutions

16 ….they do desperate things. The conditions in Germany were perfect for the rise of a strong-willed manipulator who could use fear, prejudice and violence to achieve his goals. The frightened and beleaguered German people would turn to a power-hungry thug to save them, a man whose goal was to restart the very madness that had brought Germany to this low point, war. That man was Adolph Hitler

17 National Socialists (Nazis) Led by Adolph Hitler Main political ideas: -gov’t should be run by the army and certain, successful people (usually wealthy) -industry should be privately owned (but state-directed) -military power should be increased -democracy was a failed system and should be outlawed -Communism, unions, etc. must be destroyed -German lands should be regained -Jews and foreigners must be severely restricted -The German people were part of the “Master Race” and racially superior to all others

18 The Nazis offered the German people simple answers to difficult questions They blamed the economic problems on Communists and Jews They blamed the German defeat in WWI on the Jews and on a weak German gov’t that “betrayed” the common soldier My Struggle by Adolf Hitler

19 The Nazis promised the beleaguered German people that the country would be restored to its former glory

20 The Treaty of Versailles Economic Problems Political Instability The Great Depression A Desperate Populace The Rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party


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