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[O] History(Elect) Smart Guides

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  1. Unit 1: The World in Crisis

    1. Impact of World War I in Europe
    14 Topics
  2. 2. Stalin's Soviet Union
    12 Topics
  3. 3. Hitler's Germany
    27 Topics
  4. 4. Outbreak WWII in Europe
    13 Topics
  5. 5. Germany's Defeat in World War II
    21 Topics
  6. 6. Outbreak War in Asia Pacific
    6 Topics
  7. 7. Japan's Defeat
    10 Topics
  8. Unit 2: Bi-Polarity and the Cold War
    8. Reasons for the Cold War in Europe
    21 Topics
  9. 9. The Korean War
    19 Topics
  10. 10. Cuban Missile Crisis
    25 Topics
  11. 11. The End of Cold War
    19 Topics
Chapter 1, Topic 5
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German Reactions to the Treaty of Versailles

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▪ German Reactions to the Treaty of Versailles

1. German Humiliation – ‘Diktat’ (Dictated Peace)

Terms of the TreatyGerman reactions
• Germany was forced to accept total blame for causing the war. This was perhaps the most significant element of the treaty as it formed the basis for the other forms of punishment on Germany.
• Germany was not allowed to negotiate the treaty as it was not allowed any representatives during the conference.
• The Germans were forced to sign the treaty or risked continued fighting.
• The Germans were greatly angered and resented the treaty being forced on them.
• They called the treaty a ‘diktat’ (dictated peace); it was something that could not be changed and had to be forcefully accepted.
• They felt greatly humiliated and wronged as they did not feel that they deserved total blame for starting the war

2. German Territorial Reductions

Terms of the TreatyGerman reactions
• Loss of German overseas colonies in Africa and Asia-Pacific were considerable losses in their resources.
• Germany also lost resource-rich regions such as the Rhineland, Alsace-Lorraine the Saar coal region, as well as parts of Poland, which were important to its national economy.
• The Versailles Treaty also prevented any further German expansion through merger with other German-speaking states such as Austria and Hungary, as the Allies feared that this could strengthen Germany’s position in Europe.
• The loss of colonial lands greatly reduced Germany’s standing amongst world powers.
• The Germans felt that the loss of colonies was unfair as not only did the Allies took them over for their own gain and contradicted Wilson’s 14 Points; the Allies also did not have to give up their colonies after the war. The Germans felt that they were singled out to be punished.
• Territorial losses hurt the pride of the German people and damaged Germany’s economy.
• By claiming the territories which were economically valuable, it was almost impossible for Germany to pay for the war reparations imposed by the treaty.

3. German Military Weakness (Disarmament)

Terms of the TreatyGerman reactions
• The harsh limitations placed on Germany’s armed forces were meant to ensure that Germany would not be able to start another war.
• The reductions in the strength of the armed forces would also ensure that Germany would remain weak, particularly when compared to the Allied powers.
• Restrictions meant that Germany was hardly able to defend against any foreign threat.
• Demilitarisation of the Rhineland also meant that Germany was not allowed to defend itself.
• With the military being a source of national pride, the Germans felt humiliated to see their military weakened & subjected to foreign demands.

4. German Economic Weakness (Reparations)

Terms of the TreatyGerman reactions
• The War Guilt Clause gave the Allies the right to demand compensation for the huge costs of World War 1.
• Germany was made to pay reparations worth about 269 billion gold Reichsmarks through ongoing payments to the Allies and through surrender of coal and other resources at set periods.
• However, Germany was also suffering major economic problems after the war.
• Germany lost 15% of its active male population and thus faced a severe shortage of abled workers to rebuild its economy.
• The additional burden of reparations worsened economic conditions and hampered Germany’s ability to make payments on time.
• France even accused Germany of sabotaging its own economy to reduce the value of payments. In 1923, France sent its army into the Ruhr industrial region to confiscate coal and other goods as payment. It worsened Germany’s economic crisis & led to a German workers’ strike in the Ruhr.
• The Germans were extremely bitter over the reparations and its impact on the economy.

5. Self-Determination and the Creation of New Boundaries

Terms of the TreatyGerman reactions
• The principle of self determination called for the creation of independent nation states for the various ethnic communities.
• This meant that the various nationalities which made up the Austro-Hungarian Empire gained their own nation states.
• This was difficult and controversial as the empire consisted of numerous ethnic groups & that boundaries between them were not clear as many areas & towns contained many different ethnic groups.
• Some of these ethnic groups never had their own states, whereas new states, like Yugoslavia & Czechoslovakia, had combinations of different ethnic groups
• The boundaries established by the treaty meant that many German-speaking communities found themselves outside Germany as the fringe regions were handed over to the authority of the League or the Allied Powers. Some had also come under the rule of the newly-formed states.
• These communities included the Germans in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and in former parts of East Prussia then known as the ‘Free City’ of Danzig.
• The Germans were angry because the idea of self-determination seemed to apply only to the winners of the war.