Germany, 1918-1945 – Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles was the first peace keeping treaty after the First World War. Its aims were to demilitarise, claim compensation and to keep peace with Germany. The signing of the treaty was humiliating and a great embarrassment for Germany and therefore Germany wasn’t represented. It was only the victors who attended.
In the end, Germany resulted in a great loss of land. Germany also had to pay for the damage it had caused. These were called Respiration Payments, which were instalments of �6600 million. They couldn’t pay it because their land had been taken away and had loses to amend, too. Because of this, Germany had to print more money to pay the instalments. Money then lost its value, which led to hyperinflation. Germany’s armed forces were cut to 100,000 people; the navy was allowed 6 battleships and no U-boats. They weren’t allowed to have an airforce at all. Of course, this upset Germany’s armed forces as the majority of them were laid off. This all Helped Hitler’s rise to power because the armed forces were out of jobs and Hitler promised reforms of change to put it straight which encouraged the armed forces to vote for him. Not only was it the armed forces who were angry and frustrated but so too was the general public who felt humiliated and vulnerable for reduction of armed forces and all the other terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Therefore, Hitler was able to build on that.
When writing ‘Mein Kampf’ (My Struggle) Hitler used the depression and economic difficulties on communists and Jews as a scapegoat. This fed into that the Treaty of Versailles gave something for him to use his oratory skills towards.

Question 2.
Long-term is something that has been going on over a long period of time. Short term is a trigger effect. It’s something that sparks it of.
A short-term effect that contributed to Hitler’s rise to power is that the Enabling Law was passed in 1933. This allowed Hitler to do basically anything including the more important element of outlawing opposition. Therefore the Nazi would be the only political party in Germany. This had a dramatic effect in a short period of time as Hitler then came to power in 1934-one year after being promoted to Chancellor. This proved himself to be a dominant and powerful character for the job-just what Germany needed. This is good as Germany felt humiliated after the First World War and then the Treaty of Versailles and needed someone, like Hitler, to regain Germany’s strength and self-control. This obviously would tie in with the long-term effects.
The Reichstag Fire was also a short-term effect. After studying previous work on the Reichstag Fire, I have come to the conclusion that Hitler started the fire on purpose in order to gain the public vote. This benefited Hitler and contributed to his rise to power as he denied lighting the fire and instead, insisted it was a communist plot as a scapegoat. It got the public thinking that if communists are the cause of the Reichstag Fire then they could quite possibly be the blame of Germany’s other problems, like Hitler was saying. This begun to get the German public to agree with Hitler’s views and therefore voted for him.
On 8th November 1923, Hitler, with the SA, broke into a meeting held by three leaders of the Bavarian government. He forced the leaders to tell their audience that they would give the Nazis their full support by putting a gun to one of their heads. Hitler gained recognition not only for the Putsch but also for the trial that took place later. His 24-day trial reached the front page on a daily basis. He twisted the trial so even though he still went to prison, he drummed up much support. He made the November Criminals the traitors and made himself look like the “saviour” of the German people. He was such an orator that the way he spoke influenced the judges on their decisions. That is why Hitler was only given 5 years with the chance of parole after just six months. Perhaps the sentence he was given can be seen as a major benefactor in him taking power.
Another short-term effect that helped Hitler’s rise to power was on the 30th June 1934 when Hitler radioed a signal to Berlin for the SS (bodyguard) to smash the SA (Storm troopers) in the events known as the ‘Night of the Long Knives’. Members of the SA were rounded up by the SS and taken to prison and were later butchered. Although this seems like an unusual way to go about getting the public approval, it was taken with gratitude by the public. This is because the SA was too violent. Their actions were scaring some of Hitler’s supporters such as big businesses, the ruling elites, and the general public. They were a large, intimidating group of up to three million. So Hitler was seen as a saviour and the public began to agree with his policies even more.
Long-term effects such as the Treaty of Versailles contributed to his rise to power. The public felt humiliated and vulnerable to the defeat of World War One and then the Treaty of Versailles. The public of Germany obviously was very angry and wanted something done about it. So, with the aid of Hitler’s oratory skills, his personality and leadership, Hitler detested the terms of the Treaty of Versailles in his speeches and like the public, wanted something done about it. Therefore, he promised to make changes in order to regain Germany’s humiliating losses. This helped as the public shared the same views as Hitler and so supported him.
Then there was the economic depression of 1923 and then 1929. The facts that Germany couldn’t afford the Respiration Payments, there was masses of unemployment, higher taxes and hyperinflation meant that Germany was loosing hope. They already were receiving loans from USA to help pay of Respiration Payments. Then when Hitler uses his oratory skills and protests he will lower the taxes, lower the unemployment status, set a new currency to stop inflation, Germany believed they had nothing to loose. So, this too, helps Hitler’s rise to power.
One other element of Hitler’s rise to power is his oratory skills. Since he began his rise to power, he had always been a powerful and meaningful speaker. Hitler, although being a quiet man, was an excellent public speaker. Often, he was able work a crowded room into frenzy, yelling and cheering in support. He used his speaking ability persuade people to support his ideas and party. He dressed in uniform to put emphasis on his overwhelming sense of control and power, he used his hands to also express himself and he raised his voice in order to give a great impact for his audience.
All in all, I believe the short term and long term combine together. It is possible to say that the long-term effects wouldn’t have been much use without the short-term effects and visa-versa. Therefore, short-term effects are just as important and play a vital role in Hitler’s rise to power, just as much as long-term.
Question 3
I believe the Treaty of Versailles was a major element in Hitler’s rise to power. If it weren’t for the Treaty of Versailles then Hitler’s rise to power would be very much different in relation to what it was. The fact that he was able to use his oral skills to put across the shared views of public about the Treaty of Versailles and then build on that links the two together. I feel that the Treaty of Versailles sparked much unwanted controversy within the German Republic. Germany was so unhappy and humiliated both with the defeat of World War One and the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. So to have a powerful speaker in uniform, standing up and protesting that the Treaty of Versailles was wrong and in conjunction, agreeing with the German public, was a great relief for Germany. Coinciding with this, the Munich Putsch happened at a time of hyperinflation, economic depression just after the Treaty of Versailles. Which obviously reinforces my argument that it was very much the Treaty of Versailles, which brought all the other financial and economic difficulties in Germany.
I also think that the Economic Depression has influential reasons why Hitler rose to power, too. It was the long period of time when Germany, economically, socially and politically collapsed and money became worthless from hyperinflation etc. this was the Economic Depression. It was a time of deep despair; Germany was in the grip of this great depression with a population suddenly finding themselves in a state of poverty, misery and uncertainty, whilst in the middle of a rapidly growing political instability.
However, there were other significant elements that combined with Hitler’s rise to power. So much so that if you were to rule out one then it would affect another (they’re linked). All of the other reasons include; The Munich Putsch, the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler’s oratory, personality and leadership, the decision by Von Papen and Hildenburg to appoint him as Chancellor in 1933, and the Enabling Law.
The Enabling Law was a short-term effect but a vital one as it allowed him to outlaw opposition, which meant, what he said, was law. Without this and Hildenburg’s decision linked, Hitler would most certainly not have made it to be leader. Hildenburg thought that appointing Hitler as Chancellor, they could keep control of him-how wrong they were! And indeed there are other factors that aren’t mentioned. One being is the Reichstag Fire of which Hitler blamed on the Communists as a scapegoat. Without this, the Nazi’s would probably had been virtually unknown and still holding meetings in the Reichstag hall-not ideal for a political party.
The employment status was so negative that for Hitler, his long awaited opportunity to reach out to the German people had arrived. At this point in the German nation the citizens, downtrodden and tired of their economic situation, were more than willing too listen to someone with ideas or visions of a brighter and certainly more stable Germany.
The main reason why the Treaty of Versailles overthrows the Economic Depression, narrowly, and is the most influential above all of the others is because it was the beginning of an ongoing unhappiness, which ties in with the Economic Depression. I am probably liable to say that without the Treaty of Versailles, Germany wouldn’t have had the Economic Depression because money would of still had its value, currency, taxes wouldn’t have gone up and there wouldn’t have been any Respiration Payments. It was the symbolic element of which the Nazis were able to build their political views upon.
The reason why Hitler became so popular over the Treaty of Versailles was because the terms of the Treaty were tough to compromise with that it led to most other effects. These propelled the Nazi party to new heights of daring, which was highly linked with the speeches Hitler gave and the promotional stunts that the Nazi party held. The party’s tactics were very good and effective in their rise to power. However the success was really thanks to Hitler and the character that in the beginning I believe he was portraying but later became.
I believe that if the Treaty was not brought forward, the country wouldn’t have stumbled into a state of depression and Hitler would never have successfully raised the amount of strong morale that he did, mainly due to pure human conscience. Not many people believe in the majority of the Nazi party’s actions and politics. However, there were usually one or two points mostly of unemployment or the stabilising of money, of which the Treaty of Versailles was the cause of; that no one else had offered the German sufferers until then. Their time was that moment; to be the biggest and the best organised and supported party that Germany had had since the war. The people did not know that Hitler’s rise to power could cause another.

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