Question Steve Politics & International Relations

The Treaty of Versailles

What was the Treaty of Versailles and what impact did it have on Germany following the Great War?

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Answer Internal Staff

The treaty of Versailles concluded the Great War of 1914-1918 and has been widely blamed by historians for the subsequent emergence of National Socialism in Germany. The ‘War Guilt Clause’ contained in the treaty meant Germany assumed sole responsibility for the conflict. This was seen as a great insult to the pride of the German nation. However, the treaty did leave the essential elements of German power intact so as to maintain its existence as an independent state. This lead to a peace that was neither pacifying not punishing and fostered confusion within the nation.

The treaty itself was written without German representation by the Allies and gave German land to a number of countries as well as the League of Nations. It also removed Berlin’s control over all German colonies. As well as this the German army was capped at one hundred thousand, with a great deal of restraint being placed on their training and development. These harsh terms, along with the forcing of Germany to accept responsibility for causing the war severely alienated Germany from the new world order that was being created within the League of Nations and gave rise to a number of radical political elements, which Nazism was the most successful.

The German people viewed the treaty with shock and anger and viewed this as an antagonism of their nation. This reaction to the harsh terms of the treaty has been argued by many as the main reason the German people supported the Nazis and had the treaty been universally signed by all factions involved in the great war not only would the people of German not felt targeted, the Germans could have moved forward with the rest of the world rather than having to turn inward for radical support.