It is unarguable that the First World War of 1914-1918 created disturbances all over the world. The Treaty of Versailles was the treaty that was established after World War I (1914-1918).
While the treaty attempted to heal the wounds of WWI, it rather added fuel to its fire, as most of the principles of the treaty practically led to the Second World War of 1939-1945.
The League of Nations of 1919
Moreover, it prepared the basis for the failure of the League of Nations 1919. As Germany was majorly the aggressive state during the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles sought to punish Germany in all ramifications- economically, politically, social-culturally, etc. It worsened the situation of the Germans and left them secluded from European affairs.
Germany’s Territories Chopped
With the Treaty of Versailles, Germany lost several significant territories to European powers. For instance, Saar Basin, Upper Silesia, Alsace-Lorraine, North Schleswig, and West Prussia were given to France, Poland, Denmark, and Poland respectively; including overseas colonies ceded to the allies.
The loss of these territories made the Germans see themselves as a nation surrounded by vengeful enemies. They started to seek means to get out of the unpleasant situations that they met themselves.
Besides, German ships were distributed among European powers, and sadly, its seas were put under foreign control, and it must be building ships for the allies. Most of Germany’s production was ‘targetedly’ dictated towards the development of other European countries.
Germany was turned to European labour, its foreign policies danced to the whims and caprices of European powers. Until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1945, Germany’s economy was a mere appendage of foreign economies. According to Alfred Lord Milner, the Treaty of Versailles was the peace that ended peace.
Before WWI, Germany was the largest source of supplies to Russia and Italy and the second-largest source of supply to Britain and France (2). Unfortunately, the Treaty of Versailles crippled its economy and left it dependent on other foreign economic decisions.
Apart from the loss of Alsace-Lorraine (Orefield), the treaty required Germany to deliver millions of tonnes of coals to France, Belgium, and Italy as reparations.
And Germany was not allowed, by the treaty, to charge customs duties on imports. Germany was untenable to economic decisions made in Europe entirely, rather was being dictated from France, Britain, Russia, Austria, and Italy.
Moreover, Germany was to pay preparation of 40 Billion Dollars, as charged by the term of the Versailles treaty. The astronomical reparation cum the depression of the 1930s contributed to Germany’s economic retardation. It led to unemployment, poverty, and famine.
Also, Germany’s currency collapsed, there was inflation, an increase in diseases and death rate, malnutrition, and sadly, the economy was dependent on the importation of raw materials and foodstuffs. The terms of the treaty reduced Germany’s army to 100,000, the Navy to 15000, and the air force was totally banned, including armoured cars, guns, submarines, and dirigibles.
Tens of thousands of Germans were left outside Germany. The creation of a new nation out of Germany, for an instance, Czechoslovakia, further reduced the territories of Germany. And the Germans in the lost territories were socioculturally bifurcated from Germany.
This created resentment towards the Western world and made Germany revengeful. The Germans were left in economic retardation, sociocultural division, and political instability. Therefore, the Germans sought to have the vanguard who would take the course of getting Germany out of doom.
Rise of Hitler
Following the series of happenings issued by the Treaty of Versailles, a German rose to fame to defend the state. Adolf Hitler, a notorious Nazist, rose to fame to defend the Germans, and Germany in general, though with extremism. He created the Nazi party in 1919, and on the 30th of January 1933, he became the Chancellor of Germany.
A considerable per cent of the German population was eager to receive him. He embarked on restoration tasks (like the destruction of the existing Weimar Republic) to restore the lost heritage of Germany that was caused by the Treaty of Versailles, and this practically led to the Second World War of 1939 to 1945.
Hitler reformed Germany’s economy, tried to associate the dissociated Germans outside Germany’s territories by annexing former German territories and embarking on imperialist policies.
All led to the outbreak of World War II in 1939. As examined above, the Treaty of Versailles sought to maintain peace, but rather it ended the little peace in Europe and was responsible for the parochially founded League of Nations in 1919, which would also fade away by the 1930s because of the lapses caused by the Versailles treaty.
Citation: Faforiji Tadese. How the 1919 Treaty of Versailles Ended peace in Europe: an AAUAite perspective. (July 12, 2021). Tadexprof. Retrieved from https://tadexprof.com/2021/07/how-the-1919-treaty-of-versailles-ended-peace-in-europe-an-aauaite-perspective/
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