How did the Nazi's exploit and challenge the Treaty of Versailles?
- The Treaty of Versailles put massive economic strain on Germany. It is worth noting that historians such as A.J.P Taylor disagree with this view, bringing to light the work of Mantoux. Schacht's comments that reparations were 'too high' and colonial losses were economically damaging is also arguably untrue.
- Germany's refusal to adher to reparations payments by the set date catalysed French and Belgian intervention with the invasion of the Ruhr in 1923. The passive resistance adopted by Stresemann, resulting in hyperinflation, damaged Germany's economy. The Dawes Plan, agreed in London in 1924, helped to solve the crisis through US loans to major German banks.
- It meant to an extent that Weimar was never able to become economically strong (Hyperinflation, the Depression (Wall Street Crash, October 1928), Trade deficit (in the balance of payments) etc...)
- Thus people began to lose faith in the Weimar system of democracy and this precipitated a polarisation of the political spectrum
- Germany had no say in the content of the Treaty - Hence it was a 'Diktat' (Dictated)
- Germany was given two options: sign the Treaty or be subject to an allied invasion
- Forced to accept responsibility for the war through Article 231 (war guilt clause) and was thus responsible for paying reparations.
- Deeply unpopular - Hitler used this sentiment to rally support for his party
The 'Stab In the Back' Theory
- Propaganda against those who signed the Treaty or 'November Criminals'
- Hitler repeatedly expressed opinion that the Marxists and the Jews were responsible for the treaty.
- Used to justify persecution of these groups.
- Treaty made Germany weak, defenseless (military restrictions) and it was humiliating (especially taking the blame for the war through Article 231 and reparations payments) for the Germans because it crushed their pride and honour, a lot of Germans wanted revenge.
Under The Third Reich
- Propaganda used to portray Hitler as the liberator of Germany from the Versailles Treaty.
- Hitler used his new national platform to capitalise on anti-Versailles sentiments and used them create a 'national consciousness'.
Violations of the Treaty
- 1922 - Treaty of Rapallo: Germany allowed to rearm within Russia
- 1933 - Stopped paying reparations (Nazi Government refused to pay them)
- 1934 - Beginning of rearmament
- 1935 - Reintroduction of military conscription, Army, Luftwaffe and Navy re-established
- 1936 - Remilitarisation of the Rhineland
- 1938 - Anschluss
- 1938 - Annexation of the Sudetenland (Czechoslovakia)
- 1939 - Invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia
- 1939 - Invasion of Poland (Leads directly to World War II)
Reasons why they were Allowed to challenge the Treaty
- Many reasons why Hitler was allowed to openly challenge the Treaty of Versailles was due to the economic climate during the late 1920's and 30's, Due to the Great Depression no countries including Britain and France wanted to stand up to Hitler, as they themselves did not have enough money to fund another World War if Hitler did not do as they asked, allowing Hitler to do what he wanted was classed as "Appeasement" This policy criticized by today's historians but while Hitler was doing such things this seemed like the best policy to both Britain and Frances Rulers.