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Treaty of Versailles, 1919

Political Disorder: The Weimar Republic and Revolt 1918-23

International Agreements

Stresemann Era, 1923-29

The Rise of the Nazi Party, 1933

Hitler's Foreign Policy and Appeasment

The Holocaust

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With the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm a new Government was formed in the town of Weimar (as Berlin was too unstable) known as the Weimar Republic. Thus a new democracy was born. From the start the Weimar Republic seemed doomed being branded the ‘November Criminals’ for signing the armistice that betrayed Germany and then for signing the Treaty of Versailles.  Moreover, the Social Democrats that held the majority in the Weimar Government was pressured both by the left and right wing seeking to usurp power.

hyperinflation

One of the first problems that the Weimar Republic faced was Hyperinflation. Money became so worthless that children could play with stacks of it. People's savings were wiped out causing widespread discontent and civil unrest.

Conditions that prevented the success of the Weimar Republic

foodshortage

Political Problems

People showed their unhappiness with multiple putsches or revolts that added to the instability of Germany.  The Government had no choice but to crush them using unemployed soldiers returning from the war.

Did the rest of Europe want the Weimar Republic to succeed?

Perhaps on a superficial level it might’ve appeared that Europe (Britain and France) in particular cooperated with the Weimar Republic through various agreements. However, many of these agreements had serious flaws. Moreover, there are interesting theories and evidence that suggest that some of Europeans did enjoy watching Germany fail in setting up a viable democracy. This does not seem unbelievable considering the strong anti-German sentiments of the war and the view of Germany as an aggressor that caused much destruction being fresh in the minds of many.
In recent years, information has emerged suggesting that Britain continued its blockade of food to Germany even after the end of the war! According to The Hidden Historical Fact: The Allied Attempt to Starve Germany in 1919 from the Barnes Review by Fred Blahut, when 900,000 Germans were starving the allies continued to restrict food that went to Germany. More interestingly, the American and British media actually covered this up. This is a strong contrast to the media today that eagerly and extensively reported on the wikileaks continuing classified US government information related to diplomacy.

hunger

The consequences of food shortage were terrible. Children were heavily malnourished. Blahut further writes about the economic difficulties and insurgencies within Germany that Versailles caused. He then states that at Versailles the allies “celebrated the unrest and destruction” in Germany. This may be considered too radical a view of Versailles. Versailles seems more like a struggle of each of ‘The Big Three’ to achieve their goals rather than joint celebration. The celebration was there for the allies that they were the victors but to suggest that it made them happy to see malnourished children is perhaps too strong a statement.

Nevertheless, Blahut does effectively convey the hardship faced by Germany describing pictures showing Germans giving each other potato peels to be used as firewood or Germans lining up for meals from outdoor soup kitchens.

Blahut writes about how the allies starving the German people in 1919 had implications for the future in the form of the Morgenthau Plan, which he terms as method of starving one-third of all Germans. Other sources take a less harsh stance stating that the plan was intended to make Germany primarily agricultural and lessen its industrial strength in an attempt to defeat Germany in World War Two. However, looking at it from Blahut’s perspective, the removal of industry would be a huge loss of income leaving people unable to provide for their families as well as damaging to the economy, leaving the government less able to fend for its people.  Thus, starvation and death is implied.

The Allies also confiscated all German private property outside Germany. Ironically this seems to go against the principles of capitalism and sounds very much like socialism and communism. Moreover, it can also be noted that this is a continuation of Imperialism.  Blahut goes on to write about how the allies had easy access to German markets with no trade barriers whilst the Germans faced many barriers whilst attempting to access their markets. This in a way sound like the relationship between developed nations and less developed nations today. The allies at that time carried out this unequal relationship with the implementation of the Treaty of Versailles, today developed nations do the same using the World Trade Organization and the idea of Free Trade, which in actual fact is not even being applied by developed nations.

In all this negativity, one should note that there were people who wanted Germany to prosper after the war. Woodrow Wilson wanted this. He believed that his Fourteen Points would be implemented and that the German people would receive food according to Blahut. But most people weren’t in the mood to be humanitarian when they had their own economic problems. Bhalut ends the article stating that the food blockade ended on July 12, 1919.

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