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Consequences of the First
World War for Germany
Germany 1918-1933
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The Situation
• The Kaiser has abdicated and left Germany.
• A power vacuum has been created as there is no
established form of government until the Weimar is
elected.
• Millions of German workers have been killed or seriously
injured during the war.
• Germany has become an international pariah (outcast)
• Germany is subject to an imposed peace settlement
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Germany after the First World War
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What does this mean in reality?
• Political instability. Germany is trying to establish a
Republic for the first time. (Weimar Republic)
• People kept resigning so they didn’t have to sign the ToV.
• New Chancellor elected in 1923– Gustav Stresemann
• There are uprisings against the fledging republic even
before it is properly formed.
• Economic ruin. The war has devastated the economy and
further problems occur as a result of the Peace settlement.
• Unemployment. Millions of soldiers have returned home to
find no jobs available.
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Germany after the First World War
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The Treaty of Versailles
• Terms of the Peace treaty
• Massively reduced military capability
• ‘War guilt’ clause imposed
• Reparations fixed at a very high level
• Occupation of the Rhineland
• Which leads to…
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Germany after the First World War
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Problems 1919-1924
• Anger directed at the government for signing the
Treaty of Versailles
• Economic problems as all profit is sent directly to
the Allies as reparations pay-outs
• Valueless currency as economic crisis leads to
hyper-inflation
• Rise of extremist groups attempting to wrestle
power from the de-stabilised government
– Spartacists (Communists Uprising
– Freikorps (paramilitary unit) etc.
– Beer Hall Putsch (Hitler)
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Germany after the First World War
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Treaty of Rapallo 1922
• The only help the Weimar received was the signing of the
Treaty of Rapallo between Germany and Russia…
• The Treaty of Rapallo was signed in 1922 between Germany
and Russia.
• It was a recommitment following the Treaty of Brest Litovsk
that said both countries would forgive war debts, honor
boundaries, and develop cooperation between the two
countries.
(essentially, they agreed to leave each other alone)
Consequences:
• While the treaty helped create stability on
the Eastern borders of Germany, it also
created suspicion for the allies.
• The “good will” relationship foreshadowed
the alliances that would develop later
between Germany, Russia, and Italy.
Rhineland
Occupation
Germany took control of the
Rhineland in 1871.
The Terms of the Treaty of
Versailles stripped Germany of
the Rhineland region and
created a “demilitarized zone”
or buffer between France and
Germany.
However, German people lived
in the Rhineland region, a
prosperous industrial region.
France occupied the Rhineland
as part of the reparations
agreement, with a plan to
slowly withdraw troops over a
15 year period.
The Rhineland region has been a hotly
contested region between Germany
and France for over a century….
Starting with Napoleon!!!
• However, the Germans saw the Rhineland
as a huge loss and a “slap in the face to
Germany”
• Further, Germans in the region refused to
submit to French authority.
• Riots, strikes, and international tensions
spiked in this area and the Germans
demanded intervention and compliance.
More problems!
The Ruhr Crisis
• Germany could not
pay reparations and
spiraled into a severe
economic depression.
• France and Belgium
used this opportunity
to seize the Ruhr
region (a main
industrial region for
Germany). France
and Belgium said
Germany had to pay
or give up the land.
• The Ruhr Crisis fueled the anger of the German people.
• Britain and Germany feared France growing too powerful
with the Rhineland and the Ruhr.
• Britain did not want a war with France. But they didn’t
want to allow France to dominate Germany. They didn’t
want Germany and France to spark another war
• German’s went on strike, protested, and rioted creating
an even worse economic situation with hyper inflation by
passively ruining their own economy.
• Britain and the United States stepped in and proposed
the Dawes Plan …
The Dawes Plan of 1924
Gave loans
USA
Germany
War Loans
repaid
Paid
reparations
Britain and
France
Not a perfect solution
• France wanted guarantees that Britain and
the U.S. would pay what Germany would
not if Germany failed to make reparations.
• The Germans were upset because the
reparations were not lowered and they had
to give up control of their railways
• The British did not want to police Europe.
• The US threatened to quit negotiations if
people didn’t work it out.
Get on board or go to War
• Ultimately, all nations agreed to the Dawes Plan
because no one wanted to go to war again.
• The Dawes Plan helped Germany begin
economic recovery and alleviated tensions
throughout Europe.
• Is the Dawes Plan a long term solution?
• What are some concerns with the Dawes Plan?
Locarno Conference
• The Locarno conference was from October 5 to October
16, 1925 at Locarno Springs in Switzerland (neutral
ground).
• The Locarno agreements demanded an end to the
bickering.
• The agreements solidified the borders of Europe and
demilitarized the Rhineland once again.
• Each country agreed to allow the League of Nations to
intervene if there was a disagreement.
• Germany was allowed to become a member of the LoN
Locarno Spirit
• The sense of peace and the cooperation
between the European powers plus the new
opportunities for Germany to begin economic
recover, led to the idea of the “Locarno Spirit”
– true peace in Europe,
– goodwill and
– concessions to one another for mutual benefit.
• Russia is a little bitter about the whole thing.
– Left out of agreements, but expected to comply
– Anti-Boshevik = would delay international revolution
Stability in Europe
• The Dawes Plan (1924) is generally
accepted as marking the beginning of
recovery in Germany in the 1920s and the
Locarno Agreements are given credit for
solidifying peace.
• So, they decided to take it a step further.
U.S Participation in Europe:
• The Dawes plan and U.S. loans, forced
the United States to become more
involved in European affairs despite their
decision to remain isolationists.
• In 1928, Senator Frank Kellogg worked
with French Foreign Minister Aristide
Briand to create the Kellogg-Briand Peace
Pact.
• Throughout the 1920’s, the United States slowly
saw the value of cooperating with the League of
Nations.
• Even though they never officially joined the
League, the United States participated in peace
agreements including the KBPP
• After negotiations it was decided that conflicts
arising between nations involved in the treaty
would resolve their problems through “pacific”
means; thus, pacifism is born!
Significance of KBPP
• The Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact is
significant for two reasons:
1.The Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact officially
marked U.S. cooperation with the League
of Nations.
2.The Peace Pact outlawed war and stated
the Pacifism policy. … this is the
beginning of appeasement ideas that
would be manipulated.
Results of the Plans?
• Although Germany did appear to begin getting
back on it’s feet, it was heavily reliant on foreign
loans. Between 1924 and 1930 25.5 billion
marks (in loans) flowed into Germany.
Real Recovery?
• By 1929 industrial production had
surpassed its pre-1914 level.
• Growing number of large businesses –
growing class of industrialists.
• Unemployment relatively high by 1929
– not everyone benefited from the
‘Golden Age’.
• Agricultural sector not prospering.
Weimar by 1929
• The ‘Golden Age’ had seen an explosion
of art and literature and many people had
enjoyed new freedoms.
• The situation for many ordinary Germans
seemed considerably better than it had
just a few years before.
• However the Weimar Republic was still
economically and politically vulnerable.
Did the economic,
political and foreign
policy decisions of the
‘Golden AGe’ mAke the
Weimar Republic more
stable by 1929?
The Crash
• In many ways, the answer seemed to be
yes…
• Throughout 1929, it seemed that Europe
and America were flourishing…
Until October.
Wall Street Crash
• On October 29, 1929 (Black Tuesday) the Stock Market crashed in
the United States triggering the greatest economic depression in
history.
• Basically:
– People were “speculating” on future loans.
– Banks called on loans to pay for the international loans.
– the U.S. had loaned out too much money to Europe.
– Europe was not paying the loans fast enough.
– The stocks in investments lost value.
• People panicked and tried to get their money from the banks.
• The banks didn’t have enough money on hand to give people their
money.
The Dawes Plan of 1924
Gave loans
USA
Germany
War Loans
repaid
Paid
reparations
Britain and
France
• The banks closed because they couldn’t
do business.
• No more loans were made to Germany.
• The Dawes Plan failed.
• Think of dominoes falling…
• The dictators used the Depression as their
reason for seizing power
– (Germany, Russia, Italy, Japan)
The system crashed and
paved the path to war!
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