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Remembered Today:

Legacy of the Treaty of Versailles


redorchestra
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The Treaty of Versailles has been consistently cited as one of the major reasons why Weimar Germany descended into chaos and the Nazis came to power, and as a prime cause of WW2.

However what I can't recall ever hearing is what might have been a good alternative to Versailles. If it was overly harsh and caused too much resentment in Germany, what might have been a fairer settlement? Would any settlement less harsh than Versailles have been acceptable to France, Belgium and Britain at the time, who had after all lost and suffered so much more than the USA?

Alternatively, was Versailles not harsh enough, given that war was to break out again 20 years later?

Would it have been possible to come to a peace that wouldn't have left Germany feeling aggrieved? Could WW2 have been avoided or was it always inevitable that Germany would feel that she had been 'stabbed in the back?'

I don't wish to start a thread about the causes of WW2 but in the light of so much criticism about Versailles it would be interesting to see what workable alternatives there might have actually been!

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The Treaty of Versailles has been consistently cited as one of the major reasons why Weimar Germany descended into chaos and the Nazis came to power, and as a prime cause of WW2.

Only by people with a simplistic understanding of the inter-war period. Weimar Germany did not descend into chaos but the German economy did once the impact of the Wall Street Crash and the ensuing World Economic Depression hit Germany. There was not much wrong with the system but the attitude of the so-called democratic parties operating within it.

From the perspective of 1928 conditions existed for an improving economic outlook in Germany (Dawes Plan etc), co-operation by Weimar leaders enabling the negotiating away of the harsher terms of Versailles (Stresemann and fulfillment), German entry in the League of Nations, the Kellogg-Briand pact, only 12 Nazis in the Reichstag etc etc. Hitler did not come to power through promising to tear up the Treaty of Versailles or persecute the Jews but because German voters turned to extremes in the economic whirlwind which struck Germany. Hitler promised simplistic hope and promise for a better future. Obviously when he came to power (by democratic means initially) he used the levers of power to rip up Versailles clauses which Britiain and France were unwilling to fight for as they had gone their separate ways post-1919, thought were unenforceable and, in Britain's case, were guilty above their predecessors designing them in the first place, abhorred the prospect of another war. No World Economic Depression and it is feasible that the following would have happened by international agreement - end of a DMZ in the Rhineland and ending a ban on a possible anscluss - both of which contradicted principles of national self-determination. Some German re-armament would have been allowed as democratic German would year on year be leaving the Wilhelmine state behind. True the problems of the Polish corridor and the Sudetenland would have remained but would not have been the casus belli for a new war in Europe.

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