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How accurate is it to suggest that the Treaty of Versailles was mainly responsible for the political and economic instability in Germany 1919-23?

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Introduction

How accurate is it to suggest that the Treaty of Versailles was mainly responsible for the political and economic instability in Germany 1919-23? The 1919 Treaty of Versailles led to great political and economic instability as the government was seen by many to surrender to the dictation of Britain, France and America. Forcing the huge submission of Germany's land, resources and military capability, the Treaty of Versailles certainly played an important role in causing the political and economic instability witnessed during 1919-23. However, the inherent weaknesses of the Weimar government, the consequences of the 1918 Armistice, the growth of opposition in the period and most importantly the consequences of Germany's First World War policies all played a role in causing the political and economic instability of Germany from 1919-23. Labelled a "Schmachfrieden" (a humiliatingly shameful peace) by many Germans, the Treaty of Versailles did much to cripple Germany economically in the period 1919-23. Coupled with the massive �6.6 billion in war guilt and reparations that Germany was forced to pay after WWI, the treaty also took 13% of Germany's land, much of which included areas of industry that was economically important to Germany. Therefore, the country was left economically instable as the country was forced to begin paying reparations with even fewer resources than it had after the war ended. ...read more.

Middle

In fact, in 1919 the Weimar government consisted of 3 parties in coalition. This clearly contributed hugely to the political instability facing Germany as parties who more concerned with ideology spent more time disputing with opposition parties than they did forging a strong basis for the Weimar Republic. Also, Hindenburg, an old friend of the Kaiser, was president of Germany between 1919 and 1923, effectively undermining the rule of the democratic Weimar Republic who did not elect him. From this it is clear to see that the Weimar Republic's inherent instabilities were an important contributor to the political and economic instability of 1919-1923, as the government was highly unsuccessful at forming stable coalitions and in turn ineffective at dealing with the country's economic difficulties. Furthermore, the Armistice of 1918 also contributed to the political and economic instability that existed in Germany during 1919-23. With the country undefeated physically and only surrendering due to the negotiations of various politicians within the Reichstag, many people began to blame pacifists and socialists within the government for Germany's loss. Indeed, those who signed the armistice were nicknamed the 'November Criminals' and calls were made for them to be punished. This contributed significantly to the political instability of 1919-23 as several 'November Criminals' were still in government at this time, causing anger to grow over their public betrayal. ...read more.

Conclusion

With the economy suffering massively due to the �8.394 billion spent on the war effort, vast amounts of money were printed, causing huge inflation which served only to worsen the economic instability facing Germany. Moreover, the war left behind 6.3 million wounded German soldiers who all needed state money to survive - putting further strain on the already detrimentally weakened German economy. Overall therefore, the consequences of the poor policy decisions made by the German government during the First World War were the most important reason for the political and economic instability the country faced during the 1919-1923 period. To conclude, whilst it is clear that the weaknesses of the Weimar government, the Armistice, the growth of opposition and the Treaty of Versailles all played a role in Germany's political and economic instability between 1919 and 1923, the most important reason was the poor policy decisions made by the government during the First World War. The war effectively destroyed the country financially and paved the way for further instability to continue. Without the impact of World War One on Germany, the country would ultimately not have been faced with the Treaty of Versailles in the first place and the government and economy would have been much stronger than was otherwise the case leading into 1919-23. ...read more.

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