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Do you agree that the Versailles Treaty was a damaging treaty for the future of the Weimar Republic

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Introduction

Do you agree that the Versailles Treaty was a damaging treaty for the future of the Weimar Republic? This is an important question to look at because the Treaty of Versailles was heavily influential on Germany's future for the next twenty years. It is important to look at how the different terms within the treaty, and how they affected Germany as a nation and consequently; Europe as a continent. Article 231, which was also known as the War Guilt Clause, was damaging to the pride of many Germans, although this does seem to be fair because of Germany's application of the Schlieffen plan to a situation that was developing hundreds of miles away from French borders in Serbia. (Since the Schlieffen plan involved an immediate assault on France with a strategic aim of taking Paris). The blame cannot entirely be shouldered with Germany as the conflict originated in the Balkans, and Germany was really drawn in by her ally Austria-Hungary. The allies (Britain, USA, France and Italy) really wanted to implement Article 231 in order to justify reparations that they forced Germany to pay. Article 231 can be seen to be damaging because it caused resentment in many Germans towards the treaty, especially the War Guilt Clause, and those who had accepted it; the government of the Weimar Republic. ...read more.

Middle

Extremist left wing groups such as the KPD became popular with the working classes who were receiving no pay due to the economic climate. One of the other fast-growing political group was Hitler's National Socialists, this group was fast becoming popular because they stood up against the Treaty of Versailles but now also promising Germans prosperity, full employment and national unity, through ridding Germany of its 'impurities'; such as the Jews. Many people in the German middle classes soon began to believe the Nazi propaganda and many soon became very impressed by it. Therefore, it can be seen that the reparations clauses of the Versailles Treaty were damaging both in the long term, through encouraging support for extremists within Germany, and the short term through causing the massive devaluation of the mark. There were military stipulations in the Treaty of Versailles with the aim of safeguarding France's borders from another German attack, this in the long run, of course, failed. These clauses said that Germany's military should be significantly reduced in terms of size and striking power. More significantly, Germany's army was to be no larger than 100,000 men, conscription was outlawed, tanks and armoured cars were not allowed either. ...read more.

Conclusion

The differences between the allied leaders in terms of what they wanted as an outcome of the Treaty meant that it was neither too harsh nor too lenient, and so sat in the middle rather uselessly. The combination of it being so harsh as to strongly damage the Germans pride in what Hugo Preuss described as 'a shameless blow in the face' yet so lenient that it could rise again and cause the damage it did in World War 2 is proof of its ineffectiveness. The Weimar Republic was with a huge disability through the Versailles Treaty; 'That it did not collapse immediately under the strain is striking proof of the intrinsic vitality of its basic principles; but its implementation and evolution were inevitably fatefully restricted and lamed thereby.' The different stipulations of the Versailles Treaty meant that there would need to be significant change in Germany before it could become a major power once more, an idea thoroughly popular with the majority of Germans. This meant that the Weimar Republic and its government was effectively doomed from the outset. It was perhaps unfortunate that the treaty was not harsh enough that Germany was permanently weakened as George Clemenceau wanted, extremist views such as those of Hitler may then have been dismissed as delusional, and hence, Europe and the World may have been saved from the evils of Nazism. Ben Waite ...read more.

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