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Examine the extent to which theopposition to the Treaty of

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Introduction

Examine the extent to which the opposition to the Treaty of Versailles explains political extremism in the Weimar republic, 1919-1923 The Treaty of Versailles formally ended the First World War and was imposed on Germany by the victorious allies. The Treaty made Germany responsible for the war, imposed reparations (financial payments), reduced the German army and deprived Germany's resources. Prior to the signing of the Treaty, in November 1918, a provisional government was set up to fill the immediate need of the political vacuum left by the abdication of the Kaiser. This new government was set up under a Social Democrat, Ebert. The signing of the Treaty was regarded by many Germans as a 'stab in the back' and the left wing politicians and new Chancellor, Ebert, who agreed to the Treaty as the 'November criminals'. Political extremism was already evident prior to the signature of the Treaty, most notably in the Sparticist rising in Berlin, November 1918. On 25 November 1918 a conference of representatives from the different stases that make up Germany met in Berlin and agreed to set up a national assembly. However, extreme left-wing groups in Germany rejected any form of democratic parliament and pressed for a revolution. ...read more.

Middle

However, the Kapp Putsch was not merely a response to the signature of the Treaty but a reflection of broader post-war circumstance, including the twin social evils of economic slump and epidemic influenza. Four and a half years of war and sacrifice had overstretched the German economy. As a result, shortages of food and fuel had rendered the population vulnerable to the influenza epidemic sweeping Europe in 1918. This influenza epidemic had a far greater effect on German mortality; 250% more deaths in Germany that year than in England. It is thought that nearly 750 000 died of a combination of flu and starvation. This figure included mainly civilians but it also included soldiers who had survived the horror of war, returned to Germany and died of disease. Many Germans sought to blame the new government for these problems; another reason why Kapp's followers felt action needed to be taken to remove from power the government. The last example of political extremism that took place in the prescribed period was the Munich Putsch, 1923. The Munich Putsch was a right-wing attempt to seize power in Munich, led by Hitler, leader of extreme right party NSDAP (or Nazi Party.) By 1923, although membership was increasing, the Nazi party had not succeeded in establishing itself outside of Bavaria (in southern Germany). ...read more.

Conclusion

Hitler faced a five year prison sentence. The factors which explain this final example of political extremism that took place in the prescribed period are also economic, like the Kapp Putsch. However, the factors each have a direct link to the Treaty of Versailles. The link comes from the failure to pay the 1923 reparations instalment stated by the Treaty of Versailles. This led to the occupation of the Ruhr by France-Belgian troops, leading to the consequent passive resistant and hyperinflation, and therefore to the Munich Putsch. In conclusion, I feel that the opposition to he Treaty of Versailles explains political extremism to a fairly large extent in the Weimar republic, 1919-1923. I believe this because from discussing the three major political extremist episodes in the prescribed period, I have recognised that the opposition to the Treaty of Versailles had direct links with two of the examples of political extremism; Kapp and Munich Putsch. Also the fact that the treaty was signed in 1919 and opposition to it was still evident in 1923 and its problems were still having an affect shows that it had a great influence. However, I have also recognised and mentioned other factors which contribute to explaining some of the examples of political extremism. These factors cannot be ignored and I feel that they could perhaps be argued to be equally as important. ...read more.

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