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The Treaty of Versailles was more significant for its political than its economical impact. Dicuss

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Introduction

The Treaty of Versailles was more significant for its political than its economical impact. Dicuss On the 28th of June 1919 Germany reluctantly signed the Treaty of Versailles, an action condemned by nearly the whole of Germany. The Allies drew up the treaty based on the 'war guilt' clause, article 231, which stated that Germany was responsible for the outbreak of war. This meant the Allies could impose reparations, reduce Germany's armed forces and take resourceful territory, calling it a punishment. The reason Germany was so opposed to this treaty was because the government had told them that they were fighting a defensive war against encirclement by Russia, Britain and France. Also during the talks in November preceding the signing of the armistice, Woodrow Wilson the American President drew up fourteen 'fair' points on which the treaty would be based, in reality few of these points were applied so Germany felt cheated. However the new Weimar government were forced to sign the Diktat (dictated peace) as they named it, because they could not afford to go back to war. Sheidemann and the SPD coalition government did consider restarting the war instead of accepting the terms but Germany was too weak. The treaty had huge political and economic effects on Germany, in order to establish where the greater impact was felt it is necessary to examine both the political and economic situation following the signing of the treaty. ...read more.

Middle

The only reason they helped the government was that they hated the right wing even more and if the right wing managed to seize power then that would be disastrous. The greatest fear of the right wing was that the left wing extremists would come to power so they helped the government crush the Spartacist revolt in 1919. The Spartacists led by Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Marx seized newspaper offices, but this was no threat as the Freikorps destroyed the movement, murdering both leaders. There were further attempted revolts by the left wing but none of them successful. The Treaty of Versailles seemed to cause a very large amount of political tension, which could have been avoided if the treaty had not ignored Wilson's 14 points. There were other economic factors and actions taken by the government that contributed to the tensions, but for most Germans the treaty was politically unacceptable to them, all it did was anger the German citizens and set the scene for another war. The economic impact of the Treaty of Versailles was considerable with many contributing factors such as loss of resourceful territory, hyperinflation, huge war debts and reparations. Germany lost 13% of it's territory which inhabited 10% of it's population as well as 15% of arable land, 75% of iron and 68%of zinc ore and 26% of coal resources. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are two main views of the treaty, the first opinion of J M Keynes and shared by many was that the treaty was simply revenge on Germany. This is suggested by the uneven application of self-determination, why was it only the German Empire that was disbanded? Also with the reparations, loss of industrial territory and shipping facilities being exported out there was no way Germany could cope, which is focussing on the economic impact being greater. The alternative view held by Historians such as Fischer felt the treaty could have been a lot worse taking into account Germany's plans had they won the war. Transferring some wealth through money and industry was a small price to pay for the damage they caused to France. Also it has never been proved how much of the economic problems were a result of the treaty and how much were down to the government. It is my opinion that although the treaty was a contributing factor to the economic crisis it was the steps taken by the government that caused collapse. For instance the government could have raised taxes or borrowed from other countries to stop the inflation but instead they decided to print more notes as taxing more would make the new Weimar Republic even more unpopular. However it was the treaty which caused the most aggression amongst Germans, especially the 'war guilt' clause making the political impact greater. ...read more.

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