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What was the immediate impact of the peace treaty on Germany up to 1923 ?

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Introduction

Although Germany lost the First World War, the reality of defeat took some time to hit the German people. Their country had not been invaded and up to the last few weeks of the war their leaders had continued to pretend they were winning. The Germans had good reason to believe that the Allies would treat them mercifully. They assumed that peace would be based on the principles of the Fourteen points. The Kaiser, who many blamed for the war, was out of the way, and had been overthrown in the German revolution of November 1918, and replaced by a new democratic, republican government. However, German confidence was misplaced. The harsh times of the armistice clearly indicated the kind of peace that would eventually be made. More ominously, none of the defeated nations was allowed representatives at the Paris peace conference. The final terms of the Treaty of Versailles were presented to the Germans with no negotiation - a 'diktat' (dictated peace), as they called it. The Germans were stunned by the severity of the treaty. ...read more.

Middle

It was angry about the military restrictions in the treaty. Many ex-soldiers refused to disarm after the war, and became members of Freikorps. These were semi-official bands of soldiers, who helped the government crush its left-wing enemies. The trouble was that they were very unreliable Allies for the republic to have, and were notorious for their extreme nationalist views. In 1920, when the government, under pressure from Britain and France, tried to enforce military restrictions in the Versailles treaty, a force of Freikorps under Wolfgang Kapp occupied Berlin with the intention of overthrowing the republic. The army did nothing to intervene. This attempted revolution - known as the 'Kapp putsch' - failed only when a general strike organised a protest against the putsch brought communications to a standstill and demonstrated the support of the working people for the government. The issue that the Germans resented most about the Treaty of Versailles was being forced to accept responsibility for the war (the 'War Guilt' clause) and to pay reparations. ...read more.

Conclusion

The workers went on strike and the government paid them not to work. This meant printing even more money, which produced the 'The Great Inflation' of 1923, and left the German economy effectively bankrupt. Before long, even the French could see that there was little chance of receiving reparations, and that the invasion of the Rhur was pointless. But the German government knew it could not ignore realities forever. Sooner or later, the issue of reparations would have to be faced. By the end of 1923, a new German government under Gustav Stresemenn had accepted the principle of fulfilment - obeying the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Promised huge loans from the USA to help rebuild the German economy, it introduced a new, sound currency and brought inflation under control. The Dawes Plan of 1924 determined the amount of reparation the Germans should pay each year, and approved the promised American loans. Over the years, Germany received far more in loans than it paid in reparations. In 1925, the French withdrew their soldiers from the Ruhr. It seemed that Germany was finally reconciled to the Treaty of Versailles, and could look forward to a future of peace and prosperity. Sarah Huckle 10? ...read more.

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