How accurate is it to suggest that Treaty of Versailles was mainly responsible for the political and economic instability in Germany in the years 1919-1923?

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How accurate is it to suggest that Treaty of Versailles was mainly responsible for the political and economic instability in Germany in the years 1919-1923?

The Weimer Republic was established on extremely shaky grounds, with much of the public viewing those responsible for the new government as the ‘November Criminals’, the German signatories of the initial armistice which led to the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles was responsible for the later crushing of much of Germany’s military and economic stability. However, the pre-existing weaknesses of the Weimar government, Weimar’s political opponents as well as the failure of domestic policy. Overall, the most important reason is clearly the long-term effects of the Treaty of Versailles.

The Treaty of Versailles contributed greatly to Germany’s economic destruction. Under the treaty, Germany was forced to pay an exceedingly large amount of reparations, contributing to the Weimer government’s 144 billion debt in gold marks by 1919. As WWI had been fought on loaned money, Germany’s economy desperately needed foreign trade in order to make up for these losses, yet the treaty ensured that Germany would be crippled on the international market; it was prohibited from participating in trade of arms, chemicals as well as military armaments. Without these key exports, the German economy faced extreme stagnation, worsened by the clause that would grant France the entirety of the Ruhr’s coal output, a key resource Germany needed for economic stability. Notably the Treaty of Versailles also resulted in Germany being forced to cede 65 thousand km2 of land, at a loss of 7 million inhabitants in total – land which could be used to power Germany’s industrial capabilities were taken under the treaty, which even Britain and the USA considered to be overly harsh. The political significance of the Treaty of Versailles is also clear; the previous government had refused to sign the treaty, forcing the new government to have no choice but to cede to Allied demands. This caused a huge explosion in social tensions, especially for ex-soldiers and created the opinion that the war had not been lost due to Germany’s own weakness, but rather that it was ‘betrayed’ by weak politicians, forming the ‘stab in the back’ myth.  The treaty was notably created under a ‘diktat’, as Germany were not invited to any of the negotiations, which sparked further frustration within society as Germans were branded with the ‘war guilt clause’, accepting full responsibility for the conflict. Overall, we can see that the Treaty of Versailles laid the long-term flaws in the new Weimer Republic that led to political and economic instability in the years 1919-23.

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The issue of domestic policy also played a major role in the political and economic instability; by 1922 the new Weimer government had failed to manage Germany’s debt situation correctly, and was thus on course for hyperinflation – the total debt since 1919 had tripled to 469 billion gold marks, forcing the Weimer government to ask for a pause in reparations to allow time for recovery. This failed, and France instead increased demands to 60% of the dyestuff industry. As part of their domestic policy, the Weimer government simply responded by printing even larger sums of money to pay off ...

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