How did the Treaty of Versailles affect postwar Germany?

1 Answer
Mar 26, 2018

It impacted Germany economically, humiliated her and created a myth that was exploited by Hitler.


The Versailles Treaty contained many punitive clauses
She was stripped of 25,000 square miles of territory and 7 million people, including the creation of the "Polish Corridor" which would be trigger point of WW2.

It imposed harsh financial reparations in Germany of $5 billion dollars (about $60 Billion in today's money).

Militarily is was limited, the army was restricted to 100,000 men and the General Staff abolished, and many types of weapons forbidden or strictly limited in numbers, the navy drastically cut in maximum size in both ships and men and the air force abolished and aircraft production or import forbidden. The Rhineland was to be de-militarized and parts of Western Germany occupied by the allies.

The ticking time bomb was the fact that the German population and to a degree a lot if the German Army did not realize just how close to total collapse the German State and Armed Forces were by the fall of 1918. Once the Hindenburg Line was penetrated at the end of the Hundred Days Campaign there was little to stop the Allies attaining outright military victory.

Austria-Hungary would soon collapse as an Empire and German had no troops to stop any Italian or Allied advance from the South. With the prospect of the 400.000 US troops in France set to increase to the Million mark by 1919 the High Command knew unless the war was stopped total defeat was inevitable so a negotiated peace was needed.

However the peace delegation sent left Germany whilst the Kaiser was still in power but by the time the armistice was signed he had abdicated - leaving the negotiating team open to the accusation of being the "November Traitors" and so was spawned the myth that Germany was not defeated in WW1 but was betrayed, mythology that became interwoven into Hilter's rhetoric.

That myth was one of the reasons why in WW2 the allies insisted on "Total Surrender if all German Forces" and would not contemplate any other settlement - to ensure that every German knew they had been defeated and the myth could never resurface.