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Western Humanities
PRACTICE: The Treaty of
Versailles and the Rise of
Hitler
Name:
Date:
Block:
The goal of the Treaty of Versailles was to create a lasting peace in Europe. We know from history
that this goal was not achieved. Less than 20 years later WWII began; a war bigger and more
destructive than World War I. In this practice option you will be looking at the German reaction to
the Treaty and considering these two questions: Was the German response to the Treaty justified?
Step 1: Answer the question what does it mean if something is justified?
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Step 2: In order to evaluate the German reaction you have to understand what the terms of
the Treaty actually were. Please read below and answer the following questions.
Territorial
The following land was taken away from Germany :
Alsace-Lorraine (given to France)
Eupen and Malmedy (given to Belgium)
Northern Schleswig (given to Denmark)
Hultschin (given to Czechoslovakia)
West Prussia, Posen and Upper Silesia (given to Poland)
Military
Germany’s army was reduced to 100,000 men; the army was not allowed tanks
She was not allowed an airforce She was allowed only 6 capital naval ships and no submarines The
west of the Rhineland and 50 kms east of the River Rhine was made into a demilitarised zone
(DMZ). No German soldier or weapon was allowed into this zone. The Allies were to keep an
army of occupation on the west bank of the Rhine for 15 years.
Financial
The loss of vital industrial territory would be a severe blow to any attempts by Germany to rebuild
her economy. Coal from the Saar and Upper Silesia in particular was a vital economic loss.
Combined with the financial penalties linked to reparations, it seemed clear to Germany that the
Allies wanted nothing else but to bankrupt her.
Germany was also forbidden to unite with Austria to form one superstate, in an attempt to keep her
economic potential to a minimum.
General
There are three vital clauses here:
1. Germany had to admit full responsibility for starting the war. This was Clause 231 - the
infamous "War Guilt Clause".
2. Germany, as she was responsible for starting the war as stated in clause 231, was, therefore
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Western Humanities
PRACTICE: The Treaty of
Versailles and the Rise of
Hitler
Name:
Date:
Block:
responsible for all the war damage caused by the First World War. Therefore, she had to pay
reparations (money), the bulk of which would go to France and Belgium to pay for the damage
done to both countries by the war. Payment could be in kind (buildings, giving supplies etc.) or
cash. The figure was not set at Versailles - it was to be determined later. The Germans were told to
write a blank cheque which the Allies would cash when it suited them. The figure was eventually
put at £6,600 million - a huge sum of money well beyond Germany’s ability to pay.
3. A League of Nations was set up to keep world peace. (The League of Nations was a group of
European nations who were supposed to be able to keep peace in Europe. They would meet and
hold conferences)
Questions to be answered.
1. Who was blamed for the war?
2. In 3-4 sentences answer the following question. Based on the above terms how do you think the
German’s reacted to the Treaty and why?
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Step 3: Read excerpts from the German Reply Memorandum. This was written by the
German foreign minister (the type of government official who deals with a countries affairs
in different countries). Germany was allowed to create a reply to a draft of the Treaty but its
terms were rejected by the Allies.
“Germany will no longer be in a position to import raw materials in sufficient quantities from
abroad. As a matter of course an enormous part of German industry would thus be condemned to
extinction.
After a very short time Germany would therefore no longer be in a position to furnish bread
and work to her many millions of persons forced to earn their daily bread by navigation and
commerce. These people would have to emigrate; but this is impossible; in that many
countries…will oppose German immigration.
The enforcement of the Peace Conditions would therefore logically entail the loss of several
million persons in Germany… The Peace would impose upon Germany many times the number of
human lives cost her by this war of four years and a half, (1,750,000 killed by the enemy; almost a
million as a result of the blockade.)”
“Those who sign this treaty, will sign the death sentence of many millions of German men,
women and children.”
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Western Humanities
PRACTICE: The Treaty of
Versailles and the Rise of
Hitler
Name:
Date:
Block:
According to the German Foreign Minister what will be the effects of the Treaty of Versailles on
the German population?
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Step 4: Adolf Hitler was the leader of Germany before and during WWII. He is often the
sole person credited with starting WWII. As a leader in Germany he was seen as being
charismatic, smart, brave, and above all willing to bring Germany out of the dark times that
were created by the Treaty. Read his response to the Treaty below.
Hitler’s Speech
Speech on the Treaty of Versailles (April 17, 1923) Adolf Hitler
With the armistice begins the humiliation of Germany. If the Republic on the day of its
foundation had appealed to the country: Germans, stand together! Up and resist the foe! The
Fatherland, the Republic expects of you that you fight to your last breath, then millions who are
now enemies of the Republic would be fanatical Republicans. Today they are the foes of the
Republic not because it is a Republic but because this Republic was founded at the moment when
Germany was humiliated, because it so discredited the new flag that men's eyes must turn
regretfully toward the old flag.
So long as this Treaty stands there can be no resurrection of the German people; no social
reform of any kind is possible! The Treaty was made in order to bring 20 million Germans to their
deaths and to ruin the German nation. But those who made the Treaty cannot set it aside. As its
foundation our Movement formulated three demands:
1. Setting aside of the Peace Treaty
2. Unification of all Germans
3. Land and Soil to feed our nation
How does Hitler feel about the Treaty of Versailles and how do we know?
What are Hitler’s demands?
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Western Humanities
PRACTICE: The Treaty of
Versailles and the Rise of
Hitler
Name:
Date:
Block:
Step 4: Putting it all together. Based on the terms of the Treaty, and the claims made in the
Memorandum do you think Hitler was justified in his hatred of the Treaty and thus the
Allied powers that created it?
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Step 5: Based on the Hitler’s reaction to the Treaty combined with the knowledge that Hitler
eventually starts WWII with a significant amount of German support, explain how the
Treaty created the conditions necessary for Hitler to rise to power and start a war?
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