After World War One German had to face serious problems, such as the Treaty of Versailles, dislike of the weak and unpopular Weimar Government, serious economic problems of inflation and unemployment in the early 1920s and again after 1929 and the Great Depression. Furthermore, fear and concern about the rise of communism with strikes and rebellions. Hitler used powerful persuasion techniques such as propaganda and in other circumstance aggression and violence to eliminate his opponents, thus aiding him to become a totalitarian dictator. This essay will discus the Treaty of Versailles, dislike of the government and economic problems and also fear of communism and the techniques Hitler used to gain power. Basically, why the Germans were so angry about the treaty of Versailles. A treaty is an agreement which sorts out punishments, land boundaries and could be designed to prevent future war. After the First World War, a treaty had to be made to punish Germany. This had to be done as Germany had lost the war and had signed the Armistice on 11th November 1918 by the new German government.
The Paris peace conference first met in January 1919. It was its job to write the treaty of Versailles. At this peace, conference there was a representative from America, France and Great Britain. Germany was not allowed to house a representative as the Allies knew that they were going to punish Germany, so there was no point having a representative just so they can argue their case. President Woodrow Wilson represented America and he wanted the Treaty of Versailles to be based on his fourteen-point plan. This did not aim to punish Germany but aimed to prevent future war. He did not want to punish Germany as only 116,000 American soldiers died. This is as they only entered the war in the last year. Also their land was not damaged as battles were fought in Europe. The war effort also did not cost them much financially. This again was because America had entered the war in the last year. Their president Georges Clemenceau represented France and he wanted to punish Germany as much of their land was damaged as many battles were fought there.
In addition, 1,500,000 French soldiers died. Great Britain were represented by their Prime minister Lloyd George. He wanted to punish Germany as 1,000,000 British soldiers had died and the war effort had cost Britain a lot financially. The treaty of Versailles was signed on 28th June 1919. Germany had no choice but to sign. This was as if they did not sign it would result in war, which Germany could not afford to do. America did not give their formal consent to the treaty and later signed a separate treaty with Germany (treaty of Berlin on July 2nd 1921). The Germans were so angry about the treaty of Versailles, because they thought that as the war was lost they would be punished and be in peace. This however did not happen. Germany was at peace with other countries but it was a dictate (dictated peace). This meant that the allies were still in control of the situation. This would crush German pride. This is as it gives the feeling that they are under control by another country.
They might as well be part of someone else’s empire. Again, the fact of government propaganda comes up. The public probably thought that they could be dictating the peace instead of being under control. Another specific area, in which Germany was punished by the treaty of Versailles, was their military loss. Germany was punished in terms of loosing out militarily a lot. This essay will only pick out two points to help relate to the amount of punishment. Firstly, the German army was restricted to only a hundred thousand soldiers. In addition, Germany was not allowed to have an air force. Both these points meant that Germany were very vulnerable to attack. This helped the allies, as they knew that Germany would not be able to launch a successful attack on a country. Also they knew that they could easily attack Germany if they needed to. Another pieces of evidence suggesting a dictate. Also having a small army dented Germany’s pride. We know that Germany like to have a big army as one of the major long term causes of the first world war was the arms race between Britain and Germany. There would also be a lot more unemployment in Germany. This meant fewer taxpayers, which would not contribute to the reparations that Germany had to pay.
The government may also have to raise the taxes making the government less popular with the people. Another specific area in which Germany lost out is territorially. Germany lost many places to other countries due to the terms and conditions laid out by the treaty of Versailles. Firstly, Germany lost 13% of its overall land to other countries. This would cause a problem and make the Germans unhappy, as they would be less powerful. In addition, Germany lost a lot of their industry. This is as many of their most productive areas of mining were taken away, for example the Saar coalfields. Altogether, Germany lost 16% of their total industry. One of the areas lost was Alsace – Lorraine that was home to many German people. Not all of this would help Germany financially or in terms of the military. They would loose out financially as they would loose their income from the industrial regions lost. Also they would lose the taxes that would have been paid by citizen living in other countries which belonged to Germany. They would loose out in terms of the military, as they could not rely on citizens from other countries to fight for them. Altogether, Germany lost 6 million people. Another aspect of punishment that was laid out by the treaty of Versailles was that Germany had to pay reparations.
The figure was set at around 100,000,000,000 marks. With all the losses Germany had suffered people began to ask the question if Germany could afford. The people would be unhappy through high taxes. Germany had lost many of their industrial provinces and there was high unemployment. This did not help Germany financially. There were no taxes from other countries so Germany was worse off. The German would feel particularly humiliated and angry through this point as they felt that they alone were not responsible for all the costs of the war effort. In addition, they would be under constant humiliation, as they would always feel, as they owe something. They also would not have a chance for their economy to grow, as they couldn’t invest. This would dent their pride as they would not be known as a powerful country. Germany was very badly affected by the depression and since 1929; unemployment had been on the rise. By January 1933 the unemployment figure in Germany had risen to 6,100,000, existing businesses were doing very badly and homelessness and poverty had become very common amongst young people. Taxes were raised and unemployment benefits were cut.
The government’s failure to deal with the depression left the Nazis with a very disappointed nation, especially the businessmen, workers, young people and farmers (who had been doing badly since 1925.) The economic crisis allowed Hitler and the Nazis to enter Germany’s political scene, which is what they had previously been trying to do. If it hadn’t have been for this terrible economic crisis then Germany would probably still have been doing reasonably well under Gustav Stresemann’s leadership and the Germans would have had no need to re-consider re-electing Stresemann. The Depression helped the Nazis gain much needed support because it meant that Weimar government was doing badly. The expectation of Germany were no longer being met by the government, which meant that the Germans had to re-consider who they were going to vote for at the next election. This means that the two reasons (The Depression and Weimar) are linked closely, because it was Weimar’s failure to deal with the depression that allowed the Nazis to seize their opportunity and put their new, more peaceful and caring approach into action. In November 1917, the world’s first communist government set up in Russia USSR. Many socialist and communist in German supported the idea of Communism spreading to German.
In November 1918, Germany was dislocated and discontent. In addition, Communists sparticists began an extreme and violent attempt to overthrow the new Weimar government. Soldiers and sailors were in rebellion. Finally, in January 1919, exsoldiers (the free Corps) violently put down the communism revolt and the sparticist leaders were murdered. In March 1919, more riots occurred and strikes by Communists in Berlin began. In early 1919, the socialist leader Kurt Eisher was shot by a right wing extremist in Bavaria and it seemed to German people that they were seriously threatened by Communist violent. Communism became more extreme and set up a soviet style republic. In keeping with Communist doctrine, they took money and property from rich people and redistributed them to the workers. After the Red Communist Army was set up, the Weimar government sent in the free Corps troops to besiege Munich. Six hundred Communists and supporters were killed. Communist workers started strike and they set up a Communist army of fifty 50,000 members. Again, the free Corps moved in and killed 2000 workers.
Therefore, there was lots of evidence that shows that Communism was a violent and real threat in German. Also many people feared and resented Communism and wanted a strong party or leader to stand up to the Communist and eliminate Communism in German. Propaganda was an important tool used by both Germany and Russia. Hitler appointed a man by the name of Joseph Goebbles to head the Ministry of Public Enlightenment in Germany. This man used newspapers, magazines, and radio to spread Nazism. Even if a man bathed in thoughts of discontent at home, he was bombarded with propaganda in public, and at the workplace. Banners hung from building, posters on almost every sign or lamppost.
Anyone with a suspicious look on his or her face was first detained, and the sent to a prison camp. It was no longer just desirable to be a Nazi considering the benefits like government contracts or being able to stand first in line, but necessary for employment. Russia employed much the same tactics with much more emphasis on fear. The form of propaganda that Hitler used, and was successful in using, was his words. Hitler made many speeches, but the most famous speech, was his final speech at his trial for treason. In this speech he gave his views and opinions on the events preceding the trial.
This is an excerpt from his speech: “…I aimed from the first to….become the destroyer of Marxism….The army that we are building grows more from day to day, from hour to hour. Gentlemen, not you who will be the ones that deliver the verdict over us, but that verdict will be given by the eternal judgment of history, which will speak out against the accusation that has been made against us….That court will judge us….as Germans (who) wanted only the best for their people and their Fatherland, who fought and were willing to die. You might just as well find us guilty a thousand times, but the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile and tear up the motions of the states attorney and the judgment of this court: for she finds us not guilty”.
After Hitler gave this speech, the court was sympathetic towards him, he was sentenced to only five years in prison for his crime. After nine months of his sentence had been served, he received parole. Being able to gain Nazi party control and gain enough supporters, proves that he was an efficient user of propaganda. Hitler also had his own minister of propaganda when he became leader of the country. This proves that Hitler was a user of propaganda. In conclusion, due to the evidence shown, such as the great depression, dislike of the weak Weimar government, economic problems, fear and strikes of the communism and successful techniques that Hitler used to gain their people support. We can see that Hitler became a powerful totalitarian dictator sue to his exploitation of problems faced by Germany and her people.