Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source1
Extracts from the Illustrated London News showing German reactions to the Treaty, 28 June 1919
(Catalogue ref: ZPER 34/154, reproduced by permission of the Illustrated London News Picture Library)
  • Hindenburg was one of the most senior German military leaders at the end of the war. "Pan-Germans" was the term used to describe the German military leaders who were said to want to build a large German empire.
  • There is no doubt that there was a strong reaction to the Treaty in Germany when the terms were announced. With hindsight, we know that the Treaty of Versailles was one of several factors that helped the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in the 1930s.
  • Germany suffered from the Treaty. It lost 10% of its land, all its overseas colonies, 12.5% of its population, 16% of its coal and 48% of its iron industry. There were also the humiliating terms, which made Germany accept blame for the war, accept limitations on German armed forces and pay reparations.
  • However, a big factor in German anger may have been shock. German people were kept in the dark about how the war was going. In 1918-19, they were not aware that their army was effectively beaten. If they had been aware of how bad their situation was, the treaty might have shocked them less.
  • Germany could have been treated a lot more harshly. The reparations payments cost Germany only 2% of its annual production. By contrast, when the Germans defeated the Russians, they forced them to sign the harsh Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918. This took away 34% of Russia's population and 50% of its industry. Russia also had to pay 300 million gold roubles in reparations.
  • The French wanted Germany broken up into smaller states. Wilson stopped this happening.
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