Treaty of Versailles BCR
World War I is among the most tumultuous events in world history. The global war between the Allies and the Central Powers led to the death of around ten million soldiers from both sides and innumerable civilians (Holocaust Encyclopedia, n.d.). The war officially ended after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. The victorious western Allies laid multiple regulations for their defeated counterparts, and since Germany was viewed as the perpetrator of the war, the European Allied powers transferred the burden of the treaty to German. The Treaty of Versailles held Germany accountable for initiating the destructive war and liable for all the damages caused. The agreement required Germany to surrender some of its territories, leading to a 13% loss of land and 10% of its population (Holocaust Encyclopedia, n.d.). Additionally, the nation was limited to 100,000 soldiers while the navy was allowed a maximum of 15,000 soldiers. As financial compensation, Germany was required to pay a staggering 5 billion as reparations to the Allied powers. Germany violated these extremely harsh terms, which led to the rise of Nazism and later World War II.
The treaty was strictly enforced for five years, and in 1932, the remaining terms were rendered moot when Hitler rose to power (The Holocaust Explained, n.d.). In 1929, Germany had started experiencing severe economic depression and high unemployment rates. The Nazis capitalized on the troubling situation by aggressively slamming the ruling government, which helped to win people’s trust for the Nazi Party. During the 1932 elections, The Nazis won with 230 out of 608 seats in the Germany parliament, and subsequently, Hitler and his Nazi government took reign of Germany (The Holocaust Explained, n.d.). Through the Nazi foreign policy, the Treaty of Versailles was negated, in an attempt to restore Germany’s position in the world. In 1933, Hitler withdrew Germany from the League of Nations and began building the army forces beyond the stipulated number by the treaty. Germans started re-occupying the surrendered lands, and when they attempted to permeate Poland’s territory, France and Great Britain countered by reinforcing security for Poland. Nevertheless, Germany went on with its mission of grabbing Poland’s lands, and on September 1, 1939, France and Great Britain, alongside their ally Poland, entered into war with Germany, marking the beginning of World War II (The Holocaust Explained, n.d.).
Hitler conquered Poland and focused on countering France and Britain. As the war intensified, the Nazi Party united with Italy and Japan in 1940. The following year, Germany violated its nonaggression agreement with the Soviet Union by launching a huge blitzkrieg invasion of the Soviet Union, ensuing in a brutal fight with the communists. The United States joined the war, eliminating German’s dominance in Europe. During this period, the Jewish Germans were oppressed by the Nazis: they were banned from most public places, killed, starved to death, and forced into labor (The Holocaust Explained, n.d.). In 1942 during the Wannsee Conference, the Nazi Party came up with the “Final Solution” for all Jews in Europe. A ruthless murder of Jews began, resulting in the death of approximately 6 million Jews in 1945 when Adolf Hitler committed suicide. The death of Hitler marked the end of World War II. The Allies took control of Germany, outlawed the Nazi Party, and worked to eliminate its influence on the Germany landscape. The party’s flag quickly became a detested symbol of inhumanity in the postwar culture.
Holocaust Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Treaty of Versailles. Holocaust Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/treaty-of-versailles
The Holocaust Explained. (n.d.). The aftermath of the First World War. The Holocaust Explained. Retrieved from https://www.theholocaustexplained.org/the-nazi-rise-to-power/the-effects-of-the-first-world-war-on-germany/the-treaty-of-versailles/