This section will cover the 2nd part of the 1.5 Question:


The effect of the First World War on Nazi Foreign policy?

The end of the First World War = bad beginning for peace and new government:

  • overthrow and abdication of German Kaiser 
  • Creation of new government
  • Armistice – many were misinformed about losing the war, believed Germany could have won. Treaty of Versailles = Dolschtoss ‘Stab in the Back’ by the November Criminals. 

Weimar started under a cloud of unpopularity and protest against the signing of ToV – which Germany had been forced to accept with no influence over it’s terms. Army had privately advised the Gov that Germany couldn’t win, but members of both (Army and Gov) publicly said otherwise, causing resentment. 

Hitler and the Nazi Party: 

  • in Mein Kampf (My struggle) he outlined his political theories, his experiences as a solider in WW1 and how he felt when he heard about the AAC (Abdication, Armistice, Creation of Weimar) – he raged against politicians who had betrayed Germany. 
  • Joined a small right-wing party – DAP (Deutsche Arbeitserpartei) Which changed to the NSDAP (Nationalsozialitische Deutsche Arbeitserpartei – NSDAP). Hitler was one of the leaders. The 25 Point Programme had many ideas about race and German expansion – like those in Mein Kampf. 
  • Disillusioned Soliders joined Paramilitary groups. Between 1919-1923 – 376 political murders mostly committed by Right Wing paramilitary groups. 2 attempts to overthrow the government: Kapp Putsch 1920 and Munich Putsch 1923. Both attempts failed but showed the Governments weakness and lacked support. 
  • Failure taught Hitler of the problems with using violence without support or enough force. In prison he wrote Mein Kampf and decided his next takeover would be political. 

Terms of Versailles

  • Resented by almost everyone in Germany and even some Allies. 
  • ‘Big Three’ contributed most: France(suffered most) pushed for severest measures due to fear of another war and it’s proximity to Germany; British Gov promised British public severe measures but didn’t want to push a treaty that would cause resentment. USA pushed for most reasonable treaty and the creation of an international organisation to promote international harmony. 
  • Terms: 
    • Germany lost land  – Danzig&Polish Corridor more bitterly resented, but 6.4 mil Germans were outside new borders
    • German told to disarm (main cause of resentment) – no submarines/heavy warships/tanks/airforce. 100,000 troops must stay in Germany. 
    • German army could not enter Rhineland – deilitarized buffer zone between France and Germany.
    • Germany had to pay reparations – 132 million gold marks in 1921. 
    • Germany signed Article 231 – War Guilt Clause – responsible for starting the war and not accepted as an equal power (Main Cause of Resentment)
    • Diktat – dictated peace, Germany had no say.

Effect of ToV

  • Laid foundations for WW2 by it’s effects on Germany and other countries. Reichstag privately agreed the terms did not have to be obeyed .
  • Politicians protested openly and foreign ministers worked for change, worked secretly to break the terms i.e. disarmament.
  • Secret arrangements made with USSR allowing German armaments on Soviet soil by soviet companies. 1926 – Russian Tank training in Kazan began to train German soldiers, by 1928 tanks were being made and tested in Russia.
  • Some army members felt that the government was no longer legal and the army was the only thing left of a legitimate government.

ToV and Nazi Foreign Policy 

  • ToV affected Foreign Policy because opposing it made any political party popular. Problems could be blamed on ToV i.e. Economic disruption in Europe which added to Germany’s problems with reparations. All countries had difficulty trading – furthering Germany’s struggle.
  • Political disruption — Small, self-determining states created by the Treaty were weak with ethnic divisions (many with large German populations) that made governing the difficult. Disagreements over borders. Unintended Consequence = targets for USSR, Germany, Italy and Poland. 
  • Some Allies saw the treaty as too harsh: UK Prime Minister (Lloyd George) made it clear he felt treaty was so unfair there would be another war in 25 years time. French said the same (despite their harsh demands). 
  • Many Nations wanted peace which affected their response to the breaking of the ToV terms. I.e. Britain and France = Appeasement. Britain signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement with the Nazi Government setting naval sizes that broke Versailles. 
  • Germany was restoring the losses of the ‘unfair’ terms and other nations seemed to accept this, further prompting the Nazis to expand Germany and build a stronger military force. 

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