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World War I

Political economic and social reasons all played a part in setting the stage for WW II. I believe the influences in the political and economic areas had a more overwhelming role but social factors also played a part. The Treaty of Versailles shaped the political climate that created the conditions for WWII by holding Germany completely responsible for WW I. Inflation brought the frustration of all Germans to the point where war felt like the solution. The social climate changed and this was due largely to the rise of nationalism and in particular, Fascism. The events and aftermath of World War I created the political, social, and economic conditions that led to World War II.

The events following World War I created many problems within European countries that ultimately led to World War II. The biggest problem was in politics. Especially with the Treaty of Versailles, the unfair accord between Germany and the Allies, this was the cause of most of the problems. The treaty says that Germany and her Allies are fully at fault for the war and must pay compensation to the Allied countries. (Doc #1). This completely ruined the German government. The people disliked the government, and no one felt they could really trust it anymore, because they sold the people out with the Treaty of Versailles. This was not only the major wrong done to the German people the treaty also surrendered the Rhineland, taboo in Germany a country which shed so much blood preventing the allies from overrunning their borders during the war. This made the German people furious with the government. In addition weak political will to stop Germany, for instance in Czechoslovakia the Allies allowed Hitler to march his troops into Czechoslovakia and take over part of it. An agreement reached at Munich in 1938 between the major powers in Europe called for Czechoslovakia to withdraw from the provinces of Bohemia and Morovia populated mainly by Sudeten Germans. This agreement would be observed by an international commission and have the right to in certain cases have the right to make minor changes in the territory exchange. The Allies had extremely weak political will, so much so that they wouldn’t even stop Hitler, instead they let him annex part of Czechoslovakia without any political or military intervention. The treaty of Versailles did not only cause political problems it also gave Germany economic crisis’ as well.

The economic conditions at the end of the First World War were a factor that created conflict in Europe and helped lead to World War II. Both the Central powers and the Allied powers suffered from economic losses. Actually Europe was all but bankrupt, and the allied solution (the Treaty of Versailles) did nothing to help that. If the treaty served any purpose at the end of World War I it made things worse. Germany’s economy was amongst the worst in Europe. But the treaty of Versailles made the German economy even worse. In the treaty the Allies blamed Germany and her Allies for the war and made Germany pay compensation to the other countries in Europe (Doc #1). This caused a lot of problems for two reasons, first Germany didn’t have the economy to pay the other countries, and secondly the treaty put so much pressure on Germany to pay quickly, and under so much pressure by the treaty they just printed more money. There are only two possible outcomes of printing more money, the first is that Germany will pay the debt quickly (only if the economy is booming), and the second is massive inflation. This was the case in Germany. The German marc quickly became worth so little that people would have to go to the bakery with wheel barrels full of money, to buy some bread. This made the German government dirt poor and on the verge of total bankruptcy, while still being in debt. But it also impacted the German people because as the marc decreased in value, the people became poorer and poorer, until a large majority of people were living on the streets. In 1933, Heinrich Hauser wrote about Germany’s terrible economy reporting that, “An almost unbroken chain of homeless men extends the whole length of the great Hamburg-Berlin highway…” (doc 8). Germany’s economy was in full collapse. This desperate situation left the people vulnerable to the fascist rhetoric of the Nazi party.

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