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Part C: The Treaty of Versailles


With the First World War over, the new Weimar Government not only had to struggle to impose its authority in Germany, it also had to face the consequences of the peace treaty that was being worked out by the victorious Allies. It is therefore important to build up detailed knowledge of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the motives and concerns of the men who created the Treaty, the reactions in Germany to the terms of the Treaty, and the consequences for the Weimar Government of accepting the Treaty. The war had not been fought on German soil and only months earlier German forces had ended Russia’s part in the war and advanced west as far as the River Marne. It is not surprising that defeat was difficult to accept.
Notes will be required on the following dimensions:


1.

The peace aims of the Allies




This involves considering:




(i)

The USA, President Wilson and the 14 Points




(ii)

Lloyd George, Britain, and naval and imperial and economic concerns




(iii)

France and Clemenceau and French concerns for security.




2.

The Treaty of Versailles




This involved considering:




(i)

Territorial arrangements including a ban on uniting with Austria




(ii)

Military restrictions on Germany and the army of occupation in the Rhineland




(iii)

Financial arrangement including war guilt, reparations and overseas instruments




(iv)

Overseas arrangements including colonies and the fleet.




3.

German Responses




This involves considering:




(i)

Popular expectations of the peace




(ii)

The attitudes of leading politicians




(iii)

The arguments against the Treaty




(iv)

An evaluation of the justice of German complaints




(v)

The decision to sign the Treaty




(vi)

Attitudes in Germany towards the Treaty




(vii)

The emergence of the ‘stab in the back’ view.



Issues to consider and discuss


  • The historian A J Nicholls states that the Versailles Treaty ‘still left the Germans considerably more territory than united Germany has today.’ How justified was German hostility to the Treaty of Versailles?




  • How far is it fair to argue that ‘The only treaty acceptable to the Germans was one drawn up as if they had won the war’?




  • The historian William Carr argues

What the German Nationalists could not do ….was bring themselves to accept the fact of Gemany’s military defeat.’

Why was it possible for them to do this?



What might be the results of such an attitude?

Part D: Social and Political Instability


This part of the course deals with the years 1919-22, a time when the new Republic struggled to become established and faced threats to its stability from both the left and right wings. The Treaty of Versailles was signed by two ministers of the Weimar Government on 28th June 1919; reactions to this Treaty therefore form a factor in the problems of this period. Some historians believe the kind of political system that was created by the new Weimar Constitution of 1919 was itself partly to blame for the troubles that developed in the following years.
Notes will be needed on the following:


1.

The New Constitution




This involves considering:




(i)

Elections and the drafting of the constitution




(ii)

The Länder and their powers; the Reichsrat




(iii)

The President and his authority; Ebert the first President




(iv)

The Reichstag; the chancellor and his responsibilities




(v)

The electoral system; people’s rights




(vi)

Problems and tensions in the constitution.




2.

Political Parties and their Policies




This involves considering:




(i)

The Social Democrats and Independent Social Democrats




(ii)

The Democrats




(iii)

The People’s Party




(iv)

The Centre




(v)

The National People’s Party




(vi)

The Communists.




3.

Supporters and Opponents of the Weimar Government




This involves considering the attitudes of:




(i)

Trade Unions




(ii)

The Army




(iii)

The Civil Service




(iv)

The Judiciary




(v)

The Educational Systems




(vi)

A series of Chancellors in office




(vii)

The murders of leading politicians.




4.

The Kapp Putsch




This involves considering:




(i)

The causes of and supporters of the Putsch




(ii)

The seizure of control in Berlin; army attitudes




(iii)

The general strike




(iv)

The end of the Putsch




(v)

Why sympathiseres were not dealt with firmly.



5.

The Nationalist Socialist German Works Party




This involves considering:




(i)

Drexler and the German Workers Party




(ii)

Aspects of Hitler’s early life shaping his beliefs




(iii)

The Party’s principles




(iv)

The importance to Hitler of racial views




(v)

Hitler’s rise in the Party and the reasons for this




(vi)

To whom did the Party appeal?



Issues to discuss





  • Why did not those wholly committed to the Republic deal more firmly with their opponents?




  • How true is it to state that the Army managed to become ‘a state within a state’?



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