Did the Treaty of Versailles Promote Hitler to Power

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In the words of John Green, “The truth resists simplicity”. Assigning the blame of WWII to the Treaty of Versailles is far too simple of an explanation. The Treaty of Versailles, which ended WWI while sanctioning and punishing Germany, forced Germany to pay reparations. These reparations are said to have caused economic challenges in Germany, which allowed Hitler to take control on nationalist fervor. Thus, the story goes, that the Treaty of Versailles made Hitler’s rise to power, and his starting of WWII, inevitable. However, this mode of explanation is a deeply flawed oversimplification. The Treaty of Versailles did not make WWII inevitable because the independent forces of the Great Depression and Japanese expansion also played key roles, and because nationalism was most likely to arise in Germany even if there were less harsh terms to the treaty.
The Great Depression was among the most important factors in creating the climate that allowed for Hitler’s rise to power, and his eventual beginning of World War II. The Great Depression, in addition to losing World War I, created a German populace that was humiliated. This allowed Hitler, with his soaring nationalist rhetoric, to take win a large share of the electorate in the early 1930’s. This is because Hitler appealed to their humiliation and promised to restore Germany to his past glory. Thus, the Great Depression was absolutely essential in making Germany into an aggressor. However, it was unimpacted by the Treaty of Versailles. In fact, the Great Depression originated in the United States, which did not even sign the Treaty of Versailles. It may not be clear why the Great Depression, which began in and most impacted the United States, caused Germany, and not more negat...

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...reaty, caused one of the most important parts of the war. Furthermore, the conditions that allowed for a fascist ruler to take control in Germany would have been in place if the treaty had not been signed, or had been less harsh on Germany. It is important to understand the causes of WWII because the war was a dominating part of the late 1930’s and 1940’s, and because the war laid the groundwork for the cold war. It also was a key part of leading America out of the Great Depression, which could have lasted years longer if the industrial production of the war had not taken place. The Treaty of Versailles did not make WWII inevitable, even though it may be tempting to claim so.

Works Cited

Goodman, George W. "Commanding Heights." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2013.
Townsend, Susan. "Japan's Quest for Empire 1931-1945." BBC News. BBC, 30 Mar. 2011. Web. 19 Dec. 2013.
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