War and Conflict

World War I

How did the Treaty of Versailles pave the way for World War II?

In the aftermath of World War I (1914–18), Germany was severely punished: One clause in the Treaty of Versailles even stipulated that Germany take responsibility for causing the war. In addition to its territorial losses, Germany was also made to pay for an Allied military force that would occupy the west bank of the Rhine River, intended to keep Germany in check for the next 15 years. The treaty also limited the size of Germany’s military. In 1921 Germany received a bill for reparations: It owed the Allies $33 million.

While the postwar German government had been made to sign the Treaty of Versailles under the threat of more fighting from the Allies, the German people nevertheless faulted their leaders for accepting such strident terms. Not only was the German government weakened, but public resentment over the Treaty of Versailles soon developed into a strong nationalist movement—led by German chancellor and führer Adolf Hitler (1889–1945).


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