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Treaty of Versailles and World War II - Coursework Example

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Treaty of Versailles and World War II

Designed to ensure peace, the psychological effects on the German people as a result of these terms produced the opposite effect as Germany was tossed into economic ruin. The conventional wisdom has always been that it was the outcome of the Treaty of Versailles that created a political situation in which another war was almost inevitable. This conclusion is an example of the desire of humanity as a whole to reduce the most complex situations down to the simplest explanation. By insisently focusing on this one aspect of the history between the two world wars of the 20th century, the multiple lessons to be gained that could reduce that possibility of such a thing happening run the risk of not only being discounted but even denied. The complex mechanism of history that served to foment the unique conditions that led to World War II include factors as varied as the stock market crash of 1929 and its impact on the willingness of many to embrace extremist answers to crushing economic uncertainty, as well as unexplained reluctances of the part of governments to recognize and control the growing threat of fascist authority and Germany's blatant violations of many tenets of the treaty.
The substantial impact of the Treaty of Versaille should not be ignored, but under different circumstances it alone would probably not have been enough to create a situation of inevitability. What has become inevitable is that the terms of the treaty are blamed for creating economic fear and uncertainty in Germany that produced a psychological mindset in the nation that made them much more susceptible to the message of Hitler and the National Socialists. Lost admit this certainty of a correlation between divergent events, however, is that Germany was hardly alone in suffering devastating economic conditions during Hitler's ascension to power. The impact on the inevitability of World War II by the 1920 stock market crash thousands of miles away from Berlin cannot be underestimated (Redlich, 1999, p. 85). This event brought the boom market of the Roaring Twenties to an immediate halt not just in America, but around the world. While it is true that Germany suffered tremendously, so too were other major players in World War II affected. The greatest impact of the economic uncertainty engendered by the stock market collapse was not relegated to economic viability such as the inability to conduct necessary trade, but to political opportunism. The massive loss of jobs and income threw many people around the world into abject poverty, and with poverty comes despair, and with despair comes the willingness to look for an answer out. The Great Depression created the perfect opportunity for extremist or radical ideas to flourish. The 1930s saw the rise in power of proponents of both communism and fascism, each of whom promised a way out of hopelessness (Blum, 1998, p. 31).
This hopelessness presented especially ripe opportunities for those who had been most devastating by the Treaty of Versailles and the loss of World War I. The fascists in Italy quickly gained support by appeals to nationalism by being quite capable of pointing the finger toward America and England as the cause of their misery. It was the rampant capitalism and the power of the banks and the blind greed that had thrown the world into turmoil. Promises of prosperity and the ...Show more

Summary

World War I had been arguably the most devastating conflict in human history to that point. Following the defeat of Germany and its allies, the victors began plans to reap the spoils of war. A peace conference was held Versailles, outside Paris, presided over by Georges Clemenceau of France, Woodrow Wilson of the United States, and David Lloyd George of England…
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