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How Accurate Is It To Suggest That Treaty Of Versailles Was Mainly Responsible For The Political And Economic Instability In Germany In The Years 1919 1923?

1384 words - 6 pages

The Weimer Republic was established on extremely shaky grounds, with much of the public viewing those responsible for the new government as the ‘November Criminals’, the German signatories of the initial armistice which led to the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles was responsible for the later crushing of much of Germany’s military and economic stability. However, the pre-existing weaknesses of the Weimar government, Weimar’s political opponents as well as the failure of domestic policy. Overall, the most important reason is clearly the long-term effects of the Treaty of Versailles.

The Treaty of Versailles contributed greatly to Germany’s economic destruction. Under the ...view middle of the document...

The treaty was notably created under a ‘diktat’, as Germany were not invited to any of the negotiations, which sparked further frustration within society as Germans were branded with the ‘war guilt clause’, accepting full responsibility for the conflict. Overall, we can see that the Treaty of Versailles laid the long-term flaws in the new Weimer Republic that led to political and economic instability in the years 1919-23.

The issue of domestic policy also played a major role in the political and economic instability; by 1922 the new Weimer government had failed to manage Germany’s debt situation correctly, and was thus on course for hyperinflation – the total debt since 1919 had tripled to 469 billion gold marks, forcing the Weimer government to ask for a pause in reparations to allow time for recovery. This failed, and France instead increased demands to 60% of the dyestuff industry. As part of their domestic policy, the Weimer government simply responded by printing even larger sums of money to pay off their reparations, which cemented Germany’s course to hyperinflation. As such, Germany was placed into economic turmoil as the Allies assumed that Germany had defaulted on their reparations, resulting in the French occupation of the Ruhr. Instead of encouraging German industry, the government enacted the policy of ‘passive resistance’; workers were encouraged to strike to defy the will of their French occupiers, while the government shouldered even greater debt by promising to pay the workers their wages. This was a significant failure of domestic policy, and the German economy, now facing both French hostility and economic downturn was essentially crippled. The political implications were also clear – the government faced increasingly hostile opinion for the mismanagement of the economy. Instead of pacifying opposition to domestic policy, the government ordered that one sector of the Freikorps should disband, an order that was defied by their leader, who instead organised a march onto Berlin and the later Kapp Putsch. Most notably the weakness of domestic policy was revealed in this instance; the Weimer government ordered the central army to supress the march, only to have its orders refused by the army, and served as proof of the political instability that existed, where the government had little control. While domestic policy was a key failure, it is not as important as the underlying Treaty of Versailles due to the fact that many of the economic problems and social unrest were created by the treaty, and arguably no matter how successful domestic policy was Germany would always be economically strained by the treaty, at unease socially.

The political spectrum was also being increasingly widened, as the Weimer government began to face threats from both the far left and right wing. From the left-wing, a series of strikes were enacted in 1919, at a detrimental effect to the economic stability of Germany. Peace was only restored by the...

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