Tfog Essay, Research Paper
THE FALL OF GERMANYNone of the European power wanted World War I, but they feared Germany.Germany was newly unified, and was beating the European powers inpopulation and Industry. France wanted to recover the Alsace-Lorraine.Britain was a country used to being on the ocean, so they felt threatenedby Germany’s colonial expansion and William II’s insisting on a large navy. Russia and Austria feared pressure on their unstable empires. In 1887 William II refused to renew the Reinsurance treaty with Russia, butcontinued the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. In1894 Russia made an alliance with France, and Great Britain settled it’sdifferences with France in the Entente Cordiale in 1904 forming the TripleEntente. The assassination, with Serbian Knowledge, of the liberal Austrianarchduke Francis Ferdinan in Sarajevo in June 1914 was the spark that setoff the war. Germany assured Austria full support, which resulted in anAustrian ultimatum that Serbia could not accept. Austria declared war onSerbia. Russia mobilized to defend Serbia, then Germany declared war onRussia. Germany also declared war on France. Germany wanted a quickdefeat of France. To avoid the French frontier, German forces movedthrough neutral Belgium thinking they would take Paris by surprise. TheGermans encountered more resistance than expected in Belgium, giving Francetime to prepare. [Caidin 207] This violation of international law destroyedall sympathy for the Central Powers. Although German forces nearly reached Paris, the British and FrenchMiraculously turned back the Germans at the Battle of Marne. The two sidesdug trenches for a war that would last four years. The Russians thenattacked sending Germany into a two front war. The Germans defeated theRussians Many times on the east, but the Allies blockaded the Germans onthe east by cutting off food and raw materials, The Germans becamedesperate to break the blockade, so they declared unrestricted submarinewarfare. [Villiers 176] After several American ships were sunk, theUnited States entered the war in 1917. The Russians were in the middle ofseveral revolutions so they were not a threat to Germans. In 1918 when theGermans did not have to worry about the east, they launched an all outoffensive attack in the west, but the United Allies slowly turned the tide. Realizing the situation was hopeless the German High Command urged Williamto let a new civil government sue for peace. Woodrow Wilson, U.S. President from 1913 to 1921, insisted on dealing with citizens. Williamgrudgingly appointed Prince Max of Baden as chancellor. Even Though Wilsonwas negotiating with the chancellor there were still many problems.Fighting continued, sailors mutinied, socialist staged strikes, workers andmilitary formed Communist councils, and revolution broke out in Bavaria. [Grolier] Prince Max announced the abdication of William II and resigned. When Germany surrendered and changed its government, it expected anegoti1ated peace rather than the harsh terms of the Versailles treaty of1919. The allies were determined to receive reparations for their lossesand to see that Germany was never in a position to harm them again.
Germany lost the Alsace-Lorraine to France and lost West Prussia to Poland. It also lost all its colonies and had to give up most of its coal,trains, and merchant ships, as well as its navy. Germany had to limit itsarmy and submit to Allied occupation of Rhineland for 15 years. Worst ofall, the Germans had to accept full responsibility for causing the war and,consequently pay its total cost. The Germans did not consider themselvesanymore guilty than anyone else and could not possibly pay all of the costsdemanded. The Versailles treaty seemed fair to the Allies point of view,but it did not ensure a lasting peace. By accepting the treaty the GermanGovernment gained a bad name among its people. [Encarta96] The warreparations put a enormous strain on a country already bankrupted by fouryears of war. In Weimar in 1919 a nationalist assembly, led by the Social democraticparty, wrote a democratic constitution for the new German Reich. But theprospects of the Weimar Republic, as it was familiarly known, were dim.For most Germans the government was defeated and was controlled by theVersailles treaty, which they regarded as only temporary.[Encarta96] TheParliamentary government was opposed by conservative militarists andrevolutionary scientists. Both sides frequently tried to overthrow thegovernment with small armies. For instance the military Kapp Putsch in1920 and, the Uprising of the Communist Sparticists in 1919 under KarlLiebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. The economic situation made matters worsebecause the German government could not pay off reparation requirements, soFrance invaded Ruhr in1923 to take over coal mines. The governmentencouraged the workers to resist passively, printing large amounts ofcurrency to pay them. The result was an inflation that wiped out savings,pensions, insurance, and other forms of fixed income, creating a revolutionthat destroyed the most stable elements of Germany. Aided by the Dawesplan of 1924, which set reasonable amounts of reparations and provided forforeign loans, the brilliant German Minister Gustav Stresemann reorganizedthe monetary system and encouraged industry. Stresemann introduced a newcurrency, and paved the way for more reasonable reparation schedules. Forfive years Germany enjoyed relative peace and prosperity. In 1926 Germany joined the League of Nations. In 1929 when the worldwidedepression hit it plunged the city into disaster. Million of unemployed,disillusioned by capitalist democracy, turned to communism or to the partyof National Socialism (Nazism) led by Adolf Hitler. In notable effortscalled the Munich Putsch of 1923 Hitler and the Nazis made a farcicalattempt to seize power in Bavaria. From 1930 on the government functionedby emergency decree. The Communist profited briefly from radicalization,but the main beneficiary was the Nazi party. The Nazi party had twinattractions of appearing to offer radical solutions to economic problemswhile upholding patriotic values. [Encarta96] By 1932 it was the largestparty in the Reighstag. The next year President Paul von Hindenburgappointed Hitler Chancellor after allowing himself to be convinced bygenerals and right-wing politicians that only the Nazi leader could restoreorder in Germany and that he could be controlled.