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Repercussions of World War I

Major Repercussions of World War I leading to World War II and the domination of the Nazis.


In 1918 Germany's great generals, Hindenburg and Ludendorff, realized that Germany had no remaining possibility for winning the war. They approached the opposing allied countries to ask for negotiations and peace talks. Their enemies, the Triple Entente of France, Britain and the United States, refused to meet for peace talks unless Germany was under the rule of a Democratic government. The November Revolution thus forced Wilhelm II to abdicate his throne, and on November 9, 1918, socialist Frederick Ebert created the Weimar Republic to appease the allied powers.

In June of 1919 the Treaty of Versailles was finally signed to officially end World War I.

However, though the "War to End All Wars" was officially over, it left a series of scars on the continent of Europe that were never overcome. In Germany, for example, people were unhappy with the forced government. Their desperation in the face of the country's many problems, as well as the general belief that the signing of the armistice had been a "stab in the back" by people who wanted to see the end of Germany's glory, led them to accept radical ideas for change.

Contributing more to this unrest was the Treaty itself, which took much land from the Germans, forced the Weimar Republic to accept responsibility for all damage caused by the war and thus to pay outrageous reparations for the damage to all of the involved countries, and even reduced their army to practically nothing in an attempt to ensure that a rebuilt German army could not attack France. At the same time however, the military restrictions placed on Germany by the Treaty left no possibility for the Germans to defend the country in case of a later attack. It was, in all ways, an insult and affront against German politicians in general, including the new Weimar government. To many nationalists, the Weimar government itself was an equal insult.

The lack of a military in the country, the abundance of young men who had been soldiers in World War I and knew no other trade, combined with these foreign insults to cause a new focus for much of the German youth. The development of many paramilitary groups in Germany gave veterans a sense of belonging even while challenging the authority of the Weimar Republic from the start.

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