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How was the political atmosphere in Germany after World War II different than the...
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Germany after World War I was destitute. Wartime conditions had already depleted the nation's economy, and the conditions imposed on it by the victorious Entente nations in the Treaty of Versaille greatly exacerbated both the economic and the political situations there. Germany was forced under the terms of the treaty to pay reparations to the Britain and France, its ability to trade internationally was impaired, and it was under strict restrictions as to how it could rebuild its armed forces. All of this contributed greatly to the bitterness Germans felt in the aftermath of the war -- a bitterness that would ultimately lead to the rise of Adolph Hitler and the fascists. The 1923 invasion of the German Ruhr, its most important industrial region, by the France and Belgium in reaction to Germany's inability to continue to pay reparations was particularly harmful to German pride, which manifested itself in the continued weakening of the German government.
The mid- to late 1920s saw an economic revitalization, known as "the Golden Years," helped by the decision of the French and Belgians to withdraw from the Ruhr, but the onset of the Great Depression at the end of the decade, with its massive levels of unemployment in a country still recovering from the war, saw Germany once again suffering mightily. That this condition resulted in major political transformations was not surprising. Germany's monarch, Kaiser Wilhelm, was politically weakened at the very time extremist parties on the left and right of the political spectrum began to gain strength. The Weimer Republic, established after the Kaiser was removed from power, proved incapable of consolidating politcal power in the face of the economic pressures resulting from the depression, the Versaille conditions, and the political machinations of the emerging National Socialist Party.
The rise of Hitler, culminating with his accession to the position of Chancellor in 1933, was the ultimate result of the political and economic instability in Germany in the period between the wars.
Germany after World War II was a vastly different political entity than was the case after the First World War. Once again economically devastated, but with far greater levels of physical destruction following years of intense bombing from the United States and Great Britain and by the Russian push into the eastern half of the country, Germany was barely alive. The political situation would naturally reflect the division of the country into two halves, with the new Federal Republic of Germany in the west, following the easing of the military occupation by U.S., British and French troops, developing a democratic form of government with free market economic principles. The eastern half, under the firm control of the Soviet Union and its dictator, Joseph Stalin, was reconstituted as the German Democratic Republic and would remain a highly repressive police state for the next 45 years.
Posted by kipling2448 on May 21, 2013 at 3:16 PM (Answer #1)
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