Examine the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI and explain how these conditions contributed to the rise of fascism in Europe.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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If we are going to say that the Treaty of Versailles helped to bring about fascism in Europe, we will have to see how that treaty affected Germany and Italy.  Those were the two countries where fascism arose most strongly. 

The Treaty of Versailles helped to bring about fascism in Italy, but it was not because of anything that was actually in the treaty.  Instead, it was what was NOT in the treaty that mattered for Italy.  Because Italy had fought in the war on the winning side, it expected to be compensated.  It thought that it should get various pieces of territory that had previously belonged to countries of the Central Powers.  But Italy did not get what it wanted in the treaty and it felt that its Prime Minister had not really been heard at the peace conference.  Anger about the treaty in Italy helped to bring about unrest.  That unrest helped the fascists gain power because they promised to restore order.

The Treaty of Versailles treated Germany very harshly.  It took away large parts of what had been German territory.  It forbade Germany from having armed forces of any great size and power.  It forced Germany to pay reparations for damages caused during the war and it required Germany to admit that the war itself was Germany’s fault.  All of these provisions of the treaty angered Germans.  They felt that the treaty was unfair to them.  Because they felt it was so unfair, they were willing to support any government that could promise to avenge the wrongs of the treaty.  When it appeared that the Nazis (who were fascist) might be able to abrogate the treaty and return Germany to what they thought was its rightful place as a major power, Germans supported them.  In this way, the Treaty of Versailles created conditions that helped bring fascists to power in Germany just as it did in Italy.

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