How did the Treaty of Versailles and the Great Depression lead to the rise of Hitler?

Hitler used the dissatisfaction of the German people with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and the economic hardships of the Great Depression to win over his countrymen with promises of German glory and prosperity, and this aided his rise to power.

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The Treaty of Versailles, signed in June 1919, delineated the terms of peace between the Allies and Germany at the close of World War I. The terms were humiliating and economically devastating for Germany, which had to accept full responsibility for the war, give up part of its territory to the conquering nations, demilitarize, limit its army and navy, and pay an enormous amount in reparations. This embittered the German people, who felt betrayed by the Allied countries.

Adolf Hitler became the head of the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi Party, in 1921. Among key party platforms were the pride of the German people and dissatisfaction with the terms of the Versailles Treaty. After the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in 1923, Hitler began to work within the electoral process to gain power and influence.

The Great Depression, which began in 1929, quickly spread around the world. It hit particularly hard in Germany. Hitler took advantage of the economic upheaval and the desperation of the German people to offer an agenda of German pride and prosperity. As a result, the Nazis captured a significant number of seats in the German Parliament, called the Reichstag. In January of the following year of 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany, and the Nazis quickly moved to ban all other political parties and control all facets of German life.

We see, then, that Hitler used the disgruntlement of the German people with the Treaty of Versailles to advance the program of the Nazi Party through propaganda. When the Great Depression caused so much hardship among the German People, they looked for an alternative to the government in power, and Hitler and the Nazi Party were there with promises of glory and prosperity for the German people. Once Hitler had power, he forcibly eliminated opposition, at which point he and the Nazis were free to do whatever they wanted.

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The Great Depression and the Versailles Treaty enabled Hitler's rise to power in Germany. Germany signed the Versailles Treaty under duress; the British navy still blockaded the country, and if it did not sign the treaty, hostilities would have reopened at once. Germany was forced to assume all blame for the war—a war which it did not start. Germany also lost valuable industrial sections of the country to France, and some of its eastern territory was lost to recreate Poland. The German people, who were told all the way up to the end that they were winning the war, were in shock. Many rightist groups felt as though they had been sold out from within, and they sought to blame the Communists and Jews for capitulating. Hitler was able to use this antisemitism when he came to power.

The Great Depression was also key in Hitler's rise to power. Britain and France were forced to turn inward during the Depression, and they did not devote a lot of energy to international events such as Hitler's remilitarization. Germany was one of the largest economies in Europe before World War I. This economy was now in shambles thanks to the Versailles reparations and the sheer number of war casualties suffered by Germany. German leaders sought to print more Reichsmarks in order to pay for the war, but this only led to hyperinflation. The people grew desperate and hungry. Hitler promised to make Germany a great nation again and put Germans to work. His national Socialist program did indeed put people to work, but many of them went to work in plants making munitions.

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The Versailles Treaty and the Great Depression contributed to the rise of Hitler as the leader of Germany.  Hitler and many Germans were outraged at the harsh terms of the Versailles Treaty. This treaty required Germany to pay $33 billion in reparations to the Allies. It required Germany to accept responsibility for the start of World War I even though Germany didn’t start the war. It required Germany to give up some land and to reduce its military to a defensive one. Hitler vowed revenge as he played on feelings of German nationalism.

The terms of the Versailles Treaty led to a huge economic depression in Germany. This doomed the Weimar Republic to fail and created the conditions that allowed Hitler to rise to power. Once in power, he tried to restore German pride by saying no country could disrespect Germany. He vowed to get revenge for how Germany was treated with the terms of the treaty.

As the rest of the world plunged into depression in the very late 1920s and throughout the 1930s, Hitler was able to get away with acts of aggression. Countries like the United States, France, and Great Britain had too many issues to deal with at home. These countries were facing the most serious economic crisis they ever had faced. They couldn’t worry about what Hitler was doing. When Hitler built up his military and then moved it into the Rhineland, these countries were too focused on their economic problems to do anything about it. When Germany took over Austria, the same was true. Thus, the Great Depression provided the cover for Hitler to carry out these illegal actions.  It prevented the Allies from doing much about these actions. The Versailles Treaty and the Great Depression contributed to Hitler’s rise to power and his subsequent aggressive actions.

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