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

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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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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