How did the Treaty of Versailles punish Germany after World War I?
The Treaty of Versailles stripped Germany of a considerable amount of territory, slashed the size of the German armed forces, and imposed massive reparations payments on the postwar German government. All of this was based on a so-called "war guilt" clause in the Treaty in which the Germans accepted full responsibility for starting the war. The terms, which were imposed upon the new Weimar Republic that governed Germany after the war, were humiliating for the Germans, and contributed to a toxic political atmosphere in postwar Germany that facilitated the rise of political extremists like the Nazis. Moreover, the reparations payments were ruinous to the German economy in the short term. The German government struggled to make the payments, and France actually occupied the Saar Valley in order to enforce them. Runaway inflation set in that brought the economy and the Weimar government to the brink of collapse in the mid-1920s. Above all, the fact that the Treaty was signed by the Weimar government (the Kaiser having abdicated at the end of the war) made it very unpopular across the political spectrum.
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