The Treaty of Versailles, signed by Germany and the Allied Powers in 1919, ended World War I. One article that many believe helped lead to World War II was Article 231, the so-called "War Guilt Clause." This clause stipulated that Germany had to accept the responsibility for causing the losses that the Allies suffered in the war. While the clause did not directly state that Germany caused the war, Germans read the article in that way. The clause did, however, set up a system of reparations that Germany had to pay to the Allies. The result was that Germans were humiliated and felt that the onus of the war rested unfairly on them. The Weimar Republic had the burden of explaining and rationalizing this clause to the German people, and Hitler used German resentment about this clause to help cause the downfall of the Weimar Republic and pave his path to power.
In addition, other articles in the treaty restricted Germany's territory. For example, Article 42 forbade Germany from constructing any fortifications along the Rhine. In Article 45, Germany had to give up all coal production in the Saar Basin to France. Germany had to renounce other territories as well, and these articles also enflamed German resentment in the years after World War I. These stipulations hurt German pride and made the Germans more amenable to the promises of the diabolical Hitler, who promised a return to German territorial expansion and to nationalistic pride.