Treaty of Versailles vs. The peace after World War II

Essay by lin398432High School, 10th gradeA, May 2008

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"War is eternal, war is universal. There is no beginning and there is no peace.

War is life...War is the origin of all things" - Adolf Hitler. As we examine all the great wars in history there is always one question we must ask ourselves about the success of the aftermath of the war. Was their a lasting peace, or was more war a result of the post war agreements? The post world war eras were times of turmoil for the European continent. Tensions ran high as Europe was completely in shambles, trying desperately to rebuild. The differences in the way to go about peace at the end of World war one and two ultimately led to how our world was shaped over the last century, with all the benefits and pitfalls those proposed plans came with. The peace at the end of World War II was more successful than the Treaty of Versailles in calming European tensions in terms of the economic, political, and social aspects of life.

The Treaty of Versailles blamed Germany for the First World War. As a result of this Germany was also held accountable for the cost of the war and the Treaty dictated that compensation would have to be paid to the Allies. It is important to remember that the economic might of Germany had been stretched to the limits during the war, and she would have to reconstruct her own economy at the same time as paying Reparations. Many Historians believe that this led to Germany's downright atomicity toward those allied nations. In the post WWII era Germany was not as economically crippled like in WWI since most of the fighting was not done in Germany; they paid reparations mainly in the form of dismantled factories, forced labor, and coal. General William Henry Draper Jr., chief of the American Economics Division said at the Potsdam Conference, "Some progress has been made in converting Germany to an agricultural and light industry economy, the nation will need large imports of food and raw materials to maintain a minimum standard of living. Clearly it can be said that the leaders in the post WWII era were much more concerned for German wellbeing than those self-centered leaders at the Paris Peace Conference.

Many people believe the Treaty of Versailles caused the political disillusionment that led to WWII. Former soldiers in particular, believed that the politicians had lost the war rather than the army. This, amongst other things, led to a growth in the number of people who distrusted the Weimar Republic and were unwilling to support it. This manifests itself in uprisings such as the Kapp Putsch and the Munich Putsch, though there are other factors which led to these uprisings of Adolf Hitler. After WWII the victors made every effort to restore and rehabilitate the land and industries of the vanquished. The Germans were treated fairly; they were divided into 4 zones of occupation, U.S., France, Great Britain, and the U.S.S.R. The American, British, and French zones joined in 1949 as the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Soviet zone became the German Democratic Republic. The allies promised for a policy of self-government and freedom. Separating Germany in this way allowed for Allied aid to be given to Germany, until strong enough to govern itself.

The reaction of many Germans to the ending of the war also had a large impact on German Society. Many of the former soldiers were of the opinion that they had not lost the war; they believed that the army had been cheated in the Versailles Treaty. As a consequence of this many Germans looked for people to blame. Some lay the blame in the hands of the Kaiser. Others, many others, looked to the new Government. They had immediately sued for peace and accepted the terms of the Versailles Treaty. For many Germans this showed that they were largely to blame. Other theories that were popular amongst the former soldiers were that it was the result of Communists or Jews. So in the immediate Post War era, there is a mass of suspicion within Germany. Combined with these factors is the potential threat to the social order. The post WWII era was different because there was more support from civilians. They were actually there to help build the planes and the tanks and the guns. It shows that in our time of need, we can depend on one another. The Peace also laid the foundations to remind people of the horrible atrocities that went on at the death camps, and wanted to ensure nothing like this would ever happen again.

War is eternal, war is universal. This is the simple truth that we cannot escape. We will never forget what happened to those people who gave their lives in honor to their country, and those who stood up for what they believed in only to die at the barrage of bullet fire. We had the power to end this, as humans we control our own destiny. Why was there a World War II? Why do people carry such hatred, as to cause something of monumental proportions, where hundreds of millions of people die all to satisfy there own self-centered needs? Had they forgotten the definitions of compassion and what it means to have a heart? World War II was a product of the arrogant allied leaders, as we look toward the future we pray nothing like this ever happens again, but nothing is certain, if humanity once more takes a backseat to revenge.

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Kfeig, Dr. "Part 2 - From WWI." Modern World of Western Civilization. 2006. Foothill College. 6 Apr. 2008

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"The Seeds of Evil: Germany 1919 - 1933." Schools History. 4 June 2004. 6 Apr. 2008