There are many causes that led Europe to be the epicenter of the bloodiest war with the most deaths in history: World War II, but the most important was the Treaty of Versailles.
It is true that we must also take into account since the rise of totalitarianism, whether fascist or communist, through the german expansionism and British colonialism, until the 1929 crisis.
But, without a doubt, the most important was the Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919.
The Treaty of Versailles
This pact was signed by the allies of the First World War and for Germany. It collected severe measures against the German Reich, who was described as "only guilty" of the Big war.
In the Paris conference, held from January 18 to February 15, 1918, this document was forged. There were deliberations and conversations between 32 countries, among which was neither Germany, nor any of its allies.
The confrontation between the interests of maritime Great Britain and continental France quickly became noticeable.
Geographical changes after the treaty
The British, who no longer had the German Empire as a rival in their colonies, advocated a softening of territorial conditions over Germany, while the French wanted to punish the Reich harshly to avoid a future invasion of their territories.
In any case, the treaty included several measures, both economic, political and territorial.
The borders would be restored to their situation in 1870, that is, France would regain Alsace and Lorraine.
The Saarland area would be under the protection of the newly founded Society of nations and its mines would be controlled by France.
Belgium would recover Malmédy, Eupen and Moresnet. Poland would be rebuilt following the fourteen-point plans of American President Wilson.
Many cities and territories of the Reich would go on to hold plebiscites to find out which countries they preferred to belong to.
The pact would also recognize the independence of Austria and Czechoslovakia, as well as the delivery of all its colonies to the victorious powers.
The consequences for Germany
Ultimately, Germany would lose a seventh of its territory and a tenth of its population.
The treaty also included other clauses like the reduction of the German army to 100,000 men, the payment of more than 30,000 million dollars as reparations to the allies, the occupation of the left bank of the Rhine and the demilitarization of the Rhineland area.
In Germany, the treaty was frowned upon and they made several proposals that were rejected. Thus, the press of the German country harshly criticized the allies and the measures that were required of them, especially the fact that accept the blame for being the cause of the war.
The mentality of winners and losers was present in the Treaty of Versailles, where not only were the defeated punished by forcing them to pay reparations, but it was sought to humiliate them, in order to avoid future wars.
Consequences of the Treaty of Versailles
The enormous inflation that occurred at the end of the 1920s in Germany was due to the foreign debt it had with the allies and the reparations that were increasing during that decade.
This internal economic crisis was an opportunity that the extremist parties in the German country took advantage of to seize power.
So, Adolf Hitler managed to benefit from the situation generated from abroad and the failure of the weak foreign policy of the Weimar Republic.
Definitely, the Treaty of Versailles It was yet another episode of the quarrels that had existed for centuries between Germany and France, but, unlike the previous ones, it ended up being one of the causes that condemned Europe to the bloodiest and most devastating war in history: the Second World War.
Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved History and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.