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Treaty of Versailles

On 5 May 1921, the reparation Commission established the London Schedule of Payments and a final reparation sum of 132 billion gold marks to be demanded of all the Central Powers. This was the public assessment of what the Central Powers combined could pay, and was also a compromise between Belgian, British, and French demands and assessments. Furthermore, the Commission recognized that the Central Powers could pay little and that the burden would fall upon Germany. As a result, the sum was split into different categories, of which Germany was only required to pay 50 billion gold marks (US$12.5 billion); this being the genuine assessment of the commission on what Germany could pay, and allowed the Allied powers to save face with the public by presenting a higher figure. Furthermore, payments made between 1919 and 1921 were taken into account reducing the sum to 41 billion gold marks.[97][98]

In order to meet this sum, Germany could pay in cash or kind: coal, timber, chemical dyes, pharmaceuticals, livestock, agricultural machines, construction materials, and factory machinery. Germany's assistance with the restoration of the university library of Leuven, which was destroyed by the Germans on 25 August 1914, was also credited towards the sum. Territorial changes imposed by the treaty were also factored in.[99][100] The payment schedule required US$250 million within twenty-five days and then US$500 million annually, plus 26 per cent of the value of German exports. The German Government was to issue bonds at five per cent interest and set up a sinking fund of one per cent to support the payment of reparations.[67]

On 5 May 1921, the reparation Commission established the London Schedule of Payments and a final reparation sum of 132 billion gold marks to be demanded of all the Central Powers. This was the public assessment of what the Central Powers combined could pay, and was also a compromise between Belgian, British, and French demands and assessments. Furthermore, the Commission recognized that the Central Powers could pay little and that the burden would fall upon Germany. As a result, the sum was split into different categories, of which Germany was only required to pay 50 billion gold marks (US$12.5 billion); this being the genuine assessment of the commission on what Germany could pay, and allowed the Allied powers to save face with the public by presenting a higher figure. Furthermore, payments made between 1919 and 1921 were taken into account reducing the sum to 41 billion gold marks.[97][98]

In order to meet this sum, Germany could pay in cash or kind: coal, timber, chemical dyes, pharmaceuticals, livestock, agricultural machines, construction materials, and factory machinery. Germany's assistance with the restoration of the university library of Leuven, which was destroyed by the Germans on 25 August 1914, was also credited towards the sum. Territorial changes imposed by the treaty were also factored in.In order to meet this sum, Germany could pay in cash or kind: coal, timber, chemical dyes, pharmaceuticals, livestock, agricultural machines, construction materials, and factory machinery. Germany's assistance with the restoration of the university library of Leuven, which was destroyed by the Germans on 25 August 1914, was also credited towards the sum. Territorial changes imposed by the treaty were also factored in.[99][100] The payment schedule required US$250 million within twenty-five days and then US$500 million annually, plus 26 per cent of the value of German exports. The German Government was to issue bonds at five per cent interest and set up a sinking fund of one per cent to support the payment of reparations.[67]

In February and March 1920, the Schleswig Plebiscites were held. The people of Schleswig were presented with only two choices: Danish or German sovereignty. The northern Danish-speaking area voted for Denmark while the southern German-speaking area voted for Germany, resulting in the province being partitioned.[56] The East Prussia plebiscite was held on 11 July 1920. There was a 90% turn out with 99.3% of the population wishing to remain with Germany. Further plebiscites were held in Eupen, Malmedy, and Prussian Moresnet. On 20 September 1920, the League of Nations allotted these territories to Belgium. These latter plebiscites were followed by a boundary commission in 1922, followed by the new Belgian-German border being recognized by the German Government on 15 December 1923.[101] The transfer of the Hultschin area, of Silesia, to Czechoslovakia was completed on 3 February 1921.[102]

Following the implementation of the treaty, Upper Silesia was initially governed by Britain, France, and Italy.[103] Between 1919 and 1921, three major outbreaks of violence took place between German and Polish civilians, resulting in German and Polish military forces also becoming involved.[103][104] In March 1921, the Inter-Allied Commission held the Upper Silesia plebiscite, which was peaceful despite the previous violence. The plebiscite resulted in c. 60 per cent of the population voting for the province to remain part of Germany.[105] Following the vote, the League of Nations debated the future

Following the implementation of the treaty, Upper Silesia was initially governed by Britain, France, and Italy.[103] Between 1919 and 1921, three major outbreaks of violence took place between German and Polish civilians, resulting in German and Polish military forces also becoming involved.[103][104] In March 1921, the Inter-Allied Commission held the Upper Silesia plebiscite, which was peaceful despite the previous violence. The plebiscite resulted in c. 60 per cent of the population voting for the province to remain part of Germany.[105] Following the vote, the League of Nations debated the future of the province.[106] In 1922, Upper Silesia was partitioned: Oppeln, in the north-west, remained with Germany while Silesia Province, in the south-east, was transferred to Poland.[103]

Memel remained under the authority of the League of Nations, with a French military garrison, until January 1923.[107] On 9 January 1923, Lithuanian forces invaded the territory during the Klaipėda Revolt.[108] The French garrison withdrew, and in February the Allies agreed to attach Memel as an "autonomous territory" to Lithuania.[107] On 8 May 1924, after negotiations between the Lithuanian Government and the Conference of Ambassadors and action by the League of Nations, the annexation of Memel was ratified.[108] Lithuania accepted the Memel Statute, a power-sharing arrangement to protect non-Lithuanians in the territory and its autonomous status while responsibility for the territory remained with the great powers. The League of Nations mediated between the Germans and Lithuanians on a local level, helping the power-sharing arrangement last until 1939.[107]

On 13 January 1935, 15 years after the Saar Basin had been placed under the protection of the League of Nations, a plebiscite was held to determine the future of the area. 528,105 votes were cast, with 477,119 votes (90 per cent of the ballot) in favour of union with Germany; 46,613 votes were cast for the status quo, and 2,124 votes for union with France. The region returned to German sovereignty on 1 March 1935. When the result was announced 4,100 people, including 800 refugees from Germany fled to France.[n. 9][109]

In late 1918, American, Belgian, British, and French troops entered the Rhineland to enforce the armistice.[24] Prior to the treaty, the occupation force stood at roughly 740,000 men.[110][111][112][113] Following the signing of the peace treaty, the numbers drastically decreased and by 1926 the occupation force numbered only 76,000 men.[114] As part of the 1929 negotiations that would become the Young Plan, Stresemann and Aristide Briand negotiated the early withdrawal of Allied forces from the Rhineland.[115] On 30 June 1930, after speeches and the lowering of flags, the last troops of the Anglo-French-Belgian occupation force withdrew from Germany.[116]

Belgium maintained an occupation force of roughly 10,000 troops throughout the initial years.[111] This figure fell to 7,102 by 1926, and continued to fall as a result of diplomatic developments.[114][117]

The British Second Army, with some 275,000 veteran soldiers, entered Germany in late 1918.[118][112] In March 1919, this force became the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). The total number of troops committed to the occupation rapidly dwindled as veteran soldiers were demobilized, and were replaced by inexperienced men who had finished basic training following the cessation of host

Belgium maintained an occupation force of roughly 10,000 troops throughout the initial years.[111] This figure fell to 7,102 by 1926, and continued to fall as a result of diplomatic developments.[114][117]

The British Second Army, with some 275,000 veteran soldiers, entered Germany in late 1918.[118][112] In March 1919, this force became the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). The total number of troops committed to the occupation rapidly dwindled as veteran soldiers were demobilized, and were replaced by inexperienced men who had finished basic training following the cessation of hostilities.[118] By 1920, the BAOR consisted of only 40,594 men and the following year had been further reduced to 12,421. The size of the BAOR fluctuated over the following years, but never rose above 9,000 men.[119][incomplete short citation] The British did not adhere to all obligated territorial withdrawals as dictated by Versailles, on account of Germany not meeting her own treaty obligations.[120] A complete withdrawal was considered, but rejected in order to maintain a presence to continue acting as a check on French ambitions and prevent the establishment of an autonomous Rhineland Republic.[121]

The French Army of the Rhine was initially 250,000 men strong, including at a peak 40,000 African colonial troops (Troupes coloniales). By 1923, the French occupation force had decreased to roughly 130,000 men, including 27,126 African troops.[113] The troop numbers peaked again at 250,000 during the occupation of the Ruhr, before decreasing to 60,000 men by 1926.[114][122] Germans viewed the use of French colonial troops as a deliberate act of humiliation, and used their presence to create a propaganda campaign dubbed the Black shame. This campaign lasted throughout the 1920s and 30s, although peaked in 1920 and 1921. For example, a 1921 German Government memo detailed 300 acts of violence from colonial troops, which included 65 murders and 170 sexual offenses. Historical consensus is that the charges were exaggerated for political and propaganda purposes, and that the colonial troops behaved far better than their white counterparts.[113] An estimated 500–800 Rhineland Bastards were born as a result of fraternization between colonial troops and German women, and who would later be persecuted.[123]

The United States Third Army entered Germany with 200,000 men. In June 1919, the Third Army demobilized and by 1920 the US occupation force had been reduced to 15,000 men.[124][110] Wilson further reduced the garrison to 6,500 men, prior to the inauguration of Warren G. Harding in 1921.[110] On 7 January 1923, after the Franco–Belgian occupation of the Ruhr, the US senate legislated the withdrawal of the remaining force.[125][126] On 24 January, the American garrison started their withdrawal from the Rhineland, with the final troops leaving in early February.[127]

The German economy was so weak that only a small percentage of reparations was paid in hard currency. Nonetheless, even the payment of this small percentage of the original reparations (132 billion gold marks) still placed a significant burden on the German economy. Although the causes of the devastating post-war hyperinflation are complex and disputed, Germans blamed the near-collapse of their economy on the treaty, and some economists estimated that the reparations accounted for as much as one-third of the hyper-inflation.[128]

In March 1921, French and Belgian troops occupied Duisburg, Düsseldorf, and other areas which formed part of the demilitarized Rhineland, according to the Treaty of Versailles. In January 1923, French and Belgian forces occupied the rest of the Ruhr area as a reprisal after Germany failed to fulfill reparation payments demanded by the Versailles Treaty. The German government answered with "passive resistance", which meant that coal miners and railway workers refused to obey any instructions by the occupation forces. Production and transportation came to a standstill, but the financial consequences contributed to German hyperinflation and completely ruined public finances in Germany. Consequently, passive resistance was called off in late 1923. The end of passive resistance in the Ruhr allowed Germany to undertake a currency reform and to negotiate the Dawes Plan, which led to the withdrawal of French and Belgian troops from the Ruhr Area in 1925.[129]

Military

In 1920, the head of the Reichswehr Hans von Seeckt clandestinely re-established the General Staff, by expanding the Truppenamt (Troop Office); purportedly a hu

In March 1921, French and Belgian troops occupied Duisburg, Düsseldorf, and other areas which formed part of the demilitarized Rhineland, according to the Treaty of Versailles. In January 1923, French and Belgian forces occupied the rest of the Ruhr area as a reprisal after Germany failed to fulfill reparation payments demanded by the Versailles Treaty. The German government answered with "passive resistance", which meant that coal miners and railway workers refused to obey any instructions by the occupation forces. Production and transportation came to a standstill, but the financial consequences contributed to German hyperinflation and completely ruined public finances in Germany. Consequently, passive resistance was called off in late 1923. The end of passive resistance in the Ruhr allowed Germany to undertake a currency reform and to negotiate the Dawes Plan, which led to the withdrawal of French and Belgian troops from the Ruhr Area in 1925.[129]

In 1920, the head of the Reichswehr Hans von Seeckt clandestinely re-established the General Staff, by expanding the Truppenamt (Troop Office); purportedly a human resources section of the army.[130][131] In March, 18,000 German troops entered the Rhineland under the guise of attempting to quell possible unrest by communists and in doing so violated the demilitarized zone. In response, French troops advanced further into Germany until the German troops withdrew.[132]

German officials conspired systematically to evade the clauses

German officials conspired systematically to evade the clauses of the treaty, by failing to meet disarmament deadlines, refusing Allied officials access to military facilities, and maintaining and hiding weapon production.[132] As the treaty did not ban German companies from producing war material outside of Germany, companies moved to the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Sweden. Bofors was bought by Krupp, and in 1921 German troops were sent to Sweden to test weapons.[133] The establishment of diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union, via the Genoa Conference and Treaty of Rapallo, was also used to circumvent the Treaty of Versailles. Publicly, these diplomatic exchanges were largely in regards to trade and future economic cooperation. However, secret military clauses were included that allowed for Germany to develop weapons inside the Soviet Union. Furthermore, it allowed for Germany to establish three training areas for aviation, chemical and tank warfare.[134][incomplete short citation][135][incomplete short citation][136][137] In 1923, the British newspaper The Times made several claims about the state of the German Armed Forces: that it had equipment for 800,000 men, was transferring army staff to civilian positions in order to obscure their real duties, and warned of the militarization of the German police force by the exploitation the Krümper system.[138] [vi]

The Weimar Government also funded domestic rearmament programs, which were covertly funded with the money camouflaged in "X-budgets", worth up to an additional 10% of the disclosed military budget.[139] By 1925, German companies had begun to design tanks and modern artillery. During the year, over half of Chinese arms imports were German and worth 13 million Reichsmarks. In January 1927, following the withdrawal of the Allied disarmament committee, Krupps ramped up production of armor plate and artillery.[140][141] [vii] Production increased so that by 1937, military exports had increased to 82,788,604 Reichsmarks.[140][141] Production was not the only violation: "Volunteers" were rapidly passed through the army to make a pool of trained reserves, and paramilitary organizations were encouraged with the illegally militarized police. Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) were not limited by the treaty, thus this loophole was exploited and as such the number of NCOs were vastly in excess to the number needed by the Reichswehr.[142]

In December 1931, the Reichswehr finalized a second rearmament plan that called for 480 million Reichsmarks to be spent over the following five years: this program sought to provide Germany the capability of creating and supplying a defensive force of 21 divisions supported by aircraft, artillery, and tanks. This coincided with a 1 billion Reichsmark programme that planned for additional industrial infrastructure that would be able to permanently maintain this force. As these programs did not require an expansion of the military, they were nominally legal.[143] On 7 November 1932, the Reich Minister of Defense Kurt von Schleicher authorized the illegal Umbau Plan for a standing army of 21 divisions based on 147,000 professional soldiers and a large militia.[143] Later in the year at the World Disarmament Conference, Germany withdrew to force France and Britain to accept German equality of status.[143] London attempted to get Germany to return with the promise of all nations maintaining an equality in armaments and security. The British later proposed and agreed to an increase in the Reichswehr to 200,000 men, and for Germany to have an air force half the size of the French. It was also negotiated for the French Army to be reduced.[144]

In October 1933, following the rise of Adolf Hitler and the founding of Nazi regime, Germany withdrew from League of Nations and the World Disarmament Conference. In March 1935, Germany reintroduced conscription followed by an open rearmament programme, the official unveiling of the Luftwaffe (air force), and signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement that allowed a surface fleet 35% of the size of the Royal Navy.[145][146][147] The resulting rearmament programs was allotted 35 billion Reichsmarks over an eight-year period.[148]

On 7 March 1936, German troops entered and remilitarized the Rhineland.[149] On 12 March 1938, following German pressure to the collapse the Austrian Government, German troops crossed into Austria and the following day Hitler announced the Anschluss: the annexation of Austria by Germany.[150] The following year, on 23 March 1939, Germany annexed Memel from Lithuania.[151]

Historical as

Historians are split on the impact of the treaty. Some saw it as a good solution in a difficult time, others saw it as a disastrous measure that would anger the Germans to seek revenge. The actual impact of the treaty is also disputed.[152]

In his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keynes referred to the Treaty of Versailles as a "Carthaginian peace", a misguided attempt to destroy Germany on behalf of French revanchism, rather than to follow the fairer principles for a lasting peace set out in President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, which Germany had accepted at the armistice. He stated: "I believe that the campaign for securing out of Germany the general costs of the war was one of the most serious acts of political unwisdom for which our statesmen have ever been responsib

In his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keynes referred to the Treaty of Versailles as a "Carthaginian peace", a misguided attempt to destroy Germany on behalf of French revanchism, rather than to follow the fairer principles for a lasting peace set out in President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, which Germany had accepted at the armistice. He stated: "I believe that the campaign for securing out of Germany the general costs of the war was one of the most serious acts of political unwisdom for which our statesmen have ever been responsible."[153] Keynes had been the principal representative of the British Treasury at the Paris Peace Conference, and used in his passionate book arguments that he and others (including some US officials) had used at Paris.[154] He believed the sums being asked of Germany in reparations were many times more than it was possible for Germany to pay, and that these would produce drastic instability.[viii]

French economist Étienne Mantoux disputed that analysis. During the 1940s, Mantoux wrote a posthumously published book titled The Carthaginian Peace, or the Economic Consequences of Mr. Keynes in an attempt to rebut Keynes' claims. More recently economists have argued that the restriction of Germany to a small army saved it so much money it could afford the reparations payments.[155]

It has been argued – for instance by historian Gerhard Weinberg in his book A World at Arms[156] – that the treaty was in fact quite advantageous to Germany. The Bismarckian Reich was maintained as a political unit instead of being broken up, and Germany largely escaped post-war military occupation (in contrast to the situation following World War II). In a 1995 essay, Weinberg noted that with the disappearance of Austria-Hungary and with Russia withdrawn from Europe, that Germany was now the dominant power in Eastern Europe.[157]

The British military historian Correlli Barnett claimed that the Treaty of Versailles was "extremely lenient in comparison with the peace terms that Germany herself, when she was expecting to win the war, had had in mind to impose on the Allies". Furthermore, he claimed, it was "hardly a slap on the wrist" when contrasted with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that Germany had imposed on a defeated Russian SFSR in March 1918, which

It has been argued – for instance by historian Gerhard Weinberg in his book A World at Arms[156] – that the treaty was in fact quite advantageous to Germany. The Bismarckian Reich was maintained as a political unit instead of being broken up, and Germany largely escaped post-war military occupation (in contrast to the situation following World War II). In a 1995 essay, Weinberg noted that with the disappearance of Austria-Hungary and with Russia withdrawn from Europe, that Germany was now the dominant power in Eastern Europe.[157]

The British military historian Correlli Barnett claimed that the Treaty of Versailles was "extremely lenient in comparison with the peace terms that Germany herself, when she was expecting to win the war, had had in mind to impose on the Allies". Furthermore, he claimed, it was "hardly a slap on the wrist" when contrasted with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that Germany had imposed on a defeated Russian SFSR in March 1918, which had taken away a third of Russia's population (albeit mostly of non-Russian ethnicity), one-half of Russia's industrial undertakings and nine-tenths of Russia's coal mines, coupled with an indemnity of six billion marks.[158] Eventually, even under the "cruel" terms of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany's economy had been restored to its pre-war status.

Barnett also claims that, in strategic terms, Germany was in fact in a superior position following the Treaty than she had been in 1914. Germany's eastern frontiers faced Russia and Austria, who had both in the past balanced German power. Barnett asserts that its post-war eastern borders were safer, because the former Austrian Empire fractured after the war into smaller, weaker states, Russia was wracked by revolution and civil war, and the newly restored Poland was no match for even a defeated Germany. In the West, Germany was balanced only by France and Belgium, both of which were smaller in population and less economically vibrant than Germany. Barnett concludes by saying that instead of weakening Germany, the treaty "much enhanced" German power.[159] Britain and France should have (according to Barnett) "divided and permanently weakened" Germany by undoing Bismarck's work and partitioning Germany into smaller, weaker states so it could never have disrupted the peace of Europe again.[160] By failing to do this and therefore not solving the problem of German power and restoring the equilibrium of Europe, Britain "had failed in her main purpose in taking part in the Great War".[161]

The British historian of modern Germany, Richard J. Evans, wrote that during the war the German right was committed to an annexationist program which aimed at Germany annexing most of Europe and Africa. Consequently, any peace treaty that did not leave Germany as the conqueror would be unacceptable to them.[162] Short of allowing Germany to keep all the conquests of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Evans argued that there was nothing that could have been done to persuade the German right to accept Versailles.[162] Evans further noted that the parties of the Weimar Coalition, namely the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the social liberal German Democratic Party (DDP) and the Christian democratic Centre Party, were all equally opposed to Versailles, and it is false to claim as some historians have that opposition to Versailles also equalled opposition to the Weimar Republic.[162] Finally, Evans argued that it is untrue that Versailles caused the premature end of the Republic, instead contending that it was the Great Depression of the early 1930s that put an end to German democracy. He also argued that Versailles was not the "main cause" of National Socialism and the German economy was "only marginally influenced by the impact of reparations".[162]

Ewa Thompson points out that the treaty allowed numerous nations in Central and Eastern Europe to liberate themselves from oppressive German rule, a fact that is often neglected by Western historiography, more interested in understanding the German point of view. In nations that found themselves free as the result of the treaty — such as Poles or Czechs — it is seen as a symbol of recognition of wrongs committed against small nations by their much larger aggressive neighbours.[163]

Resentment caused by the treaty sowed fertile psychological ground for the eventual rise of the Nazi Party,[164] but the German-born Australian historian Jür

Ewa Thompson points out that the treaty allowed numerous nations in Central and Eastern Europe to liberate themselves from oppressive German rule, a fact that is often neglected by Western historiography, more interested in understanding the German point of view. In nations that found themselves free as the result of the treaty — such as Poles or Czechs — it is seen as a symbol of recognition of wrongs committed against small nations by their much larger aggressive neighbours.[163]

Resentment caused by the treaty sowed fertile psychological ground for the eventual rise of the Nazi Party,[164] but the German-born Australian historian Jürgen Tampke argued that it was "a perfidious distortion of history" to argue that the terms prevented the growth of democracy in Germany and aided the growth of the Nazi party; saying that its terms were not as punitive as often held and that German hyper-inflation in the 1920s was partly a deliberate policy to minimise the cost of repatriations. As an example of the arguments against the Versaillerdiktat he quotes Elizabeth Wiskemann who heard two officer's widows in Wiesbaden complaining that "with their stocks of linen depleted they had to have their linen washed once a fortnight (every two weeks) instead of once a month!"[165]

The German historian Detlev Peukert wrote that Versailles was far from the impossible peace that most Germans claimed it was during the interwar period, and though not without flaws was actually quite reasonable to Germany.[166] Rather, Peukert argued that it was widely believed in Germany that Versailles was a totally unreasonable treaty, and it was this "perception" rather than the "reality" of the Versailles treaty that mattered.[166] Peukert noted that because of the "millenarian hopes" created in Germany during World War I when for a time it appeared that Germany was on the verge of conquering all of Europe, any peace treaty the Allies of World War I imposed on the defeated German Reich were bound to create a nationalist backlash, and there was nothing the Allies could have done to avoid that backlash.[166] Having noted that much, Peukert commented that the policy of rapprochement with the Western powers that Gustav Stresemann carried out between 1923 and 1929 were constructive policies that might have allowed Germany to play a more positive role in Europe, and that it was not true that German democracy was doomed to die in 1919 because of Versailles.[166] Finally, Peukert argued that it was the Great Depression and the turn to a nationalist policy of autarky within Germany at the same time that finished off the Weimar Republic, not the Treaty of Versailles.[166]

French historian Raymond Cartier states that millions of Germans in the Sudetenland and in Posen-West Prussia were placed under foreign rule in a hostile environment, where harassment and violation of rights by authorities are documented.[ix] Cartier asserts that, out of 1,058,000 Germans in Posen-West Prussia in 1921, 758,867 fled their homelands within five years due to Polish harassment.[ix] These sharpening ethnic conflicts would lead to public demands to reattach the annexed territory in 1938 and become a pretext for Hitler's annexations of Czechoslovakia and parts of Poland.[ix]

According to David Stevenson, since the opening of French archives, most commentators have remarked on French restraint and reasonableness at the conference, though Stevenson notes that "[t]he jury is still out", and that "there have been signs that the pendulum of judgement is swinging back the other way."[167]

The Treaty of Versailles resulted in the creation of several thousand miles of new boundaries, with maps playing a central role in the negotiations at Paris.[168][169] The plebiscites initiated due to the treaty have drawn much comment. Historian Robert Peckham wrote that the issue of Schleswig "was premised on a gross simplification of the region's history. ... Versailles ignored any possibility of there being a third way: the kind of compact represented by the Swiss Federation; a bilingual or even trilingual Schleswig-Holsteinian state" or other options such as "a Schleswigian state in a loose confederation with Denmark or Germany, or an autonomous region under the protection of the League of Nations."[170] In regards to the East Prussia plebiscite, historian Richard Blanke wrote that "no other contested ethnic group has ever, under un-coerced conditions, issued so one-sided a statement of its national preference".[170] Richard Debo wrote "both Berlin and Warsaw believed the Soviet invasion of Poland had influenced the East Prussian plebiscites. Poland appeared so close to collapse that even Polish voters had cast their ballots for Germany".[171]

In regards to the Silesian plebiscite, Blanke observed "given that the electorate was at least 60% Polish-speaking, this means that about one 'Pole' in three voted for Germany" and "most Polish observers and historians" have concluded that the outcome of the plebiscite was due to "unfair German advantages of incumbency and socio-economic position". Blanke alleged "coercion of various kinds even in the face of an allied occupation regime" occurred, and that Germany granted votes to those "who had been born in Upper Silesia but no longer resided there". Blanke concluded that despite these protests "there is plenty of other evidence, including Reichstag election results both before and after 1921 and the large-scale emigration of Polish-speaking Upper Silesians to Germany after 1945, that their identification with Germany in 1921 was neither exceptional nor temporary" and "here was a large population

In regards to the Silesian plebiscite, Blanke observed "given that the electorate was at least 60% Polish-speaking, this means that about one 'Pole' in three voted for Germany" and "most Polish observers and historians" have concluded that the outcome of the plebiscite was due to "unfair German advantages of incumbency and socio-economic position". Blanke alleged "coercion of various kinds even in the face of an allied occupation regime" occurred, and that Germany granted votes to those "who had been born in Upper Silesia but no longer resided there". Blanke concluded that despite these protests "there is plenty of other evidence, including Reichstag election results both before and after 1921 and the large-scale emigration of Polish-speaking Upper Silesians to Germany after 1945, that their identification with Germany in 1921 was neither exceptional nor temporary" and "here was a large population of Germans and Poles—not coincidentally, of the same Catholic religion—that not only shared the same living space but also came in many cases to see themselves as members of the same national community".[105] Prince Eustachy Sapieha, the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, alleged that Soviet Russia "appeared to be intentionally delaying negotiations" to end the Polish-Soviet War "with the object of influencing the Upper Silesian plebiscite".[171] Once the region was partitioned, both "Germany and Poland attempted to 'cleanse' their shares of Upper Silesia" via oppression resulting in Germans migrating to Germany and Poles migrating to Poland. Despite the oppression and migration, Opole Silesia "remained ethnically mixed."[103]

Frank Russell wrote that, in regards to the Saar plebiscite, the inhabitants "were not terrorized at the polls" and the "totalitarian [Nazi] German regime was not distasteful to most of the Saar inhabitants and that they preferred it even to an efficient, economical, and benevolent international rule." When the outcome of the vote became known, 4,100 (including 800 refugees who had previously fled Germany) residents fled over the border into France.[109]

During the formulation of the treaty, the British wanted Germany to abolish conscription but be allowed to maintain a volunteer Army. The French wanted Germany to maintain a conscript army of up to 200,000 men in order to justify their own maintenance of a similar force. Thus the treaty's allowance of 100,000 volunteers was a compromise between the British and French positions. Germany, on the other hand, saw the terms as leaving them defenseless against any potential enemy.[172] Bernadotte Everly Schmitt wrote that "there is no reason to believe that the Allied governments were insincere when they stated at the beginning of Part V of the Treaty ... that in order to facilitate a general reduction of the armament of all nations, Germany was to be required to disarm first." A lack of American ratification of the treaty or joining the League of Nations left France unwilling to disarm, which resulted in a German desire to rearm.[72] Schmitt argued "had the four Allies remained united, they could have forced Germany really to disarm, and the German will and capacity to resist other provisions of the treaty would have correspondingly diminished."[173]

Max Hantke and Mark Spoerer wrote "military and economic historians [have] found that the German military

Max Hantke and Mark Spoerer wrote "military and economic historians [have] found that the German military only insignificantly exceeded the limits" of the treaty prior to 1933.[139] Adam Tooze concurred, and wrote "To put this in perspective, annual military spending by the Weimar Republic was counted not in the billions but in the hundreds of millions of Reichsmarks"; for example, the Weimar Republic's 1931 program of 480 million Reichsmarks over five years compared to the Nazi Government's 1933 plan to spend 4.4 billion Reichsmarks per year.[174] P. M. H. Bell argued that the British Government was aware of later Weimar rearming, and lent public respectability to the German efforts by not opposing them,[144] an opinion shared by Churchill.[175][incomplete short citation] Norman Davies wrote that "a curious oversight" of the military restrictions were that they "did not include rockets in its list of prohibited weapons", which provided Wernher von Braun an area to research within eventually resulting in "his break [that] came in 1943" leading to the development of the V-2 rocket.[176]

The Treaty created much resentment in Germany, which was exploited by Adolf Hitler in his rise to power at the helm of Nazi Germany. Central to this was belief in the stab-in-the-back myth, which held that the German army had not lost the war and had been betrayed by the Weimar Republic, who negotiated an unnecessary surrender. The Great Depression exacerbated the issue and led to a collapse of the German economy. Though the treaty may not have caused the crash, it was a convenient scapegoat. Germans viewed the treaty as a humiliation and eagerly listened to Hitler's oratory which blamed the treaty for Germany's ills. Hitler promised to reverse the depredations of the Allied powers and recover Germany's lost territory and pride, which has led to the treaty being cited as a cause of World War II.[177][168]

See also