Back   Germany's Reaction 


The harshness of the Versailles Treaties created outrage and anger in Germany:


Source 1

The Surprise of Defeat

We must understand the fundamental reason for Germany's reaction...   What hit Germans the hardest was the surprise of defeat.  

       On November 11, 1918, no foreign armies threatened Germany with invasion.   For four years the imperial armies, in Europe at least, had rushed from victory to victory - and now, out of nowhere, appeared a balance sheet which showed the agents of this succession of victories to be the defeated.  

       It made no sense, and no treaty confirming such an incomprehensible verdict could expect German acceptance.   Nothing shook the German's belief that their armies returned undefeated from the field of battle.   Everything following the armistice was so out of tune with these assumptions that it produced not just disaffection, but collective paranoia and disorientation.

Dr. Hans A Schmitt, Treaty of Versailles - Mirror of Europe's Postwar Agony (1989)

Dr Schmitt is a modern historian working at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA


Source 2

Destined for Repudiation

Though the Germans accepted the treaty in the formal sense of agreeing to sign it, none took the signature seriously. The treaty seemed to them to be wicked, unfair, dictation, a slave treaty. All Germans intended to repudiate it at some time in the future, if it did not fall to pieces of its own absurdity.

AJP Taylor, The History of the First World War (1963)


Source 3

Article 231 The Lie

The deeper we penetrated into the spirit of this Treaty, the more we became convinced of its impracticability. The demands raised go beyond the power of the German Nation....   We know the impact of the hate we are encountering here, and we have heard the passionate demand of the victors, who require us, the defeated, to pay the bill and plan to punish us as the guilty party.   We are asked to confess ourselves the sole culprits; in my view, such a confession would be a lie ....   We emphatically deny that the people of Germany, who were convinced that they were waging a war of defence, should be burdened with the sole guilt of that war.

Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, foreign secretary and leader of the delegation, speaking to the Allies (May 1919)


Source 4

Reparations The Death Sentence

Those who sign this treaty, will sign the death sentence of many millions of German men, women and children.

Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, foreign secretary and leader of the delegation, speaking to the Allies (May 1919)


Source 5

Only by Blood

It should scarcely seem questionable to anyone that ever the restoration of the frontiers of 1914 could be achieved only by blood.   Only childish and naive minds can lull themselves in the idea that they can bring about a correction of Versailles by wheedling and begging....   No nation can remove this hand from its throat except by the sword.   Only the assembled and concentrated might of a national passion rearing up in its strength can defy the international enslavement of peoples..

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (1924)