How Economic Disarray And A Lack Of Governmental Faith Led To The Rise Of Totalitarianism In The 1930s And 1940s

646 words - 3 pages

After World War I and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 the Italian and German economies plunged into turmoil. Germany inherited all war-responsibility in the form of severe monetary reparation, while Italy found itself left out of consideration for war reparation payments. For these reasons the Treaty of Versailles had a severe weakening effect on the German and Italian States after World War I, which created the need for change in those countries. As Arthur Koestler, a former member of the communist party during the 1930s wrote, they were "Ripe for it [Change]". (Backman, 217) Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler used this to their advantage and were able to overthrow the existing governments with the backing of the common man.
The Treaty of Versailles put unfair conditions on the Germans in reparation for the war leading to destabilization of the German state and a need for change. The Treaty placed monetary damages on Germany of over 31.5 billion dollars, which led to a severe economic downturn in German society and resulted in Hyper-inflation of German currency. This Hyperinflation led to poor conditions in Germany. There was a lack of basics such as food and clean living conditions which in turn led to mass starvation, civil disarray, and disease. At this point in Germany the unemployment rate was near 30%. Arthur Koestler, a former member of the communist party, wrote in his "The God That Failed" that he "Lived in a disintegrating society thirsting for faith". (Backman 217) He was referring to Russia, but Germany underwent a crisis of faith in their government, the Weimar Republic, as well due to the aforementioned terrible living conditions and the fact that The Weimar Republic signed the Treaty of Versailles. The German people at the time wanted the complete abolishment of the Treaty of Versailles and so they placed their hope in Adolf Hitler because he openly criticized the treaty for its harsh terms....

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