Versailles #85: Thanks for the Mess
It's high time we examined where the Germans fit into all of this mess. Having been left with the most unfair treaty in the universe, how could these poor unfortunate Germans possibly repair and move on? My point, as I make many times in this final episodes of our project, is that the German responsibility for this 'moving on' rested with the Germans and the Germans alone. An imperfect Treaty was not an excuse for Nazism. A did not automatically equal B, and the Treaty of Versailles did not have to lead inexorably to WW2. To claim that it did, to recall those few sentences in a textbook which proclaims as such, is to seriously underrate the responsibility of individuals in Germany, Hitler included of course, for what followed.
Few would ever seek to claim that Hitler was justified, but the problem was, he used this Treaty as justification for his earlier successes in peacetime, and while we recognise these successes were wrong, we also let his core argument go unchallenged. If Hitler was wrong to invoke the Treaty when marching into the Rhineland, annexing Austria or seizing the Sudetenland, then it stands that neither he nor his contemporaries were justified in proclaiming that the Treaty of Versailles 'made him do it'. No, it was the German people who made WW2 possible, and setting the record straight in this regard is a mission which is long overdue...
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