( Editor’s note: Welcome to something new, something that I’ve been cooking up for some time now. As we’re about 3 months out from the launch of Battlefield V, I wanted to do The Road to BFV and refresh everyone’s mind or maybe learn about what led up to the beginning of The Second World War. This 3 part mini-series focuses on the Western Front and the years immediately following the end of The Great War from the German perspective. I really hope you enjoy this little mini-series. cheers.)
( PART I: 1918-1929.)
The end of the Great War radically changed the map of Europe politically and socially, with the defeat of the Central Powers and the seizure of Russia by the Bolsheviks in 1923 the continent changed. Meanwhile, the victorious Allies gained land and new nations like Austria and Czechoslovakia were created out of the ashes of the once former empires that ruled those countries.
To prevent another world war, the Allies created the League of Nations in 1919 at the Paris Peace Conference. The primary objectives and goals of the newly formed League of Nations were to prevent armed conflict through settling differences peacefully.
At the end of the world war, revanchist nationalism still existed throughout Europe. These sentiments of revenge and nationalism were felt in Germany because of the loss of territory that the Germans lost at the end of the war through the Treaty of Versailles. Under the treaty of Versailles, Germany had to give up its territories including German East Africa, limits were placed on the Reichswehr and reparations were imposed as to pay back for what the German Empire did during the course of the world war.
In 1921, Germany had to pay back 269 billion Marks to France and Britain. Later that year the sum was reduced to 226 billion marks, still a pretty high amount to pay back the consequences of the world war. Payback came in many forms, including coal, steel, intellectual property, and agricultural products. In 1923, Germany could no longer deliver further amounts of coal and steel. In response, French and Belgian troops occupied the Ruhr, the heart of the German industry. The German people passively resisted the occupation, thus leading to a further strain on Germany’s economy and contributing significantly to inflation. When the government began printing more money to payback the debt, it created even more issues for Germany.
The power of the German dollar ceased to exist. By the end of 1923, a life saving account could not buy a loaf of bread or milk. In November 1923, the German government started printing new money called Rentenmarks. This helped stabilize things, but the debt was still there. The following year in 1924, a payment plan was worked out and the economy improved. However, it made not just the German economy dependent on the United States but Europe’s economies also dependent on the United States. This helped Germany to pay back for their actions during the world war but there was a problem: If America fell into some economic recession then that meant Europe would also fall into recession.
In 1923, a new party was on the rise. This new political group was pressuring the Weimar Republic and its name was the Socialist German Workers’ Party or best known as the Nazi Party. The Nazis evolved from Germany’s working class. They blamed capitalism, the ruling class, liberalism, communists, and trade unions for Germany’s problems including the loss of the Great War, which they claimed, was the fault of the Jews. They demanded that all Jews be revoked of their citizenship. The Nazis were immensely nationalist, they wanted all German people to be united under one German nation.
One of the supporters of these radical ideas was a man named Adolf Hitler, who had been a soldier during the First World War. By 1923, Hitler had increased Nazi Party membership from 3,000 to 15,000 and had organized a private army of mostly veterans of the world war to terrorize his opponents. They used the swastika, a symbol frequently used in Asia and had made it’s way to the West which later would be used as a symbol of good luck.
In the fall of 1923, in Munich, Hitler engineered a revolt against the Weimar Republic. The revolt came to be known as the Beer Hall Putsch and the revolt was quickly put down. The Nazis were ordered to disband, and Adolf Hitler was arrested. He would later be released a year later.
By 1928, the Nazis were on the edge of the political spectrum. That year they polled just 2.5% of the vote, but they gained ground.
A year later, the Wall Street market crashed and American banks recalled money from Europe, and cancelled the loans that made it possible for Germany to pay the Allies back for the consequences of the Great War. Spending cuts and tax hikes, put into effect by emergency decree, had the result of increasing unemployment in Germany by 2.1 million. This would just be the beginning of the Nazi Party’s rise to power.
( PART II will be released tomorrow, see you all tomorrow!)