During the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, which produced the Treaty of Versailles, Germany lost control of numerous territories, military groups were removed and dismantled, and large amounts of monies were taken; consequently, the country’s humiliation led to a protest of the treaty that publicly accused Jewish leaders of betrayal and as this hatred grew over time it led to one of the world’s horrific acts of violence, the Holocaust.
On June 28, 1919 the Treaty of Versailles was signed at the Paris Peace Conference between the countries of Germany, Britain, France, Italy, and the United States for the purpose of creating some sort of resolution to World War I. During the negotiations the German’s were outraged, as their hopes for an “equitable settlement of boundaries throughout Europe” were destroyed. United States President Woodrow Wilson accepted the country’s protest, dismissing it to the fact that all people sharing cultural identities and having fallen short of what they had hoped to accomplish entitled them to state their opinion. (Dwork & Van Pelt, 2003, p. 49)
The French government refused to be flexible with Germany, as they had been through four years of fighting in a war that had taken place within its boundaries causing absolute devastation. The Versailles Treaty was viewed solely as a weapon for revenge and the country demanded the degradation of Germany. The Germans were expected to sacrifice territories, as well as take sole responsibility for the war. (Dwork & Van Pelt, 2003, p. 50)
The other statesmen present noticed the vicious approach that France was taking towards Germany and many were uneasy, however no one spoke out against France. Promises had been made to all in attendance as Woodrow Wilson had “assured and guaranteed a perfect equality between victors and vanquished” these words suddenly became bogus and left only the option of surrender available to the Germans. (Dwork & Van Pelt, 2003, p. 50)
The British Prime Minister spoke out in fear that the Germans would harbor a grudge over the treaties and retaliate at a future date; he was quoted as saying “Injustice, arrogance, displayed in the hour of triumph will never be forgotten or forgiven.” (Dwork & Van Pelt, 2003, p. 50) His prediction was also accurate when he felt that granting the Poles “all their territorial demands,” which included areas with large populations of ethnic Germans would lead to disaster. Again he was quoted as being “strongly averse to transferring more Germans from German rule to the rule of some other nation.” (Dwork & Van Pelt, 2003, p. 50)
Germany left the Paris Peace Conference furious and disgusted by the outcome and history would begin to unfold. Germans protested the Treaty of Versailles, urging their governments to boycott its rulings. A National Socialist diatribe reported that “All over Germany, in every region and every circle, a storm of anger suddenly ignited over the enormous arrogance of the peace terms.” (Dwork & Van Pelt, 2003, p. 50) Hitler and his followers blamed the upper-class Jewish attendees for the Versailles Treaty outcome, “it was primarily the Jews who were already prepared to sabotage the will to resists, and thus who broke the united front.” (Dwork & Van Pelt, 2003, p. 51) This absurd declaration became an obsession and everywhere they looked something justified these feelings. In popular German opinion the Weimer Republic had “betrayed the nation by signing the treaty.” (Dwork & Van Pelt, 2003, p. 52) Hitler would breed his prejudice and hatred to gain popularity throughout the 1930’s and his ideas became dangerous obsessions.
Nazism became the legacy of the Third Reich, Hitler denounced Marxism as he believed it was a tool of the Jews, stating that “with the help of this Marxist Creed, the Jew is victorious over the other peoples of the world.” (Dwork & Van Pelt, 2003, p. 53) Illustrating his degree of hatred, Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that the hatred of the Jews had developed inside him, “hatred for those responsible” for betraying the country. “There is no making pacts with Jews.” (Dwork & Van Pelt, 2003, p. 53) Again, identifying the root of his anger lied with the Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
Slowly, Hitler began isolating the Jewish population from national offices and slowly it intensified, though his ultimate intentions invisible to the country. His methods of coaxing were often regarded as noble and hopeful, such as encouraging the Jewish population to emigrate from the nation. His warped political methods even created laws that supported mixed-marriages – where the Jewish were allowed to wed the ethnic Germans. (Dwork & Van Pelt, 2003, p. 53) On September 1, 1939 the hatred that had been cultivating inside a brutal leader since the inception of the Treaty of Versailles came to its horrific reality. The beginning of World War II led to one of the world’s largest most horrific historical events, the Holocaust. In the end, millions of people were put to death in the name of Nazism and at the hand of one of the most brutal leaders of all time, Adolf Hitler. (Niewyk & Nicosia, 2000, p. 9)
Dwork, D., & Van Pelt, R. J. (2003). Holocaust: A History. New York, New York: Norton & COmpany.
Niewyk, D. L., & Nicosia, F. R. (2000). The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust. New York, New York: Columbia University Press.
Rosen, P. E. (1997). Dictionary of the Holocaust: Biography, Geography, & Terminology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.