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ARMISTICE: A Failed Peace. The Post WWI World. By the early summer of 1918, fresh American troops and tanks turned the tide against Germany . After four years of fighting, Germany was exhausted of men and materials and could no longer continue to fight.

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armistice a failed peace

ARMISTICE: A Failed Peace

The Post WWI World


After four years of fighting,

Germany was exhausted of men and materials

and could no longer continue to fight.


German workers and soldiers revolted against the German imperial government. On November 9, 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm IIfled Germany.


At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month of 1918, the guns fell silent.

Today, this is celebrated as Veteran’s Day.


In January 1919, representatives of the Allied nations met in Paris to make a final settlement of the war.


The victorious Allies - the United States, Britain, and France, known as the Big Three, made most of the important decisions at the Paris Peace Conference.

Germany was not included.

Russia was in the midst of a civil war and could not attend.

Italy was given a minor role.


United States President Woodrow Wilson proposed a peace plan based on democracy and cooperation among nations.


Wilson proposed his plan of “Fourteen Points” which included:

  • open, rather than secret, treaty negotiations between nations
  • freedom of the seas and free trade
  • a massive reduction in military strength of all nations
  • ensuring self-determination, or the right of each people to have its own nation
  • the creation of a League of Nations to be an international peacekeeping force

The British and French, however, who had suffered the most among the allied victors, wanted revenge on the Germans.

  • They wanted to:
  • strip Germany of all weapons
  • have the Germans pay massive reparations
  • strip Germany of territory to create a neutral buffer state between Germany and France in the German Rhineland

The final Treaty of Versailles began by declaring that the Germans were guilty of starting the war.


The treaty required Germany:

  • to pay massive reparations for all damages
  • to reduce its military forces to just 100,000 man peacekeeping force
  • demilitarize German land near the Rhine River to prevent future aggression toward France
  • eliminate its airforce altogether and greatly reduce the size and power of the German navy
  • rebuild the British and French merchant navy

The treaty also required Germany to lose large parts of its territory by:

  • returning the borderlands of Alsace and Lorraine, which had been captured by Germany during the Franco-Prussian war of the 1870s, to French control
  • surrendering territory in eastern Germany to create a new Polish state

The German government accepted the peace terms because it had no choice. To refuse would invoke an Allied invasion of Germany.

However the treaty outraged and angered the German people, who felt the Treaty of Versailles was a harsh and unfair peace.


Almost every new eastern European state included ethnic minorities. For example, there were Germans in Poland and Czechoslovakia and Hungarians in Romania.

National and ethnic rivalries in the region have continued to plague eastern Europe to the present and have led to many conflicts.


The devastation of the war and the failure to satisfy all stakeholders in the peace process opened the door to revolution, further instability …








In 1914, although Russia had the second-largest army in Europe, a lack of experienced military leaders and outdated weaponry left the Russian Empire ill prepared for the Great War.

The poorly trained and equipped Russian army suffered terrible losses on the Eastern Front against the Central Powers.


By 1917, the Russian will to continue fighting in the war had disappeared.

In March 1917, working-class women in St. Petersburgcalled for a massive strike to shut down the factories.


Czar Nicholas II responded by ordering his troops to break up the crowds with force. However, many soldiers refused their orders to fire and instead joined the demonstrators.


On March 12, 1917, the Duma urged the czar to abdicate his throne, which he did.

Liberals in government tried to establish a Russian Republic.


The provisional government decided to continue fighting the Great War. This was a grave mistake; workers and peasants wanted to end the terrible years of fighting.


The government was challenged by the power of the soviets— councils representing workers and soldiers — which came to play an important role in Russian politics.

Soviets sprang up around Russia. Most were made up of socialists.


The Bolsheviks were a radical Marxist political party whose influence was on the rise.

They were led by V.I. Lenin, and were dedicated to beginning a violent revolution to overthrow the capitalist system.


Three slogans summed up the Bolshevik program:

      • “Peace, Land, Bread”
      • “Worker Control of Production”
      • “All Power to the Soviets”

By the end of October, 1917, the Bolsheviks held majorities in the St. Petersburg and Moscow soviets.

On November 6, the Bolsheviks seized the Winter Palace and the provisional government collapsed.


The Bolsheviks renamed themselves the Communists.

In March of 1918, Lenin ended the war with Germany.

By the terms of the Brest-Litovsk treaty, Lenin surrendered vast amounts of Russian territory to end the fighting.


Civil war soon broke out in Russia. Many people were opposed to the Communists, including czarists, liberals, and anti-Leninist socialists. They were aided by the Allies, who gave them troops and supplies, hoping Russia would rejoin the war.


By 1921, the Communists had complete control of Russia.

The country had become a centralized state dominated by a single party.

However, the country and government were both on the verge of collapse.


Due to the long years of war, Russia’s industrial output was only 20 percent of its 1913 capacity.

  • Then, in the early 1920s, millions in Russia died during a great famine caused by drought.

In 1921, Lenin created the New Economic Policy (NEP) to cope with the extreme problems. This was a modified version of capitalism.

  • Peasants could sell produce and small businesses could be privately owned but the government still controlled heavy industries and banking.

In 1922, the Communists created the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), or Soviet Union.


The NEP saved the Soviet Union from economic ruin, but the Communists saw it only as a temporary measure on the path to true communism.


In 1924, Lenin died and a bitter struggle for power in the Politburo, the committee that controlled the policies of the Communist Party, ensued.


One faction, led by Leon Trotsky, wanted to end the NEP and rapidly industrialize the nation at the expense of the peasants.

  • They also wanted to spread communism to other countries.

Trotsky’s main rival in the Politburo was Joseph Stalin.

  • He had been born as IosifDzhugashvili but adopted the name “Stalin” which means “Man of Steel.”
  • Stalin was not a great philosopher but was a great bureaucrat and organizer.

Stalin held the job of general secretary, and as such had appointed thousands of officials throughout Russia.

  • These officials helped Stalin gain complete control over the Communist Party.

By 1929, Stalin had removed Trotsky, the original Bolsheviks, and anyone who threatened his personal power and made himself the powerful dictator of the Soviet Union.


Trotsky fled to Mexico, where he was tracked down and assassinated in 1940, on Stalin’s orders.


The Stalinist Era began a time of radical changes in the Soviet Union.

  • In 1928, Stalin ended the NEP and instituted the First Five-Year Plan.

The Five-Year Plans set clear economic goals for five-year periods. The plans emphasized rapid industrialization and production of capital goods and greatly increased the output of heavy machinery and production of oil and steel.


The Five-Year Plans, however, took a heavy toll on the Russian people.

  • Urban housing for millions of workers was terrible. Wages declined.

Stalin also collectivized agriculture.

  • Collectivization was a system in which the government took over ownership of private farms and had the peasants work them.

Many peasants resisted by hoarding food and killing livestock.

  • Stalin responded by increasing the number of farms in the program.

During the early 1930s, millions of Russians starved to death due to food shortages from collectivization.


Stalin conducted Great Purges of Old Bolsheviks, Red Army officers, and others, most of whom were executed. The purges spared no one.


Stalin had people killed by the secret police removed from history books and photographs as if they never existed.

  • Gradually, the official history of revolution was rewritten to be a story about just two men: Lenin and Stalin.
  • The true history of Stalin’s reign will always remain shrouded in mystery and doubt.

Stalin’s harsh policies transformed the Soviet Union from a backwards, agricultural nation to an industrial powerhouse prepared to fight the Fascist forces in the Second World War.





Between 1919 and 1939, all the major countries of Europe except France and Great Britain had adopted some form of dictatorial government.


A new form of dictatorship was the modern totalitarian state.

  • Totalitarian governments aimed to control all aspects of their citizens’ lives.

Totalitarian governments wanted to control the hearts and minds of everyone and used mass propaganda and modern communication to achieve their goals.


A single leader and a single party led the new totalitarian states.

  • There were no individual freedoms or limits to government power.

Individuals were considered subservient to the collective will of the masses. The state demanded that citizens actively support its goals.


Benito Mussolini in Italy established the first European Fascist government in the early 1920s.


Fascism glorifies the state above the individual.

A strong central government led by a single dictator runs the state.

Any opposition to the government is brutally crushed.


Italy suffered severe economic problems after World War I.

  • There was a great deal of social upheaval. Middle-class Italians feared the possibility of a Communist revolution such as the one in Russia.

Mussolini formed groups of armed Fascists called Blackshirts, who attacked socialists and striking workers. Mussolini gained the political support of middle-class industrialists and large landowners.


In 1922, Mussolini had enough followers that he forced the Italian king to make him his prime minister.

  • As prime minister, Mussolini created a Fascist dictatorship.

By 1926, the Fascists eliminated all opposition. They banned other political parties and created a secret police to enforce their will.

  • The police were given authority to arrest anyone for any reason.

Two-thirds of Italian youth participated in Fascist youth groups that focused on military activities. The Italian Fascists were trying to create a new nation of fit, disciplined, and war-loving people.


Adolf Hitler was born in Austria on April 20, 1889.

He failed secondary school but later rose to rule Germany and much of Europe during the Second World War.


In his youth, Hitler aspired to be a great artist but he was rejected by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.

It was in Vienna that he developed his ideas.


Racism, particularly against the Jewish people, was at the core of Hitler’s ideas.

Hitler was an extreme nationalist and understood the use of propaganda and terror.


Hitler served on the Western Front for four years during the Great War.

  • Angered by Germany’s defeat, the harsh terms of peace, and collapse of the German economy, he entered politics upon his return to Germany.

In 1919, he joined an extreme right-wing nationalist party in Munich.

  • By 1921, Hitler controlled the party and renamed it the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, or Nazi Party for short.

Germany’s economic problems helped the rise of the Nazi Party. Many people were in desperate situations, which made extreme political parties far more attractive.


Germany’s economic problems helped the rise of the Nazi Party.

  • Many people were in desperate situations,
  • which made extreme political parties far more attractive.

Germany’s economic problems helped the rise of the Nazi Party.

  • Many people were in desperate situations,
  • which made extreme political parties far more attractive.

Germany’s economic problems helped the rise of the Nazi Party.

  • Many people were in desperate situations,
  • which made extreme political parties far more attractive.

Germany’s economic problems helped the rise of the Nazi Party.

  • Many people were in desperate situations,
  • which made extreme political parties far more attractive.

Within two years, the Nazi Party had grown to 55,000 people with 15,000 in the militia. In 1923, Hitler staged an uprising in Munich — called the Beer Hall Putsch — which was quickly crushed. Hitler was sent to prison.


In prison,

  • Hitler wrote
  • Mein Kampf,
  • in which he outlined
  • his basic ideas
  • and plans.
  • His ideas combined German nationalism, anti-Semitism,
  • and anti-communism.

He also embraced the notion that stronger nations should expand to obtain living space, called Lebensraum,and that superior leaders should rule over the masses.


With the failure of the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler realized that the way to power was through legal means, not through violent overthrow of the government.


When he got out of prison, he worked to expand the Nazi Party throughout Germany.

  • By 1929, the Nazis had a national party organization, and by 1931 it was the largest political party in the Reichstag, or parliament.

Hitler also appealed to national pride and militarism to gain the support of the German people.


In March 1933, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which gave the government the power to ignore the constitution and pass laws to deal with the nation’s problems.


The act gave Hitler a legal basis for his actions.

  • The Nazis had complete control.
  • Hitler had become Germany’s dictator.

The Nazis established control over all aspects of government.

  • Jews were purged from the civil service and trade unions were dissolved.
  • Concentration camps were set up for Nazi opponents.
  • All political parties except the Nazis were abolished.

Hitler wanted to develop an Aryan racial state to dominate Europe and possibly the world. Nazis wanted the Germans to create a new empire as the Romans had done. Hitler called his empire the Third Reich.


The Nazis used economic policies, mass rallies, organizations, and terror to control the country and further their goals.


Hitler put people back to work through public works projects and grants to private construction companies.


Hitler put people back to work through public works projects and grants to private construction companies.


The Nazis staged mass demonstrations and spectacles.

  • Some of the largest were held in the city of Nuremberg.

Art was considered to be one of the most important elements to strengthening the Third Reich and purifying the nation.

Political aims and artistic expression became one.


True art as defined by Hitler was linked with the country life, with health, and with the Aryan race.


Once in power, the Nazi Party enacted programs against Jewish people. In 1935, the Nazis passed the “Nuremberg laws.”


These laws stripped Jews of German citizenship, forbade marriage between Jews and German citizens, and required Jews to wear yellow Stars of David and to carry special identification cards.


On the night of November 9, 1938, Nazis burned Jewish synagogues and destroyed thousands of Jewish businesses.

  • They killed at least 100 people and sent
  • 30,000 Jews to concentration camps.
  • This event is known as Kristallnacht,
  • the “Night of Shattered Glass”.

After Kristallnacht, Jews were barred from all public transportation, schools, and hospitals. They could not own, manage, or work in a retail store. Jews were urged to leave Germany.