My first article with The Libertarian, “An AnCap’s Thoughts about Syria” was a quick breakdown of how I see that situation. To me, it is just another boring example of how governments are oppressive and sociopathic. By boring, I do not mean that it is meaningless but that any thoughts I have on it are part of my regular rhetoric about all wars. I made a lot of quick mentions towards historical events and did not thoroughly explain them. I want to take an opportunity to do just that, to go over the world war history they didn’t teach you. I will be concentrating primarily on the claims of the Treaty of Versailles, NAZI Germany and Pearl Harbor.
Did the U.S. Make Germany Sign the Treaty of Versailles?
The first historical claim of mine is, “…the U.S. had the biggest influence of power which allowed for the Treaty of Versailles”. Germany was indeed coerced heavily into the treaty. They were after all the losers of a war. The final move by the United States and Great Britain that ended World War I was known as either, “The Blockade of Germany” or “The Blockade of Europe”. It was an operation that took place between 1914 and 1919 that blockaded the supply of raw materials and food going into Germany, Austria and Turkey. These imports came primarily from the Americas. It can be argued that the famously superior British navy is what had the biggest influence on Germany to sign into the treaty, and I would accept that as legitimate. Whether you say it was the U.S. or British, it was the power that influenced the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
To answer the original question, yes Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles under pressure and coercion from not just the United States, but the British as well.
Was the Treaty of Versailles Responsible for Adolf Hitler?
This one is a significant claim, and it is an argument you can hear in college classrooms across the country. This is a general topic for debate, but to me the picture is clear. Consider this, in 1914, just before World War I had started, Germany was the most economically powerful nation in Europe. During the period of 1921 to 1923, shortly after World War I and after the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919, it was experiencing one of the worst hyperinflations in the history of the world.
By signing the Treaty in order to end The Blockade of Germany, Germany had accepted full responsibility of all the damages they caused in their attacks on their neighbors. They agreed to pay all of that plus the pensions for war victims and the costs of the upkeep of armies occupying their own land. They had to hand over all their heavy weaponry, their entire war fleet and a lot of their locomotive and railroad cars. They even supplied multiple countries with millions of tons of coal. Thanks to the war itself, Germany was already in financial trouble and was now experiencing revolutions, uprisings and worker strikes. In fact, only recently in 2010 were all the reparations for WWI paid off by Germany. That is 92 years to pay off this debt.
To get an understanding of what culture was like during this time, and to learn a little about art, Khan Academy has published this wonderful video about the mentality and thinking of some of the German people during this period.
Höch, Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany: Hannah Höch, Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany, collage, mixed media, 1919-1920
From 1919 to 1921 the German government’s debt rose from 38.6 billion to 176.6 billion. By our current standards that may not seem like a lot but it was. A more significant fact is that it was a 358% increase in debt in just two years. As a way to combat this debt massive printing to place. The banknotes in circulation rose during this period from 23.647 to 71.863 billion. It is hard to imagine the effects of a 204% increase in the money supply in two years. This inflation caused Germany to have a lot of difficulty in paying off its debt and keeping up with payments. This was indeed crippling to the German economy.
Because of Germany’s struggle to pay off their debts, France and Belgium troops marched on Ruhr in order to occupy it. Ruhr was the industrial region of Germany and the center of their production. Thanks to the occupation German workers adapted passive resistance in which they refused to work which only made things worse for the country. It was this passive resistance that inevitably forced Germany to start printing money for all of their governmental processes which led to hyperinflation.
The people blamed the German government for this inflation, and the then chancellor made the decision to give in to the French and end the resistance. Of course, people saw this as a betrayal, and began to trust the government even less than they already were. This is what left for an opening in political change and is what was seized upon by Hitler and his National Socialist Party.
Some believe that this economic downturn was actually not that crippling but, in fact, was exaggerated by Hitler. A quick search of the Weimar Republic (which is the name of the German government at the time) will show up with the details needed here. In fact, a common chart illustrating the rate of inflation at the time is often compared to the rate of inflation we are seeing now with the federal reserve.
So, was the Treaty of Versailles responsible for the rise to power of Hitler? The fact is Germany was in a very sensitive state, and the people were looking for anyone to promise them the moon. Hitler, with his extraordinary charisma, did just that. Some of you may see this as a stretch, but I do not. Many of the deals in the Treaty of Versailles were unnecessary. The French occupation was a terrible and needless move that only made things worse in an already desperate nation. While it may be that nobody was directly responsible, a lot of terrible decisions were made on the part of the allies which created the situation that made Hitlers rise to power possible.
Note: Someone also kindly pointed out that my claim that Hitler won a 90% vote was wrong. It is indeed. He only got 43% of the vote which was followed by a 19% vote from the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Those statistics can be found here. (Google Translator may be necessary.) When Hitler did take power and after what Hitler called a terrorist attack on the German Parliament, which has come to be known as the Reichstag fire, Hitler enacted the “Enabling Act” which put himself in power as dictator and removed most of the fundamental liberties of the German people.
Some have compared the Reichstag fire to the 9/11 attacks and the “Enabling Act” to the “Patriot Act” but I will leave that for you to decide.
Did U.S. Trade Embargoes Lead to the Pearl Harbor Attacks?
Another historical claim that I made in my article was that the attacks on Pearl Harbor were due primarily to trade embargoes. In all honesty, when I said primarily, I meant it was the straw that broke the camels back. Before even entering the war, the U.S. and British Navy’s would travel with shipping convoys and conduct “shoot on sight” operations in which they would shoot any German ships down despite the fact that German U-boats had orders not to shoot back. The U.S. would also provide supplies and assistance to the Chinese, supplies which included war planes and pilots. The Chinese were of course an enemy of Japan. The force known as the “Flying Tigers” was a group of American pilots fighting for the Chinese against the Japanese. If this is not an act of war, I do not know what is.
The U.S. government, by working with the British Commonwealth countries planned and engaged in economic warfare against Japan as a way to provoke an attack against the United States. Part of this economic warfare and the biggest factor was an embargo placed on Japan’s trade.
Roosevelt, as president, made it a point in making sure that his enemies “fired the first shot” that was just part of his policy. Japan, knowing of its own militaries inferiority compared to the United States made many attempts to negotiate and offered compromises and concessions. Just to reiterate, that is compromises to the unprovoked attacks on Japan. Roosevelt refused any pleas from Japan and was expecting, in his own words, an “incident”.
In 1939, the United States terminated the 1911 Commercial Treaty with Japan and in 1940 Roosevelt signed the “Export Control Act”. This prohibited the export of essential defense materials and later the export of motor fuels and lubricants and heavy melting iron and steel scrap. Next there was an embargo on all exports of scrap iron and steel. Roosevelt then froze Japanese assets in the U.S. and brought the trade between the two countries to an end. Roosevelt kept going and embargoed the export of all the oil that was still in use within Japan. The British and the Dutch being allies of the U.S. embargoed exports to Japan from them.
Roosevelt wanted to go to war, but needed a reason to get the public on his side. He did this by provoking one of Germany’s allies who had not been at war at the time and acted as if the U.S. was a victim. Pearl Harbor, a sort of “provoked false flag”, happened because of Roosevelt’s practices. It was the embargoes and trade sanctions that pushed Japan to its limits due to the country’s heavy reliance on imports.
The foreign minister of Japan even sent a letter to the U.S. stating, “Commercial and economic relations between Japan and third countries, led by England and the United States, are gradually becoming so terribly strained that we cannot endure it much longer. Consequently, our Empire, to save its very life, must take measures to secure the raw materials of the South Seas.”
American cryptographers had already broken Japanese naval code by this point and knew of the imminent attack on Pearl Harbor but withheld the information. Roosevelt got just what he wanted.
So did the U.S. trade embargoes lead to the attacks on Pearl Harbor? Without a doubt yes, Japan pleaded they sent warning, the U.S. knew of ships moving to Pearl Harbor and they were given express reason as to why. There is, in my mind, no question about this.
What do you think? Is there anything else you would like clarification on from the last article? Did I miss anything here? Or did I get anything wrong? How about agreements and disagreements? I always love to hear from you and I promise, to always, respond. Let me know your thoughts below!
Khan Academy – Höch, Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada Through …
Daily Mail – Germany ends World War One reparations …
Mises Wiki – Inflation of the Weimar Republic
Gonschior – Reichstag election 1933
The National Archives – The Blockage of Germany
The National Archives – Memorandum to War Cabinet on Trade Blockade
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