Before The World Wars, Germany faced many sanctions, military limitations and other punishments from the Treaty of Versailles. These limitations would stall the German growth overall. Economic growth and the power of the Germans were limited.
( German forces of WW1 pictured )
The Great War was grueling. It plunged Europe into a dark state of war. Directly after such a war, many larger nations of imperial power collapsed. This was no exception for Germany. The German Empire collapsed entirely. Its colonies taken away. The German Empire was now in shambles.
In place of for the German government was the newly founded Weimar Republic. Its success was limited. Early on, it faced many struggles. Its policies were limited and its popularity with the German people was poor. The people blamed such a government for the losses of WW1 and the numerous sufferings of the German people. Enraged, the people began to join political parties. Extremism from both sides of the political spectrum emerged. Communism and Nazism.
Hitler brought forth a mass stirring of the German people with his speeches and fanaticism. His popularity surged greatly. From a party of five to a few hundred thousands in a few years. His rise to power greatly affected German politics. Hitler’s fight for political power was nothing less than greatness at its best. Through his many struggles, he would eventually write Mein Kampf—a soon to be best seller.
Then came the Great Depression. Its devastating effects on the German people was greater than ever imaginable. Hyperinflation pressured the Weimar Republic ever more. A single loaf of bread would soon cost over a few million marks. Later, over four quadrillion U.S. dollars was worth a single German Mark. Ever more angered and enraged, the German people sought to join parties such as the Nazis and the Communists.
( German marks used as wallpaper )
Hitler’s political struggle was waged on scales so large, that some feared that there would soon be revolution. However, that would never come to be. What did come to be, were the numerous fights breaking out in the streets and rallies. A fight for power. A fight that Hitler won.
( Hitler’s meeting with President von Hindenburg )
After of the fire at the Reichstag, Hitler was immediately able to enact certain decrees that put him into full power. Hitler crushed all other political parties and persecuted the Jews on scales larger than before. At this point, a majority of the German people were quite supportive of Hitler. From Hitler’s new policies, the German Reich would soon set into motion, the necessities for war in 1939.
( Pictured is a Nazi Rally during Hitler’s rise to power—The Nuremeburg Rallies )
Hitler declared the Treaty of Versailles as invalid later on, and set forth, a massive military development program. The military development programs were all clouded in secret. The Allied powers would never know of it until the war began. Including all of these new policies, Hitler also declared the German Mark to be invalid and created a new German currency, the Reichsmark.
( Hitler at a ceremony for the completion of the Reichsatoubahn highway )
In terms of the German military, the Wehrmacht had made a few deals with the U.S.S.R. German military personnel were able to practice many military exercises, and test military technologies such as chemical weapons within Soviet borders. In exchange, Soviet military officers would receive training in Germany, and the Germans would help the Soviets with industrialization. Though the treaty did not include such things at first, it soon grew to add such things when Hitler took power.
Military expansion quickly grew and it violated the now invalid Treaty of Versailles. The Allied powers could do nothing to stop it.
By 1935, many tank battalions were added to the German military, and the number of men within the German military had reached far past a few hundred thousand men.
New military tactics were added to the German military expertise due to the mobilization of forces. People such as Heinz Guderian would soon further such development of the Wehrmacht and its tactics.
Hitler’s expansion policies were effective against the Allies. He reunited Germany with Austria. He moved troops into the Rhineland without fear of Allied involvement and it was successful. He later won half of Czechoslovakia at the Munich conference and again was successful. The other half, he took quite easily later on with a simple phone call.
( Hitler shaking hands with Prime Minister Chamberlain at the Munich Conference )
In around a decade, Hitler had restored Germany to its former position of world power. His policies practically eradicated unemployment. He expanded Germany until it held almost all of its former land. He strengthen the German military like no other. A man who had turned the weakened German state into an empire that would soon wage a war like no other.
A nation that would come to achieve victories like none before. Atrocities on scales never imagined before.
The German position prior to WW2 was substantially better. It’s immense economic and military power set it above many world powers at the time. Germany was in a position to change the world like never before