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Post World War I Europe

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Post-World War I Europe was a time of irrationality throughout Europe. The old political order based on reason was swept aside as the European nations became involved in a cycle of fear, delusion, misplaced trust, and empty hopes which led to war. This belief that reason was at the heart of the structure and relationships of Europe came to an end with World War I, however. The carnage on the battlefield and the virtual stalemate for most of the War induced self-doubt on the European nations’ understanding of the purpose of warfare and the risks entailed in it. This self-doubt led France to not enjoy the expected fruits of victory; Germany suffered economic and political effects beyond its military defeat; and although Great Britain was not affected so widely as these Continental powers, it was aware of the large numbers of young men who had been killed and wounded in the War. This unprecedented level of carnage and the unfamiliar political effects of WWI and social effects of World War I on both the victors and the defeated eroded the accepted notions of reason and induced self-doubt which influenced the relationships among nations and shaped their behavior toward one another, including the former type of warfare.

Post World War I Europe

After all the destruction, one would surmise that self-doubt would lead to a more rational policy towards conflict among nations – avoid it all cost. However, nations and political forces became more vocal and pompous throughout all of Europe, in psychological terms, they overcompensated for their self-doubt. The consequences of doubt were greatly feared and, according to K. Fedin, “There is nothing in the world more hateful than neutrality”.

In the difficult economic circumstances Germany was in with its defeat in World War I and its humiliation under the terms of the peace Treaty of Versailles where it had to pay large reparations to the victorious powers even in its difficult economic conditions, anything which appeared to bring Germany out of these circumstances seemed reasonable to the German people. The old leadership which had led Germany into a humiliating defeat in world War I had been discredited. The political structure Germans had regarded as reasonable for their society had lost its authority and credibility. Self-doubt was the gateway to Hitler’s nationalistic, racial, militaristic ideas that offered Germany not only way out of its economic troubles, but also a way to restore German pride and leadership.

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