By Eric Vandenbroeck and co-workers

Russia, Germany, and Poland 1917-1945 Part Three

The tribulations and consequences of the Treaty of Versailles

Opened on 28 June 2019 the exhibition in Arras organized by the Palace of Versailles starts with the proclamation of the German Empire in the same Hall of Mirrors that witnessed the signing of Peace of Versailles on 28 June.

The year 1919 was, in fact, a catalytic moment not only did it see already earlier the rise of Mussolini, in March 1919, but 51 representatives from two dozen countries also met in Moscow at the Founding Congress of the Communist International. Long before Versailles, the other great totalitarian ideology of the 20th century, Marxism-Leninism, was also on the March.

When Germany signed the armistice ending hostilities in the First World War on November 11, 1918, its leaders believed they were accepting a "peace without victory," as outlined by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his famous Fourteen Points.

Paris in May 1919 still bore the scars of war. It was crowded with refugees. Windowless buildings and piles of rubble remained in some neighborhoods like the Fourth Arrondissement, where the German aerial and artillery bombardment had been worst. Invalids in their military uniforms lined the Champs-Elysees, begging.1 The famed Louvre art museum remained closed, its collections having been spirited out of the city when the first great German offensive had come within 45 miles of the city in 1914.“ It was hardly a promising sight for the German delegates who arrived in May to hear the terms imposed upon them. There was consensus among the Allied delegates, who had been meeting since January, that Germany must be punished for having begun the war. Its behavior in occupied Belgium, Romania, and Eastern Europe did little to help the German cause. American president Woodrow Wilson told his confidantes that the German people “would be shunned and avoided like lepers for generations to come.”3

On May 7, 1919. German foreign minister Count Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau was handed a 440-article draft text of the Allied terms. There was to be no negotiation. Germany had three weeks to respond to the treaty with “observations,” which might result in a few minor changes. When the German delegation saw the full text of the treaty, they were shocked. The treaty stripped the country of all its colonies, assessed preliminary reparations to be paid by Germany at 20 billion gold marks ($241 million), established a committee that would oversee further reparations payments, set up the Allied occupation of western Germany, reduced the military to a shadow of its former strength, and, most painfully, ceded large tracts of eastern Germany to the new state of Poland.4 The delegation immediately protested that if these terms were held, they would be unable to defend themselves against Bolshevism.'’ Brockdorff-Rantzau issued a counterproposal, trying to reduce the price of peace. It was rejected by the Allies, who on June 16 told the German minister that he had five days to accept the treaty or their armies would begin marching east.6

When German military officers learned of the terms, they were furious about the required reduction of the German army by 97.5 percent, from over 4 million to only 100.000 men. They also were enraged by Article 228—which sought the extradition and trial of German war criminals—and Article 231, the “'war-guilt” clause, which placed blame for the entire conflict squarely upon Germany.8 These portions of the Treaty so inflamed passions within the army that there was a serious debate of a coup to overthrow the SPD government, install Gustav Noske as a military dictator, and resume the war.9 On the morning of June 19, senior military leaders secretly gathered in a stable to discuss a plan of action. Groener, who attended as a representative of the General Staff, called the conference “a dangerous war council which could have caused the greatest possible political catastrophe for Germany.” Reinhardt predicted that accepting the terms would cause “a general insurrection in the east,” an insurrection that he advocated the government support. General Groener attempted to convince those present such a course was folly, noting that the gentlemen present "' spoke as if fighting in the East were completely separate from the potential events in the West”10 The bellicose faction at the gathering proposed Hans von Seeckt as the new chief of staff if the war was to be renewed. Only when Seeckt advised against resuming the war did Groener win his case.11

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Brockdorff-Rantzau had resigned rather than accept the Allied terms. Philipp Scheidemann, now chancellor, delivered a fiery speech in the Reichstag in which he decried the peace terms as “so unacceptable that I still cannot believe that the whole world could tolerate it.” “ Afterward, he resigned from the government, too. The matter passed to the National Assembly, where members asked Hindenburg, as head of the Oberste Heeresleitung, whether resistance was feasible. He replied in the negative.13 On June 22, 1919, the National Assembly voted to accept the treaty, with reservations. The following day, the newly appointed cabinet agreed to sign the treaty, claiming that the previous day's vote authorized their decision. On June 28. new Foreign Minister Hermann Muller and Minister for Colonies and for Transport Johannes Bell,  who had jointly been in office for seven days, signed the Treaty of Versailles, officially ending the First World War.

The reaction among the German military was one of astonishment. Despite having imposed far more draconian financial and territorial conditions on Russia in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the terms, particularly those regarding demobilization and war guilt, were unbearable to the officer corps. Versailles had significant effects on the relationship between the state and the Provisional Reichswehr, which saw the Weimar coalition government discredited by signing the treaty. Two cabinet ministers associated with it, Matthias Erzberger and Walther Rathenau, would be assassinated by former Freikorps members in 1921 and 1922, respectively. Noske, who had been popular within the military for his decisive leadership against the communists, suddenly faced calls to resign for his acceptance of the treaty terms.14 And Groener, who had kept the officer corps together through the revolutionary turmoil, would also be blamed for accepting the treaty. He resigned on September 30, 1919. Groener was the most politically astute senior officer in the Reichswehr in 1919. His retirement and Noske's loss of popularity opened a wide chasm between the military and the Republic.

The military terms of the Versailles Treaty require some examination, given the influential role they played in shaping the Reichswehr and its relationship with the Soviet Union. Section IV of the treaty (specifically Articles 159 to 213) called for the German military’s immediate and rapid demobilization and disarmament, allowing it to retain only a small force, intended by the Allies to guarantee internal order and resist Bolshevism. Article 160 required reducing the German army to no “more than seven divisions of infantry and three divisions of cavalry”, numbering no more than those aforementioned 100,000 men. All soldiers over this figure were required to be demobilized by March 31, 1920.13 The officer corps could consist of no more than 4,000 men in total. Conscription, now eliminated, was to be replaced with twelve-year enlistments. This was to ensure that the German military could not train large numbers of men in brief periods, a trick that the Prussians had used to frustrate similar terms imposed by Napoleon in 1807. Versailles also eliminated the German General Staff and nearly all military schools and academies in the country. The navy was to be shrunk to 15.000 men, manning six old battleships, six light cruisers, twelve destroyers, and twelve torpedo boats.

The German military was also to give up all the modern technologies of war: submarines, aircraft, heavy artillery, poison gas, and tanks were all explicitly banned. Those already in existence were to be turned over to the Allies. To prevent future rearmament, the treaty established the Inter­Allied Commissions of Control (IACC), consisting of officers from the victorious powers whose job was to police the German industry and keep careful watch over its military. Three commissions were tasked with destroying German war material: the Inter-Allied Military (IAMCC), Naval (IANCC), and Aeronautical Control Commissions (IAACC). The first, headed by French General Charles Nollet, was by far the most powerful, tasked in the Treaty of Versailles with closing down all “establishments for the manufacture, preparation, storage or design of arms, munitions or any war material whatever” except for a shortlist approved by the Allied government.16 Nollet also was assigned to oversee the other two commissions. Marshal Foch dispatched him to Berlin with an admonition: “The war is not yet over.”17

There was an urgency to the question of German disarmament, as the British and French could not demobilize their own enormous armies safely until Germany had done the same, especially given the precipitous withdrawal of American forces from Europe after the war’s end.18 Even as the disarmament conversations began in Paris, Foch drew up plans for an invasion of Germany should the German government reject the disarmament demands.19

The Germans did eventually accept the terms, as noted. But there were barriers to a successful disarmament program. Almost immediately after the IANCC, IAACC, and IAMCC commissions were organized, the Reichswehr set up counter-organizations to monitor and hinder them. In a further sign of trouble, there were disagreements within the inspection teams about their roles and responsibilities. This was a product of broader divergences over the postwar order. Foch and Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau sought French hegemony on the continent, which they viewed as the only guarantee of their long-term security.21 France's population and economy were smaller than Germany's, so the only solution was to weaken their larger neighbor permanently. On the other hand, British prime minister David Lloyd George and senior British military officials preferred a balance of power on the continent. A strengthened Germany could serve as a trading partner and resist the spread of communism.22 One of his cabinet members coined the term “appeasement” in 1919 to suggest gradual concessions to German interests might over time eliminate the most contentious elements of Versailles.'23 The policy would stick, serving, in the words of historian Martin Gilbert, as the “cornerstone of inter-war foreign policy” for Great Britain."

To manage the disarmament of Germany, whatever that might mean, Nolle! had at his disposal 1,300 officers, men, and translators, all of whose salaries were to be paid by the defeated Germans.25 The IAMCC began by ordering the collection of banned war materiel for destruction and administering surveys, and conducting surprise inspections of industrial installations across the country.26 IAMCC inspectors began arriving in Germany in 1919 and were met with constant hostility as they earned out their work. Workers threw stones at their cars; local policemen arrested them as spies, and, in at least a few instances, IAMCC teams were attacked by mobs." In one instance, a German policeman cut off a French inspector's finger with a sword.28

Most memorably, during an IAMCC visit to the Krupp Corporation, Germany’s largest arms manufacturer, the board of directors hosted a dinner for the visiting officers. One British inspector, complaining about obfuscation at the factory, recalled remarking, “I suppose that the nations will be all fighting each other again in 30 years! Whereupon Herr Bauer, one of the senior [Krupp] directors, laid down his knife and fork, looked at me, and asked, ‘Not before that?’ ”29 Nonetheless, the IAMCC was able to achieve some results. Destruction of military equipment commenced in early 1920. By January of the following year, most German industries had been surveyed, their military machinery decommissioned, and the remaining industrial plant certified for non-military production.30 Two thousand six hundred plants were temporarily closed until they could be certified safe for civilian production.’31 All “Category A” equipment, which could not be used for civilian production, was destroyed immediately. German industry and the remnants of the army surrendered nearly 3 million rifles, more than 40,000 artillery and mortar pieces, and 70,300 machine guns.32

In his 1920 book The Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keynes, who would become the most influential economist of the twentieth century, argued that the terms imposed on Germany would provoke a new war.33 After 1945, it became accepted wisdom that the Allies’ harsh treatment of Germany had been largely responsible for the rise of Adolf Hitler. On the whole, the claim does not stand up to scrutiny.34 Germany paid relatively little in terms of the reparations demanded of it.35 And the war, not reparations for it, was the primary cause of economic turmoil during the Weimar period. Versailles’ territorial revisions were not particularly harsh. The border changes created problems precisely because the Allies failed to define Germany’s new borders with clarity. Finally, Versailles’ military restrictions did little in the long run to hamper the growth of German military power. The greatest weakness of the Treaty of Versailles was that its authors declined to enforce its military and economic clauses.

Perhaps the greatest evidence of this involves disarmament. While the IACC commissions managed to successfully conduct some of its work, they started from a step behind the Reichswehr, which had begun to move quickly to counter the restrictions of Versailles as soon as they became public. It took almost a year and a half after the armistice for the IAMCC to begin inspections, giving the Reichswehr time to prepare countermeasures. The size of the Allied commissions meant that they could not destroy German equipment but only supervise German teams assigned with the decommissioning.

Reichswehr leadership took advantage of their role in disarmament to bury or hide huge caches of weapons across the country. It also exported large quantities of military equipment for resale or storage in Turkey, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands. To avoid the restrictions on numbers, Reichswehr officers coordinated with veterans' organizations to maintain paramilitary forces that might be called up in war. These organizations became known as the “Schwarze Reichswehr" (Black Reichswehr).

German industrial firms played the British and French delegations against each other. For example, at its main facility, Krupp claimed that 95 percent of its machinery had been retasked for civilian production. With the acquiescence of British inspectors, Krupp was even able to save 36 heavy artillery lathes—used to bore gun barrels—because they could be repurposed for the production of chemical cylinders tubes or for naval armaments that were still permitted under Versailles.'37 As a result of all of this, the disarmament of Germany was only partial, at best.

More generally, Versailles provided the German military with several advantages. First, the postwar Wilsonian vision of self-determination improved Germany’s strategic position to the east (see Map). Instead of two major powers, the Russian Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Germany now faced nine smaller states (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), many of which would become economically dependent on Germany in the interwar period.38 Arguably, only one, Poland, was a real strategic opponent.

Although its leaders would not see it this way, the limitations on German military spending played a role in the economic recovery that fueled growth after the war.39 Between 1919 and 1930, Germany spent the least, in both absolute and per capita terms, of any of the European powers on its military.40 Lower taxes, which successive governments refused to raise for various reasons, likely improved German economic performance.41 More generally, the country enjoyed net capital inflows, averaging 2.1 percent of national income between 1919 and 1931.42 Even with the inflationary crisis that so famously followed the war, German GDP in 1930 would be 32.9 percent higher than a decade earlier, compared with contractions in Great Britain and Italy, and more modest growth in France.43

Versailles also had several major unintended consequences on the German military during the interwar period. The ban on conscription and the long terms of service required by the treaty guaranteed that the military would remain highly professional and an exclusive preserve of the former Imperial officer corps. This, in turn, disabled Weimar's ability to alter the composition of the military to make it more democratic, one of the major goals of the SPD throughout the 1920s. Instead, given the tiny numbers of officers allowed under the treaty, Generals Groener and Seeckt could hand-select Germany’s new officer corps. They determined that there be a disproportionate number of General Staff officers in the new army.44 As a result, the Reichswehr’s new officer corps was even more socially cohesive than it had been under the Kaiser: 48 percent of the officer corps in 1926 were members of “military families” (and thus likely the nobility) versus only 24 percent in 1912.45

The officer corps was drawn primarily from the General Staff and the Freikorps, often overlapping categories. The latter had been formed specifically as the forces of counterrevolution, further shaping its political orientation.46 The Imperial German military did not simply become the Weimar Republic’s Reichswehr; instead, it was transformed in an overtly political way. Versailles thus guaranteed that the new German Army would be no friend of the Republican government it claimed to serve and become the home of monarchists, revanchists, and right-wing nationalists, many of whom sought to overturn the Treaty of Versailles by force.

Even before demobilization had been completed, it was clear there was little love for the Weimar Republic within the remnants of the army’s officer corps. In July 1919, the new German National Assembly had ratified the Treaty of Versailles into German law, as required by the victors, and began overseeing the Reichswehr’s disarmament and demobilization. Members of the radical right within the military, many of whom had played crucial roles during the German Revolution of the previous year, decided to halt their own forthcoming discharges. In the early morning hours of March 12, 1920, news arrived at the Chancellery that Colonel Hermann Ehrhardt, a naval officer commanding a Freikorps scheduled for disbandment, was leading a column of 5,000 men with heavy by Wolfgang Kapp, a radical right member of the Reichstag, and his commanding officer, General Walther von Liittwitz, to seize control of the city and establish a military dictatorship.47

Minister of Defense Noske immediately summoned a council to which Minister of War for Prussia Reinhardt and his rival, General von Seeckt, soon arrived. Noske and Reinhardt agreed that the officers should immediately organize defenses in the city with the 12,000 soldiers and police officers available.

To their surprise, Seeckt refused. So did the other generals who were present. Declaring that “Reichswehr does not fire on Reichswehr,” he asked Noske whether the minister intended to set “the stage for a battle before the Brandenburg Gate'" between soldiers who had previously fought “side by side.”48 Furious at this betrayal, Noske announced that he would go alone in person to rally troops to the capital’s defense. Seeckt replied that most of the garrison had already declared for the rebels.49 At this, the normally stalwart Noske, the former butcher who had put down the naval mutinies in Kiel, lost his nerve, shouting, “Everyone has deserted me; nothing remains but suicide!”50 He and Reinhardt rushed off to meet with President Ebert. Seeckt meanwhile withdrew to his family estate to await the course of events.

The pro-revolution coup plotters had badly miscalculated. The government tied Berlin, declared a general strike, and rallied the public. Within a few days, the coup’s ringleaders were captured and sent into exile or pensioned off. This event, known as the Kapp Putsch for its political ringleader, cast shadows over the next several years in Germany.

Weimar's survival showed it possessed greater durability than anyone on either the left or right had supposed. It also demonstrated the gulf between the Reichswehr and the state.

Kapp Putsch's impact on the Reichswehr was considerable, most notably by bringing about a change in leadership and structure. Seeckt replaced Reinhardt as head of the army immediately after the Putsch's failure.51 In that role, he would oversee a reformation of the Reichswehr's structure, formalized in the Defense Act of March 23, 1921. The Reichswehrminister, a civilian cabinet-level official, answering to the Chancellor and the Reichstag, oversaw the German military. Under him was the Chef der Heeresleitung (Chief of the Army Command), Seeckt's position, the senior ranking army officer who oversaw the day-to-day functions of the German army. Also answering to the Reichswehrminister was the Chef des Marineleitung, who leaders, a view that had become apparent during the Kapp Putsch. Seeckt now demanded the army be “Uberparteilichkeit” (above party politics) to distance the army from domestic politics: he forbade officers and men from membership in political parties or organizations. Instead, Seeckt aimed to rebuild the German Army into a fighting force. To that end, he sought to develop the core of a future German army, one that would someday be capable of projecting power on the world stage. Seeckt immediately determined that the Reichswehr was incapable of defending Germany’s national boundaries given the limitations imposed on it by Versailles. Efforts at border security were large to be left to the police and others.53 He focused his attention instead on new tactical and operational doctrine and training an officer cadre that would serve as the core of a military force that could be expanded in the event of war. Seeckt also further organized the Black Reichswehr, which at this time consisted of Freikorps members organized into “labor battalions” who served as a secret (and under Versailles, illegal) reserve of the workforce in the event of war.54

Seeckt shared the common Reichswehr view that tactically and operationally, the German Army had done most things right in the First World War. Artillery and infantry could overcome tough defenses by the use of storm-troop tactics. In Seeckt’s first field regulations, issued in 1921, tanks and aircraft were auxiliary arms of limited importance.55 Their very presence was significant, though, given that Versailles banned both technologies, the fact the Allies had barred Germany from possessing them was a further demonstration of their importance, in Seeckfs view. Seeckt's field regulations went on to deal with the Reichswehr not as it was, but instead as the army “of a modem military great power."56 The manual concluded that the lesson of the First World War was that a “mass army” was not agile enough to win victories; it could only succeed by “sheer weight."57 The smaller the army, the easier to arm it with the latest equipment.'’58 Seeckt hoped thereby to turn necessity into a virtue. He concluded that the pace of technological change improved the prospects for offensive warfare.'’59 As a result, his field manual emphasized the traditional German offensive doctrine of Bewegungskrieg, or a “war of movement,” but now relying, at least in part, on new technologies of war.60 Only a mobile army with the latest weapons could guarantee the future defense of Germany against its likely adversaries, the larger armies of France and Poland.61

However, Versailles meant Germany would not have access to essential elements of modem warfare. To overcome this obstacle meant getting creative. Although Germany could not build or buy tanks, Seeckt established the Inspekteur der Kraftfahrtruppen (Inspectorate of Motorized Troops), which officers headed with experience with armored vehicles during the First World War. Using Panzerattrapen,  automobiles with wood and sacking added to give the rough appearance of a tank, these officers oversaw armored formations in maneuvers and training.62 Similar efforts were made to simulate aircraft in any way possible during maneuvers.63

Seeckt believed that Germany needed a thoroughly modern army. This required the Reichswehr to master new technologies of war. If changing technology was key to future German security, Seeckt knew he had to look for partners outside Germany, where Allied inspection teams prevented military research and development. That conclusion reinforced Seeckt’s desire to seek a partnership with the other state equally hostile to the European order: the Soviet Union.


Part One:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part One

Part Two:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Two

Part Four:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Four

Part Five:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Five

Part Six:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Six

Part Seven:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Seven

Part Eight:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Eight

Part Nine:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Nine

Part Ten:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Ten

Part Eleven:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Eleven

Part Twelve:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Twelve

Part Thirteen:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Thirteen

Part Fourteen:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Fourteen

Part Fifteen:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Fifteen


Apart from the archival documents listed in the footnotes following is a list of published sources that have been used:

1. Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World (New York: Random House, 2001), 26–27. 

2. Claire Maingon and David Campserveux, “A Museum at War: The Louvre 1914–1921,” L’Esprit Créateur, 54:2 (Summer 2014), 127–128. 

3. MacMillan, Paris 1919, 161.

4. All German exchange rates use contemporary dollar amounts, and are drawn from Lawrence H. Officer, “Bilateral Exchange Rates: 1913–1999” [Consistent currency units], in Historical Statistics of the United States, Earliest Times to the Present: Millennial Edition, eds. Susan B. Carter, Scott Sigmund Gartner, Michael R. Haines, Alan L. Olmstead, Richard Sutch, and Gavin Wright (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), Series Ee662–678,; and Lawrence H. Officer, “Exchange Rates between the United States Dollar and Forty-one Currencies,” MeasuringWorth, 2018,

5. MacMillan, Paris 1919, 159.

6. Heiber, The Weimar Republic, 36.

7. David J. A. Stone, The Kaiser’s Army: The German Army in World War One (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 133.

8. Groener recorded that “the 100,000 man army was for me completely out of the question, because it would not even be capable of ensuring peace at home.” Groener, Lebenserinnerungen, 492.

9. Carsten, The Reichswehr and Politics, 39-41.

10. Groener, Lebenserinnerungen, 503.

11. Carsten, The Reichswehr and Politics, 42.

12. Ben Fowkes, ed., The German Left and the Weimar Republic: A Selection of Documents (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 204.

13. Heiber, The Weimar Republic, 40.

14. Ibid., 40–41.

15. Ibid.

16. Article 168, The Treaty of Versailles.

17. David G. Williamson, The British in Interwar Germany: The Reluctant Occupiers, 1918–1930 (London: Bloomsbury, 2017), 55.

18. Ibid., 37.

19. Ibid., 50.

20. Ibid., 57.

21. See, for instance, Ferdinand Foch’s proposal on the terms of a peace treaty in Foch, “To British Empire Delegation, Note by Marshal Foch: Preliminaries of Peace with Germany,” February 18, 1919, BNA, WO 158/109, 1–5.

22. Williamson, The British in Interwar Germany, 66.

23. Martin Gilbert, The Roots of Appeasement (London: Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 1966), 52.

24. Ibid., 55.

25. General Nollet, “Administrative Statute: The Interallied Commissions of Control,” March 27, 1920, FO 893/7, BNA, 1-6; 66; Richard J. Shuster, German Disarmament after World War I: The Diplomacy of International Arms Inspection, 1920–1931 (London: Routledge, 2006), 27.

26. Williamson, The British in Interwar Germany, 57.

27. Ibid., 125

28. Shuster, German Disarmament after World War I, 122.

29. Ibid.

30. Williamson, The British in Interwar Germany, 118.

31. Shuster, German Disarmament after World War I, 68.

32. Ibid., 49.

33. See John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920).

34. There is a very rich historiography on the subject. Most the recent publications on the subject argue that the treaty terms were not uniquely harsh, not the primary impetus behind Weimar Germany’s political or economic problems, and not the main driver of Hitler’s rise to power. Even Keynes himself later regretted writing his work after the rise of Hitler. For an excellent review of the literature on this subject, see Sally Marks, “Mistakes and Myths: The Allies, Germany, and the Versailles Treaty, 1918–1921,” The Journal of Modern History, 85:3 (September 2013). See also Manfred Boemeke, Gerald Feldman, and Elisabeth Glaser, eds., The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment after 75 Years (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998), especially William Keylor, “Versailles and International Diplomacy,” 469–505.

35. Thanks to currency manipulation and heavy borrowing that was never repaid (particularly from the United States), Germany actually posted a net gain of 17.75 billion RM in capital inflows between 1919 and 1931. Stephen A. Schuker, “American ‘Reparations’ to Germany, 1919–33: Implications for the Third-World Debt Crisis” (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Studies in International Finance, No. 61, 1988), 118.

36. Shuster, German Disarmament after World War I, 57, 115, 119, 120.

37. “IAMCC Memorandum to Marshal Foch,” December 30, 1924, BNA, WO 155/14, 1–3; Williamson, 119. 

38. Heiber, The Weimar Republic, 42.

39. For the best evidence of this, see Max Hantke and Mark Spoerer, “The Imposed Gift of Versailles: The Fiscal Effects of Restricting the Size of Germany’s Armed Forces, 1924–1929,” The Economic History Review, 63:4 (November 2010), 849–864. They conclude that the limitations on Germany’s military likely saved up to 650 million Reichsmarks per annum, even factoring in reparations payments.

40. Richard M. Boeckel, “Military and Naval Expenditures,” Editorial Research Reports, 1930, Volume III (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1930), digitized at For the years 1928–1929, for instance, official German military expenditures constituted only 1.28 percent of national income, versus 4.6 percent in France. Even taking into account Germany’s black funds, of the major powers, only the United States spent less on defense as a percentage of national income during this period.

41. For a discussion of German tax rates, see Harold James, The German Slump: Politics and Economics, 1924–1936 (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1986), 39–64.

42. Schuker, “American ‘Reparations’ to Germany,” 10–11.

43. Angus Maddison, J. Bolt, and J. L. van Zanden, “Global Economic Statistics Database,” Angus Maddison Project, Accessed 2014,

44. Gordon, The Reichswehr and the German Republic, 69.

45. Dirk Richhardt, “Auswahl und Ausbildung junger Offiziere 1930–1945: Zur sozialen Genese des deutschen Offizierkorps” [The Selection and Training of Young Officers, 1930–1945: The Social Genesis of the German Officer Corps] (unpubl. diss., Philipps-Universität Marburg, 2002), 23.

46. Gordon, The Reichswehr and the German Republic, 59, 78–79

47. Robert B. Kane, Disobedience and Conspiracy in the German Army, 1918–1945 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 2002), 46–49.

48. Rabenau, Aus seinem Leben, 221, also quoted in Gordon, The Reichswehr and the German Republic, 114.

49. Rabenau, Aus seinem Leben, 221–222.

50. Gordon, The Reichswehr and the German Republic, 115.

51. Strohn, “Hans von Seeckt and His Vision of a ‘Modern Army,’ ” 330–332.

52. There is some confusion about the terminology of the Reichswehr versus the Reichsheer in the literature. Reichswehr was the name of the German army from 1919 to 1921 under a law passed by the Reichstag on March 6, 1919. The Defense Act of March 23, 1921, changed the terms for army and military, with Reichswehr applying to the German military (army and navy) as a whole, and the term Reichsheer [Imperial Army] introduced. However, the lexical confusion that resulted meant that most contemporaries and all English language literature since has used Reichswehr to refer to the German army throughout the Weimar period. I’ve followed that convention, not introducing Reichsheer to avoid confusion.

53. Otto Gessler, “Schutz der Ostgrenzen” [Protection of the Eastern Border], 2 August 1920, BNA, GFM 33/3591, 1–3.

54. For more on the Schwarze Reichswehr, see James M. Diehl, Paramilitary Politics in Weimar Germany (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977).

55. James S. Corum and Richard R. Muller, ed. and trans., Heeresdienstvorschrift 487, Führung und Gefecht der Verbundenen Waffen, Teil I (1921), Teil II (1923) [Army Regulations 487: Leadership and Battle with Combined Arms, Part I (1921) and Part II (1923)] (Baltimore: The Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1998). Seeckt was responsible for the overall production of F.u.G., writing the introduction and editing the final product; it was his creation.

56. Citino, The Path to Blitzkrieg, 11, 12, 23.

57.Quoted in Strohn, “Hans von Seeckt and His Vision of a ‘Modern Army,’ ” 322.

58. Hans von Seeckt, “Moderne Heere,” in Hans von Seeckt, Gedanken eines Soldaten (Leipzig: K. F. Koehler, 1935), 61.

59. Matthias Strohn, The German Army and the Defence of the Reich: Military Doctrine and the Conduct of the Defensive Battle 1918–1939 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 98–99.

60. Citino, The Path to Blitzkrieg, 18; Corum, The Roots of Blitzkrieg, 31.

61. For more on the perceived threat from Poland, see Paul Niebrzydowski, “Das deutsche Polenbild: Historicizing German Depictions of Poles, 1919–1934” (unpubl. master’s thesis, The Ohio State University, 2012).

62. David J. A. Stone, Hitler’s Army: The Men, Machines, and Organization: 1939–1945 (Minneapolis: MBI Publishing Company, 2009), 28.

63. Aircraft, for instance, were simulated by motorcyclists who were allowed drive around the maneuver grounds unhindered but not to converse with anyone. In this way, they would imitate observation aircraft. Citino, Johnson, Ian Ona. Faustian Bargain (pp. 247-250). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition. 


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