How was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk viewed by most Germans in 1918 and in the decades afterwards (up to 1991)?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,827
SoCal
How was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk viewed by most Germans in 1918 and the decades afterwards? I am asking this question because the Brest-Litovsk Treaty provided a huge inspiration for Hitler's expansionist goals in the East during World War II--albeit with Hitler wanting to take these goals much further than the Brest-Litovsk Treaty did and expand Germany all of the way up to the Urals. That said, though, how did most Germans--especially, but not only, ordinary Germans--actually feel about the Brest-Litovsk Treaty in 1918 and in the subsequent decades? Did they share the opinion of the Zukunft newspaper/magazine that a German annexation of the Baltic states would be a mistake since it would result in decades-long Russian revanchism towards Germany? :

https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Literary_Digest/bKo5AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=alsace-lorraine+baltics&pg=RA8-PA21&printsec=frontcover

I know that there was a huge amount of anger in interwar Germany at the post-WWI German-Polish frontier, but I don't actually seem to recall many--if any--Germans in the interwar era actually complaining about the Soviet reconquest of Ukraine and the Caucasus--as well as about the attempted Soviet reconquest of Poland, the Baltic countries, and Finland. In turn, this makes me wonder as to whether most Germans were actually indifferent to the fate of the network of Eastern European puppet states that Germany briefly created in 1918 as a result of its victory over Russia in World War I. It's quite an interesting question considering that the current status quo in Eastern Europe actually isn't very different from what it was in early 1918--with the distinction being that Western Europe and the US are now part of one big allied bloc that also seeks to expand its influence into Eastern Europe up to the Caucasus, Ukraine, and the Baltic countries. In turn, this made me wonder just how exactly most Germans actually felt about the Brest-Litovsk Treaty in the 1918-1991 time period.

Any thoughts on this?

@Grimald @deaf tuner @Kotromanic @Visigoth Panzer @Emperor of Wurttemburg 43 @motorbike @Gaius Julius Civilis @Maki
 
Apr 2017
1,636
U.S.A.
The average common postww1 german probably didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the geo-politics of the Brest-Litovsk treaty. Instead they were more focused on the fate of their country and if they could feed themselves and their families. After ww2 this was especially engrained by the negative association with Nazism. I believe most germans of the time didn't care for the Soviets or the Poles, so they didn't care much who conquered what. I'd imagine only ambitious and empire-minded individuals were significantly interested in eastern expansion (outside of historic borders). Many do view that Imperial Germanys plans and Nazi Germany axis alliance laid the work for the foundation of NATO and to a lesser degree the European union.
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,964
Iowa USA
Thanks for going first, Panzer.

In recent months I have been reading on our site two apparently incompatible themes on German-Polish relations during the era of roughly '24-'37. The first theme emphasizes the role of nationalist ideology among Poland's military and some political parties. In this way of framing the German-Polish relationship, the thesis seems to be that the nullification of the establishment of German satellite states was one of the irritants to at least the German nationalist politicians. (Apparently in Eastern Germany there was some popular sentiment that felt the injustice of losing the satellite states after a decisive campaign against the Tsarist Russians.) There's another theme on German-Polish relations, that both nations were strongly anti-Communist (sometimes we use the terminology "Anti-Bolshevik" or "Traditionalist-Catholic") and that through the mid '30s many in Polish politics sought Berlin's assistance as Russian industry developed after the effective implementation of the early Soviet 5 plans. Roughly from 1934-35, it was apparent that Soviet Union was capable of producing modern weapons on a scale that only the UK and possibly France could approach, if not meet.

To your question about "typical German opinion", I would think that there is not much to add to what Panzer offered above.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,552
Republika Srpska
Yes, average Germans probably did not think much about the Treaty, especially after Versailles.
 
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Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,964
Iowa USA
The topic somewhat touches on a discussion of whether the popular support for the war in 1939 was widespread among the German people. I've read arguments both claiming that the Polish and French campaigns had broad support and arguments stating that the memory of the previous war was the largest determiner of public opinion.
 

Dir

Nov 2015
1,957
Kyiv
How was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk viewed by most Germans in 1918 and the decades afterwards? I am asking this question because the Brest-Litovsk Treaty provided a huge inspiration for Hitler's expansionist goals in the East during World War II--albeit with Hitler wanting to take these goals much further than the Brest-Litovsk Treaty did and expand Germany all of the way up to the Urals.
Your opinion contradicts what Hitler expressed to his high command shortly before the invasion of Russia

Here is a note in Halder's diary about a meeting with Hitler on March 16, 1941

[Hitler's remarks] about the rear areas:

In Northern Russia, which will be transferred to Finland, no difficulties. The Baltic states will depart to us with their local self-government. Rusyns will welcome us (Frank); Ukraine - unknown; Don Cossacks - unknown.

We must create republics free from communism.

The intelligentsia planted by Stalin must be destroyed. The governing apparatus of the Russian state must be broken.

In Great Russia it is necessary to use the most severe terror. Ideology experts consider the Russian people not strong enough. After the elimination of activists, it will stratify. The Caucasus will later be surrendered to Turkey (subject to its use by us)

On March 30, a new - big - meeting was held by the Fuhrer. And Hitler developed there his idea.

Halder Diary:

Almost 2.5 hours of speech as follows.

... After solving problems in the East, it will be enough to leave 50-60 divisions (tanks) there.

The struggle between two ideologies: A destructive verdict to Bolshevism does not mean a social crime. The great danger of communism for the future. We must proceed from the principle of soldier's partnership. The communist has never been and never will be our comrade. It is a struggle for extermination. If we do not look like that, then although we will defeat the enemy, in 30 years there will again be a communist danger. We are not waging a war to preserve our adversary.

The future picture of the political map of Russia: Northern Russia will move to Finland; protectorates in the Baltic states, in Ukraine, in Belarus.
The fight against Russia: The destruction of the Bolshevik commissars and the communist intelligentsia.


New states should be socialist states, but without their own intelligentsia. They should not be allowed to form a new intelligentsia. Here, only a primitive socialist intelligentsia will suffice.

So, Hitler was going to organize several socialist states on the conquered territory of the Soviet Union, including in Russia herself. The states with some kind of self-government - and, of course, the pro-German states. As for the expansion of the territory of the Third Reich itself as far as I see according to German plans of that time, it was the annexation by the Reich just of some southern part of Ukraine as well as Crimea was supposed. The Germans were going to call the territory Gothenland (in honor of the Goths who, together with the Crimea had a state in the 2nd-4th century AD on the territory of nowadays Ukraine) and resettle German settlers there.
 
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