HOUSTON, TX (Aug. 24, 2012) – World War I, which started with so much enthusiastic patriotism on all sides, ended after four long and bloody years in a horrific disaster. For the German people who had been belied by the emperor and the generals over the outcome, the defeat in Fall 1918 came as a surprise and an utmost shock. This shock transformed into rage when Germany had to sign the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919.
Ursula Muenzel, a scholar in German-Jewish history, will discuss “Why the Treaty of Versailles Paved Hitler’s Way to Power” in this free public lecture beginning at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, in the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Theater at Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St. in Houston’s Museum District. Admission is free, but seating is limited and advance registration is required. To RSVP online, visit http://www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx.
The German people had chased away the emperor and created a new, truly democratic state – the Republic of Weimar. They had well-grounded hopes for a fair treatment as promised in Woodrow Wilson’s 14-point program. The Treaty of Versailles was a far cry from it, according to Muenzel.
It was understood that Germany would have to give back territories like Alsace Lorraine, which it had annexed in another war. What outraged public and politicians alike was the so-called war-guilt clause, which blamed solely Germany for the outbreak of the war and which justified the enormous amount of reparation the new democracy was bound to pay. The reasons for the outbreak of WWI had been more complex. The feelings of injustice and betrayal were the prevailing sentiments, and revision of the treaty became the foremost goal of all political parties in Germany, from right to left. The treaty was the most unfortunate legacy the young republic had to shoulder, the “birth defect” which finally caused its collapse. It was an easy game for Adolf Hitler to put all the blame for the national humiliation and the economic catastrophe which resulted from the reparations on the new democracy, defaming the democratic system per se and to present himself as the “savior” to the depressed German people. The Treaty of Versailles was not the only reason for Hitler’s ascent to power – but an important one.
Muenzel graduated with a doctorate in modern history. Her field of expertise is German-Jewish history, particularly the Jewish struggle for emancipation and integration in the 19th century and the emigration of German Jews to the United States of America – as well as German diplomatic relations, the Weimar Republic and the rise of National Socialism. She is a published author of books and numerous articles and a sought-after speaker.
Throughout her career, she held various positions, working for the German Foreign Ministry and for the Leo Baeck Institute in New York, lecturing at the University of Nairobi, Rice University and University of St. Thomas in Houston, where she held the position of an adjunct professor at the Center for International Studies. She currently divides her time between Berlin and Houston.
Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.
Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004. For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.