In a previous posting, I featured a farmyard where a lot of resurfaced war material is kept. Obviously, the buildings in this yard has been rebuilt after WW1, using materials provided by Germany, as part of the peace treaty. This tile was lying around in the farmyard. Stuttgart 1898. In my view, this tile is symbolic of the start of WW2. How? Try to understand this:
Over all the years, prior to WW1, the most common reason to start a war, was that 1) a power believe it is stronger than the others about to be attacked and 2) the other side has resources and/or property that should change ownership (there were probably some wars with other goals [e.g. holy], but even then it played out to be the goodies in the end). The loser had to pay. One of those resources, was labour. That meant free labour as in slavery. With free labour, a ruler can build the most magnificent castles, palaces and other nonsense with which to honour him/herself. Today we stand in wonder before such edifices.
Imperialism meant that some powers invaded land in other places, where the inhabitants had little or no means to defend their livelihood. So, that land got a name as a imperial power's colony and the stripping begins.
This kind of mindset still existed at the time when WW1 started and eventually closed, supposedly with the treaty of Versailles. Actually, more treaties followed to address the explosive situations and relations caused by the first treaty. Four main things were addressed: 1) Germany was forced to become the guilty party, 2) Demilitarisation of Germany 3) Reparations 4) Dividing Germany's colonies and some parts of Germany itself. Fortunately slavery was not a possibillity at this time, anymore.
Some parties in the Allied side were against harsh treatment of Germany. The likes of Woodrow Wilson, John Maynard Keynes (British economist and party to the discussions), King Albert 1 of Belgium, etc. Others loved the idea of harsh treatment and implicitly gains for their own countries, like Marshal Foch (French military), the Brits voted for a government that could squeeze the Germans till the pips squeak (political slogan of the time).
The reparation was set at $31.4bn of which Belgium that lost quite a lot, received half a billion. Payment could be made in cash or kind. It may not sound like a lot, even when translated to current value. But set that against the cost of war, loss of so many productive young men, loss of sources; like colonies and parts of the country - then the payment become very difficult to make. Like poor Mother Hubbard, the cupboard was stripped bare. As in so many cases, that is the ideal breeding ground for nationalism and the Nazi Party came to power, which gave birth to WW2.
During my series about Berlin I posted an overview of the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazi party - if you are interested.