Weimar Republic

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The Weimar Republic began in 1919 after Germany’s loss in WWI.  The name of the Republic derives itself from the city in which the Social Democrats signed the constitution.  This form of Government was truly Democratic, proven by the universal suffrage granted.  The people directly elected a president to a seven-year term.  The president would then appoint a Chancellor who had to be approved by the Reichstag.

After the end of WWI, Germany was left with economic, social, and political problems.  Parties from the extreme left and extreme right were bitter political enemies; however, they both were in consensus to overthrow the government.  These political groups attempted numerous coup d’etats of the Republic.  The Communist Spartacists led a revolt in 1919.  In 1920, Wolfgang Kapp led the military Kapp Putsch.  Also, in 1923, Adolf Hitler, supported by WWI hero General Ludendorff, attempted to overthrow the Republic in the Beer Hall Putsch.

In many German eyes, Hitler’s attempted overthrow of the Republic showed his earnest plight to save Germany from the depths of poverty.  The Weimar Republic was initially in trouble financially with its war reparation payments to the allied countries.  In order to compensate for the poor times and pay the debt, the Weimar Republic printed a superfluous amount of money.  This caused inflation.  The German mark, once valued at four to the United States dollar, was rated at eight to one in 1919 and two hundred fifty to one in 1921, and by August 1923, the exchange was more than two thousand to one.  The situation became so overblown that a newspaper could sell for nearly 100 billion marks.  When the depression set in (1929) during Hindenburg’s term, the Government broke apart again.  In 1927, the best year, economically, for the Republic, unemployment was higher than the worst prewar years.  Germany was in desperate measures for change.

Despite foreign affair successes such as the Locarno Pact, the Dawes Plan, the Berlin Treaty, and the Young Plan, the Weimar Government could not withstand the constant pressure from the worldwide economic depression in 1929 and the pressure felt from the augmenting power of the Nazis.

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