Weimar Republic

The first republic in German history, known as the Weimar Republic, had more than its share of birth pains, including armed uprisings of extremist factions on the left and the right.

The government overcame these failed coups, but the next major crisis to shake it came from a monstrously bloated currency. To call the inflationary spiral that hit the nation through 1923 dizzying is to engage in excessive understatement. By the end of the first term, the German mark had fallen to one-trillionth of its pre-war value!

This mind-boggling inflation was finally brought to an end by the appointment of a new Finance Minister and a new currency. But the “Great Inflation” convinced more and more Germans that democratic governments were incapable of dealing with the problems of modern society. These sentiments were fueled by those forces which had been antagonistic to democracy right from the start.

The world-wide Depression of the early 30s presented the government with a mountain of new problems. More and more Germans then turned to extremist parties of the right or the left to seek relief from their misery. And the calls for a Führer, a strong leader with an all-encompassing vision, resonated with more authority in various parts of society.

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