Why did the Weimar Republic Collapse?

Berlin, Reichsbank, Geldauflieferungsstelle

Stacks of bank notes in 1923 during hyperinflation.

The Weimar Republic was Germany’s first experiment in democracy. It was founded after the aftermath of the German defeat in World War I. The Republic faced many challenges during its short life. It was undermined by right and left wing extremists and the military. Many have seen the fall of the Weimar Republic as inevitable, however, it could have succeeded but for the economic calamity of the Great Depression.

After the failure of the last great German offensive in the western front in 1918, it was clear that Germany would lose the war. Because of the war and the Allied blockade many Germans were on the verge of starvation. There were waves of strikes and communists and socialists were actively demonstrating against the government. The German Field Marshal Ludendorf, who had effectively been the military dictator of Germany was dismissed and the Imperial government sought to make peace with the allies. As the government was negotiating peace terms with the Allies, a revolution broke out in German. Workers went on strike and established committees that seized control of many urban centers. In response, the Social Democrat leader Erbert demanded to become Chancellor of Germany. He and others declared the Weimar Republic in November 1918. Soon after elections were held and the Social Democrats formed the first government. The Constitution of the Weimar Republic established it as a ‘presidential republic’.[1]

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Categories: European History

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