3 Hitler Reading.docx - The Great Depression and Rise of...

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The Great Depression and Rise of Hitler 1. How did the end of World War I impact Germany? 1919-1929: The Weimar Republic The Birth of the Weimar Republic In November of 1918, Germany surrendered in World War I. In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed and deprived Germany of various territories, demilitarized the country, and forced Germany to pay heavy reparations. With the ending of World War I and Germany’s defeat, the imperial government came to an end and German leaders created a democratic government known as the Weimar Republic. In this new democratic government, there was a chancellor or prime minister. Under this new democratic government, women were allowed to vote, there was a bill of rights and political parties were able to form. Problems in the Weimar Republic Despite the hopes of a new democracy, Germany suffered from a range of early political and economic problems. Political Problems Politically, the Weimar Republic had many small political parties so it was nearly impossible to form a coalition. The Weimar Republic was criticized by both conservatives and leftists. Conservatives thought the Weimar Republic was too weak. Leftists and communists demanded the changes they’d heard Lenin brought to Russia. In addition to the critiques of the Weimar Republic, many Germans were still angered by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Having to pay such large reparations negatively impacted the economy. Not only did the Treaty of Versailles impact the economy, it also impacted German nationalism and the sense of pride they had for their country. Germans of all classes began to believe the Weimar Republic was weak and not doing enough to protect German pride. Economic Problems The political problems were compounded by economic problems. In 1922 and 1923, Germany experienced rampant inflation. Inflation is the rise in prices and the fall in the value of money. Many Germans who lived on fixed government incomes found their money to be worthless. In addition to inflation, Germany began to fall behind on reparation payments as mandated in the Treaty of Versailles. When the Weimar Republic was unable to make payments, France occupied the Ruhr Valley. The German workers in Ruhr Valley refused to work, but were still paid by the government with newly printed money. The newly printed money only created more inflation and soon the German currency ( marks ) were worthless. Angered, bittered and humiliated, Germans began to look for scapegoats [people who are unfairly blamed for all problems] to explain their political and economic problems. Many Germans looked to German Jews as the reason for Germany’s problems. These political and economic problems caused many people to lose faith in the Weimar Republic and they began to look to extremist leaders to solve the problems it seemed the Weimar Republic was unable to solve.
To help the economy recover, the United States loaned Germany money and a new plan was developed by Western nations to reduce reparation payments. Between 1924 and 1929, Germany was able to experience a period of prosperity.

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