The Weimar Republic

In 1918, after accepting defeat in the First World War, Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles. This imposed extreme territorial limitations (creation of Czechoslovakia, a greater Poland, demilitarization of the Rhineland, occupation of the Saarland) and military restrictions:
- No Air Force was allowed;
- No Heavy Weapons like tanks or artillery were allowed;
- The army was limited to no more than 100.000 soldiers for internal control purposes only;
- The navy was forbidden to have submarines and ships with more than 10 000 tons;
- No compulsory military service and a reduced officers’ professional structure.

Huge financial war compensations were also imposed (to be paid through future international heavier loans) to the winners and millions in assets were confiscated.

All these would create a strong resentment even in the more moderate Germans and fueled several radical movements that explored the weakness of the Weimar Republic.

The Weimar Republic, with a democratic and constitutional political system, was imposed with the forced abdication of the Kaiser and the Versailles Peace. It moved Germany from a paternal and imperialist Monarchy to a multipartisan liberal democracy. With the end of the secular German/Prussian Army and with no patriarchal and leadership references, Germany, defeated, sliced and humiliated but mostly intact, was left to drift in the middle of a harsh economic and financial swamp. As leaders with no stature were elected one after another Germans felt orphans in a system imposed by the “enemies”.

Even the Field Marshal Foch, military leader of the Allies in the victory of 1918, expressed his total disagreement with the Versailles Peace, stating “This is not Peace, it’s an Armistice for 20 years”. How more prophetic could he be?

The German economy never managed to grow out of the political instability and war compensations. Inflation became huge and, together with chronic unemployment eroded the middle-class savings. Governments that lasted months or even weeks followed each other with no success. This threw large masses of the population into the hand of extremist movements that exploited the foreign humiliation and fueled people with dreams of past greatness.

For a while, after 1925, they turned to the Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, one of the few references left. He was elected President with 77 years old. Re-elected in 1932 he was unable to stop the rise of Adolph Hitler. And after the death of the old Field Marshal, with no one else to father Germany, the path was open for someone who would promise Germany the return to its right place...


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