• GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • FRANKISH KINGDOM
  • JOHANNES REUCHLIN
  • THE WEIMAR CONSTITUTION
  • W
  • INFLATION, REPARATIONS, AND
  • THE STRESEMANN ERA, 19231929
  • STABILIZATION AND LOCARNO,
  • CULTURE AND SOCIETY
  • ROAD TO DICTATORSHIP,
  • T
  • CONSOLIDATION OF POWER
  • THE NAZI TOTAL STATE
  • ULRICH VON HUTTEN
  • PERSECUTION OF THE JEWS
  • RELIGION AND THE CHURCHES
  • FOREIGN POLICY
  • W
  • THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN
  • INVASION OF RUSSIA
  • HITLERS PLANS FOR EUROPE
  • TURNING OF THE TIDE,
  • THE HOME FRONT
  • THE RESISTANCE
  • PHILIP MELANCHTHON
  • D-DAY TO DEFEAT NAZI GERMANY
  • THE HOLOCAUST
  • A
  • ALLIED PLANS AND CONFERENCES
  • DENAZIFICATION
  • POLITICAL PARTIES AND TRADE
  • LOCAL STATE FORMATION
  • PARLIAMENTARY COUNCIL AND THE
  • ECONOMIC RECONSTRUCTION
  • T
  • ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM
  • BUNDESTAG ELECTION AND
  • REGAINING SOVEREIGNTY AND INTEGRATION
  • RECONSTRUCTION AND THE ECONOMIC
  • TRANSITIONAL YEARS AND
  • THE GRAND COALITION AND YOUTH
  • THE SOCIAL-LIBERAL COALITION
  • OSTPOLITIK (FOREIGN POLICY
  • CULTURE AND SOCIETY
  • SOCIAL STRUCTURE
  • SCHMIDT ERA: SOCIAL UNREST,
  • PRINTING AND MEDICINE
  • THE KOHL ERA, 19821998
  • T
  • UPRISING OF JUNE 17, 1953
  • ECONOMIC SYSTEM
  • SOCIETY, EDUCATION, AND
  • RELATIONS WITH THE FEDERAL
  • R
  • CONSEQUENCES AND PROBLEMS OF
  • ECONOMIC UNIFICATION,
  • P
  • RENAISSANCE ART
  • UNIFICATION POLITICS AND ITS
  • FOREIGN POLICY
  • GOVERNMENT AND ELECTIONS,
  • HISTORICAL DICTIONARY A
  • A
  • Abwehr
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  • Afrika Korps
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  • Agricola, Rudolf
  • Air Force
  • Albert (Albrecht) of
  • Albert V
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  • Allied Control Council
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  • Amiens, Battle of
  • Anabaptists
  • P
  • Anglo-German Naval Treaty
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  • Anti-Comintern Pact
  • anti-Semitism/Jew hatred
  • anti-Semitism
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  • Ardennes, Battle of the
  • Arendt, Hannah
  • Armed Forces (Wehrmacht)
  • Armed Forces (Bundeswehr):
  • LUTHER AND MELANCHTHON
  • Army (Prussian to 1860)
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  • Atlantic, Battle of the
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  • Augsburg, Diet of
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  • Augsburg Confession
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  • LUTHER AND ZWINGLI
  • Auschwitz-Birkenau
  • Austerlitz, Battle of
  • Austria
  • Austrian Succession, War of
  • autarchy
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  • Axis, The
  • B
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  • Bavaria
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  • ANABAPTISM AND MÜNTZER
  • Benz, Carl Friedrich
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  • CALVINISM IN GERMANY
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  • Bismarck, Otto Eduard Leopold
  • blank check
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  • CHARLES V AND THE REFORMATION
  • Böll, Heinrich
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  • Bormann, Martin
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  • Brandenburg
  • C
  • Brauchitsch, Walther von
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  • Braun, Wernher von
  • Brecht, Bertolt
  • Bremen/Bremerhaven
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  • Breslau
  • The Bridge
  • THE THIRTY YEARS WAR
  • Britain, Battle of
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  • Bundesrat
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  • LITERATURE
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  • Clausewitz, Carl von
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  • D
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  • E
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  • PIETISM
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  • F
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  • R
  • FREDERICK III
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  • SEVEN YEARS WAR
  • S
  • ECONOMY
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  • O
  • THE DANISH WAR, 1864
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  • I
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  • T
  • THE QUESTION OF
  • LATE MEDIEVAL CULTURE
  • CONDUCT OF THE WAR
  • PEACE RESOLUTION, REFORM, AND
  • AN UNPLANNED REVOLUTION
  • N
  • POLITICAL PARTIES UNPREPARED
  • A REVOLUTIONARY PATTERN
  • WORKERS AND SOLDIERS
  • KURT EISNER AND REVOLUTION IN
  • A REPUBLIC PROCLAIMED
  • A SEVERE ARMISTICE
  • T
  • ESTABLISHMENT OF A REVOLUTIONARY
  • EBERT MAKES A DEAL WITH THE
  • THE SPARTACISTS
  • INTERPRETATION OF THE
  • A VENGEFUL PEACE
  • V
  • THE GOALS OF THE PEACEMAKERS
  • TERMS OF THE TREATY
  • WAR GUILT AND REPARATIONS
  • DENUNCIATION AND RELUCTANT
  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • INFLATION, REPARATIONS, AND

    RUHR INVASION

    The Weimar Republic inherited a considerable degree of inflation as a result of

    the war and the way it was financed. Whereas the British increased taxation to

    pay for the war, the German government floated war bonds and German

    investors expected to draw interest even after the war. Some of the economic

    problems facing the republic included a decrease in industrial capacity, the

    depletion of raw materials, a loss of tax revenue from the Rhineland, the loss

    of its merchant fleet and overseas markets, the staggering costs of demobilization,

    and unemployment relief. By 1918 the German mark had already lost

    two-thirds of its value against the dollar. Government expenditures were not

    financed through taxes to which the voters would have reacted by voting the

    Weimar Coalition out of office. So the government decided to print money to

    pay its bills. The faster money was printed the faster it depreciated. Although

    Matthias Erzberger, who was finance minister in 1919, imposed new taxes, he

    did not stop the printing presses. Even the president of the central bank

    (Reichsbank), who should have known better, justified the printing of even

    more paper money in order to cover its international trade deficit.

    A major problem facing the chancellor from the Center Party, Konstantin

    Fehrenbach, was the reparations problem. In July 1920 Fehrenbach went to

    Spa in Belgium and three months later to Brussels to attend reparations conferences,

    trying to obtain accurate information as to exactly what amount of

    money and goods Germany was expected to pay. The demands were finally

    specified and handed to the German delegation at the London Conference of

    March 1, 1921. It stated that Germany was required to pay 132 billion gold

    marks within a period of 30 years. At first these demands were rejected, but

    later accepted by the new government headed by the Center Party deputy,

    Joseph Wirth, who announced that Germany would fulfill its obligations. This

    was followed until the beginning of 1923. It was in this context that the German

    government continued to borrow and print new money. A severe inflationary

    spiral started. Foreigners lost confidence in the currency, and it

    depreciated rapidly, having immediate repercussions. People began to try to

    turn their money into goods, while owners of goods were reluctant to exchange

    122 Germany

    them for currency. Prices began to rise faster and faster. Then the French occupied

    the Ruhr in January 1923, which turned the decline into an avalanche. The

    German government not too wisely answered the French action with a policy

    of passive resistance that was enormously expensive and had to be financed by

    more printed money. By the end of 1923, 1,783 printing presses printed so much

    paper money that the mark stood at 25 billion to the dollar. Some Germans profited

    from the inflation, such as industrialists and other wealthy persons who

    were able to pay off their debts in inflated money. Hugo Stinnes built up his business

    empire by buying up weaker companies, which concentrated an enormous

    amount of economic power in his hands. The main victims of the inflation were

    people who subsisted on interest from savings and who saw their assets disappear.

    White collar workers like civil servants were also adversely affected. Workers,

    on the other hand, had to work longer hours and experienced a decline in

    income that brought hunger and sickness to their families. There was also a

    nationalist motive behind this inflationary monetary policy. Some people

    believed that the complete collapse of the currency would persuade the Allies

    to terminate reparations payments. Reparations were by no means the only

    cause of this inflationary catastrophe. The psychological effect was shattering

    and explains why so many people turned to demagogues to save them from

    these problems.

    The economic conditions threatened to undermine the republic. The

    extremists of the right blamed all the problems on the Versailles Treaty and the

    policy of fulfillment of Germanys reparations obligations. In August 1921

    fanatics assassinated Matthias Erzberger, the outstanding leader of the Center

    Party and one of the signatories of the armistice. In June 1922 a band of young

    men shot and killed Walther Rathenau because he was seen as the embodiment

    of the policy of fulfillment. Rathenau had planned Germanys wartime

    mobilization and as foreign minister during the republic had negotiated the

    Treaty of Rapallo. Other republican leaders were targets of attacks and murder

    attempts. The government appeared powerless to check the breakdown of

    law and order.

    Greater threats against the republic occurred in 1923. One of the effects of

    the French invasion of the Ruhr was to stimulate attempts by groups of separatists

    to set up an independent Republic of the Rhineland. When it became

    known that the French had encouraged this attempt, it was discredited. More

    serious problems occurred in Saxony and Thuringia, where Communists and

    left Socialists took over the state government in October. The Berlin government

    intervened, deposing the state government and establishing martial law.

    The situation was more dangerous in Bavaria. There the state government had

    been dominated since 1920 by Gustav von Kahr, who had made himself the

    head of an antirepublican conspiracy that included Bavarian separatists, supporters

    of the Hohenzollern and Wittelsbach dynasties, anti-Semites, and those

    who wanted to imitate Mussolini. Kahr had attracted General Ludendorff and

    won the confidence of General von Lossow, the commander of the Reichswehr

    units stationed in Bavaria. He even tried to get the support of Adolf Hitler.

    Kahrs objectives were not entirely clear, but he apparently planned to strike

    against the government of the republic. General von Lossow, the commander

    Weimar Republic 123

    of the Bavarian army group, was an ally of Kahr, and General von Seekt of the

    army command refused to have his soldiers shoot at other army (Reichswehr)

    troops.

    On this occasion Hitler carried out the so-called Beer Hall Putsch. On the

    evening of November 8, 1923, Hitler broke into a meeting of Kahr and his supporters

    and declared that the National Revolution had begun. Then he made

    Kahr and Lossow pledge their support for his government. Later that night they

    changed their minds and decided to defend the constitutional order against

    Hitlers coup. Then, on the morning of November 9, Hitler and Ludendorff and

    the storm troopers (SA) marched into the city to the Odeonsplatz. There police

    and army troops fired on the column; Ludendorff was captured; Hitler was

    apprehended two days later. This eliminated the last serious threat to the republican

    government and made possible plans for recovery.

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