The Weimar Republic
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In the waning days of World War I, Germans revolted against the Kaiser, forcing him to abdicate and retire to the Netherlands. In February 1919, a provisional coalition met in the German city of Weimar and wrote a constitution that established Germany as a democratic federal republic and provided for two houses of parliament, the Reichstag and the Reichsrat. Freidrich Ebert was elected president of the new republic.
The Weimar Republic was beset by the global depression of the 1920s, further hampered by the crushing reparation payments demanded by the Treaty of Versailles. The economic and social conditions of the Republic led to widespread distress, making the situation ripe for the rise of Adolf Hitler, who came to power in 1933. Although most scholars today recognize that the Weimar Republic was profoundly flawed in a number of its foundational ideologies and political mechanisms, there remains a vigorous debate over what role the demise of the Republic had upon the meteoric ascension of the Nazi Party, and what, if any, effect the burgeoning public support of the NSDAP had on the ultimate downfall of the Weimar Republic. While some scholars have asserted that these two events are only loosely related, others argue that they are inextricably linked and that the ascension of a fascist regime was unavoidable in the downfall of the Weimar Republic.
The most important overarching political problem that faced the Weimar Republic was the public’s perception of it as a piecemeal remnant of the Treaty of Versailles formed out of a desperate attempt to preserve Germany’s existence in the aftermath of World War I, rather than from the strong, German unification.