The Weimar Republic was established to govern Germany after its defeat in World War I (1914–1918). It ruled the nation from 1919 to 1933. The Weimar Republic faced numerous and severe problems during its history, and the Great Depression proved to be its deathblow.
Communists attempted to seize power by force in 1919. A brief civil war followed as right-wing forces fought communists in the streets. The army put down the communist revolt and killed its leaders.
Street violence was not the only problem facing the Weimar Republic. The new German government was forced to sign the Versailles Treaty after WWI. Germany had to accept blame for the war and pay high reparations. Germany lost much of its territory, and its military was sharply reduced. The Weimar Republic would always handicapped by its association with the hated Versailles Treaty.
Germany also faced economic chaos after the war. Inflation was extremely serious. There were further coup attempts by right-wing leaders—including one by Adolph Hitler (1889–1945).
Finally, by the late 1920s, Germany began to stabilize. The capable Gustav Stresemann (1878–1929) became chancellor. Germany's economy and its culture began to recover, and its diplomatic isolation ended.
Stresemann's accomplishments were undone by the Great Depression, which began in 1929. After the collapse of the American stock market, Germany was cut off from American loans. The fragile Weimar Republic could not withstand the daunting challenges posed by the worldwide economic meltdown. Stresemann died, and German voters supported extremists—Nazis and communists—in the 1930 and 1932 elections.
Hitler's Nazis became the strongest party, and he became chancellor in 1933. Hitler ended the Weimar Republic and established a dictatorship. With Hitler in total control, the economy began to recover as military spending increased.