What problems did Germany face after World War I?

After World War I, Germany faced the near-total destruction of its economy, political and social unrest, and an ineffective government.

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Ultimately, it is important to keep in mind that modern democracy requires an element of faith for it to function. The citizenry must believe in democracy and democratic values. Otherwise it cannot effectively function.

This was one of the great challenges that faced the Weimar Republic: Germany was coming out of a long history of autocracy, dating all the way back to its founding (and even long preceding it). Making things even more difficult was the circumstance of the Republic's installation: it was only created at the very end of the war, just in time for Germany's formal surrender. The Republic thus became a scapegoat to the German people, blamed for the German defeat, and it was already tainted before it could even consolidate itself.

In such a situation, with Germany shamed and crippled by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, democracy faced a severe uphill climb, one that was further complicated by the hyperinflation of the 1920s. This political and economic instability was joined by tremendous political instability, as parties of both the far right and the far left battled for support. With the impact of the Depression, support for the Centrists disintegrated while the Nazis were able to build and rapidly expand their political power, setting the stage for the construction of a totalitarian state.

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The aftermath of World War I saw Germany in a bad place. First of all, it destroyed the nation's economy. Huge repreparation payments were levied on Germany as part of the Treaty of Versailles. Germany was forced to pay Great Britain and France £6.6 billion. When Germany was unable to make these payments on time, French and Belgian troops occupied the Ruhr Valley in Western Germany and seized many industrial assets. This led to even more economic damage, as it severely limited the industrial output of Germany. Without access to its industrial center, shortages of produced goods ensued throughout the country. At the same time, hyperinflation, which had already begun during the war, increased and led to the collapse of the German currency.

This was also a time of confusion and unrest for Germany. Throughout the war, German propaganda had told its citizens that the war was going well. Therefore, the German defeat came as a surprise to many. Many Germans felt that their government had betrayed them by signing the armistice. There were numerous assassinations of politicians who were seen by the public as traitors. Scapegoating was common, with the country's Jews often being falsely blamed for Germany's defeat. Unrest led to a lack of confidence in the new government. The rise of both right-wing nationalists and communists resulted in struggles with each other for greater influence and power.

The new Weimar government of post-war Germany was beset with problems. Although democracy increased to a large extent in the 1920s, there were serious flaws to the new government. For instance, the parliament guaranteed proportional representation to each party based on the votes they received. As a result, numerous small parties, each with their own agendas, prevented meaningful legislation from being passed.

Certain provisions also gave the chancellor and president the power to act without parliament's approval in certain "emergency" situations. However, without clear definitions as to what constituted an emergency, the power was overused and led to a loss of faith in democratic institutions. This set the stage for the rise and total takeover by the Nazi Party.

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Germany faced numerous problems after World War I.  The most pressing involved the political climate.  After the defeat of Germany, the Wilhelm II was forced to abdicate and the Weimar Republic was declared.  This was only after a revolution that took place in 1918-19.  The Republic, however, was on shaky ground to begin with.  There were over thirty political parties, though only six had any real power.  This situation meant that parties had to form coalitions with one another to get anything done.  Since the parties were more interested in their survival than that of the makeshift Republic, these coalitions often proved weak.

There were also at least three major money problems.  First, the reparation payments of the Versailles Treaty, though still quite exorbitant, were manageable.  Second, the shift to a peace time economy was rather smooth because Germany continued to print money, which led to the astronomical inflation of 1923-4.  Third, because of the weakening by inflation and the dependence on foreign loans, the Great Depression hit Germany especially hard. 

What was most pressing, however, was the psychological shock of losing the war.  Many people, especially due to fabricated military reports, were surprised to learn of Germany's defeat.  (Hitler was one of these people.)  There was also the stab-in-the-back theory, insisting the military lost because of poor political support.

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Germany faced a lot of problems at the end of World War I. Germany had gained some territories during World War I, but toward the close of the war Germany was forced to concede and sign a peace treaty, the famous Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919. In addition to being forced into peace because Germany had run out of money and resources to continue fighting a war they were also blamed for the war. When the postwar map was redrawn Germany also had to give back part of their colonial empire that was obtained during the war. In addition to losing what it was they had fought for they were also forced to pay reparations for various regions around the world. Germany's economy was in a sad state of affairs after the war and now having to pay reparations that were astronomical (approximately $35 billion) the economy was in a very vulnerable state, the whole country was and it was searching for its savior.

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