Bitter, they looked for scapegoats. Many scapegoated Marxists or German Jews for Germany's economic and political problems.

Economic Hardship

Economic disaster fed unrest. In 1923, when Germany fell behind in reparations payments, France occupied the coal-rich Ruhr Valley, (roor) taking over its iron, coal, and steel industries. German workers in the Ruhr protested using passive resistance and refused to work. To pay the workers, the German government printed huge quantities of paper money.

Inflation soon spiraled out of control, spreading misery and despair. The German mark became almost worthless. An item that cost 100 marks in July 1922 might have cost 944,000 marks by August 1923. Such an extremely rapid and sharp increase in prices is known as hyperinflation. Salaries rose by billions of marks, but they still could not keep up with skyrocketing prices. Many middle-class families saw their savings wiped out.

Recovery and Depression

With help from the Western powers, the government did bring inflation under control. In 1924, the United States gained British and French approval for a plan to reduce German reparations payments. Under the Dawes Plan, France withdrew its forces from the Ruhr, and American loans helped the German economy recover.

Cartoon of a man wearing a union jack apron carving a turkey, calling men to dinner wearing sashes identifying them as Servia, Russia, France, Italy and Greece.

Analyze Political Cartoons

The terms of the Treaty of Versailles resulted in Germany losing large amounts of territory as well as its overseas colonies. What do you think the turkey in this cartoon represents?

Germany began to prosper. Then the Great Depression hit, reviving memories of the miseries of 1923. Germans turned to an energetic leader, Adolf Hitler, who promised to solve the economic crisis and restore Germany's former greatness.

Culture in the Weimar Republic

Despite political and economic turmoil, culture flourished in the Weimar Republic. The tumultuous times helped to stimulate new cultural movements, such as dadaist art and Bauhaus architecture. Berlin attracted writers and artists from around the world, just as Paris did. The German playwright Bertolt Brecht sharply criticized middle-class values with The Three-Penny Opera. The artist George Grosz, through scathing drawings and paintings, blasted the failings of the Weimar Republic.

Most of the art and music produced during the Weimar Republic reflected the culture of that time. However, many believed that this modern culture and the Weimar Republic itself were not in keeping with Germany's illustrious past. They condemned the new culture as immoral and rejected American influences, such as jazz.

Hitler Leads the Nazi Party

The Great Depression sent the German economy into a downward spiral. As discontent rose, Germans began to listen to the ideas of Adolf Hitler, who had operated on the fringe of German politics for a decade.

Early Years

Hitler was born in Austria in 1889. When he was 18, he went to Vienna, then the capital of the multinational Hapsburg empire. German Austrians made up just one of many ethnic groups in Vienna. Yet they felt superior to Jews, Serbs, Poles, and other groups. While living in Vienna, Hitler developed the fanatical anti-Semitism, or prejudice against Jewish people, that would later play a major role in his rise to power.

Hitler went to Germany and fought in the German army during World War I. In 1919, he joined a small group of right-wing extremists. Like many ex-soldiers, he despised the Weimar government, which he saw as weak. Within a year, he was the unquestioned leader of the National Socialist German Workers, or Nazi, party.


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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments