The Weimar Republic has become synonymous with weak government, but, in truth it was dealt a near impossible hand. As the administration was being established Communist rebels were fighting for control in Berlin and Munich. It was also unceasingly attacked by conservative purveyors of the ‘stab-in-the back’ myth, accusing its Socialist politicians of sabotaging a potential victory in the war. Finally, it had to deal with the terms set at Versailles: the loss of 13 per cent of Germany’s European territory and all of its colonies; crippling reparation payments against the backdrop of a ruined economy. After four years of continual crisis and spiralling hyperinflation, Weimar defaulted on reparations, and French troops occupied the Ruhr. Threatened with revolution, Chancellor Gustav Stresemann enlisted American help to mitigate reparations and stabilize the economy. By the end of the 1920s, prosperity was returning, but then the Great Depression once again cratered the economy, opening the way to Nazi takeover.
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