Years of Unrest


There was Widespread Discontent in Germany

The first 4 years of the Weimar Republic (1919-1923) were dominated by political, social and economic unrest. This unrest created hardship for the people and fuelled criticism of Ebert's government.

1. By 1919, thousands of Germans were poor and starving.

2. Many Germans denied they had lost the war and blamed the 'November Criminals' who had agreed to the armistice and the ToV.

3. Others who were blamed for losing the war included the communists and jews.

4. The government was seen as weak and ineffective - the ToV made living conditions worse.

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Soon there were Riots and Rebellions

The government faced thretas from left-wing and right-wing political groups

Left: wanted a revolution

  • Jan 1919, communists led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg tried to take over Berlin. Took control over important buildings like newspaper headquarters, and 50,000 workers went on strike in support of left-wing revolution. Known as the Spartacist Revolt (Spartacus League).
  • Ebert asked for help from the right-wing Freikorps (ex-German soldiers) to stop the rebellion. Over 100 workers were killed. The Freikorps' use of violence caused a split on the Left between the SPD and the communists

Right: Also rebelled against Weimar

  • March 1920, some of the Freikorps took part in the Kapp Putsch (Kapp revolt) led by Wolfgang Kapp. Wanted to make a right-wing government.
  • Freikorps marched into Berlin to overthrow the Weimar regime. German workers opposed the putsch and staged a general strike. Berlin was paralysed and Kapp was forced to give up.
  • Even after the putsch failed, threats to the government remained. In 1922, some former Freikorps members assassinated Walter Rathenau - he'd been foreign minister and was Jewish (As Germanys economic problems got worse after the war, anti-semitic feelings increased.
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In 1923 Germany Couldn't Pay its Reparations

1. By 1923 Germany couldn't meet reparations payments set out by the ToV.

2. France and Belgium decided to take their resources instead, so they occupied the Ruhr - the richest industrial part of Germany. This gave them access to Germany's iron and coal reserves. This led to fury in Germany and caused a huge strike in the Ruhr.

3. German industry was devastated again. Germany tried to solve her debt problem by printing more money, but this plunged the economy into hyperinflation (Hyperinflation happens when production can't keep up with the amount of money in circulation, so the money keeps losing its value).

4. In 1918, an egg costs 1/4 of a Mark. By November 1923, it cost 80 million Marks.

The consequences of hyperinflation

  • Germany's currency became worthless. Nobody wanted to trade with Germany, so shortages of foods and goods got worse.
  • Bank Savings also became worthless. The hardest hit were the middle classes. (By 1923 even basic necessities were hard to get hold of. The German people were undergoing immense hardship which they'd now come to associate with the rise of the Weimar Republic.
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