Primary Sources: Weimar Economics

Germany emerged from World War I with huge debts incurred to finance a costly war for almost five years. The treasury was empty, the currency was losing value, and Germany needed to pay its war debts and the huge reparations bill imposed on it by the Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended the war. The treaty also deprived Germany of territory, natural resources, and even ships, trains, and factory equipment. Her population was undernourished and contained many impoverished widows, orphans, and disabled veterans. The new German government struggled to deal with these crises, which had produced a serious hyperinflation.

By 1924, after years of crisis management and attempts at tax and finance reform, the economy was stabilized with the help of foreign, particularly American, loans. A period of relative prosperity prevailed from 1924 to 1929. This relative “golden age” was reflected in the strong support for moderate pro-Weimar political parties in the 1928 elections. However, economic disaster struck with the onset of the world depression in 1929. The American stock market crash and bank failures led to a recall of American loans to Germany. This development added to Germany’s economic hardship. Mass unemployment and suffering followed. Many Germans became increasingly disillusioned with the Weimar Republic and began to turn toward radical anti-democratic parties whose representatives promised to relieve their economic hardships.


Democracy & Civic Engagement

Unemployed Woman Wearing Sign (c. 1928)

Unemployed woman living in Weimar Germany advertises her skills. Translation: "Hello! I'm looking for work. I can do shorthand and typing, can speak French and English, will accept any type of household job and can do anything that demands an attentive mind."

Genocide & Mass Violence

World War I Effect on German Population

This chart shows the German population in both 1910 and 1925, and illustrates the demographic impact of World War I on the German people.



There are no results for that term you searched. Please hit Reset, and try searching for a different term.

Search Our Global Collection

Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.