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Weimar government years of crisis (1919-1923)
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DescriptionWeimar government years of crisis (1919-1923)
The first challenge to the Weimar Republic came when a group of communists took over the Bavarian government in Munich and declared the creation of the Bavarian Soviet Republic. The communist rebel state was quickly put down one month later when Freikorps units were brought in to battle the leftist rebels.
The Kapp Putsch took place on 13 March 1920, involving a group of 5000 Freikorps troops who gained control of Berlin and installed Wolfgang Kapp (a right-wing journalist) as chancellor. The national government fled to Stuttgart and called for a general strike. The strike crippled Germany's ravaged economy and the Kapp government collapsed after only four days on 17 March.
Inspired by the general strikes, a communist uprising began in the Ruhr region when 50,000 people formed a "Red Army" and took control of the province. The regular army and the Freikorps ended the uprising on their own authority. Other communist rebellions were put down in March 1921.
Under the Treaty of Versailles Germany could only have 100,000 soldiers and no conscription, Naval forces reduced to 15,000 men, 12 destroyers, 6 battleships, and 6 cruisers, no submarines or aircraft. The Treaty with Russia worked in secret, as the treaty allowed Germany to train military personnel, and Russia gained the benefits of German military technology. This was against the Treaty of Versailles, but Russia had pulled out of World War I against the Germans due to the 1917 Russian Revolution and was looked down on by the League of Nations. Germany seized the chance to make an ally.
By 1923, the Republic claimed it could no longer afford the reparations payments required by the Versailles treaty, and the government defaulted on some payments. In response, French and Belgian troops occupied the Ruhr region, Germany's most productive industrial region at the time, taking control of most mining and manufacturing companies in January 1923. Strikes were called, and passive resistance was encouraged. These strikes lasted eight months, further damaging the economy and increasing the expense of imports. The strike meant no goods were being produced. This infuriated the French, who began to kill and exile protestors in the region.
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