GCSE History: Impact of the First World War

21st June 2021

GCSE History information on the impact of the First World War on Germany

Due to the defeat of World War One, the new German Government, The Weimar Republic, faced a series of challenges. From economically to socially to internationally, Germany needed to change how they ran the country. But what were the specific challenges faced by the Weimar Republic in 1919-1923?

In 1914, Germany went into war with Britain, France and Russia. In four years time, German generals realised that they had lost the war. This led to weeks of violence as they were shocked and angry with the outcome. 

In November 1918, Germany signed an Armistice to bring World War One to an end. Soon after that, January 1919, elections were held for the new government.The country became a Democratic Republic with Friedrich Ebert as President. Democracy was forced on the Germans. 

Treaty of Versailles 

Concerning the Treaty of Versailles, many people felt Germany got a bad deal so they resented the government for signing and agreeing to it’s conditions. Here are some of the conditions the government signed to: 

  • Accepting full responsibility for causing the war.

  • Pay reparation of £6,600 million and give coal mines to the Saar area of France. 

  • Lose land. They lost control of all foreign colonies and Germany was forbidden to unite with Austria. 

  • Limit military power with an army no more than 100,000 members. The Rhineland was demilitarised. 

Political Instability

After Germany lost World War One, the Kaiser fled and a new government was declared in 1919. The Weimar Republic was a genuine attempt to create a perfect democratic country. 

Left wing people wanted more control over people and share the wealth equally over the country. Whereas the right wing people wanted to control the country through the traditional elite, rich, army etc. Extremists on both sides, Communists vs Nazis, were against the Weimar Republic. 

The extremists caused violent uprisings and devastating economic problems. There was continuous danger and unrest in the country. Some uprisings include:

  • 50,000 Spartacists rebelled in Berlin, led by the communists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Leibknecht. The rebellion was put down by the army and the right-wing Freikorps in bitter street fighting. Both sides suffered significant losses.

  • The Kapp Putsch. The right-wing nationalist Dr Wolfgang Kapp took over Berlin aiming to set up a new government as the rebels were angry at them for signing the Treaty of Versailles. The army refused to attack him and he was only defeated when the workers of Berlin went on strike organised by left-wing activists.

  • In 1920, after the failure of the Kapp Putsch, a Communist paramilitary group called the Red Army rebelled in the Ruhr.

In 1923, the Weimar Government face their main crisis, Germans failed to make reparation payment on time, setting off a train of events. 

  • The French invaded to take goods by force. 

  • The government forced people to not work and produce anything for the French.

  • The workers still needed wages, so the government printed more money but this created inflation. 

Do you want an easy way to memorise this information on the impact of WW1? 




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