To What Extent Was the Great Depression Responsible for the Collapse of the Weimar Republic?

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To what extent was the Great Depression responsible for the collapse of the Weimar Republic? While the Great Depression had a huge impact on Germany, it is too simplistic to say that the Depression alone led to the collapse of the Weimar Republic. The Depression had a great impact both economically, socially, politically and psychologically, but its main significance was the opportunity it provided radical politicians such as Hitler. The collapse of the Republic itself can almost be described as inevitable, having being built on unstable and weak foundations. As well as the Depression, the collapse of the Republic can be linked to a large number of factors, including the influence of the army, political instability and constitutional weaknesses. One of the most consequential outcomes of the Depression was the opportunity that it provided Hitler. A majority of the citizens lost faith and belief in the current Social Democratic government, turning instead to the confident and dynamic leader of Hitler. As Evans asserts, ‘citizens began to see in the youthful dynamism of the Nazi Party as a way out of the situation’. What Evans means by this is that the desperation of the people led them to polarising their votes and seeing radical leaders like Hitler as a solution to the mess that Germany had become. Hitler took advantage of this, and from there was able to play a huge role in the collapse of the Weimar Republic. The economic strain that Germany was placed under was also a major impact of the Depression on the collapse of the Republic. Firstly, the Depression had the obvious impact of the debt rising and the banking crises however, there were a number other impacts. Germany relied heavily on international trade for resources; almost one third of their resources came from overseas. When the depression hit, other countries began to retract free and fair trade which
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