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The German empire emerged in 1918 from the revolutionary shockwaves of the First World War to form a parliamentary democracy.

The occupation of the Ruhr Valley, inflation and the grievous economic crisis threatened the cohesion of the young Weimar Republic. In the tattered landscape of the political parties, contrary visions of Germany’s political form stood opposed to one another. Left-wing and right-wing extremists fought the democratic order. During a brief phase of relative stability, the economy recovered and avant-garde forms of art and culture came into bloom.

The series of alternating government coalitions failed to find effective means to fight social misery and unemployment. During the world depression, the situation worsened. The political radicalization of the population made possible the rise of the NSDAP to a party of the masses with the strongest fraction in parliament.