Skip to Main Content
We are working to upgrade the research experience by making ongoing improvements to our Research Guides.
You may encounter changes in the look and feel of the Research Guides website along with structural changes to our existing guides. If you have any questions or concerns about this process please let us know.

Primary Sources: Germany in World War II

Weimar Republic and Lead up to World War II (1918-1933) 

The interwar period in Germany (1918-1938) was a tumultuous era marked by political instability, economic hardship, and significant social change. Following its defeat in World War I, Germany underwent a dramatic transformation with the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the establishment of the Weimar Republic in 1919. The Treaty of Versailles imposed harsh penalties on Germany, including substantial territorial losses, military restrictions, and reparations payments, which fostered widespread resentment and economic strain.

The early years of the Weimar Republic were characterized by severe economic problems, including hyperinflation in the early 1920s. The German mark became virtually worthless, leading to widespread poverty and social unrest. Despite these challenges, the Republic experienced a period of relative stability and cultural flourishing known as the "Golden Twenties," marked by advancements in the arts, sciences, and a more liberal social atmosphere.

However, the Great Depression of 1929 plunged Germany back into economic despair, causing massive unemployment and political radicalization. Extremist parties, particularly the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi Party) led by Adolf Hitler, gained increasing support by exploiting public discontent and promising to restore Germany's former glory. The Nazis' rise was aided by effective propaganda, political maneuvering, and the use of paramilitary violence against opponents.

In 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor, and the Nazis quickly consolidated power. The Reichstag Fire in February 1933 allowed the Nazis to push through the Reichstag Fire Decree, suspending civil liberties and enabling mass arrests of political opponents. The Enabling Act passed shortly thereafter, granting Hitler dictatorial powers and marking the end of the Weimar Republic.

By the mid-1930s, Hitler's regime had transformed Germany into a totalitarian state. The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 institutionalized anti-Semitism, stripping Jews of their rights. Germany began rearming and pursuing aggressive foreign policies, culminating in the annexation of Austria in 1938 (Anschluss) and the Sudetenland, setting the stage for World War II. This period was a prelude to the catastrophic conflict that would engulf the world.

Online Sources: Weimar Republic and Lead up to World War II (1918-1933) 

Books Sources: Weimar Republic and Lead up to World War II (1918-1933) 

A select list of books from the Florida Atlantic University Libraries Collection.

Video Sources: Weimar Republic and Lead up to World War II (1918-1933) 

The Following Links are to videos from the FAU Libraries' Database Collection - You must log in using your FAU Username and Password.