Most people aren’t aware that the Weimar Republic technically didn’t end until the fall of Hitler in 1945. What it is best remembered for, however, is hyperinflation and the rise of Hitler. In 1919 in Germany one loaf of bread cost 1 mark; by 1923, the same loaf of bread cost 100 billion marks. There are photos from that era showing German citizens burning marks to heat their homes because it was cheaper than trying to buy wood or coal.
For those who don’t remember, here is a brief history from Wikipedia: “Following World War I, the republic emerged from the German Revolution in November 1918. In 1919, a national assembly was convened in Weimar, where a new constitution for the German Reich was written, then adopted on 11 August of that same year. The ensuing period of liberal democracy lapsed by 1930, when Hindenburg assumed dictatorial emergency powers, leading to the ascent of the nascent Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler in 1933.”
There were a couple of problems that caused that hyperinflation. The main one was that republic owed a massive debt stemming from reparations forced on Germany as a result of World War I. The last payment on those reparations, incidentally, wasn’t made until 2010. This debt and the government’s inability to make the required annual payments in “real” money, led to the printing of massive quantities of marks. At one point, the government was over-printing marks, turning one mark into 10,000 or more—at least on paper. The value of the Papiermark had declined from 4.2 per U.S. dollar at the outbreak of World War I to 1 million per dollar by August 1923. The problem, of course, was that the paper meant nothing.
During the period before the rise of Hitler, the government became weaker, more faction-ridden and various groups formed their own militias, including communists, traditionalists, socialists, national socialists (NAZIs), etc. It was amidst this chaos that Hindenburg chose to rule by decree. He was aged and did little with his decrees to bring Germany out of its “malaise”. Instead, he prepared the way for Hitler, who with the largest, but still a minority, party took over the government and ruled by decree.
The reason we should remember the Weimar Republic is because of the glaring similarities in our national landscape. First, we have a massive debt, growing daily, which many recognize never will be repaid. Secondly, we have become very factionalized with socialists, Islamists, abortionists, black panthers, conservatives and others increasingly at one another’s throats.
Like in the Weimar Republic, we have a divided national legislature unable to do very much that is constructive. And for inflation, we have a federal reserve that doesn’t actually print massive quantities of money, it just declares it exists by electronic fiat. It has nothing backing it up, not even paper. The fed points to inflation and claims things are fine since it is only 2 or 3 percent per year. Two or three percent per year amounts to 20 or 30 percent over 10 years, and there have been periods over the last 25 years when it has been more than 10 percent in a year. If you go back to Roosevelt, second socialist U.S. president (after Wilson), inflation has skyrocketed. I pumped gas when I was in high school at 17 cents per gallon (and wiped your windshield and checked your oil). At today’s $3.00 per gallon or more, that more than 175 percent inflation in about 40 years. Prior to Roosevelt, inflation had been miniscule. A dollar still would buy you an acre of land in some places, about the same as just after the Revolution. We are not experiencing “benign” inflation, it’s galloping on a fiery horse, despite what Keynesian illusionists will tell you.
Finally, there is one other very serious reason to remember the Weimar Republic. That is that Hindenburg and Hitler ruled by decree. Guess what, a certain B. Hussein Obama increasingly is ruling by decree. He issues executive orders and his agencies, such as the EPA, issue all kinds of “regulations” roughly (sometimes very roughly) authorized by something Congress has passed. We increasingly are being ruled by decree.
So we have rampant inflation, a factionalized society, and a massive and rapidly growing national debt. All we need for this mess to result in the rise of another Hitler is someone with a penchant for ruling by decree, ambitious and determined to “fundamentally change” the nation. Know anyone with that mindset?