A World War Comes to an End
The war ended on November 11, 1918 with the Armistice between the Allies and Germany. Germany was overwhelmed militarily and its people were starving, yet they did not surrender. They agreed to the cessation of fighting and abdication of the Kaiser. It took six months for the Treaty of Versailles to be prepared for the final end of the war. The terms of the Treaty drastically reduced Germany’s military and required huge reparations to the winning countries to pay for the war. The industrial and financial losses for Germany made life difficult for all Germans for the next 15 years.
Who Is to Blame?
The Weimar Republic, officially the German Reich, was established with a new constitution in 1919 to replace the German Empire. Dolchstofflegende (stab-in-the-back myth) blamed Germany’s loss not on the military, but on civilian subversive forces. The Armistice, the abdication of the Kaiser, and the terms of the Treaty of Versailles were all blamed on the Germans involved in the new republic. The blame was also placed on the Socialists, the Bolsheviks, and especially the Jews. The National Socialist German Workers’ Party (the Nazi party), formed in 1920, built itself on and expanded the myth. Hitler became associated with the party in 1919, when it was the German Workers’ Party and capitalized on this platform to strengthen the party and build his power.
The Deutschmark Devalued
In 1922, there was much anxiety about paying the reparations, and multiple factions within the country were vying for power. At the beginning of the war in 1914, the German currency, the Deutschmark, was valued at four marks per US dollar. By the end of the war in 1918, the value was thirty-two marks per $1. Since Germany was unable to pay the huge amount of reparations that it owed to other countries, the government printed more paper money. The mark went from 330 per $1 in November 1921 to 4,000,000,000,000 per $1 in November 1923. This hyperinflation made the German mark worthless. Ultimately, currency was revised in 1924 and based on the gold mark rather than just paper currency.
Willy Geheb always wanted adventure and success and he was not happy with what he was seeing in Germany. The family was constantly struggling to survive and the future looked bleak. He decided to leave Germany to experience some adventures and to become the successful man he wanted to be.