Between 1919 and 1933, Germany was generally referred to as either the Weimar Republic or Weimar Germany. Why, you ask? In short, this was because the provisional post-WWI government was forced to relocate to Weimar due to political instability in Berlin.

While the Weimar Republic may have looked like the perfect democracy from the outside, it had two crippling weaknesses. First up was its system of proportional representation, which saw all people over the age of 20 given the opportunity to vote for the party they wanted in power. From here, each party was allocated seats in parliament, which were theoretically proportional to the number of people who had voted for them. Sounds fair, right? Unfortunately, it quickly became a disaster as no party was strong enough to get a majority, which meant the government couldn’t pass any laws.

The biggest party in the Reichstag (which is the fancy German word for parliament) between 1924 and 1929 was the SPD, yet it refused to form any viable coalitions. Its political influence was further weakened by President Hindenburg’s opposition to it, as well as his reluctance to deny it political influence. So, by making political consensus unlikely the SPD played into the hands of the opponents of Weimar… and as you can imagine, this wasn’t the greatest outcome.

In an emergency situation the president of the Weimar Republic did have the power to rule by decree – and even to suspend the constitution. This was Weimar Germany’s second major flaw, as it was never decided what constituted an emergency, and Hitler went on to use this loophole to install himself as Germany’s supreme dictator in 1933-1934.