Weimar Republic

Weimar Republic Weimar Republic There were various factors that contributed to the failure of the Weimar Republic of Germany and the ascent of Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party into power on January 30, 1933. Various conflicting problems were concurrent with the result of a Republic that, from the outset, its first governing body the socialist party (SPD) was forced to contend with. These included the aspect of German imperialism, the unresolved defeat of 1918, financial collapse and the forced struggle against the activities of the National party as well as inflation. Other factors that influenced the failure of Weimar were the structural weaknesses induced by the constitution and the basic lack of support for the Republic among the German people particularly amongst the elite. All in all, these aspects were the major causes that doomed the Weimar republic to ultimate failure and the eventual ascent of Hitler’s nationalist party to power.

The new socialist government of Weimar (SPD), whose constitution was adopted on July 30, 1919, entered a situation they by no means created. The period during which they were appointed to rule was associated with defeat and misery, and when disorder was nationwide. The situation then, was that of revolution. However, rather than to make it a revolution of there own, they co-operated with the liberals and with the catholic centre party to lead Germany in a reformed version of her old self. In June 1919, they voted to comply with the treaty of Versailles.

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However, the signing of the Treaty served to promote protest and unrest amongst the soldiers, sailors and the German people generally, and democracy thus resulted in becoming an alien device. The imperial army, for instance, never got over the humiliation of surrender, which they felt, was a ‘stab in the back’ by their own countrymen. The sailors at Kiel mutinied in a last desperate effort on October 28 and on November 9 1919, the streets were filled with crowds marching to demonstrate at the center of Berlin. Furthermore, compliance with the Treaty of Versailles meant that Germany would have to make reparation payments it could scarcely afford. This fact placed a heavy strain on the already suffering economy of Germany which was bankrupted by four years of war thus ensuing in the ascend of inflation and the occasioning of the respite of payments by Germany in 1922. The French reacted by occupying the Ruhr, a major industrial area of Germany, in January 1923.

This was felt a grave humiliation by the German people and eventuated in widespread discontent. Germany’s currency was already fragile, and in face of the occurring circumstances consequent to the Ruhr invasion and the overprinting of currency, the Mark fell to chronic levels, eventually reaching the value of four billion against the US dollar, which therefore generated massive hyperinflation. The economic instability, on top of the disillusionment and resent caused by the humiliating peace settlement, resulted in vast sections of German society feeling alienated by the Republic. They responded by attacking the democracy and as a consequence it became impossible to control the hostility and discontent. The deteriorating economic and social situation also managed to wreak havoc on the political atmosphere of the time and the Republic wound up having no positive friends and too many enemies.

The Republic faced opposition from the extreme left by Spartacists who resorted to force in efforts to overturn the Republic. In March 1920, the Freikorps who in Berlin launched a pro-Monarchist putsch in an attempt to install Wolfgang Kapp as Chancellor also challenged the Republic from the right. During this incident troops both refused to defend the Republic or take action against Freikorps. In protest the working classes then responded by organizing a general strike in Berlin, which had the effect of frustrating this putsch. The present regime was able to survive despite the numerous threats. Extremism remained to pollute the atmosphere, the evidence being represented in the alarming amount of political assassinations that continued occurring.

In evidence, according to an estimate of the Minister of Justice, rightists committed 354 murders between 1919 and 1923. During this time, when the Republic was suffering most and was being threatened, practically from all sides, Hitler had been making affective attempts to capitalize on the resultant circumstances. He exploited the economic collapse by blaming it on all those he wished to portray as enemies. These were the same enemies he declared as the ‘November criminals’ who had brought about Germany’s defeat in 1918. Hitler’s plan was to seize power in Munich, and, with Bavaria as his base, to launch a march on Berlin not unlike Mussolini’s march on Rome of a year earlier, but without first being invited to take power, as Mussolini had been. Hitler, however, continued to fail until 1933 when he finally seized power.

The continued disruption caused by his attacks on the Republic, notably his Munich putsch, in addition to the economic crises as well as the resurfacing of the previously unresolved issues promulgated the grounds for an increased anti-republican sentiment which reached a climax in 1923 when the Republic was on its knees due to hyperinflation. It was against this traumatic background that the leadership of the republic was passed to the hands of Gustav Stresemann in August 1923. His determination and ambition to rectify circumstances in Germany were realized in November 1923 when he introduced a new currency. Valued at one billion old Marks the introduction of the Rentenmark at the end of 1923 was a main reason for the currency stabalization. Further stability came with the Dawes plan of April 1924, which provided a modified settlement of the reparation issues. In addition, French troops were then confirmed to leave the Ruhr, and disputes between the two countries then went too independent ruling.

In September, Stresemann called off passive resistance unconditionally. These headed many positive changes in Germany, whose effects were felt universally in almost every facet of German life. By 1929, the German economy revived. The changes Stresemann managed to bring about still had the effect of deviating opposition by both the extremist groups on the right as well as the left. However, while it seemed that politics might have settled down, the circumstances that were to follow in the coming years proved that Stresemann perhaps merely postponed internal problems rather than eradicated them. The relative stability achieved through the late 1920s by Gustav Stresemann was, for instance, heavily reliant upon foreign investment, loans and economic prosperity, not only in Germany but also in the United States from whence much of Germany’s foreign investments originated.

Consequently, as the American economy boomed the attractiveness of investment in Germany became overshadowed and the German economy thus, again proceeded to decline in 1928. Additionally, during October 1929, two crises befell the Republic – Gustav Stresemann, the architect of Germany’s stability, died and later that month the collapse of share prices began on the New York stock exchange. Had Germany’s prosperity and economic stability been self-reliant events and circumstances on the New York stock exchange may have had a somewhat subtle effect in Germany. However, as said earlier, Germany’s prosperity was merely financed by international loans and was excessively dependant on foreign investment. Germany was thus forced to remain in a very vulnerable position, the results leading to the onset of depression and the virtual crumbling of the Republic’s very foundations in recourse to the Wall Street crash during …