To What Extent Did Economic Problems Contribute To The Collapse Of The Weimar Republic?

1859 words - 7 pages

The collapse of the Weimar Republic can not be seen as solely indebted to the severe economic problems faced during the period of its rule, but consequently it was the economic issues that became a footstep to the ultimate demise of the Republic. Subsequent to Germany’s defeat in the First World War and German Emperor Kaiser’s abdication from power, the Weimar Republic was proclaimed. The Republic that had emerged from the German Revolution of November 1918 would inevitably fall as a result of numerous issues. However, the extent of which economic problems had in the dissolution of the republic, and how these issues caused or came about due to separate concerns faced by the new democratic system became a major contributing factor.

Economic problems were evident before the new constitution was even drawn up, and already the new republic faced a host of problems upon proclamation. These turbulent initial years would predict the Republic’s downfall, with the stigma of being a republic born out of defeat. The Weimar Republic’s first act was to sign the armistice with the allies. Germany had suffered greatly as a result of the war, and many German’s saw the signing of the armistice as an act of treason, and blamed the new government for the loss of the war. The Republic saw minimal allegiance or support from nationalist groups who viewed the new government with contempt. Germany had no tradition of democracy, and its people yearned for a dictatorial government and a strong leader. This was dismissed by the new democratic system. Discontent continued to heighten in face of the outcomes of the war that had seen the loss of two and a half million German soldiers, four million wounded German soldiers, increasing prices and unemployment, as well as a continued allied blockade. This put huge strain on Germany’s human and natural resources, proving poorly to the economy from the start.

The establishment of the new constitution drawn up on the 11th of August 1919 caused many internal issues within the democratic system as a result of continual economic disaster. Germany was to be a Federal State, with a parliament to be elected every four years following a system of proportional representation. This system faltered due to the amount of political parties (during the rule of the Weimar Republic, there were 21 separate coalitions) and a lack of political census. Economic conditions lead to a polarisation of extremists left and right support. In times of instability it was noted that poor standards of living meant the lower class leaned towards the left wing, while the higher class leaned towards the right due to lack of national pride. The extent of economic issues in Germany caused the middle class and aristocrats to consider political extremities. Consequently this caused huge political divisions in German society, which denied the republic of any political census, resulting in a large amounts of political parties and changes to government. This made it...

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