The Failure Of The Weimar Republic

2064 words - 8 pages

The Failure of the Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic survived to years of greater internal peace from
the mid-1920s, when the political problems were covered, until
exposure by the economic and political crises of 1929, Hitler’s
appointment as German Chancellor in 1933 was more or less the most
important event of the 20th century. The most direct causes for the
collapse of the first German democracy must be sought in the years
between the end of World War I and the establishment of the Third
Reich.

The parliamentary democracy which was established in Germany in
1918-19 was the consequence of defeat and revolution and not the
deliberate choice of a majority of the population. They hoped that the
removal of the Kaiser and the adoption of parliamentary democracy
would make the Allies grant Germany a merciful peace. When the terms
of the Versailles Treaty became public in May 1919 and who had
supported democracy turned against it. Others, mostly the middle
classes, had never wanted democracy and deeply disliked the overthrow
of the monarchy. They convinced themselves that the German army had
never been defeated on the battlefield. Democracy and the Weimar
Republic were never universally accepted and were not quite
legitimate.

Weimar’s failure was, however, not inevitable, for the republic
survived a period of severe political and economic crisis in its early
years. The first threat came from the left, disappointed with the
results of the revolution. They wanted a transformation of society, as
in Russia, based on the workers’ and soldiers’ councils which had
spontaneously sprung up during the German revolution. Such a system
had little chance of being realized in an advanced industrial country
like Germany, where, unlike Russia, the workers had the vote. The
first elections after the fall of the monarchy did not produce a
socialist majority. In Germany, the Treaty of Versailles was regarded
as humiliating and unable to satisfy the population. People’s wishes
were not fulfilled for the fact that it left the unified Germany
created in 1870 basically unbroken and in the long run in a strong
position, but with weak neighbors on its east. Following Versailles,
in March 1920, disappointment with democracy led to the first attempt
by the right-wing nationalists to overthrow the republic, the Kapp
Putsch. At this point the parties of the center and the left, which
were pro-republican forces, were still strong enough to aggravate the
coup. A general strike played a key role in defeating the
conspirators.

In the next few years instability was frustrated by speeding up
inflation. The German currency had already lost much of its value
during the war and Weimar governments were too weak to bring inflation
under control. The reparations which Germany was obliged to pay under
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