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Was the Weimar Republic actually meant to go down?

Historic background:

Formally based in 1919 the Weimar Republic (on the time referred to as German Reich) was the primary german parliamentary republic. The Basis was overshadowed by the First World Battle that simply ended and the treaty of Versailles, which was seen as a adhesion contract by many germans. This led to a really tight political scenario: the German Reich had 12 differnent chancellors within the years from 1919 to 1933, not counting Adolf Hitler. A number of instances the german financial system nearly broke down as a result of enormous reparations Germany needed to pay to the allies. These circumstances made the inhabitants very open for teams just like the Nationalsocialists, who took energy in 1933, resulting in the “Third Reich”.

Placing this internal instabilitiy apart, many individuals check with the so referred to as ” suspectibility of the structure”. Really the structure of the Weimar Republic was not a lot totally different from a contemporary democracy aside from one level: the “Reichspräsident” (president) might enact “emergency decrees” with out permission of the parliament or chancellor, he was even capable of fully dissolve the Reichstag (the parliament). Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934; president of the German Reich 1925-1934) made use of this energy from 1930 on. On this time the chancellors wheren’t elected by the germans, they had been appointed by Hindenburg. The so referred to as presidential dictatorship lastly led to the takeover of energy by the Nazis.

Now this appears fairly clear: the Weimar Republic had just about the identical drawback that ended the democracy in historical Rome, so it needed to fail. However I feel that it isn’t really easy. The thesis that the primary german republic was doomed to fail was primarily expressed by german historians of the primary years after the autumn of the Nazi-Regime. This was a time the place many Germans tried to course of as little as doable, largely as a result of they weren’t harmless within the years from 1933 to 1945 both. I feel that telling the Weimar Republic was unstable (not due to the fixed riots however due to the structure) is only a (possibly even unconscious) attempt to reject the personal fault. A strive that was carried out into the entire world by German historians and is now accepted by most individuals.

I obtained nobody to debate this with, that is why I am posting this.

(Please excuse doable errors in my language, I am no native speaker)

Comments ( 10 )

  1. The Weimar was against the odds from the beginning. Germany was previously just a group of principalities followed by a short term monarchy. The Weimar was foisted upon the German people by the winners of WWI so it wasn’t even a government of their own choosing. Still…it may have been successful had it not be for war reparations and the Great Depression. France in particular was still exacting their pound of flesh which made life difficult, manageable but difficult. But then the Depression more or less doomed the country and made German society ripe for extremism. An extremist, in the form of Hitler, who played on age long bigotries against jews…telling the German people what’s wrong and who to blame for their lot in life. Mainly…the former allies holding back German nationalism and the ‘jewish problem’ which was rotting German society from within.

  2. It also very much didn’t help that the SPD antagonised the far-left forces right from the get-go and used the military on them.

  3. It didn’t go down, it was put down through intimidation, violence and murder.

  4. Sure the Weimar Republic had huge problems from the get go. Mostly due to the Versailles treaty demands they had no say on this at all. Every German felt backstabbed. But the first years up till 1923 the republic was blooming right until the Beurskrach though in 1929. After that it went downhill and became a rich soil for extreme parties. The money they where borrowing from the United-States just stopped.

    1924 is a good example of how the Weimar was modestly solid in the earlier years. Hitler’s first grab for power completely failed in that year, due to misjudging the whole situation.

  5. The Treaty of Versailles was meant to prevent the Germans from ever having the power to start another war of that scale again (mostly by the French). No one wanted the Weimar Republic to fail, as that would concentrate power with a few individuals.

    The problem of reparations can be seen in two lights: willingness to pay, and ability to pay. Germany was one of the largest economies in the world, so the ability to pay shouldn’t really be questioned. It was the willingness to pay that was the problem. Who are you going to tax to raise the reparation funds? No one was willing to pay a tax for the war that Germany had been winning right until the end. So they printed money and borrowed foreign currency in international markets.

    It was in 1932 when the Americans called in those loans to Germany. This essentially crashed their economy again and made Hitler look like a prophet (he stated that the Americans were not their friends and would financially ruin Germany only months before). Hitler fully intended to do away with the republic if elected, and did it within weeks of becoming Chancellor. It wasn’t a guaranteed failure, but it was an explicit goal of the Nazi party.

  6. It didn’t “fail”, it was destroyed. It was not a foregone conclusion that it was going to collapse. If the nazis hadn’t been let off so light after the Beer Hall Putsch it’s possible the Weimar Republic would never have gone down or been overthrown.

  7. I would like to point out that you did point out that Hindenberg appointed Hitler as Chancellor. He also gave the Chancellor emergency powers soon after in the Enabling Act. These were actions he was allowed under the Weimar constitution.

    As with anything, causes are complex and numerous. The economic crisis was causing lots of instability, but Hindenberg did not have to do either of these things. It could be said that because the Republic was set up with the President with some certain powers, the Republic was “doomed” because if that person made one bad decision with no checks or balances, the whole thing would most certainly collapse.

  8. The Weimar Republic certainly had some issues right from its foundation, and there are some serious failure points that contributed to its demise, but claiminbg that it was doomed to end the way it did really seems like an attempt to deflect blame.

    The Weimar Republic did not fall prey to an inevitable doom, it was overthrown by a fascist coup when the nazis managed to persudade/coerce non-fascist right wing and centre parties to support them.

    The desire to create a kind of Ersatzkaiser in the person of the president certainly played a role in the rise of the nazis. Hindenburg had far reaching powers and was persudaded to wield them in the nazi’s interest. Given that the nazis were not reluctant to actually break the constitution it’s not entirely clear that having more checks and balances in place to prevent abuses of power by the president would ultimately have prevented Hitler’s dictatoship, but there would probably not have been as clear a path, especially without an absolute majority in the Reichstag which the nazis failed to achieve again and again.

    But there were problems long before the nazi’s rise ever began: the military kept a prominent role in post-World War I Germany, starting with the fact that Hindenburg did become president, but also apparent in the establishment of the stab-in-the-back legend which shifted the blame for the lost war from the military to civilian politicians (and was later used to great effect by the nazis), and the leniency towards the Freikorps, even after attempted coups and assassinations of prominent politicians. The militant right was allowed to establish itself in the new state.

    Yes, there were also militants on the left, and coup attempts like the Spartakus rising and the uprising of the Red Ruhr Army, but those were suppressed more vigorously, including the killing of prominent leaders like Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. Not only was there an imbalance from the beginning, but this also lead to rifts between the more moderate SPD and the more radical left which did not happen at the other end of the spectrum. This later allowed the nazis the find allies in the moderate right and also prevented the moderate and radical left from forming a united front against the fascist takeover.

    So there were potential breaking points from the start, and growing economic problems did not help to alleviate the situation, but saying that the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the nazi dictatorship were already inevitable in 1918 seems like gross oversimplification at best

  9. There are a number of decent books about the Weimar Republic, most of which appear on “best of” lists. None of the lists, however, include the 2-volume set written by Erick Eyck.

    Find that set and start there.

  10. >Multiple times the german economy almost broke down due to the huge reparations Germany had to pay to the allies.

    I thought this pov was not considered valid anymore. Wasn’t the inflation more a result of the German gov’t deliberately devaluing the currency as a way around reparations and didn’t the German gov’t just outright stop paying what they were supposed to for long periods of time.

    edit: For example here’s what Margret MacMillan says about it.

    >“There has been a lot more research on the 1920s. For so long the decade was seen as a prelude to the 1930s and we all know what happened then.

    >“Historians looking at the 1920s are now concluding that it wasn’t so clear cut as that. There were some hopeful signs and the League of Nations was actually working in a way. Germany, too, was becoming part of the community of nations again.”

    >In fact it did in the end join the league.

    >Even the crushing burden of reparation payments imposed on Germany was being brought under control, she said.

    >“They were negotiated down. It looked as if the world was going to get back on an even keel. I think lot of historians, and I tend to agree with them, now feel there wasn’t enough time for the roots of constitutional and democratic government to be established before the Great Depression came along.”

    >That calamity turned the nations of the world inward and it crushed trust in governing elites. Germany had been previously battered by a hyper-inflation that, she said, was basically the fault of the German government which in fact had encouraged inflation because it diminished the reparations bill.

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