Strengths and weaknesses of weimar republic Essay
The Weimar Republic was set up in Germany after world war one, after the Kaiser had been abducted in 1918 . It was the most democratic government in the world, even allowing women to vote. The new government got off to a bad start, Germany was nearly bankrupt and unemployment was higher than ever. They were labelled ‘November criminals’ due to the agreement of the treaty of Versailles and unpaid reparations lead to challenges from political extremists. The new system of government was weak and faced some economic disasters such as hyperinflation in 1923 and the Wall Street Crash that left Germany under serious strain in 1929.
In some ways they dealt with these problems successfully but in others not. The problem the Weimar government faced was the resentment German people had against the Politian’s that signed the treaty of Versailles. They were names the ‘November criminals.’ Germans disagreed with the terms of the peace treaty and few accepted that Germany was responsible for the First World War and depended on the politicians to deliver this point across.
The treaty demanded high levels of reparations which made it difficult for the Weimar republic to cope with the economic strain. The public became even more portrayed when this lead to the Ruhr invasion. This then caused hyperinflation and high levels of unemployment.
On the other hand the German citizens didn’t considered the consequences of not accepting the treaty and blamed all their struggles on the politicians agreement. This did not lead the government to a very successful start. Germany had been run as a dictatorship by the Kaiser until he fled in 1919 , a new constitution was set up by the Weimar Republic. The new government was the biggest democracy in the world. Which allowed anyone over twenty including women to vote. The new government looked perfect, a new Bill of Rights gave every German citizen freedom of speech and religion, all men and women had rights to for an elected president and chancellor and the government had to do what the Reichstag wanted. But there were two major faults in the new constitution.. The new law of proportional Voting made it difficult for a party to get a majority vote. The government was run by weak coalitions of parties that didn’t agree on ideas and had different opinions on how the government should be run. During 1919-1932 there were 20 different parties which made German citizens lose faith in their republic. Also Article 43 meant that the president did not need the agreement of the Reichstag in case of an emergency. This was a problem as it did not state what an emergency was and later on let Hitler take power legally. The Weimar Government faced lots of challenges from political extremists. The Weimar republic were firstly challenged by The Spartacist revolt in 1919. The Spartacists were a group of left wing communists that tried but failed to start revolution again Weimar. The revolution was very badly organized which allowed the Weimar Republic to crush the Spartacists. The Weimar called on ex-soldiers that were decommissioned because of the treaty of Versailles to destroy their revolt. They were successful in killing their two main leaders and 100 other rebellions.
They were successful again in a big revolt a year later in 1920 in stopping the Freikorps. It came about by the Allies ordering the Weimar to shut down the Freikorps. They felt betrayed by this and marched to Berlin armed. With Weimar without the support of the army they turned to the workers. All workers went on strike leaving the Freikorps unsuccessful in their revolt because there was no public services and industry. The Munich putsch was another big putsch that Hitler led. It was very unorganized and badly planned. Hitler thought it was a perfect time to seize power but he was wrong. The putschists were not even unified in their goals and they somehow had no real plan what to do once they started. They might have expected to gain thousands of supporters very quickly by having famous General Ludendorff as their a world war one hero but in the end only 100 soldiers turned up to contribute to the riot. On the 9 November 1923, Hitler and his Nazis went into Munich on what they thought would be a triumphal march to take power. However, Kahr had called in police and army reinforcements. The police were forced to killed 16 Nazis. Hitler fled but two days later Hitler was arrested. The biggest struggle Weimar government faced were economic problems. The country was already was already struggling with economic difficulties before the French invaded the ruhr due to unpaid reparations. The invasion of the Ruhr caused shortage of economic resources. This caused hyper-inflation, the government then decided to print a large amount of paper money in to the economy in 1923.
Money became so common and so much of it that is was virtually worthless. It was cheaper to burn a bag of money than to buy a bag of coal. Thanks to Gustav Stresemann the government was able to get the situation under control when in 1924 the Dawes Plan was agreed. It meant Germany had more time to pay reparations and 800 million marks in US loans. Stresemann also helped the country through improving diplomatic relations. He signed the Locarno treaties, which promised to honour the Versailles agreement. He also secured German membership of the league of nations. The young plan was also a major turning point for the country’s economy. The total amount of reparations had been left unchanged by the Dawes Plan of 1924. In 1929 Owen Young an American banker created an international committee which reduced Germany’s reparations from 6.6 billion to 2 billion to be paid off by 1988. Just before Stresemann death in 1929 he said: “The economic position is only flourishing on the surface. Germany is in fact dancing on a volcano. If the short-term credits are called in, a large section of our economy will collapse…” This was shown to be true when, in October 1929, the Wall Street Crash saw the value of US shares collapse. US bankers and businesses started recalling their loans from Germany. The result was a worldwide depression. This meant economic disaster for Germany. Companies went bankrupt overnight, workers were sacked and poverty gripped the nation again. The Weimar republic was partly successful in dealing with the economic problems by the reduce in reparations and hyperinflations, but Stresemann efforts were put down after the Wall street crash of 1929. Workers were laid off in their millions and Germany was back to square one.
The Weimar republic is traditionally known as a failure that led Germany into depression but many problems they faced were dealt with successfully. The republic destroyed the three main revolts I discussed earlier and put Germany out of violent danger. Also Stresemann and Owen Young introuduced the Dawes Plan, The Young Plan and signed the Locarno Treaty which reduced reparation, increased the time Germany had to repay the reparations and Germany was accepted into the League of Nations. But despite these successes the republic dealt with the majority of problems unsuccessfully. They got off to a bad start by lots of Germans labelled them the ‘November criminals’ because they agreed to the treaty of Versailles. Even though the economic crisis seemed to be recovering in 1923 onwards, Owen Young and Stresemann’s major improvements were crushed by the the Wall Street Crash which put Germany in the original state they began with. The new constitution was
partly beneficial to Germany by giving every German citizen over 20 a vote and all citizens the right of speech and religion but the Article 43 was not clearly thought out not stating what an emergency was and proportional representation lead to no one party leading the government and lots disagreed on how the country should be run. Overall I think the republic was unsuccessful as more problems weren’t solved successfully than successfully solved.
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