The Weimar Republic’s Inevitable Failure and the Rise of Hitler to Power

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There were assorted factors that contributed to the failure of the Weimar Republic of Germany and the acclivity of Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party into power on January 30, 1933. Assorted conflicting jobs were coincident with the eventuation of the Republic that, from the beginning, its first government organic structure the socialist party ( SPD ) was forced to postulate with.

These included the facet of German imperialism, the unsolved licking of 1918, fiscal prostration and the forced battle against the activities of the National party every bit good as rising prices. Other factors which influenced the failure of Weimar were the structural failings induced by the fundamental law and the basic deficiency of support for the Republic among the German people peculiarly amongst the elite. All in all, these facets were the major causes which doomed the Weimar democracy to ultimate failure and the eventual acclivity of Hiller’s patriot party to power.

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The new socialist authorities of Weimar ( SPD ) , whose fundamental law was adopted on July 30, 1919, entered a state of affairs they by no agencies created. The period during which they were appointed to govern was associated with licking and wretchedness, and when upset was countrywide. The state of affairs so, was that of revolution. However, instead than to do a socialist revolution they co-operated with the progressives and with the Catholic Centre party to take Germany in a Reformed version of her old ego. In June 1919, they voted to follow with the pact of Versailles ( the vindictive colony imposed by the Paris peace conference ) .

However, the sign language of the Treaty served to advance protest and unrest amongst the soldiers, crewmans and the German people by and large, and democracy therefore resulted in going an foreign device. The imperial ground forces, for case, ne’er got over the humiliation of resignation which they felt was a pang in the dorsum by their ain countrymen.

The crewmans at Kiel mutinied in a last despairing attempt on October 28 and On November 9, 1919, the streets were filled with crowds processing to show at the Centre of Berlin. Similarly, even before the eventuality of these incidents, the Centre party, a broad group who were the coalition authorities of the moving SPD formed by Phillip Scheidemann, resigned instead than subscribe the Treaty of Versailles. Besides, German nationalism was strong, in peculiar because the German people believed they had fought a defensive war and were told their soldiers were? unconquered in the field.

Therefore, the humiliating Treaty came as a rude daze to the German people who, correspondingly, blamed the politicians for bewraying the soldiers in subscribing the cease-fire and saw them as intensifying their lese majesty by accepting the peace colony. They spoke of the November felons and protested A state of 70 million suffers, but does non die.  These factors propagated in the publicity of anti republican feeling, the decisions of which were clearly reflected in the consequences of the election of June 1920.

To exemplify, the SPD lost about half its seats ( many to the USDP ) and the right wing parties ( DVP and DNVP ) increased their portion at the disbursal of the democrats. Defeated on the battleground, defeated at the conference tabular array, defeated at the polls, the democracy embarked on its unsure career. Furthermore, conformity with the Treaty of Versailles meant that Germany would hold to do reparation payments it could barely afford.

This fact placed a heavy strain on the already enduring economic system of Germany which was bankrupted by four old ages of war therefore resulting in the ascend of rising prices and the occasioning of the reprieve of payments by Germany in 1922.  In January the already traumatic clime in Germany was exacerbated by its equivocation and reluctance to pay delinquent reparations.  The Gallic reacted by busying the Ruhr, a major industrial country of Germany, in January 1923. This was felt a grave humiliation by the German people and eventuated in widespread discontent.

The economic hurt caused by the Gallic business of the Ruhr and the German inactive opposition was enormous.  Consequently, workers in the Ruhr mines and mills resisted by striking. However, Germany’s currency was already delicate, and in face of the happening fortunes consequent to the Ruhr invasion and the overprinting of currency, the Mark fell to chronic degrees, finally making the value of four billion against the US dollar which hence generated in monolithic hyperinflation.

Furthermore, the economic instability, on top of the disenchantment and resent caused by the mortifying peace colony, huge subdivisions of German society came to experience alienated from the Republic. They responded by assailing the democracy and as a effect it became impossible to command the ill will and discontent. Urban hungriness, peasant billboard, the black market, cabbaging and profiteering created societal belligerencies and single despair.  In all 35,000 armed work forces converged on Munich.

In add-on, the deteriorating economic and societal state of affairs besides managed to bring mayhem on the political ambiance of the clip and the Republic therefore eventuated in holding no positive friends and excessively many enemies. To exemplify, the Republic faced resistance from the extreme left by Spartacists who resorted to coerce in attempts to turn over the Republic.

In March 1920, the Republic was besides challenged from the right by the Freikorps who in Berlin launched a pro-Monarchist coup d’etat in an effort to put in Wolfgang Kapp as Chancellor. During this incident troops both refused to support the Republic or take action against Freikorps. Fortunately, nevertheless, the working classes so responded by organizing a general work stoppage in Berlin which had the consequence of thwarting this coup d’etat.

The apogees were that the present government was able to last despite the legion menaces. However, extremism remained to foul the ambiance, the grounds being represented in the alarming sum of political blackwashs that continued happening. In grounds, harmonizing to an estimation of the Minister of Justice, rightists committed 354 slayings between 1919 and 1923. During this clip, when the Republic was enduring most and was being threatened, practically from all sides, Hitler had been doing affectional efforts to capitalize on the attendant fortunes. He exploited the economic prostration by faulting it on all those he wished to portray as enemies.

These were the same enemies he declared as the November felons who had brought about Germany’s licking in 1918- ? those fabulous bugbears who, from inside Germany, had intentionally brought their ain state to its knees. Hitler’s program was to prehend power in Munich, and, with Bavaria as his base, to establish ( as he had explained in public that September ) a March on Berlin non unlike Mussolini’s March on Rome of a twelvemonth earlier, but without first being invited to take power, as Mussolini had been. Hitler, nevertheless, continued to neglect until 1933 when he eventually seized power.

However, the continued break caused by his onslaughts on the Republic, notably his Munich coup d’etat, in add-on to the economic crises every bit good as the resurfacing of the antecedently unsolved issues promulgated the evidences for an increased anti-republican sentiment which reached a flood tide in 1923 when the Republic was on its articulatio genuss due to hyperinflation. It was against this traumatic background that the leading of the democracy was passed to the custodies of Gustav Stresemann in August 1923. Stresemann transmitted himself as a rational and sensible adult male who would seek via media and conciliation instead that struggle, as said by Ramm. His finding and aspiration to rectify fortunes in Germany were realised in November 1923 when he introduced a new currency.

At the terminal of 1923, the German currency was stabilised by the debut of Rentenmark, valued at one billion old Marks.  Further stableness came with the Dawes program of April 1924, which provided a modified colony of the reparation issues. In add-on, Gallic military personnels were so confirmed to go forth the Ruhr, and disputes between the two states so went to independent opinion. In September, Stresemann called off inactive opposition unconditionally. These headed many positive alterations in Germany, whose effects were transmitted universally in about every aspect of German life. Likewise Germany’s dealingss with the western states were well improved.

The cogent evidence came with the Lucarno treaty of 1925. By 1929, the German economic system revived, or as put by Traynor, it was? superficially prosperous. Notwithstanding, the alterations Stresemann managed to convey about still had the consequence of diverting resistance by both the extremist groups on the right every bit good as the left. However, while it seemed that political relations may hold settled down, the fortunes that were to follow in the coming old ages proved that Stresemann possibly simply postponed internal jobs instead than eradicated them.

The comparative stableness achieved through the late 1920s by Gustav Stresemann was, for case, to a great extent reliant upon foreign investing, loans and economic prosperity, non merely in Germany but besides in the United States from whence much of Germany’s foreign investings originated. Consequently, as the American economic system boomed the attraction of investing in Germany became overshadowed and the German economic system therefore, once more proceeded to worsen in 1928.

Additionally, during October 1929, two crises befell the Republic – Gustav Stresemann, the designer of Germany’s stableness, died and subsequently that month the prostration of portion monetary values began on the New York stock exchange. Had Germany’s prosperity and economic stableness been self reliant events and fortunes on the New York stock exchange may have had a somewhat subtle effect in Germany. However, as said earlier, Germanys prosperity was merely financed by international loans and was excessively reliant on foreign investment.

Correspondingly, 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 the end of 1929. The depression that hit Germany in 1929, is said to have been the most severe economic depression in modern world history. It devastated the lives of the urban population as well as those living in the country districts who in recourse to the economic circumstances struggled desperately. ?Many farmers, small businessmen and retailers were in trouble while process and wages were rising. The unemployment figures for Germany show the rapid deterioration of the economic climate.

In September 1929 1.3 million employable workers were unemployed, for September 1930 the figures rose to 3 million, in September 1931 the figure was 4.35 million and by 1932 unemployment reportedly escalated to 6 million. These conditions, in addition to the loss of confidence generated overseas which resulted in the rapid withdrawal of the foreign loans Germany relied on extensively placed additional strain on the republic.

The extent to which Germany had come to rely on foreign assistance was underlined when these loans were rapidly withdrawn. The political repercussions were just as acute. To illustrate, as a consequence of the existing circumstances, unresolved issues and old determinations to destroy the Republic again resurfaced. The avowed determination of the old anti-republican elites to destroy Weimars already battered parliamentary and democratic institutions were renewed. These resulted in the renewed attacks by the extremes of the left and the right who proceeded to take advantage of the situation and manipulate it to suit their own ends.

Strikes, violence and constant bloodshed in street battles against communists, that suggestibly were deliberately provoked by the ?brown shirted toughs of the NSDAP soon replaced political dialogue and debate, and while the Republic had no Republican army to deal with the synchronous persistence of violence, the power of Weimar to instil democracy became largely disabled. Moreover, the continued unrest further exacerbated a general feeling of a loss of faith in the Republic and support for it therefore deteriorated. Concurrently the Republic had also been suffering from structural weaknesses which also played a major role in crippling its progress. For example, the constitution of the new Republic emerged finally from the National Assembly in July 1919.

It was, on paper, the most liberal and democratic document of its kind the twentieth century had ever seen.? In practice though, it left much to be desired. One of its weaknesses was the elaborate system of proportional representation which was devised to allow for minority parties to have a share in the system of government. Unfortunately, this system also made it virtually impossible for a single party to hold a majority in the Reichstag and therefore coalition governments (never the most harmonious political arrangements) were inevitable. Coincidently, there were also so many political parties, at least six major and many more minor ones, that it was hard to form stable coalitions for effective government. Another weakness was the powers vested in the President.

For instance, the President was the commander of the armed forces, was capable of dissolving the Reichstag and submitting any law passed by it to the referendum, was responsible only to the people who elected him and under the infamous Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, the President had the right to suspend civil liberties – with the Chancellors assent – in an emergency, thus giving him virtual dictatorial powers.

Chancellor Bruening was first to make use of Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution from 1930 on when he, in response to the political and social unrest incurred in Germany during that period, was provoked to rule under emergency decree. Correspondingly, politics were radicalised once more and resulted thus, in the intensifications of divisions amongst the parties in the Reichstag to an extent that parliamentary government became all but impossible. Accordingly, the Weimar constitution became unworkable as well as unwanted.

Moreover, as a result of the existing atmosphere and circumstances at the time of the Republic, the Republic perhaps eventuated in not being looked at as a State in which the German people desired to live or to which they were prepared to give positive encouragement. The people, for example, may have seen the culminating economic crises as a crisis of the newly evolved system and as such saw democracy to mean national humiliation, economic disaster and personal uncertainty.

The repercussions had the effects of advantaging the communists who succeeded in gaining the support of an overwhelming number of the urban workforce. However, the main beneficiary was Hitler?s party, the NSDAP, who managed to increase their seats in the Reichstag from 12-107 thus concluding in their eventuating as the second largest political party at the time. Thereafter, as the NSDAP continued to attract a positive response from the people, eventually seizing power in 1933, the Republic was doomed to eventual collapse and ultimate destruction.

It is suggested that the eventual collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler to power was almost inevitable. To illustrate, as a result of the existing circumstances of economic crisis, near, if not, complete social disaster and almost universal discontent, there were ultimately only two choices left open to the German people; ?a narrow, army-backed Presidential dictatorship (the Communists)? or a young, dynamic and broadly-based Nazi movement.

For many, particularly the middle classes, the second choice was perhaps also perceived as the only choice available to them, especially as the prospect of Communist rule, with also the existing presence of Article 48 that allowed too much power to be vested in any one person, may have seemed too frightening a risk to undertake. Indeed the contrast between the spectre of Communist disorder with the Nazis promises of law and order, economic stability, the curbing of the unions, the endorsement of traditional values and the promise to crush Marxism was at the very centre of Hitlers success.

In addition, very many powerful groups preferred to lend their support to the opposite extreme, namingly, the NSDAP. Moreover, Hitler managed in transmitting his party as having the dual attraction of offering radical solutions to economic problems while upholding patriotic values. He seemingly promised something to everyone and the German people, thus responded to him as he had foreshadowed. Nonetheless, the Nazis still did not succeed in retaining more than thirty seven per cent of the vote.

In November 1932 Hitler lost an additional thirty four seats. However, in as much as the acting president (von Hindenburg) allowed himself to be convinced by generals and right-wing politicians that only the Nazi leader could restore order in Germany, in the following year leadership was passed to him nonetheless. Hindenburg, according to his lights, was a good President, at least until extreme old age rendered him helpless in the hands of his advisers.

Accordingly, Hitler was made Germanys fifteenth post war Chancellor in January 1933. At this stage Germans had scarce knowledge of what the future under the rule of Hitler would mean or eventuate in. However, Hitler lost no time in a founding a harsh totalitarian state known as the third Reich which he enforced within a mere month of his appointment. The results were the destruction of a modern civilised society that turned crisis into catastrophe, bringing the democracy of Weimar to its end; its ultimate conclusion devastating the whole of Europe.

In conclusion, when assessing the reasons for the failure of the Weimar Republic and the ascent of the NSDAP to power, one has to make various considerations; for these events occurred as a result of a plurality of factors. Perhaps the most important factor was the economic crises which befell the Republic in 1923 and again in 1929.

However to neglect considerations like the possibility that the revolution of 1918 failed to create institutions loyal to the new regime, that perhaps the constitution of the Republic was too idealistic and lacking in practicality, causing certain structural weaknesses and finally, that the desertion of the Republic by the masses and more powerful interests made the failure of Weimar and the rise of Hitler to power a mere matter of time would give a distorted view of the issue.

Moreover, several political and social issues arose with the creation of the Republic, one of which was the influence of Imperial Germany. The Republic failed to resolve these issues and these issues created the context that made the failure of the Republic and the rise of a dictatorial leader to power possible.


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  4. Ramm. A., (1984), Europe in the twentieth century 1905-1970, Longman Group Ltd, USA.
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  6. Peukert. D., (1991), The Weimar Republic, Penguin Press, London.
  7. Traynor. J., (1991), Challenging history: Europe 1890-1990, Macmillan education limited, London.

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