Guide Is it more accurate to speak of the collapse or the destruction of the Weimar Republic

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Among the German people, there was a consensus that Germany had been treated unfairly by the Treaty of Versailles — and that the Weimar government had meekly obeyed the will of foreign powers. Also stemming from Versailles was the problem of reparations : the financial payments imposed on Germany for its role in initiating World War I. Historians have formed different conclusions about reparations, whether the final reparations figure was justified and whether Germany was capable of meeting this obligation. Most agree that the reparations burden on Germany was excessive.

By , Germany was unable to fulfil its quarterly reparations instalments, triggering the occupation of the Ruhr region by French and Belgian troops, the hyperinflation crisis of and the collapse of two Weimar government coalitions. Reparations remained a divisive issue for the duration of the Weimar Republic.

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Many believe the Weimar Germany failed in part because conspiracy theories were allowed to circulate and flourish. The Dolchstosselegende had three significant effects. Firstly, it undermined public trust in the civilian government and particularly the Social Democratic Party SPD , which was painted as treacherous and unpatriotic by right-wing nationalists.

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Secondly, the Dolchstosslegende perpetuated a belief that Germany could still have won the war. It implied that the German military was still strong enough to launch a counter-offensive and advance to victory. This theory is contradicted by almost all evidence on the state of the German military in late Thirdly, the stab-in-the-back myth allowed military commanders to retain their prestige and position in German society. Despite their failures in , figures like Paul von Hindenburg were able to retain their status and influence in the new republic.

Evidence of this can be seen in the election of Hindenburg, who publicly supported the Dolchstosslegende , as president of the republic. The politicians who drafted the Weimar constitution attempted to construct a political system similar to that of the United States. The Weimar constitution, passed in August , incorporated elements of democracy, federalism, checks and balances and protection of individual rights.

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Tellingly, the constitution created an executive presidency with considerable emergency powers. The constitution allowed the president to bypass or override the elected Reichstag. Some historians suggest the Weimar president — with a seven-year term and hefty emergency powers — was not far removed from the former Kaiser. The problem with proportional voting was that it filled the Reichstag with a large number of parties. The first Reichstag elections in returned five parties with at least 50 seats each. There were also a host of smaller parties holding fewer than five seats and representing regional or special interests.

A number of critical studies since that time have taken up neglected areas of work, and crucially recast some of the core developments of the communist movement. Weimar Communism as Mass Movement — offers a precious window into a number of important discussions happening in the German-speaking scholarship. By collecting together an impressive array of the key voices shaping those discussions, it also represents the tip of the iceberg, as almost all authors have one or more books published on the subject of their chapters.

The key theme running through most of the chapters in the collection is the politics, position, and influence of the KPD left. The focus reaches back even before the foundation of the party. Along with well-known figures like Anton Pannekoek and Karl Radek, Engel spotlights the indispensable role of the radical teacher Johann Knief, who guided the group and by extension the tendency both politically and organizationally. Engel has excavated Knief from historical amnesia in his excellent book on the subject, only a sliver of which is summarized in this chapter.

Subsequent chapters by Ralf Hoffrogge, Mario Kessler, and Norman LaPorte detail various leaders and related aspects of later KPD left groupings and help to explain in particular why they had such strong support within the party. The left in this period could count on a dense network of worker activists, including many members of the Revolutionary Shop Stewards.

The Weimar Republic - Issues of the Weimar Republic - GCSE History

Ruth Fischer and the KPD. Eleven of those leaders had been expelled from the party, in addition to some 1, officials and entire local branches in spring Trotsky—hampered the effectiveness of the left opposition within the party, while their confusing theory of fascism stunted the antifascist struggle. Heinz shows how these developments along with syndicalist traditions carried over to some Communist efforts at organizational independence from the main SPD-led union federation, exemplified by the Unity Union of Berlin metalworkers between and The studies of the left opposition in the later Weimar years help to contextualize and clarify the contested struggle involved in the devolution of a mass communist movement from a champion of democratic and emancipatory aspirations into a sectarian wing of the Stalinized Soviet state.

Inspired by the general strikes, a workers' uprising began in the Ruhr region when 50, people formed a "Red Army" and took control of the province. The regular army and the Freikorps ended the uprising on their own authority. The rebels were campaigning for an extension of the plans to nationalise major industries and supported the national government, but the SPD leaders did not want to lend support to the growing USPD, who favoured the establishment of a socialist regime.

The repression of an uprising of SPD supporters by the reactionary forces in the Freikorps on the instructions of the SPD ministers was to become a major source of conflict within the socialist movement and thus contributed to the weakening of the only group that could have withstood the National Socialist movement. Other rebellions were put down in March in Saxony and Hamburg. In , Germany signed the Treaty of Rapallo with the Soviet Union, which allowed Germany to train military personnel in exchange for giving Russia military technology.

This was against the Treaty of Versailles , which limited Germany to , soldiers and no conscription, naval forces of 15, men, twelve destroyers, six battleships, and six cruisers, no submarines or aircraft. Thus, Germany seized the chance to make an ally. Walther Rathenau , the Jewish Foreign Minister who signed the treaty, was assassinated two months later by two ultra-nationalist army officers.

BRIA 21 3 b The German Weimar Republic: Why Did Democracy Fail? - Constitutional Rights Foundation

Hitler named himself as chairman of the party in July On 8 November , the Kampfbund , in a pact with Erich Ludendorff , took over a meeting by Bavarian prime minister Gustav von Kahr at a beer hall in Munich. Ludendorff and Hitler declared that the Weimar government was deposed and that they were planning to take control of Munich the following day.

The 3, rebels were thwarted by the Bavarian authorities. Hitler was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for high treason , a minimum sentence for the charge. Hitler served less than eight months in a comfortable cell, receiving a daily stream of visitors before his release on 20 December While in jail, Hitler dictated Mein Kampf , which laid out his ideas and future policies. Hitler now decided to focus on legal methods of gaining power. Gustav Stresemann was Reichskanzler for days in , and served as foreign minister from to , a period of relative stability for the Weimar Republic, known in Germany as Goldene Zwanziger " Golden Twenties ".

Prominent features of this period were a growing economy and a consequent decrease in civil unrest.

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Once civil stability had been restored, Stresemann began stabilising the German currency, which promoted confidence in the German economy and helped the recovery that was so ardently needed for the German nation to keep up with their reparation repayments, while at the same time feeding and supplying the nation. Once the economic situation had stabilised, Stresemann could begin putting a permanent currency in place, called the Rentenmark October , which again contributed to the growing level of international confidence in the German economy. To help Germany meet reparation obligations, the Dawes Plan was created in This was an agreement between American banks and the German government in which the American banks lent money to German banks with German assets as collateral to help it pay reparations.

The German railways, the National Bank and many industries were therefore mortgaged as securities for the stable currency and the loans. Germany was the first state to establish diplomatic relations with the new Soviet Union.

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Under the Treaty of Rapallo , Germany accorded it formal de jure recognition, and the two mutually cancelled all pre-war debts and renounced war claims. Moreover, Britain, Italy and Belgium undertook to assist France in the case that German troops marched into the demilitarised Rhineland. Locarno paved the way for Germany's admission to the League of Nations in Other foreign achievements were the evacuation of foreign troops from the Ruhr in In , Germany was admitted to the League of Nations as a permanent member, improving her international standing and giving the right to vote on League matters.

Overall trade increased and unemployment fell. Stresemann's reforms did not relieve the underlying weaknesses of Weimar but gave the appearance of a stable democracy. Even Stresemann's 'German People's party' failed to gain nationwide recognition, and instead featured in the 'flip-flop' coalitions. The Grand Coalition headed by Muller inspired some faith in the government, but that didn't last.

Governments frequently lasted only a year, comparable to the political situation in France during the s. The major weakness in constitutional terms was the inherent instability of the coalitions, which often fell prior to elections.

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The growing dependence on American finance was to prove fleeting, and Germany was one of the worst hit nations in the Great Depression. The s saw a remarkable cultural renaissance in Germany. During the worst phase of hyperinflation in , the clubs and bars were full of speculators who spent their daily profits so they would not lose the value the following day.

Berlin intellectuals responded by condemning the excesses of capitalism, and demanding revolutionary changes on the cultural scenery. Influenced by the brief cultural explosion in the Soviet Union, German literature, cinema, theatre and musical works entered a phase of great creativity. Innovative street theatre brought plays to the public, and the cabaret scene and jazz band became very popular. The euphoria surrounding Josephine Baker in the metropolis of Berlin for instance, where she was declared an "erotic goddess " and in many ways admired and respected, kindled further "ultramodern" sensations in the minds of the German public.

Artists in Berlin were influenced by other contemporary progressive cultural movements, such as the Impressionist and Expressionist painters in Paris, as well as the Cubists. Likewise, American progressive architects were admired. Many of the new buildings built during this era followed a straight-lined, geometrical style. Not everyone, however, was happy with the changes taking place in Weimar culture. Conservatives and reactionaries feared that Germany was betraying its traditional values by adopting popular styles from abroad, particularly those Hollywood was popularizing in American films, while New York became the global capital of fashion.