Weimar Republic

Weimar Republic

There were various factors that contributed
to the failure of the Weimar Republic of Germany and the ascent of Hitler's

National Socialist German Workers Party into power on January 30, 1933.

Various conflicting problems were concurrent with the result of a Republic
that, from the outset, its first governing body the socialist party (SPD)
was forced to contend with. These included the aspect of German imperialism,
the unresolved defeat of 1918, financial collapse and the forced struggle
against the activities of the National party as well as inflation. Other
factors that influenced the failure of Weimar were the structural weaknesses
induced by the constitution and the basic lack of support for the Republic
among the German people particularly amongst the elite. All in all, these
aspects were the major causes that doomed the Weimar republic to ultimate
failure and the eventual ascent of Hitler's nationalist party to power.

The new socialist government of Weimar
(SPD), whose constitution was adopted on July 30, 1919, entered a situation
they by no means created. The period during which they were appointed to
rule was associated with defeat and misery, and when disorder was nationwide.

The situation then, was that of revolution. However, rather than to make
it a revolution of there own, they co-operated with the liberals and with
the catholic centre party to lead Germany in a reformed version of her
old self. In June 1919, they voted to comply with the treaty of Versailles.

However, the signing of the Treaty served to promote protest and unrest
amongst the soldiers, sailors and the German people generally, and democracy
thus resulted in becoming an alien device. The imperial army, for instance,
never got over the humiliation of surrender, which they felt, was a 'stab
in the back' by their own countrymen. The sailors at Kiel mutinied in a
last desperate effort on October 28 and on November 9 1919, the streets
were filled with crowds marching to demonstrate at the center of Berlin.

Furthermore, compliance with the Treaty
of Versailles meant that Germany would have to make reparation payments
it could scarcely afford. This fact placed a heavy strain on the already
suffering economy of Germany which was bankrupted by four years of war
thus ensuing in the ascend of inflation and the occasioning of the respite
of payments by Germany in 1922. The French reacted by occupying the Ruhr,
a major industrial area of Germany, in January 1923. This was felt a grave
humiliation by the German people and eventuated in widespread discontent.

Germany's currency was already fragile, and in face of the occurring circumstances
consequent to the Ruhr invasion and the overprinting of currency, the Mark
fell to chronic levels, eventually reaching the value of four billion against
the US dollar, which therefore generated massive hyperinflation. The economic
instability, on top of the disillusionment and resent caused by the humiliating
peace settlement, resulted in vast sections of German society feeling alienated
by the Republic. They responded by attacking the democracy and as a consequence
it became impossible to control the hostility and discontent.

The deteriorating economic and social situation
also managed to wreak havoc on the political atmosphere of the time and
the Republic wound up having no positive friends and too many enemies.

The Republic faced opposition from the extreme left by Spartacists who
resorted to force in efforts to overturn the Republic. In March 1920, the

Freikorps who in Berlin launched a pro-Monarchist putsch in an attempt
to install Wolfgang Kapp as Chancellor also challenged the Republic from
the right. During this incident troops both refused to defend the Republic
or take action against Freikorps. In protest the working classes then responded
by organizing a general strike in Berlin, which had the effect of frustrating
this putsch. The present regime was able to survive despite the numerous
threats.

Extremism remained to pollute the atmosphere,
the evidence being represented in the alarming amount of political assassinations
that continued occurring. In evidence, according to an estimate of the

Minister of Justice, rightists committed 354 murders between 1919 and 1923.

During this time, when the Republic was suffering most and was being threatened,
practically from all sides, Hitler had been making affective attempts to
capitalize on the resultant circumstances. He exploited the economic collapse
by blaming it on all those he wished to portray as enemies. These were
the same enemies he declared as the 'November criminals' who had brought
about Germany's defeat in 1918. Hitler's plan was to seize power in Munich,
and, with Bavaria as his base, to launch a march on Berlin not unlike Mussolini's
march on Rome of a year earlier, but without first being invited to take
power, as Mussolini had been. Hitler, however, continued to fail until

1933 when he