Demise of the Weimar Republic

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The demise of the Weimar Republic did not occur due to one sole reason, but because of a number of short and long term factors. The economic, political and international pressure placed on the people of Germany ensured the loathing of the forced governmental rule. The immediate impact of the Great Depression of 1929, which has been debated and considered by most historians to be the dominant factor in the downfall of the ‘democratic experiment’ which subsequently led to continuous political instability ultimately saw the collapse of the first democratic government of Germany.

Some historians generally blame the fall of the Republic on president von Hindenburg’s abuse of constitutional powers. Historian David Martin states that the “survival of democracy depended on his (Hindenburg’s) integrity and decisions. Unfortunately, his actions made a major contribution to its destruction”. More deadlocks within the Reichstag and civil unrest gave Hindenburg no choice but to give the people what they wanted, which was a strong leader in Adolf Hitler.

The Weimar republic was not welcomed by Germany after her defeat in world war one in 1919. Germany had never had a democracy before and felt that the Allies had forced this treaty upon them. Even Prince Max of Beden did not want a democracy for Germany.

Because this new government had signed the treaty they were now known as the ‘November Criminals’ and were loathed by everyone. According to Henig, ‘It was the acknowledgement of defeat.. which they found so hard to accept.’

The historian Friedrich Meinecke observed that, for true Germans, loyalty to the ‘Fatherland required disloyalty to the republic’. In a sense the Weimar Republic was a “democracy without democrats”

Treaty of Versailles
The military defeat of Germany in November 1918 came as a genuine shock to most Germans, who had believed that Germany would be victorious in the war. When seeking armistice in the same month, Germans expected...
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