Discuss the Reasons, Which Led to the Failure of Parliamentary Democra

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Discuss the reasons, which led to the failure of parliamentary democracy in Germany and Hitler's rise to power (1920 – 1934)

German history is seen as a ‘painful issue for thousands of Germans and other Europeans' . However it has interested many historians over the years into inquiring how and why Hitler came to power and how much of this was to do with the failure of parliamentary democracy in Germany. To fully ascertain to what extent these events have in common and what reasons led to the fall of democracy and rise of the Nazis, each have to be looked at individually. Also it seems beneficial, to be able evaluate these in the relevant context, to look at the situation in Germany was in prior to 1920.

In 1919, the treaty of Versailles was signed marking the end of World War One. Soon after, the Weimar republic was established. It was hoped that this democratic constitution would mark a turning point for Germany. Turning the people of Germany away from the authoritarian style of government they were used to, towards a more stable democracy. Since the German nation was used to being ruled, rather than ruling itself, it was a hard transition to accomplish. Democracy was a new concept within Germany and many people were willing to look to the left and right wings for political leadership. Also World War One had created an unsettling influence on the people of Germany and the establishment of Weimar, with its wish for freedom and democracy hoped to settle this. In essence Weimar faced many problems from the outset; it had to cope with not only political challenges, but economic problems, structural weaknesses and the legacy of World War One. Weimar had also inherited the ruins of a conquered autocracy, a ruined economy and two ruthlessly anti-democratic political extremes

The Weimar Republic did not start on a good footing, since the first president was not democratically elected; instead Friedrich Ebert took the first oath of constitution on Prince Max's command.

Some believe that the structure of Weimar was the main reason for its failure. There were many flaws in the constitution, which prohibited it from becoming a western style of democracy. The first thing to look at is how the constitution was established. After World War One, the German people were divided, those to the left believed that they had been lied to and deceived into fighting a war for the upper class. The Right believed that the revolution of the German people, was the reason why Germany had surrendered. Either way the Weimar republic satisfied neither parties since it didn't completely uproot the conservative elite's, instead the republic was seen to have merely compromised between the supposed two classes; ‘run by business men for business men' . Nor did Weimar satisfy the questions of why Germany had surrender even though allied troops had never entered Germany.

Since the Weimar Republic was established in the aftermath of World War One, it was almost inevitable that it would be blamed for Germanys surrender and the Treaty of Versailles. The supposed surrender was even harder to accept since in 1918 Germany had signed an armistice with Russia. Weimar was in essence ‘brought about by defeat' . The ‘November Criminals' who signed the armistice were always associated with Weimar, thus making it difficult for Weimar to be associated with anything but defeat and humiliation. The war guilt clause was also difficult to accept because it lay all the blame on Germany for starting the First World War. This along with reparations were crippling not only the economy but German society itself

The Weimar Republic had a system of proportional representation in elections. This is a method of voting by which political parties are given legislative representation in proportion to their popular vote. This would allow all parties to be represented, including extremist parties such as the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche...
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