Essay Question B
To what extent did the weaknesses in the Weimar Republic account for the growth and rise to power of the Nazi Party to 1933?
The Weimar Republic was created in 1919 with the abdication of Wilhelm II. The new government was the body that signed the Treaty of Versailles, and to many, this was a betrayal. The consequences of Versailles were severe to Germany, and many were looking for someone to blame, the government was the ideal scape goat. Communists and the right saw an opportunity to create a state that they wanted, and were prepared to challenge the new republic for this. Many richer Germans had lived well under the Kaiser, and distrusted the new government. This began a long line of challenges that would become the Weimar Republic’s weaknesses and would later on, lead to their defeat and the growth and rise of the Nazi Party.
From the start, the new Weimar government faced opposition from both left and right. The Left wing Spartacist group, lead by Luxemburg and Liebknecht, admired the new Russian Communist political system, and with the fall of the Kaiser, saw an opportunity to attempt to place Germany into a similar system. In January 1919 they revolted, and tried to take control of Berlin, with the support of the USDP they proclaimed a new revolutionary government. However, Ebert had already won the support of the military with the Ebert-Groener pact, and the troops suppressed the revolt. This pact was significant, meaning the government had associated itself with the right, and perhaps this early incident is one of the factors which would convince the government to appoint Hitler Chancellor in 1933. The Right, were next to revolt and in 1920 the Kapp Putch revolt occurred. Monarchists seized government buildings in Berlin; and this forced the government to flee to Stuttgart. The rebels however, surrendered on March 17 as unions declared a general strike. Yet again the government had had another close escape.
At this stage the political instability was through the roof thanks to the financial implications of the Treaty of Versailles. By 1921, the level of reparations had been fixed to 132,000,000 gold marks. And it was clearly evident that Germany was so weakened by this, that it would not be able to pay. By January 1923, the French were angered at Germany's poor lack of payment, and occupied with force, the Ruhr region. The citizens of the Ruhr began to hate the French who were exploiting them, and so again, the people needed someone to blame. Of course this being the same people who had agreed to pay reparations, their government. By November 1923, the situation of hyperinflation had skyrocketed, as small firms collapsed and were bought out at prices far below their real value. Ownership of the German economy became concentrated into the hands of a small few powerful interests. Money was becoming more and more worthless by the day. Burnt constantly, as it became cheaper then firewood itself. The middle classes had their savings devalued considerably, and there was general discontent all over. The Treaty of Versailles was signed by the new government, and this treaty was causing great anguish. The people of Germany had no one to blame but the government, the majority of the country were angered, and it could be considered that with universal criticism, and perhaps some hatred, the new republic was doomed to fail.
The extremist Nazi’s had only 12 seats in 1928, and had little or no voice in national government. The socialists were in control with 153 seats and had a steady recovery in progress, with no radical changes planned. The government it's self had progressed from an imperial autocracy to a democratic republic. Universal suffrage came about; meaning their head of state could be changed every seven years if the people became unhappy. From the uplift during the late 1920’s there was optimism for the republic, the economy, and the German culture. This optimism was rudely interrupted...
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