National Studies 1919 - 1939

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Brief Summary Of The Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic, proclaimed on November 9, 1918, was born in the thrones of military defeat and social revolution. In January 1919, a National Assembly was elected to draft a constitution. The government, composed of members from the assembly, came to be called the Weimar coalition and included the SPD; the German Democratic Party, a descendant of the Progressive Party of the prewar period; and the Center Party. The percentage of the vote gained by this coalition of parties in favor of the republic 76.2 %, with 38 % for the SPD alone suggested broad popular support for the republic. The anti - republican, conservative German National People's Party and the German People's Party received a combined total of 10.3 % of the vote. The Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany, which had split from the SPD during the war, won 8 % of the vote. In February the assembly elected Friedrich Ebert as the republic's first president.

The German Army
The German army (The Reichswehr) was one of the strongest nationalistic institutions in the country and became imperative in the Weimar republic, providing essential defence against revolutionary communist forces in the early era of the democracy. The German army aided in preventing the success of numerous communist uprisings and aided the Weimar republic. Yet controversially, their strong nationalistic right wing tendencies prevented them from launching an attack on right wing assaults. The accession of Seeckt to Defence minister shifted the role of the Reichswehr from mainly strategic to mainly political.

The Reichswehr became an essential force against the uprisings from the left of Weimar politics. The troublesome beginnings of the Weimar Republic required extensive military support and establishment. As A.J. Nicholls writes “Bloodshed and disorder in various parts of the country in the first half of 1919 made the new Reichswehr indispensable to the government”. The pact between Ebert and Groener on 9 November 1918 was paramount to the cooperation between the Army and Weimar. This support became evident greater than ever when it came to the suppressing of communist activities and revolts. It was in the interests of the army to cooperate with the regime. Similar suppression of the communists was seen again in Bavaria in May 1919 and the Ruhr in May 1920. Furthermore in the Ruhr invasion of 1923 many army led groups had led acts of sabotage. Perhaps the greatest sign of military suppression of left wing political power attempts is that of the suppression of the Saxony and Thuringia in October 1923. The Reichswehr instructed by Stresemann ensured the failure of this final attempt and the end of left uprisings from the KPD (Communist Party). This early influence of the army on protecting Weimar interests showed to the government how indispensable the army was. Thus the necessity of the German army in defending the democracy against left wing attacks becomes apparent.

Since the time of the Prussian empire, the German army had maintained a position of right-wing traditionalist prestige and was proud of such military history. This impacted the development of the Weimar Republic particularly in the case of the 1920 Kapp putsch, led by Wolfgang Kapp in an attempt to take over the Weimar Government. On the 12th March 1920, 12000 of these Freikorp soldiers marched to Berlin, and the Reichswehr’s right wing tendencies became apparent. This was a change in the army command that was contrary to the interests of the Republic, and an alienation of the Reichswehr from the largest political party, the Social Democrats. Yet this achieved nothing and aided in establishing an uneasy relationship and during the subsequent 13 years the two lived next to each other, but not with each other. Thus the influence of the army and its right wing tendencies became apparent through the Kapp Putsch.

The impacts of militarism on German democracy became...
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