“The main threat to the stability of the Weimar Republic in the period of 1919 to 1923 came from the political violence of the extreme right.” How far do you agree with this judgement?
The period of 1919 to 1923 saw numerous factors threaten the stability of the Weimar Republic. The political violence from both the left and right wing parties, the weakness of the Weimar Constituion itself and the economic issues such as hyperinflation all posed as threats to the stability of the Republic. However, although the statement above claims that the political violence from the right was the main threat to the stability of the republic, the Treaty of Versailles resulted in the republic itself been built upon resentment and failure. In turn, this saw the ‘stab in the back’ myth take its toll on the army and saw the public reel in humiliation and anger. This was a bigger and more significant threat to the stability of the republic than any political violence could possibly be. The extreme right wing was not slow in letting people know of their disapproval of the Treaty of Versailles. To the right, the peace settlement was a Schmachfrieden and persistently referred to the politicians who agreed to the armistice as the ‘November Criminals’. The Freikorps themselves posed a real threat to the republic. The government used them several times in attempted revolutions to put them down in which they did do quite easily. This alone demonstrated the power of the Freikorps and their methods of violence which perceived they were a brutal and skilled organisation. The extreme right also had the support of Germany’s elities such as the judiciary. This was proved in the statistics of the political assassinations in Germany between 1919 - 1923. 354 right wing people committed murders, with 326 going unpunished and only 1 been convicted and sentenced to a severe punishment. However, only 22 left wing people committed murders, with 10 been sentenced to death. Although Article 54 stated the judiciary maintained independence, these statistics prove otherwise and show an element of bias and support for the right wing. Such support could threaten the stability of the Republic as the elites essentially held the most influential power and could easily threaten the Republic’s position. However, although the extreme right wing seemed to have mastered political violence strategy and used it to their full advantages, certain factors effected it been a threat to the republic. The amount of support for the right wing was limited and they didn’t have the majority support. This meant it would prove extremely difficult for the right wing to take any successful action against the Republic without been stopped, making them a perceived threat rather than an actual threat. Similarly, there were several internal divisions within the right wing. Tensions between parties such as the DNVP and the NSDAP arose over issues such as the restoration of the monarchy and disagreements between the Reichswehr and the Freikorps with the latter been seen by the former as anarchic. These divisions resulted in the failure of both the 1920 and 1923 putsch attempts. Although these attempts did prove that there was potential for the right to threaten the republic, they were unable to overthrow due to these reasons, consequently making them less of a threat than other factors affecting the republic. A further factor affecting the stability of the Weimar Republic was the revolutionary left. After the first World War, the KPD established control over all or part of major cities such as Berlin and the State of Bavaria. The fact that a political movement was able to sustain such large achievements and control meant they could not be written off and can be perceived as a possible threat to the Republic, with the potential of been able to overthrow or even destroy the Republic. The most important factor making the left wing a potential threat was that fact that they could feed off the...
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