Weimar Republic

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Why the Weimar Republic Failed
Mark A. Hoyert
Monmouth College

Why Did the Weimar Republic Fail?
Mark A. Hoyert, Monmouth College 
mhoyert@monm.edu

Abstract: What led to the fall of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich continues to be an important question for students of history and politics. In this research project I will discuss how Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party were able to take power in Germany and replace the Weimar Republic. Much of the scholarship on the fall of Weimar Republic highlights the flaws with the German democratic government. I examine voting patterns and changing voter demographics and campaign strategies of the Nazi Party.  I examine how a series of events led to the weakness of the Weimar Government and bolstered the appeal of the Nazi Party to the German people.  I demonstrate that the political strategy employed by the Nazi Party was the decisive factor in the Nazis winning elections and eventually obtaining power. 

What led to the fall of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich continues to be an important question for students of history and politics. In this research project I will discuss how Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party were able to take power in Germany and replace the Weimar Republic. Much of the scholarship on the fall of Weimar Republic highlights the flaws with the German democratic government. I examine how a series of events led to the weakness of the Weimar Government and bolstered the appeal of the Nazi Party to the German people.  I examine voting patterns and changing voter demographics and campaign strategies of the Nazi Party.  I demonstrate that the political strategy employed by the Nazi Party was the decisive factor in the Nazis winning elections and eventually obtaining power.  Associationalism and participation in civil society is viewed as a strong foundation for a democratic society but scholars like Berman argue that increase in civil society organization in Weimar Germany had the opposite effect: it led to the downfall of the democratic Weimar Republic. In the absence of a strong national government and well-functioning political parties, the increase in civil society organization led weakening of democratic forces. Germany, associational life grew rapidly, but this caused widened divisions in society between all the classes. In addition, the Great Depression led to amplified demands for state aid and revealed the short comings of the Weimar government. In response to increasingly negative public opinion of the Weimar government, citizens turned to local government as an outlet for both political expression and results (Berman, 1997). During this time political participation was at an all-time low. Parties within were extremely polarized and failed to reach consensus. Citizens began to see a rise in political violence against innocent civilians the weaknesses of the political parties led to desire by different groups to organize and participate in their own associations. These associations met regularly, whether it was for economic interest or for mere belonging. In the early 1930s, the domino effect of the economic depression spread across Europe. With the economic hardships came the rise of radicalism that appealed to many Germans. In response, the established parties attempted to reshape the relationship between national political life and civil society, but their efforts ended in failure (Berman, 1997). Though out the late 19th century, Germany was steadily marching toward fragmented Associationalism. This was initially due to a loose central government, and later enhanced by the increasing socio-economic hardships. However, fragmented Associationalism is hardly the sole factor that caused Germany’s plunge into Nazism. In essence the Nazis cunning and deceitful strategy enabled them to...
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