Weimar Republic - Political, Social and Economic Issues

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Political, economic and social issues in the Weimar Republic to 1929

Year 12 Modern History 2013
* Mrs Lynch
Jenni Hamilton
Due Date; 26th of March 2013
Word Count; 1,665

The collapsement of the Weimar Republic was due to many social, political and economical issues within. From its birth it faced numerous political problems, for which the causes were many and varied. These problems included political instability, deep divisions within society and economic crisis; problems were constantly appearing for the new government. The Weimar Republic never really had a stable political party, having a whole six different parties between 1924-1928 does not create stability. Many of these parties were also narrowly sectioned, with messed up priorities such as to look after the interests of class area of religion that they represented within the Weimar Republic, loyalty to democracy was of least importance. In 1929 the misery that had aided the efforts of Weimar’s enemies in the early 20s had been relieved by five years of economic growth and rising incomes. Germany had been admitted to the League of Nations and is once more an accepted member of the international community. The bitterness at Germany's defeat in the Great War and the humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles had not been forgotten but most Germans appear to have come to terms with the new Republic and its leaders. Gustav Stresemann had decided to take on the job of leading a battle for a policy he felt was in his nation’s vital interest even though he was tired and ill and knew that the opposition would be stubborn. Stresemann was the major force in negotiating and guiding the Young Plan through a ‘plebiscite’. This plan although opposed by those on the right-wing won majority approval and further reduced Germany’s reparations payments.

The Weimar Republic was a bold experiment. It was Germany's first democracy, a state in which elected representatives had real power. The new Weimar constitution attempted to blend the European parliamentary system with the American presidential system. In the pre- World War I period, only men twenty-five years of age and older had the right to vote, and their elected representatives had very little power. The Weimar constitution gave all men and women twenty years of age the right to vote. Women made up more than 52% of the potential electorate, and their support was vital to the new Republic. From a ballot, which often had thirty or more parties on it, Germans chose legislators who would make the policies that shaped their lives. Parties spanning a broad political spectrum from Communists on the far left to National Socialists (Nazis) on the far right competed in the Weimar elections. The Chancellor and the Cabinet needed to be approved by the Reichstag (legislature) and needed the Reichstag's continued support to stay in power.

Although the constitution makers expected the Chancellor to be the head of government, they included emergency provisions that would ultimately undermine the Republic. Gustav Stresemann was briefly Chancellor in 1923 and for six years foreign minister and close advisor to Chancellors. The constitution gave emergency powers to the directly elected President and made him the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. In times of crisis, these presidential powers would prove decisive. During the stable periods, Weimar Chancellors formed legislative majorities based on coalitions primarily of the Social Democrats, the Democratic Party, and the Catholic Center Party, all moderate parties that supported the Republic.

As the economic situation deteriorated in 1930, and many disillusioned voters turned to extremist parties, the Republic's supporters could no longer command a majority. German democracy could no longer function as its creators had hoped. Ironically by 1932, Adolf Hitler, a dedicated enemy of the Weimar Republic, was the only political leader capable of commanding a legislative...
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