“The biggest threat to the Weimar Republic was the Weimar Constitution itself. Discuss”
The Weimar Constitution was the biggest threat to the Weimar Republic, because it eventually lead to many problems that would affect the Republic. These were: Hitler’s rise to power against the Weimar Republic, the downfall of the Reichsrat, the passage of the Enabling Act, use of proportional representation, political extremism and the institution of the Reichspräsident. Hitler’s Chancellorship eventually led to the downfall of the Reichsrat and also the passing of the Enabling Act. This would lead to Hitler gaining full control of Germany and the end of the Weimar Republic.
One of the factors which shows the Constitution was the biggest threat to the Weimar Republic was Hitler’s rise to power. In 1919, Hitler was employed as ‘education officer’ (basically a spy) by the Bavarian army’s political section. In September of the same year, he went to a German Worker’s Party (DAP) meeting and joins, betraying the Bavarian army, becoming a committee member. In February 1920, with DAP leader Drexler, he draws up the Twenty-five Point Programme; and changes the name of the party to NSDAP (NationalSozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei). His powerful speeches built up membership for the Party. In July 1921, he became chairman and Führer after he threatened to resign and set up the SA (the ‘Brown Shirts’) in August.
On 8th November 1923, Hitler and his ‘stormtroopers’ burst into a meeting in the Munich beer-hall. He forced Otto von Lossow and Gustav von Kahr into a side room and forced them to state their support for a march on Berlin to impose a new government, with General Ludendorff as the new Commander-in-Chief. On 9th November, President Ebert declared a national state of emergency. Ludendorff persuaded Hitler to carry on with the march into Munich to seize power, as a first step to marching on Berlin. At noon, 2000 armed Nazis marched to a military base in Munich. They were met by armed police and Bavarian soldiers. A shot was fired, possibly by a Nazi, and the police return fire. Fourteen Nazis were killed. Hitler and Ludendorff were arrested and General Seeckt bans the Nazis. Hitler was kept in Landsberg prison and while there, he dictated ‘Mein Kampf’ (My Struggle). The Nazis nearly disintegrated with their leader and on 24th December 1924, Hitler was released after nine months in prison.
On the morning of 30 January 1933, in Hindenburg's office, Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor during what some observers later described as a brief and simple ceremony. After Hindenburg’s death in 1934, Hitler decided to unite all the jobs of President of Germany, Head of State and the commander of Germany and called himself the Führer of Germany.
Another factor which shows that the Weimar Constitution was the biggest threat was the downfall of the Reichsrat. The Weimar Constitution curbed the rights of the various states and the powers of their representation. The Reichsrat had no influence on the federal government. It could veto the Reichstag's bills, and the Reichstag could overrule the veto. But the Reichsrat remained very powerful, because overruling it needed a majority of two-thirds in the Reichstag, which was splintered into many parties and was frequently dissolved. So in effect, bills vetoed by the Reichsrat very frequently died. After Hitler’s Chancellorship, the powers of the Länder (states) were transferred to the central government, rendering the Reichsrat obsolete. A month later, the Reichsrat itself was dissolved, making Germany a centralized state.
The passage of the Enabling Act was another factor which shows the biggest threat was the Constitution. On 23 March 1933, the Reichstag convened and in the midday opening, Hitler made a historic speech, appearing outwardly calm and conciliatory. He promised that the Act did not threaten the existence of either the Reichstag or the Reichsrat, that the authority of the...
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