Key features and issues * successes and failures of democracy * nature and role of nationalism * influence of the German army * changes in society
From this tutorial you will learn about the political, economic and social issues in the Weimar Republic to 1929.
The following are extracts from an article which first appeared in Teaching History, July 1998 and is expanded in the HTA Modern History Guide 2006.
Political and Economic issues
In order to understand reasons for the collapse of the Weimar Republic, it is essential to examine its political history. With six governments between 1924 and 1928, it had no real political stability. Also, many of the parties were narrowly sectional, their priority being to look after the interests of the class, area or religion that they represented. Overall loyalty to democracy was often of secondary importance.
The existence throughout the 1920s of paramilitary groups also reflects a weakness in the democracy. Such groups include the Nazi Sturmabteilung, nationalist Stahlhelm and communist Red Front.
Army commander Von Seeckt saw the need to support Stresemann's policy of fulfilment so that Germany could gain stability and time to recover; but the Army tolerated rather than supported democracy. Generals had an inordinate influence on cabinet and, after 1925, on the President. In the late 1920s, generals like Groener and Schleicher were in a position to push for strong government and this helped to undermine democracy.
In 1926 Luther's government actually resigned over the issue of which flag German ships would fly, the old imperial flag or the new republican one. This indicates the continuing division in loyalties and the fragility of democracy. (Flags are a very emotive issue in any country!)
In 1926 a referendum on a proposal to redistribute the wealth of the old royal families was defeated. The proposal had been sponsored by the communists and supported by the Social