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The Weimar Republic – doomed to failure?

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Introduction

The Weimar Republic - doomed to failure? By Laurence Sharifi The Weimar republic, set up in 1919 by the major superpowers of the world was meant to be a model government. It was designed to bring stability and prosperity to Germany, and close the door behind its turbulent, autocratic past. So how did it all go so wrong, and was the Weimar Republic doomed to failure right from its conception? What was the deciding factor that finally spelled the end for Europe's first ever republic? To understand these questions better, and to put them into context, here is a brief summary of how the Weimar Republic came into being. At the end of the First World War, the 'big three' powers in the world (Britain, France and the USA) met and deliberated over what to do with the defeated Germany. One thing was clear; the current government would have to go. Kaiser Wilhelm II (the ruler at the time,) was all in favour of the war, and the big three knew that there would be no assurance that he would not start up World War Two. Therefore, Woodrow Wilson (the American President) insisted that he would have to go. After the Kaiser fled, the next heir to the throne, Prince Max of Baden became Germany's ruler. However Max knew that the old autocratic regime was over, and he was fully aware that he was merely an interim caretaker to oversee Germany while a new system of government was developed. Soon, Fredrich Ebert, leader of the Social Democrat Party (SPD) came forward and was handed control by Prince Max, under the condition that Ebert would do his utmost to prevent Germany falling to the communists. Ebert set to work trying to construct a constitutional monarchy (like the system we have in the UK.) He believed that this was the best option for Germany, as it would keep the German right wing moderately happy (it would preserve the monarchy, which they wanted) ...read more.

Middle

Here was a country barely able stand up, and here was France kicking it in the shins. The international community, who condemned France's actions, also shared this view. However there was nothing the Germans could do. To respond militarily would be impossible; it would spark up another war that Germany could never hope to win. The only avenue open to the Germans was passive resistance (refusing to work etc.) However, the French soon fixed this by bringing in their own workers. This crisis was used by the Republic's opponents to show it up as a weak, powerless government, yet again intensifying the bad feeling towards it. This halt in German industrial production (it all effectively belonged to the French,) caused yet another crisis for Germany to deal with. In Britain, When we have a five pound note in our pockets, it means that the British government has sufficient assets to be able to give me five pounds of goods or services should I want them. If there is no actual substance behind that money, it is known as inflation. This is what happened in Germany. With no real economic activity going on, money became worth less and less. Consequently, you needed more money to buy anything. The situation got so bad that workers took wheelbarrows to work, to carry their wages home! This hyperinflation also made imports and exports impossible, further sliding Germany into oblivion. The worsening situation in Germany also brought about a renewed interest in extremist politics. Generally, when times are hard, people turn towards a political party that offers a firm, solid ideology. Consequently, the Communists and the Right-wingers surged in popularity. In 1923, Adolf Hitler led the Munich Putsch, a revolution in Bavaria that was soon put down, but showed the world that Germany could slide back into Anarchy very easily. The events up to 1923 had done serious damage to the Weimar Republic. ...read more.

Conclusion

Having looked at the historical evidence, I feel that the Weimar Republic was not doomed to failure. If we look at Germany's golden era, we can see that the public was largely in favour of the government, with the Nazis and the communists obtaining pitiful results in elections. This shows that the German public were happy with the situation at this time despite having despised the government for signing the Treaty of Versailles just a few years previously. However we can see that the Golden Era was made possible only because of the vast loans from America. So would a Germany that was built on borrowed money, also be living on borrowed time? In my opinion, Germany would have been able to sustain its situation in the Mid 20's if the Wall St Crash had not intervened. I am basing this opinion on the fact that Germany was a large nation with much natural and human recourse available to it. Looking at Germany today, you would never believe it had been totally devastated twice by war. Therefore I feel that Germany would have been able to increase its GDP (economic output) over a few more years to such a level that it would have been able to repay most of the American debt. However, this was not to be, as the Wall St Crash destroyed the German economy and brought extremist politics back to the forefront. It was consequently, an external factor beyond The Weimar Republics control that caused its dramatic downfall. Also, when times became hard again, memories of the treaty of Versailles and hyperinflation came flooding back, causing yet more resentment. So, to summarise: - The Weimar Republic was not doomed to failure, and would probably have been able to return Germany to a prosperous position, had the World Wide depression not occurred. - Although the resentment of the Weimar Republic for signing the Treaty of Versailles was immense at the beginning, many German's put it to one side when their prosperity increased during the Golden Era. Therefore, this alone would not have caused the collapse of the Weimar Republic. ...read more.

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