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'The Weimar Republic was weak from the start, its collapse was always 'likely'' - How far do you agree with this judgement in the period between 1919-1933?

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Introduction

'The Weimar Republic was weak from the start, its collapse was always 'likely'' How far do you agree with this judgement in the period between 1919-1933? The main reasons why the Republic failed were problems with the constitution and the way the political system worked, lack of support for Weimar, problems between 1920-28 and the Wall Street Crash of 1929. However it needs to be decided if Weimar was inevitably going to fail due to the way the constitution worked, or if it's never ending uphill struggle from 1919 was predominantly responsible for its disintegration. There was no doubt that the people never forgave the Weimar government for their part in the armistice. Their sense of betrayal meant that regardless of any successes, the slightest failure was 'likely' to cause its downfall. As World War One ended with Germany defeated it left the German people feeling very unhappy. Germany was forced with many problems such as reparation, weak industry, mass unemployment, guilt clause, hyperinflation and the loss of their coal and iron industry. These problems were clauses of the Treaty Of Versailles. The Treaty Of Versailles, a peace treaty with the allies, meant harsh terms for Weimar; compulsory military service was to be abolished, the army was to be reduced from 600 000 to 100 000, naval personnel not to exceed 15 000, a limit if ...read more.

Middle

Despite unavoidably being publicly disliked due the circumstances from which Weimar arose, it can also be argued that Weimar's composition was fundamentally flawed. One hardly needs to study history books to see that a fundamentally weak political system has little chance of survival. From 1919, Germany was declared a Democratic Federal Republic. Two houses of Parliament were made, the Upper House called the Reichstag, and the Lower House called the Reichsrat. These two were always going to hinder Weimar's progress. This was because when a law was passed in the Reichstag it had to be passed in the Reichsrat. If the Reichsrat refused to pass the law then, if two thirds of the Reichstag agreed, the Reichsrat's rejection was overruled, and the law passed. This caused law making to be slow and the Reichsrat pointless. However, the proportional representation of the coalition governments made law making even slower, and it was rare if any unanimous decisions were made in the Reichstag. Weimar also, as a democracy, was immediately undermined by what became known as Article 48. This gave the President the power to take away individual rights and make necessary changes to restore order. As well as this, many people were concerned about the lack of cohesion between governments, this would become a major problem after 1929. ...read more.

Conclusion

All classes of people suffered psychologically and lost pride in their country. In such a situation, it is not surprising that people lost faith in the Weimar Republic and saw salvation in the solutions offered by political extremism. People began to turn to Hitler, who preached employment and greatness; the Nazis gaining 107 seats in the 1930 election reflect this. By 1933 the fall of the Weimar Republic was obvious. The Republic's last leaders had done nothing to improve the effects of the Wall Street Crash upon Germany, like the rapidly increasing unemployment levels. The lack of action by the government led to extremist parties becoming very popular. The bad start the Weimar Republic made always meant that there would be many parties struggling for power. If there had been a strong Government to begin with, then there would have been no need for a Nazi party or any other extremists, as they would feel that they had no chance of gaining the votes to come to power. In conclusion, Weimar's fundamental weakness meant she never really even had the potential to become successful under such circumstances and the events that preceded her formation simply heeded her further. A famous quote by H. Holborn, about the period 1918 to 1933, was: "Normalcy was never quite achieved and even the period when it appeared close at hand proved only a brief interlude between the two disasters." Charlie Matthews 12CAS 10/05/2007 1 of 3 ...read more.

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