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What does the 1949 Basic Law tell us about the perceived flaws of the WeimarConstitution? Are constitutional weaknesses, by that token, an adequate explanation for the emergence of Fascism in Germany?

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Introduction

What does the 1949 Basic Law tell us about the perceived flaws of the Weimar Constitution? Are constitutional weaknesses, by that token, an adequate explanation for the emergence of Fascism in Germany? The Basic law, or Grundgesetz went into force on May 23rd 1949, it was the new Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany. The new constitution was created including many features of the old, however just from the fact that a new constitution was being created we can see it was strongly felt the old Weimar one contained serious flaws. Germany had just overcome the darkest hour of its history and what was put in place was a much stricter constitution which focused on safeguarding the control of country and most importantly the Human Rights of those within it. Clearly many felt this was necessary as perhaps it was the weakness of the previous constitution that allowed Germany's horrific past to occur. In theory, the Weimar constitution would have been the perfect democratic instrument. However, because the Government was so strongly rejected by its people many loopholes were quickly found and exploited. The Weimar Government couldn't even supply soldiers to deal with civil unrest, they relied on volunteers to fight when needed (as opposed to the Basic Laws 'Militant Democracy' which later amended this) The vagueness of many points allowed opponents to take an advantage and the Weimar quickly fell to Fascism. ...read more.

Middle

Under the Weimar Constitution 'Human Rights and other Constitutional Civic rights are Declaratory' they cannot be enforced. Human rights therefore were allowed to be broken and repeatedly were on a huge scale all over Germany. The Basic Law of 1949 changed this saying 'all human rights are directly enforceable by law', clearly this amendment indicates the Weimar Constitution was perceived to contain a huge flaw in this area. Even as far as to blame the constitution for the persecution suffered by millions during Nazi rule. The Basic Law also changed how constitutional changes could occur. Under Weimar the constitution could be overridden, if a piece of legislation (even un-constitutional legislation) had a 2/3 majority in the houses of parliament it would be passed. Basic law changed it so that any un-constitutional legislation would be considered void 'irrespective of the size of the parliamentary majority with which it was passed' (http://www.strath.ac.uk/Departments/Government/politics/Weimar%20FRG%20Constitutions.pdf). Basic Law also created a constitutional Judicial reviewing system, the Federal Constitutional Court. 16 judges, elected by each house of Parliament work as a checking system to ensure the constitution doesn't get manipulated in any way to suit the government. As this wasn't in place during the Weimar government the constitution was able to be practically re-written and then exploited by the Nazi's. Clearly there are many flaws and in part these views are therefore accurate, the Weimar government's failings allowed an extremist party to use illegal campaign methods to gain power. ...read more.

Conclusion

Almost all areas of German society were becoming susceptible to the fascist propaganda as there situation didn't improve. Despite the fact that lots of people disagreed with many of the party's beliefs, the ideas of fascism and Nazism stirred up much needed nationalistic thinking and desperate times called for desperate measures. Naturally the upper-classes, other traditionalists and the ex-army supported this thinking, which would return to the old style Germany. The upper class industrial elites especially as the Nazi system also supported their financial wants. The working class however were also very susceptible, after years of unemployment a brighter future could be seen and the middle class saw the whole growing situation as a defence against communism. Use of scape-goats (or as the Germans claimed, blaming those responsible), was applied throughout fascisms rule as it is very successful. This started off with the Weimar government but within only a few years of power even very extremist idea's such as anti-Semitism were becoming much more widespread and accepted. Clearly the many problems Weimar government helped leave an opening for Fascism to emerge taking complete control of Germany, breaking the human rights of all its citizens and creating a formidable enemy for the rest of the world. However during the years of the rise many external factors forced a desperate Germany to want an extreme solution, such as Fascism. Therefore the emergence of Fascism was assisted by all the problems facing Germany not solely those of the Weimar. ...read more.

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