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Outline the political, social and economic problems facing the Weimar Republic in the years 1918-1923.

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Modern History Post WWI Politics in Germany 1. Outline the political, social and economic problems facing the Weimar Republic in the years 1918-1923. (2-3) Political Problems From 1920 neither the Weimar Coalition nor the parties of the Right alone could achieve majority in the Reichstag due to the numbers of the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) and the KPD, the great parliamentary problem of the Weimar Republic was the relationship between the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and The Peoples Party (DVP). This relationship determined the possibility, at any given time, of continuing government at all, either through a minority of the bourgeois parties or through a Coalition. The difficulty was that the SPD was the party of the workers and the DVP the party of the employers. The struggle to change the party's character was therefore a struggle to make it more suitable to collaboration with the SPD, and a struggle for the survival of the Republic itself. The whole parliamentary life of the Weimar Republic was fundamentally different from that of the Empire. It was a constitutional state, in which political parties played a vital and active role, as distinct from the shadow-boxing to which they had been condemned by Bismarck's constitutionalism. One consequence was that the parties reorganised and strengthened their internal machinery. ...read more.


Despite Erzberger's financial reforms, the state's revenues from taxation based on nominal values were hopelessly inadequate. On top of this, the economic impact of the Treaty of Versailles was crushing. Germany lost 13 per cent of her territory, 10 per cent of her population, 15 per cent of agricultural land, 75 per cent of iron and 68 per cent of zinc ore, 26 per cent of her coal resources, the entire Alsatian potash and textile industries, and the communications system built around Alsace-Lorraine and Upper Silesia. Huge amounts of ships and shipping facilities and of railway rolling-stock were delivered to the Allies. The amount of reparations fixed in 1921 was estimated by J. M. Keynes to exceed by three times Germany's ability to pay. Another reason for the prominence given to reparations is their alleged contribution to the inflation of the early 1920s. In fact, however, inflation actually preceded the reparations. Governments used it as a means of evading reparations payments. No German government before 1923 made any attempt to stabilise the currency, because German industrialists worked out a system of ''inflation profiteering.'' They would obtain short-term loans from the central bank for improvement and expansion of their plant, and then repay the loans with inflated currency. ...read more.


In this respect he differed, for example, from the millionaire Walther Rathenau, who had briefly played an important part in Weimar politics, just before Stresemann became chancellor. Rathenau, however, like Erzberger, was assassinated by right-wing nationalist fanatics, who resented his policy of moderation. These senseless acts robbed the Weimar Republic of its two strongest middle-class supporters and left middle-class leadership to men of Stresemann's political stripe. Stresemann was, after all, still a monarchist, and his party was officially a monarchist party. For all his many fine qualities-he was a talented orator, a man of charm and cosmopolitan culture, and one of the few statesmen who appealed to young people-Stresemann's appointment should therefore have raised the question of the viability of a ''Republic without republicans'' as early as 1923. Fortunately, Stresemann was a practical man, a ''pragmatic conservative,'' which accounts not only for the not always entirely honest discrepancy between theory and practice, but also for his flowering when given office and his relative success as a statesman and politician. He needed an immediate practical problem. Without one, he tended to lose himself in romantic and irrational meandering. This dichotomy in his nature goes far to explain the contrast between the nationalist extremist of 1917 and the responsible chancellor and foreign minister of the 1920s, who even dropped his monarchism when he found it obsolete. Simon Cornish 12MH Page 1 ...read more.

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