Collapse Of The Weimar Republic Essay

1610 words - 7 pages

Assess the collapse of the Weimar Republic
Post World War One, Germany faced many political, social and economic crises, each of which weakened the new democracy, yet through its brief period of prosperity in the mid-1920s it was able to maintain power for 14 years. The republic was built on politically unsound foundations, with its early years bringing the detrimental Treaty of Versailles, challenges to the socialist government through political uprisings, as well as unstable leadership as a result of the flawed system. The new republic was also faced with many economic issues, including the unaffordable reparations, the French invasion of Germany’s heartland the Ruhr, passive resistance ...view middle of the document...

This anger was heightened by the new government signing the humiliating and extremely detrimental Treaty of Versailles at a time where starvation and unemployment were serious issues and the country could not handle the severe implications of the Treaty. Due to the outrage and desperation of Germany’s people, many were drawn to extremist groups, and the new government had little actual power to quash the revolts apart from it paramilitary force, the Freikorps, and was thus twice pushed from its capital, highlighting its weak state. The republic was faced with continual violence, as well as strong uprisings such as the January 1919 Spartacist revolt, in April the Soviet Republic of Bavaria was created in another left wing effort, whilst the Kapp Putsch of March 1920 and the Munich or Beer Hall Putsch of November 1923 represented the work of right wing groups. The government was able to face the issues of the armistice, Treaty of Versailles and the political uprisings, thus bringing these crises to a halt; however they left a lasting negative impression upon the Germans of their government, which left them more susceptible to Nazi propaganda.
The republic also faced severe economic issues as a result of the war, with the effects of naval blockading and total war still resonating in a country also burdened by unemployment and severe reparation requirements. The struggling republic could not bear the strain of the £6.6 billion required, and failed to meet repayments, thus in 1923 the French invaded the Ruhr, Germany’s industrial heartland, in order to obtain what they were owed by force. The invasion was met with a government financially supported act of passive resistance, where the industrial workers refused to cooperate and continue working; however this led to a drastic decrease in production, pulling the economy into even deeper turmoil. In order to pull the country out of this state of intense debt, the government began printing more money; however, the amount of money released exceeded the value of the country’s production, inducing a state of hyperinflation. This had severe socio-economic implications where those with savings lost everything, whilst those with loans benefitted, as did big businesses who were able to mass produce. Many historians agree that this could have been the end of the republic, as E.J Feuchtwanger stated, “Economic life was in chaos. It looked as if Germany was about to experience the disintegration she had avoided in 1918”, however A.J Edwards argued against this, stating “It was inevitable that the new government would have faced difficulties from the start, but to say it was doomed is unfair”. Hyperinflation was also highlighted by Kolb as being an important element in the eventual destruction of the republic “inflation turned part of the middle class into a proletariat, politically disoriented and susceptible to Nazism; and ... during the world depression the German government dared not take the necessary...

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