Was The Weimar Republic Doomed To Fail?

1262 words - 6 pages

To what extent was the Weimar Republic doomed to fail? To answer, one must recognize the demands of the question. Doomed, meaning ill-fated, is subjective and can be argued by analyzing historical evidence and historiographical interpretations. To fail means that it did not succeed in what it intended to do, which in this case, would be to transform Germany’s government into a peaceful democracy. Through two distinct historiographical lenses, one can determine whether the collapse of the Weimar Republic (1919 to 1933) was genuinely inevitable. Historical View #1 proposes that Hitler was a product of Germany’s authoritarian culture, and the Germans failed to develop a democratic tradition ...view middle of the document...

Regardless of those popular beliefs, German delegates signed the treaty on June 28th, 1919, with hope for fair peace. Under terms of the agreement, Germany was held responsible for all of the loss and damage in which the “Allied Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies” these loses and the related required reparations, resulted in Germany being burdened with massive debt. In 1921, Germany had to pay 132 billion German marks for reparations, after already paying 20 billion marks (mainly in the form of industrial goods) during the period in which the Allies were deciding drafting Germany's massive bill. Germany had previously finalized their Constitution, shifted to complete democracy, and was making efforts to become a peaceful nation post-war; however, the Treaty of Versailles along with Wilson's Fourteen Points pushed the citizens Germany over the edge. A relevant historian’s assessment is as follows:
Source 9.9 Geary
No one in their right mind would claim that the terms of the
Treaty of Versailles did not play a major role in the collapse
of the Weimar Republic.
Geary's evaluation supports this paper’s historiographical viewpoint that the post-war conditions and failing democracy sparked German desire to return to authoritarian history, ultimately leading to Hitler’s takeover. Nazi Slogans included, “Away with reparations!”, “Smash the chains of Versailles”, and “Away with feeble Weimar democracy!” which persuaded parties on both the left and the right to begin blaming the Weimar Republic for the burdensome terms of the treaty. Communists sought to take over the government in fear of widening class gaps (due to inflation), and extreme nationalists had resentment towards Germany’s leadership for losing the war and accepting some of the “war guilt” (blame) that the Allies imposed on Germany. Everyone in Germany, regardless of class or party, blamed the Treaty of Versailles for being overly demanding and were disappointed with their government for accepting it. The demands of the treaty were too much for German people to accept, and for the German government to fulfill; thus, made room for a leader who rejected the treaty entirely.
Furthermore, the growth in national debt and hyperinflation of the mark propelled Germany into the crisis state; one that would embrace a charismatic dictator that they believed would solve their problems. The extreme hyperinflation was an effect of the Ruhr Crisis, in which French troops occupied Germany due to an agreement included in the Treaty of Versailles. In December of 1922, Germany announced that they could not pay the cost of reparations, and as an alternative, in January of 1923 France and Belgium sent troops to Ruhr, Germany to seize control of German coal mines, factories, and railroads. The Weimar Republic then encouraged industrial...

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