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What problems did the Weimar government face?

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Weimar Germany 1918-1923: Creation and Crisis
  • The Weimar Republic was set up in the aftermath of Germany's defeat in WWI. It was burdened with the blame for the much resented Treaty of Versailles [TOV.] The nationalist Right also blamed the government for the defeat in World War 1 and frequently referred to it as a 'Jewish republic' and many of its leaders as 'November criminals' meaning that they had signed the armistice in November 1918.
  • Although it had a new, democratic constitution creating parliamentary government, key structures in Germany were not changed in the 1918-19 German Revolution was very limited.
  • Between 1919-23 the Republic faced a series of revolts from the extreme Left and Right and a major inflationary crisis, but managed to somehow survive.
Weimar Republic 1924-1929: Years of recovery and achievment?
  • From 1924 the economy recovered and moderate parties gained more support in elections.
  • Stresemann's conciliatory foreign policy brought Germany back from diplomatic isolation, but it aroused opposition from nationalists.
  • Weimar Germany became famous for its cultural experimentation but this alienated many traditionalist.
Weimar democracy undermined by the world economic depression-
  • Germany's economy was already suffering difficulties before 1929 and was heavily dependent on American loans, many of which were recalled.
  • From October 1929, Germany was badly hit by the effects of the Wall Street Crash.
  • Between 1929 and 1932 production nearly halved and unemployment rose to 6 million.
  • Governments were terrifies of sparking off inflation if they spent extra money and so it took little action to counter the Depression.
  • The slump led to growing support for extreme parties in the 1930 and 1932 elections.
Germany 1929-1933: Weimar Rpublic fails and Hitler gains power-
  • After the failure of the Munich Putsch of 1923, Hitler reorganised the Nazi Party on the Fuhrerprinzip.
  • The Nazis used skillful propaganda techniques and exploited Hitler's ability as a speaker.
  • In 1928, The Nazis were still on the fringe of politics.
  • in 1930, as a result of the slump, the Nazis became the second largest party.
  • The Wall street Crash led to a major depression, with 6 million unemployed The Depression made it harder for parliamentary government to work, and created a mood of despair.
  • The Nazis gained particular support from the petty bourgeoisie, but were also a broadly based party, gaining support from ALL groups. For some their appeal was emotional; others were attracted for reasons of material self-interest. They made least impact amongst groups that had a strong sense of community i.e. the Catholics and Socialists.
  • In 1930, Muller's SPD-led coalition fell; it was the last government to be based on support in the Reichstag. This can be seen as the real end to Weimar Parliamentary democracy.
  • Extremist parties did well in the 1930 elections; in July1932 they obtained a majority of Reichstag deputies, with the Nazis gaining 37%; success had built up momentum.
  • After 1930 Parliamentary government declined, as a series of presidential governments tried to solve Germany's mounting economic and political problems. Chancellors Bruning, Papen and Schleicher had to rely on presidential decrees under Article 48. In January 1933, influenced by sections in the elite, President Hindenburg reluctantly appointed Hitler Chancellor.
  • Thus under the dual challenge of the masses who voted for radical parties and the elites who disliked democracy, the Weimar republic declined and Hitler took over.
  • The Nazis offered a solution to Germany's problems, were well organised, and rallied around an charismatic leader with a sense of mission.
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