To What Extent Does The Weakness Of The Weimar Republic Explain Hitler’s Rise To Power?

1379 words - 6 pages

To What Extent Does the Weakness of the Weimar Republic Explain Hitler’s Rise to Power?

To What Extent Does the Weakness of the Weimar Republic Explain Hitler’s Rise to Power?
The weakness of the Weimar Republic played a tremendous part in Hitler’s rise to power. In this essay I will explore and analyse many factors, including the impact of the first world war, the constitutional weakness of the Republic, the implications of the Versailles treaty and the Kapp/Munich Putsch; along with other factors that led to Hitler’s success not so directly related to the Weimer republic, for example the Wall Street Crash, propaganda techniques adopted by the Nazis and Hitler’s charisma and ...view middle of the document...

A significant problem with the Weimar republic was the fact that it was constitutionally weak; the very nature of the PR system proves this, due to the failure to form a majority government (Lee, 1998). Parties only needed 2% of votes in order to gain seats. There were also a lot of elections, for example in 1932 there were 5, a staggering amount. This wasn’t the only problem however, each party was extremely self interested.
Article 48 was an issue. It was created as a means of protecting the republic when it was threatened, for example by the Kapp putsch. As time went on however, especially during Hindenburg’s chancellorship, it was misused, with decree laws going from 5 being used in 1930, to 44 in 1931 and 60 in 1932, while sittings of the Reichstag declined from 94 in 1930 to 13 in 1932 (Lee, 1998).
Moreover, a serious ingredient to Hitler’s success was the Versailles treaty. Winning public approval for the republic was made infinitely more difficult because of this (Lee, 1998). The terms of the treaty included $33 billion reparation payments, a war guilt clause, great loss of land and colonies and an army of a mere 100,000. Besides these brutal terms, the war guilt clause proved to be extremely damaging. It was a constant reminder to the German nation of the ‘stab in the back’ by the ‘November criminals’ which did nothing to help Weimar. It worsened their economic problems during the economic slumps of 1923/24 with inflation reaching astronomical heights. What historians have argued was the final straw for Weimar was the French occupation of Ruhr due to Germany’s missed payments (Gareth Phillips, class notes).
Another foolish episode in Weimar’s time were the years from 1924-28. These were the “golden years” for Germany. Historians argue that there was political stability and growth, and political violence was left behind. Even Germany’s economy had stabilised, quite an achievement after the 1922/23 inflation problems. It all went disastrously wrong. In order for Germany to be as stable as it was, the government had taken short term loans from the United States, and in 1929, with the Wall Street Crash, the loans were called in and Germany was left in a worse state than before, with unemployment reaching 5.6 million (Simpson, 1991).
Hitler and the Nazis used the Wall Street Crash extensively in their propaganda; of course they blamed it on Weimar. From 1928 there were strains economically with investment dropping and unemployment rising (Simpson, 1991). Due to the turmoil in Germany due to the US calling their loans back in, Bruning was using article 48 increasingly to govern. Due to the Nazis’ propaganda or the fact that the nation remembered the inflation issues back in 1923/24 perhaps this was the reason why right wing support increased.
Another factor in Hitler’s rise was the Munich Putsch. Here, he tried to take the government by force. Simpson (1991) argued that it was Stresemann’s compliance with the Versailles treaty (to...

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