There is no one answer to a question such as this, only individual’s opinions. In this essay I will explore both sides of the argument and come up with my own fact-based conclusion. Those people who claim that the Weimar Republic was “doomed” will say that this is clear from the day the Great War came to an end, November 11th 1918. When the Armistice was signed the German public were in complete shock and bitter outrage, immediately branding the Government the “November Criminals”.
Therefore, putting the Democrats in an awkward situation for whatever good they did whilst in Office the remembrance of the surrender would remain vivid in the public’s mind, always giving them a disadvantage, as they were always disliked slightly even when performing at their best. So it is logic that a hated Government could never be as successful as a popular one. The same is true surrounding the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, ironically called a peace treaty.
When the Treaty was signed the public saw this as a humiliation of the Fatherland and the Government lying down and been used as the proverbial carpet by the Allies. The Germans are very nationalistic people and an embarrassment of their country, such as the Treaty of Versailles, didn’t sit well with them and it easy from the irate Germans to blame the weak Government. The former citizens whom were members Armed Forces would be especially insulted by the signing of the Treaty, as they would think, I have just fought for 4 years for my country, going through emotional and physical torture and I am simply forgotten and betrayed by my Government… well, I don’t think I will be voting this party next election. ”
More forward thinking persons in the Weimar Republic would see that the clauses in the Treaty would see their economy weakened considerably on an annual basis (Reparations), their defences slashed (the reduction of the Armed Forces and artillery) and the country’s physical impression on the rest of Europe (the loss of land to neighbouring entities).
And finally, people would remember how badly the Government had coped with the Hyperinflation fiasco of 1923. Although, it must be said that not all the blame for the Weimar Republic’s downfall can be solely pinned upon an unpopular Government, there were other factors, like the German constitution. The constitution states that there could not be one single ruling party in the Reichstag (Parliament), the seats would be awarded on the basis of Proportional Representation. This is were a party is given the amount of seats in the Parliament in accordance with the percent of the votes they won in the election e. . if the National Party won 15% off the votes in the election, they would be given 15% off the seats in the Reichstag. Whilst that seemed logical it was not a satisfactory state of affairs. Because, without one single ruling party there was continual arguments between parties with opposing views over legislations and this created a stalemate in Parliament.
There were also coalitions formed in order to gain the majority in the Parliament, therefore turning the focus away from the running of the country, to backstabbing the other parties. Two other major factors in the downfall were the S. D. P’s need to use violence to keep control and their rivalry with the Communists. If, as it was in the S. D. P’s case, the leading party needed to use violence to maintain control and quash uprising it showed clearly their political weakness, not something a Government wants to show whilst attempting to steer a country towards a brighter tomorrow. They also feared a revolution similar to that in Russia in 1917. Germany in this period also became very dependent upon American loans through the Dawes Plan, which made the country look good to a visitor but did not spell a happy future for its citizens.
This dependence on the American money brought about a continual slowing down of the economy until it came to a relative standstill in 1927, which made their situation even worse for the time it came to pay back the Americans, as it would leave the Germans back were they started. The needle on the donkeys back in Germany’s case was a little clause in their constitution, the Enabling Law. This allowed the President to bypass Parliament, suspend the constitution, and invoke martial law, which along with the Army would give the President total control.
This made it easy for power hungry politicians to seize 100% control of the country whenever they felt it necessary. Despite, all these obstacles in Germany’s way to becoming a successful country, some people would argue that it was indeed possible for the Weimar Republic to avoid failure, it was not doomed. There main argument is upon one single minister in the Reichstag, Gustav Stresemann. Who was the Chancellor of Germany in 1924 and Foreign Minister between 1924 and 1929.
In his one-year as leader of Germany he made some key decisions: he ordered the strikers in the Ruhr back to work, he printed a new currency, the Rentenmark and restarted the payments of the reparations. These decisions, whilst not popular at the time, were key in the start of the Weimar Republic’s “Golden Age” as they stopped the hyperinflation crisis and improved the International Relations with their former enemies, he also made many more great decisions as Foreign Minister. And the people whom think that Germany could have avoided catastrophe would say that if Stresemann had of been alive still, Germany would have been stable.
Germany also went through a very affluent stage in the mid to late 1920’s, the Golden Age. In this time the country’s economy blossomed and the Government’s public relations rose to an all-time high, and the optimists would believe that if Germany had remained in this stage for longer it would have missed the bad times of the early 1930’s and would have continued on it’s high. Along with this it would have almost sent the extremist parties into complete obscurity and would have meant no Hitler, no Nazis and no World War II.
So there you have it the situation of the Weimar Republic in the pessimists view and in the optimists view, now time for my view. In my opinion the Weimar Republic was doomed to fail because of the serious flaws in Versailles Treaty, which left the country unable to stand unaided and the German constitution left the country exposed to extremists. The argument put forward by the pessimists seems for based on fact and logic, whilst the optimist’s views seem more to be based upon ifs and buts not a solid argument. So in conclusion, the Weimar Republic was doomed to failure, no doubt about it.