Weimar Republic Explaining the Successes Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

The result was an inflation rate that brought the value of the German mark down to virtually zero and for nine long months the country languished in a state of economic starvation, hoping for leniency from the Allies. With none forthcoming, the present regime resigned and the new "Reich" coalition party assumed control of the government under the helm of Gustav Stresemann (127).

Germany's Return to Prominence?

The rise of Stresemann was evidence of the failure of the 1918 German Revolution. The effort lacked popular support, economic acumen or diplomatic ability. Germany in 1923 was perhaps worse off than it was in 1918. In order to begin a true rebuilding process, the new coalition first set out to stabilize the German mark.

The period of the Weimar from 1924 through 1930 is seen as the "golden years" (139). In 1924 the mark had stabilized and the communist and Nazi parties struggled the elections, marking an apparent victory for German democracy (140) which continued through 1928 as Bavaria returned a parliamentary party into party (143). Political and economic stability appeared to be grabbing a foothold in German soil. A revival German culture confirmed that the people were feeling good again (149).

While there was increased prosperity and stability, this era is more accurately seen as a respite between eras of instability and crisis. Undermining the success of Stresemann was continued factionalism. In particular, Hitler had risen to the forefront of the fascist Nazi party, where he ardently attempted to discredit the patriotism and effectiveness of the present government (134). Both at Hitler's instigation and on their own volition, many leaders, both civil and military, became quite weary of continued democracy in Germany.

There were other warning signs as well. While the economy did slowly recover from the affects of the inflation crisis, skilled labor was being replaced by machines and unskilled cheaper fill-ins (147). Also, the high rate of change created social upheaval which led to a general feeling of malcontent among many would-be upper and middle class Germans (148). This was also portrayed in the German cultural revival (152).

Death, Depression and Decline

The death knell for Weimar was tolled by the passing of Stresemann and with the onset of the Great Depression. The Depression stopped the flow of credit heading into Germany (158) and the death of Stresemann stopped the parliamentary democracy. The vacuum of power left by Stresemann's death paved the way for the New Conservatives to rise to power in 1930 (162). The Depression steadily drove unemployment up and wages and the value of the mark down, leading again to financial distress for Germany (167).

In 1933, the New Conservatives had failed to right the economy in the face of the depression. The country was more polarized than ever politically (168). Latent anti-Semitism, economic national disaster and a strong military culture combined to help the Nazi's rise to power in 1933 (171). Among Hitler's first official moves in office was to ban all political party activity not of the Nazi party (175). This essentially ended the Weimar Republic.

Conclusion

While the Weimar is often seen in a foreboding and ominous light, as the 'cause' of the rise Nazi Germany, it does deserve praise for what it managed to accomplish in its 14-year existence. Faced with enormous constraints and no allies to turn to, Weimar kept Germany a viable German state throughout the 1920s. Signs pointed to continued growth, at least in the short-term, before the Great Depression brought about…

Sources Used in Document:

Work Cited

Orlow, Dietrich. A History of Modern Germany. Prentice Hall, 5th ed. (2001).

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