Weimar republic means a period between 1919- 1933 in the history of Germany during a period where by the country was under pressure to recover to recover economically and politically from the damages caused by the Versailles treaty if 1918. These 14 years were notable with a lot of intellectual productivity and Ernst Block, a political theorist described the period of Weimar culture as the periclean age. The Weimar culture was marked with a lot of development in the political arena and in social life, notable figures in the era were Otti Dix, Fritz Lang’ and Isherwood Christopher among others.
During the Weimar culture, Germany became a center of intelligence in its universities and more uniquely in political and social theories (Marxism) coupled with Freudian psychological analysis which catalyses the critical theory.
The rise of Marxism and ascession of Hitler Adolf, many people were forced to flee to US, turkey UK and other European countries, the cultural and intellectual figures fled and those who were left behind were detained in camps. The intellectual figures of Frankfurt school were relocated to United States and established their institute at New York City.
MAIN PROBLEMS FACING THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC 1919-1933
The cause of failure of Weimar republic is still a subject worthy a lot of debate because; first the country was disliked by the moderates besides the left and right extremists who loathed it. Though the Germany leadership could not be termed as democratic one, it was chaotic and characterized by back stabbing among its political leaders therefore leading to the German soldiers being surrendering in the 1st world war. Some of the notable problems were economic problems, problems associated with individual leaders and institutional problems.
It’s important to view how the individuals accelerated the fall of Weimar republic, it’s important to assess the decisions made by individuals in power while still not forgetting to consider the substitutes they had and incorporating the assumptions and speculations which they had laid down. An economic policy formulated by Brunning which led to a lot of social spending and allowed liberal economics during the time of great depression is debatable if it was the best decision at that period. Another questionable character is that of the German chancellor, Hindenburg, who had served that post since 1925, though he wasn’t a supporter of Nazism, he was representation of the 1871 form of dictatorship; he allowed the legislation of the Reichstag fire decree which led Hitler being elected to the post of chancellor after his death.
In reference to the institutional problems, Weimar republic constitution of 1919 was weak and could have been easily manipulated to lead to dictatorship not until 1949 when this constitution was reviewed. The existing legal framework allowed the president, (reisprasident) to take all necessary measures incase the national security or public order were disturbed and endangered seriously and this empowered the chancellor to make some decrees even without fully support of the reichstag such as the fire decree, further the laws allowed the reichstag to vote a vote of no confidence even though a successor had not been agreed at leading to a lot political instability since reinchskanzler were easily voted out. The legal frame work allowed the reichckanzler to assume death incase of death of the president before elections were held and this favored Hitler after the 1934 Hindenburg’s death.
Economic problems were a major problem to Weimar republic; this is because the country had the highest ever reported inflation rate in the western democracy coupled with decline in the standards of living and high unemployment rates. Though there was slight economic recovery between 1923- 1929 but the 1930s great depression which led to world wide recession worsened its state. The government of Weimar relied on loans from United States but after 1929 crashes, US started to demand its debts from Weimar and this was in to its problems. The country was forced to surrender some if it’s wealthy states and required to pay huge compensation by the Versailles treaty therefore the country being forced to print more money to meet its financial obligation which lead to hyperinflation.
THE RISE OF THE NAZI PARTY AGAINST THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL BACKGROUND OF PRE WWII GERMANY
Germany was governed by Weimar republic between this of 1919- 1933. it was called Weimar republic because its in Weimar city where the national assembly met and drew a constitution on how to govern the German empire after they were defeated in the first world war. Nazism came in with use of the term Gleichschaltung which was meaning equal switching, Nazism was a dictatorship kind of leadership which Evans Richard, a historian called forcible coordination where there was total control of economy and of even the social life , the main goal being to do away with all forms of individualism (egoism)
The Nazi party controlled all aspects by use of excessive power bestowed on the police force who were and people who resisted Hitler’s ideas were intimidated, there was control even over the churches, trade unions and other political parties were controlled and institutes like those aligned to the education sector came directly under Nazi control the was segmentation of the population with compulsory membership to various organizations in the Glechschaltung, boys at the age of 6 become cubs, at 10 they were called the German young boys, at 14 they become Hitler’s youth proper before attaining the age of 18 when they got connected to the labor service (arbeitsdeinst) and the girls also had their similar organization. There was control of al, the workers even in the recreational facilities and hobbies, all private clubs were required to register under (Kraft durch Freud) KdF.
Gleichschaltung referred to the legal action taken by Adolf Hitler as soon as he became the German chancellor in 30th January 1933. On February 1933 he declared the Reichstag fire decree which led to suspension of all human right and allowed intimidation of voters during the election by Sturmabteinlung (SA) and there after Hitler won the on coming election by slight margin. In 1933 march 23rd the newly elected Reichstag (parliament) government convened and it amended the laws by issuing the enabling act which delegated the Nazi government all the legislative powers and further banned social and communist parties. In 1933 may 2nd, the trade unions association (ADGB) was banned and some of the leaders imprisoned, other associations were forced to merge the German labor from which all workers were forced to belong. A law against formulation of any political party was passed in 1933 July 4th.
Some of those people who opposed Hitler were killed in the night between 30th June and 1st July 1933 and it was said that they were killed for the purpose of state self defense; they included Ernst Rohm and some Nazi leader. In 1934 August 2nd, laws on separation of power were abolished and all powers given to Hitler after aged Hindenburg died.
THE NATURE AND APPEAL OF NAZISM TO THE POST WWI GERMANY PEOPLE
Nazism was a terminology which meant totalitarian or national socialism and the Nazi party was formed in 1919 January and Hitler joined the party in September 1919. Nazism consisted of various ideologies which were not clearly defined and consisted of people who were angered by the treaty of Versailles because they believed it was agreed at to put down the Germans after their loss in the First World War. It was formulated by those who laid blame for the loss in which it was it was believed to have been a conspiracy between the Jews to humiliate Germans.
Nazism was ant communalism and pro-racism which was supporting finance capitalism. It had a great appeal to the people because it was against the social democrats who they believed had sold the republic of Weimar. It further laid the blame for the depression and instability in the country on the non Germans therefore preaching a lot of anti-Semitic sentiments. Nazi ideas were to defend the Germans against the foreigners and advocated for a centralized government. Nazi aimed to build a strong self sufficient state which could absorb pan-nationalism ideas.
The major reasons which favored the success of Nazi included the fact that it took powers legally, during a period when Germans economy was in a dilemma and violence was accepted in the politics of Germany. Though many people initially supported the ideas of Nazi party, they did not know what it was leading them into since they preferred the party since communists had sold out the country by signing the Versailles treat. Many European countries adopted the Nazism and fascism and even some believing that Hitler was a savior for the western civilization
Fischer Conan, the Rise of National Socialism and the Working Classes in Weimar Germany, Berghahn Books publishers, 1996
Kallis A. Aristotle, Fascist Ideology: Territory and Expansionism in Italy and Germany, Routledge publishers, 2000
Reynoldson Fiona, Weimar and Nazi Germany, Harcourt Heinemann Press, 1996
The fall of Weimar republic retrieved on 30th June, 2007, available at www.barnsdle.demon.co.uk/hist/tyra.html
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, retrieved on 30th June, 2007, available at www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimar_Republic