German is one of the great nations of the world that has attained high level of economic, political and social development in the 21st century. In spite of its development and advancement in science and technology, it is also well remembered through history during the First World War. In this paper we are going to discuss the factors that greatly contributed to the fall of Weimar republic in Germany and the effects these factors had on Germany's economy, political and the social welfare of the people. Further we will discuss the restraints of the treaty of Versailles, political turmoil and the economic crisis that led the Weimar republic to fail in Germany in the 1920s and early 1930's. The discussion will also focus on how to develop a conceptual frame work that will help in critically analysing the interconnections of these factors by indicating their interdependence on each other. Finally, the essay will provide a general outlook of the whole discussion in a summary form.
In the history of Europe there were two conflicting armed camps that led to emergence of First World War .On one side there was the Triple Alliance which consisted of countries such as Germany, Australia-Hungary and Italy. On the other hand, there was the Triple Entente which composed of nations like France, Russia and Great Britain. The main factor that initiated the emergence of war among the two camps was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand by the Serb nationalists of France. This in turn increased the rift between the two groups.
Germany as a nation was most blamed for the occurrence of the First World War. The other nations of the world in conjunction with the Triple Entente drafted a treaty that was to be signed by the Germany government. The aim of the treaty was to ensure that German had to pay off the loss and the damage it had caused to the other nations inform of compensation. The treaty also aimed at safeguarding that the nation was deprived off its economic and political power so that it could not attack the other nations. The agreement was well drafted with stern conditions that aimed at punishing Germany for its actions. The treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 under the rule of Weimar government, with well stipulated conditions that were outlined to regulate the future. This limited the way forward for German's future development.
One of the agreement's conditions, stated on how Germany was to loose its territory as a form of reparation to the allies' nations. The rich coal mines were to be given to France for fifteen years and in case Germany government wanted to reclaim the land back it had to purchase it. The eastern region of Rhineland together with a few towns and cities were to be occupied by Belgians, French and American for some specified period of time. The French also wanted to separate the Rhineland and Ruhr so that to establish an independent state that was more to be inclined to France. The Rhineland and Ruhr regions were endowed with rich coal mines and at the same time the region had many manufacturing industries. As a result of this richness in resources, the conflict between the allies' nation was enhanced because each wanted to have a portion of the region i.e. mainly the Germany economy. These two regions (Rhineland and Ruhr) were more industrialized and held an imperative position in developing the economy of Germany in general.
After the splitting of the northern part into two, Germany had to give the Western province of Prussia to Poland. The upper side of Silesia was to be given again to Poland. Germany also lost the Danzig city which was taken by the League of Nations hence making it become a free city; free from government control. On the other hand a portion of the upper side of Silesia was placed under the control of Allied administration which later was taken by the Lithuania. The loss of most parts that were in the western part of Germany compared to those in the eastern part impacted more pain on the people. This is because the act was in contrast to what had been cited in the policy of self-determination. In order to counteract this, the German government had to propose some ways of retrieving some parts of its territory that had been taken by other nations. Danzig city was in this case reclaimed as a national land belonging to the Germany state.
Britain also a member of the triple entente made a claim on the German reparation. It wanted the government to demilitarize or disarm it security personnel. It was also forbidden to own military airships, tanks, poisonous gas and submarine war ships. The government of Britain also demanded to dominate all the colonies that were under the colony of Germany in Africa. German security government was restricted of having a security personnel exceeding one hundred thousand .The government personnel were to be removed from certain territories that Britain had an interest in. The government of Britain proposed to take all the battle fleet and merchants that belonged to German. In order to facilitate the process of disarmament of the German security personnel, an international Allied commission was established with the mandate of overseeing and regulating the whole process. The whole procedure of demilitarizing the security personnel in German made it hard for the nation to protect itself against external threats. The remaining state of internal personnel could only be in position to contain the domestic crimes and suppress unacceptable behaviour in the country. But despite all this effort by France government the question that remained without an answer was whether the other alliance nations were going to disarm themselves.
The Germany government was to accept the fact that it was responsible for the war. In this connection it was ready to face the consequences that came along with war effects. The nation had to financially compensate the affected countries. The French government which was a member of the Triple Entente made a claim that Germany should pay a lump sum of money not only to the damage and loss caused but to all the expenses incurred by the entente nations during the war period .As a result of this the government of Germany had to sign a blank cheque which did not state the amount of money to be paid to each entente's state and the mode of repayment which was to be used. Due to lack of adequate funds to settle the debt, the Germany government had to ask for donations from other nations which it had to repay over a specific period of time. Again the financial reparation to the entente nation was to be settled in instalment within a given period of time other than once. This in turn had a negative implication on economic growth of German as it had to undergo through inflation and collapse of industries during the economic crisis.
Viewing it from the judicial perspective the entente nation argued out that German was to be charged of inhumane act according to the laws of the land. It stated that the act was well planned by the high government officials who according to the treaty were to be placed on trial and charged by the entente countries. Failure to abide by these meant that the entente national was going to place stiffer and harsh mechanism that was to make the Germany government to abide by the treaty conditions. One of the most accused government official with organising of war was Kaiser Wilhelm who was in power during the Weimer republic ruling.
Until the end of the First World War in 1919, Germany had not attained a democratic form of governance that allowed people to express their views, opinions and ideas on who was to represent them in parliament. It mainly relied on extension of leadership roles from the royal families where ruling was inherited from one generation to the other. It is again at this same time that Weimer republic was in existence which was a form of governance that embraced democracy among the people. This form of governance opened ways for people to vote their own leaders whom they felt had the potential of representing them effectively in parliament. The party that formed the majority of members was in better position to formulate policies that were later to be passed as laws of the land. On the other hand the leader of the ruling party was normally elected as a chancellor who worked hand in hand with the president. Consequently, the leader having the majority of members from his or her party meant those prominent ministerial positions were allocated to his party members.
Nonetheless, not too long did the Weimar republic enjoy the democratic right it had on the basis of politics. It was soon faced with challenges that later in 1930s led to its overhaul from other competing form of governance. One of the main challenges that seemed to jeopardize the whole system of governance was the fact that there were many parties that only represented a small portion of people. This in turn made it difficult for the republic of Weimer to gunner enough votes that could have made it possible to formulate policies that were to be passed as laws of the land. The most important fact that was to be taken into account is the idea of having small number of parties that were more wide spread to represent most people in the entire population other than many parties that only represented a small portion of the population. In trying to counteract this effect, it was advisable for the involved parties to form a coalition government. But this could not be attained as most of the parties were competing with each other aiming to gain high political influence in the near future.
The other problem is the fact that most people felt they had been failed by Weimar government through the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1918 the year in which the treaty was signed to end the First World War, the Weimar government was in political power. Its preceding governments had declined the role of ruling following the harsh treaty conditions that were hard to abide with. Therefore most of them were torn between a hard place and rock depriving them any choice other than withdrawing from power. Through the process of abiding to the treaty of Versailles by the government of Weimar, it opened an avenue that was to facilitate competition from other extremist parties. This was seen as a failure of the government to protect its citizens from external humiliation posed by the entente nation. It therefore meant that Weimar government had to face stiff competition from the communist party that was mainly in the left wing and more so dominate party in Berlin a capital city of Germany by then. The communists who were on the left wing included spartacist in collaboration with the nationalists who were on the right wing and comprised of Kapp Putsch in 1922.
The Spartacists, who lead by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, was a collection of fundamental communists who found popularity in the first few months after the November Armistice when Germany experienced its so-called 'Revolution'. They were named after Spartacus who led a rebellion by slaves against Romans Empire in 73 B.C. The Spartacists were essentially established in the summer of 1915 when both Luxemburg and Liebknecht left the SDP for the reason that the party's reinforced Germany's contribution in the First World War. These two extremist groups tried to seize power from the Weimar government so that to ease the harsh conditions confronted by the people. Subsequently it had to withstand the challenge posed by the Nazis party which was on the right wing and at the same time a paramilitary group. The Nazi party received support from ex-service men who had retired from the military sector which was also known as froikorps. Despite of Weimar government being democratic in its way of operation, it failed to address the problems that faced many people during that time. This made people to support the extremist wings that were mainly trying to fight for the rights of common people.
Most of the problems that faced people at that time were accredited to the state of political unpredictability that had a negative implication on the economy of Germany. Many people during this period were unable to resettle due to the reparation of the allies' nations. Quite a number of the German industries faced production and financial problems and majority of the people were unemployed. The industries faced inflation and hyperinflation conditions following the government coal mine and Rhineland which formed the main economic back bone. In addition, the generating zones were off in operation thus rendering many people unemployed and at the same time depriving the government a source of revenue to run its affairs.
Weimar republic administration can be reminisced as a democratic rule that was experienced in Germany between 1991 and 1933. However there were many challenges that confounded this form of governance at some point in its administration. In the year 1918-1923, a period associated with political instability and hard economic conditions, a new form of government was reinstated in place following the fleeing away of Kaiser Wilhelm by Frendrich Ebert. This was a temporary provincial arrangement that assisted in stabilizing the government.
In 1923 the Weimar government was faced with another challenge when it was unable to pay off the debt to its allies'. At this time the Ruhr region was the most industrialized region in Germany and was ceased by French and Belgium governments respectively following claims that Germany was unable to continue paying its debt. This in turn forced the workers to go on strike and take part in demonstrations aiming at repossessing the land. This act had a great negative implication on the Germany's economy, the main being a loss of the value of its currency through inflation and later hyperinflation. Following these problems people were ready to join any extremist group that was mandated to solve their problems even if it meant to lose democracy.
From 1923 all through 1929 the German government was improving and had attained a better economic position under the rule of Gustav Stresemann who was elected as a chancellor in 1923 and also the foreign finance secretary from 1923 to 1929. Stresemann stabilized the state of politics and improved the economic development of Germany. This was made possible following the signing of another treaty with the allies' nations to repay the money. The government of USA made it easier by granting donations to Germany so that it could settle the debts it owed to other nations. In 1925, Stresemann signed the Locarno treaty that saw the allies' nation remove its military personnel in Ruhr. He also enhanced the process of integrating Germany in the League of Nations treaty that aimed at preserving peace among the nations. The contribution by Stresemann created a channel of reviving the economy of Germany.
Stresemann also boosted the economic growth of Germany by eliminating the old currency that had less value and introducing another monetary currency. He was also devoted in initiating new housing and establishment of dole scheme that was responsible for paying money to the aged in the society. He became more popular following his enormous effort in reinstating the Germany economy back to its original state. The dramatic progress experienced in that period did not last for long because in 1929 Germany was severely affected with worldwide street wall crash. This predicament affected both directly and indirectly the economic, political and social development of the people. The government that was in power after the death of Stresemann in 1929 lacked adequate resources to face these challenges posed by the right wing extremists groups especially the Nazis movement and the economic depression in the same year. The Belgium was in power but unfortunately was not in a position to allow the government to pass the laws that it wanted. It had to encounter stiff competition from other parties that formed the majority of members of parliament.
Whereas the Weimar government was busy trying to rebuilt its economic state and attain political stability, the extremist were also strategizing on how they were going to withdraw the ruling government. One of the parties that had gained popularity among the people was the Nazis (National socialist German Workers) which had been renamed after NSDAP. This group was headed by Adolf Hitler who initially was military personnel in the ruling government. He was instructed to go and find out the emergence of another paramilitary group known as DAP in Munich which was Germanys' workers party. Contrary to his mission he found the party more interesting where he obliged to join. To him it was a chance to launch his political interest and overthrow Weimar's government. Nazis party, being one of the right wing extremist groups was against the Weimar government and wanted to overrule.
Nazis party had a mission of revising the treaty that was signed by the Weimar government in 1919 which aided in ending the World War 1. It also wanted to establish the dictatorship form of governance that had prevailed there before other than the democratic which was pioneered by Weimer government. The party also aimed at uniting all people who were Germanys' and declared its stand to non-Germans, especially the Jews community. The Jews were discriminated a lot in German and were believed to love money a lot. Jews were solid investors and shrewd business people. Nazis also believed in the spirit of superiority and wanted to conquer the Jews. The party also aimed at suppressing the pressure from their counterparts especially the communists who were their rivals in fighting against the Weimar government.
By the end of 1923, Nazis party had become popular and gained support from many people. The first election that was held the Nazi movement failed to gain the minimum required number of votes for it to be declared the ruling party. Adolf Hitler also failed to be elected as the chancellor of the Reichstag. This did not demoralize Nazis from formulating more, new strategies and mechanism that were to be implemented in future with the aim of attaining victory. The party seized money from Germany businessmen which enabled them to plan and organize their way forward in overthrowing the Weimar government. Nazis party had also to strategize on how they were going to subdue the communist extremist through the infliction of fear and threat using propaganda. Hitler also formed new organizations such as SS (Schutz Staffel) which was responsible for spying any information that was going to affect his plans and the Gestapo group. Through the learning institution, Adolf Hitler made it possible to propagate his propaganda mission by changing the system of education in Germany.
In the ministry of education the curriculum was revised to integrate the learning of language of Germany in literature. Most teachers were forced to join the Nazis party and those who failed to do so were sacked. Invading the education system enabled him to develop a new culture that was to brainwash the youth in that nation. The values, ideas and belief of his governance were going to prevent any opposition from the young generation as they were conditioned to only see the positive side of Nazis government. Adolf Hitler established a ministry under his government to oversee and control all the nation's media stations. The appointed minister in charge was to ensure that all the information being broadcasted had been effectively screened so that to sustain the good reputation of Hitler's governance. To enhance more popularity among the people, the government had placed radios in all public places such as hotels and hospitals with loud speakers so that people could have access to the information. Radio wardens were deployed to ensure that people had to listen to the information being transmitted.
In 1929 to 1934 Germany faced more challenges following the death of Stresemann and the emergence of the Wall Street crash (American Stock Exchange) that affected the economy of the whole world. The American government asked Germany to pay off its loans that it had lent to the Germany government inform of restitution to the associates' nations. In this case Germany was mostly affected as many of its people were rendered unemployed and by the end of 1932 about 5.6 million people were unemployed. Owing to severe economic conditions that came along with other problems, it made people to turn away from Weimar government to other extremist movements. The people from working class preferred to join the communist movement whereas the middle class preferred the Nazis party that seemed to promise the best life for the people. Stresemann had spent many years working to reinstate the German economy and stabilize the republic before he died, having drained himself in the procedure. Unfortunately the predicament of the Great Depression conveyed dispute to the political parties in the Reichstag. In place of building a cooperation to endorse urgently need legislation, they broke up into wrangling, stubborn groups.
In March of 1930, Heinrich Bruening, a participant of the Catholic Centre Party, came to be Chancellor. Notwithstanding the overpowering necessity for a financial program to aid the German people, Chancellor Bruening came across obstinate hostility to his strategies. To interrupt the acrimonious standoff, he approached President Hindenburg and requested him to petition Article 48 of the German constitution which granted alternative supremacies to the president to regulate by a decree. This incited an enormous tumult from the resistance, challenging removal of the decree. Bruening asked Hindenburg in July 1930 to disband the Reichstag conferring to parliamentary guidelines and call for new elections, as a final call. The elections were set for September 14th. Hitler and the Nazis sprang into action. The German people were already feed up with the political wrangling in Berlin. They were tired of desolation, tired of anguish, tired of weakness. These were desperate times and that called for desperate means and they were enthusiastic to pay attention to anybody, even Adolf Hitler.
In 1933 the president of Germany offered a chancellor post to Hitler with the aim of controlling his plans in overruling the government. The president calculated that by appointing Hitler in his government provided favourable ground to pin him down. But to his surprise Hitler used this vital chance to enhance his popularity among the people. By the end 1934, Hitler gained his position in power and become a dictator in Germany. There were various reactions from people following the appointment of Hitler in power. Most people believe that he was the one suitable in resolving the problems that faced Germany. Some held different opinions about him based on his stand remarks towards the Jews community. However, Adolf Hitler regime had both positive and negative effects in Germany economy. But most people felt that it was a better government since it helped to improve the living standards of the people compared to the humble, weak and democratic government of Weimer. As soon as Hitler and his party started reigning German, first it destabilized and then exterminated autonomous establishments and antagonistic parties.
The Nazi governance instantaneously incarcerated many Jewish citizens and resistant figures and withdrew their political constitutional rights. Hitler's Nuremburg Laws consequently dispossessed all of Germany's Jews of their political civil liberties and also of their economic assets and professional licenses, prefiguring the methodical marauding of Jewish assets throughout Nazi-occupied regions. The Nazis instigated a program of annihilation, at first through incarceration and forced labor and then by inaugurating death camps. In a cataclysm normally known as the Holocaust or Shoah, approximately six million European Jews from Germany and Nazi-occupied states were executed in these death camps and in the carnage fields set up behind soldierly lines on the Eastern Front. Hitler's henchmen also carried out a operation of ethnic execution against Europe's Roma/Sinti and murdered thousands of homosexuals, psychologically disabled people, and antagonistic figures. Nazi revanchist and domination steered to World War II, which ensued in the demolition of Germany's political and economic structures and led to its splitting up. Subsequently Germany's categorical submission on May 8, 1945, the United States, the United Kingdom, the U.S.S.R. and, later, France occupied the country and presumed accountability for its supervision. The commanders in chief applied superlative power in their particular regions and proceeded in concert on questions touching the whole country
As noted earlier the signing of the treaty of Versailles by the Weimar government in 1919, did not only affect the political trend of Germany but also its economy. Germany had to undergo harsh economic times because it had to pay the allies' nations colossal amount of money in form of reparation for the damage and loss incurred during the war period. Weakened by war it was unable to resettle the debt in time. This made the allies' nations to possess Ruhr region that had rich coal mines and Rhineland in the western part of Germany. On the other hand the government was deprived some money collected from tax. The government had to resort borrowing money from the USA government in form of donations to repay the entente nations.
In 1929 there was the emergence of Ruhr crisis which came after the death of Stresemann. The Ruhr crisis was one of the influential proceedings of the interwar period. It rose from the frustration of the French administration at what it saw as rebelliousness by German businessmen of the compensations sections of the Versailles Treaty, made worse by the deficiency of funding for France from its previous allies, Britain and the United States. Poincaré was unwavering to transform the stability of powers by spreading the Rhineland occupation into the industrial focus of the Ruhr in January 1923. The result was a pyrrhic triumph and Germany countered with 'unreceptive resistance' but by the fall was mandatory to abandon categorically as the economy of the area neared on collapse, and the need to alleviate a new currency meant that the costs of conflict could no longer be encountered. France, having faced much harder obstruction than it had anticipated, lost the political will to endure, and, under a new government, settled for the Dawes Plan which reinstated the Ruhr to German sovereignty.
During this period Germany faced many economic problems following the reparation to the allies' nations. Things changed the course when Germany was unable to settle its pay to these nations. France had to take over Ruhr region which was endowed with rich coal mines and many manufacturing industries. In turn France used to collect the money from these industries as a way of paying itself. To counteract this effect workers had to go on strikes and protest against the French and Belgium occupation in Ruhr land. But the government promised to pay off the workers' wages. As a result of lack of money the government had to print papers and gave them to the workers thus leading to inflation in the nation. The fact that the Ruhr region was occupied with France meant that many industries were bankrupt unable to pay the workers. This in turn forced the industries to lay off its workers so that it could operate at a minimal cost.
After the emergence of Ruhr crisis it followed the emergence of Wall Street crash. Wall Street crash was a great depression of the world wide economy after a collapse and decrease in American stock exchange. The monetary value of the shares had decreased tremendously that made all the businesses to collapse. There was a decline in international trade as the value of currency kept on fluctuating every time thus influence the trade in general. The price of goods and service was unstable hence affecting the rate of stock return. This economic depression made it hard for the government of America to sustain itself. It had to seize money from Germany which it had initially lent to it so that to enhance its operation. Germany being unstable by this time following the reparation of loss and damage caused to allies' nation had to use the little money it had to pay back.
Again things turned more difficult when the American government ordered the Germany government to repay the loaned money within the next ninety days. This came after the emergence of Wall Street crash in 1929. Germany at that time had no money to give out and to make matter worse most of the great nation such as France and Belgium were re-establishing themselves economically after the First World War. Having no alternative in settling the debt, it forced the Germany government to plead for some donations from the same American government.
Emergence of Wall Street crash was also associated with famine and later hunger. By the fact that most people were rendered unemployed it simply meant that most people were faced with starvation. Men who were employed in the industrial areas of Ruhr and Rhine lacked money to enable them feed their families. The government was not again in a position to contain the situation through provision of relief food as it lacked financial power to import from other nations. It is evident enough that with all the predicaments that faced people during the Weimar regime there was no positive thing that could be associated with it. People who saw no end to their suffering had no better option other than joining the extremist parties such as communist and Nazis.
In conclusion the fall of Weimar republic in Germany can be attributed to disagreement between the extremist and the Weimar government in signing of the treaty of Versailles. The political move of the time was immature to usher in a democracy form of governance other than the dictatorship that prevailed there before. Germany was not yet ready at this time to receive democracy; it was so young for democracy by then. The economic depression and its associate problems made it difficult for Weimar regime to withstand the opposing pressure from extremist thus living no alternative for people apart from supporting these wings which finally overruled it. The collapse of Weimar regime came as a result of the government strategy in trying to restore Germany in its original position. While the government was busy reconstructing its economy on one side it was compelled with opposing forces such as the political instability from extremist and the deteriorating economic challenges.