How Did the Weimar Republic Survive 1919-24?
How did the Weimar Republic Survive 1919-24? During the time the Weimar Republic were in government, they faced a number of serious threats to power coming from various opposing parties and lack of support. These threats came from the left and right wing, and more-over problems such as the Treaty of Versailles and hyperinflation also sufficiently hindered the Weimar’s success. However due to several contributing factors the Weimar was enabled to overcome these seemingly insurmountable problems and survived from 1919-1924.
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The Weimar Republic was the name given to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government, with leader Friedrich Ebert. The Weimar’s main aims were to work towards a more democratic, fair Germany, replaced what was essentially a state under autocratic rule. The Germany with which Ebert was left to reform was one of depression, instability and overcome with division in the people. Ebert promised freedom of speech, improved working conditions and a democracy to be put in place.
From the beginning the Weimar’s prospects did not look good; the change from the traditional autocratic Germany to one of democracy would require an instant change and acceptance from the German people. However the Weimar managed to gained support as having lived under the rule of Kaiser and its consequences, many people welcomed democracy as positive change. Another threat came from the Left Wing Communists, a group known as the Spartacists led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknect. They argued strongly against Ebert’s plans for a democratic Germany and seemed to impose a threat to the Weimar’s power.
However Ebert successfully managed to suppress this threat with the aid of a group of anti-communist soldiers known as the Freikorps. The Freikorps crushed revolts led by the Spartacists, removing potential threat. Communist revolutionaries lacked support and never gained more than 15% in elections, as their main audience being the working class heavily supported Ebert’s SPD. Therefore even with the system of Proportional Representation, they never had a major or influential say in matters. Moreover the Communists lacked organisation in their movements and strength in arms so lessening their threat to the Weimar.
A further threat came from the Right winged opponents, these being traditionalists who had grown up successful in the days of the Kaiser and liked the idea of Germany under autocratic rule. Ebert’s right-winged opponents imposed a greater threat than of those from the Left mainly because they were strong militarily and held positions of high power in society, restricting what the new Weimar government could do. Rebellions were held such as Kapp Putsch in 1920 and The Munich Putsch in 1923 however both times the opposition were defeated.
During Kapp Putsch, 5000 Freikorps were led into Berlin and Ebert’s army refused to fire on them; help came nevertheless from the support by the German people to preserve the Weimar. A strike was thus declared in order to bring the capital to a halt and drive out Kapp, therefore the Weimar survived due to its support and use of passive resistance. Another attempted rebellion led by Adolf Hitler took place in Munich 1923; this rebellion was quickly overcome as the police forces arrested those involved.
Moreover what hindered the right wing parties from success in power was the lack of support they received from the German people, during the years of 1919-24 the Nazi’s appealed to only a select group of people, therefore limiting their audience. Another flaw of those on the right was that during those years they did not have a distinct leader, therefore their campaign and ideas could not be put forward in an orderly manner, to rival that of Ebert’s. Finally Germany under the Weimar was slowly beginning to re-build and prosper, especially under the Stresemann and during the Golden Years, the society and the economy flourished.
Therefore the people found no need to vote for the extremists such as the Communists or Nazis as life seemed comfortable. The Invasion of the Ruhr imposed a further danger to the survival of the Weimar. In consequence to Germany not being able to pay instalments of the reparations, the French invaded the Ruhr in 1923 to take what was owed in the form of raw materials. The German people retaliated in support of the Weimar once again, carrying out passive resistance to drive out the French. These incidents again show how the bulk of the German population was prepared to support the Weimar Republic.
Hyperinflation posed a severe problem for the people of Germany and the Weimar. The government had turned to the attractive solution printing money in order to pay off was loans. Although this led to a vicious chain reaction where money lost its worth, therefore leaving Germany’s economy in tatters. The situation that faced the Weimar seemed unfeasible, and their survival hung in the balance. However, the Weimar survived thanks to Gustav Stresemann, who called in the worthless marks and burned them, replacing them with a new urrency called the Rentenmark, eliminating Hyperinflation. The Rentenmark allowed Germany to start clean, with a fresh economy on which they could expand and prosper. Stresemann continued to be a great asset to the Weimar government as he significantly improved German life, upholding the Weimar. Not only was Hyperinflation eliminated, Stresemann managed to secure the Dawes Plan by which reparations payments were spread over a longer period and 800 million marks were loaned from America into the German industry. Reparations began to be paid off and exports increased.
Moreover Europe gradually coming out of the post-war depression slowly helped build up Germany’s wealth and support. Furthermore new governments in France and Britain in 1924, gave more sympathy to Germany as they were willing to forget the former war antipathy. Culture also managed to thrive under Stresemann with the arts flourishing. This cultural revival made for an alive and liberated public where they felt content with their lives under Weimar rule. Even politics also became more stable as the Republic was settled and people reconciled to its way of life.
These years of positive change became known as the “Golden Years. ” Therefore in can be concluded that, the Weimar Republic did indeed face numerous problems from many angles and the road to prosperity and distinct rule was unquestionably a struggle. However from 1919-24 the Weimar did manage to survive, due to various contributing factors. Clearly not all aims or complete support were achieved but they remained firmly in control managing to improve Germany and lift it from its state of post-war depression drastically.