The Weimar Republic had signed the Treaty of Versailles, 1919, which increased their unpopularity. The Germans hated the Treaty because they saw it as accepting the blame for causing the First World War and admitting defeat. Also, the Treaty came with very harsh including paying reparations of £660 million to Britain and France. The people of Germany did not understand why the government signed this questioned whether they wanted the best for Germany. The hatred for the Weimar Republic kept on growing and this led to the Kapp Putsch, 1920.
As well as the Depression, the collapse of the Republic can be linked to a large number of factors, including the influence of the army, political instability and constitutional weaknesses. One of the most consequential outcomes of the Depression was the opportunity that it provided Hitler. A majority of the citizens lost faith and belief in the current Social Democratic government, turning instead to the confident and dynamic leader of Hitler. As Evans asserts, ‘citizens began to see in the youthful dynamism of the Nazi Party as a way out of the situation’. What Evans means by this is that the desperation of the people led them to polarising their votes and seeing radical leaders like Hitler as a solution to the mess that Germany had become.
Germany was not happy about losing all this land as it made them smaller, it damaged the economy and they lost colonies to make them look stronger and to help them if another war broke out. Another reason Germany was unhappy was because they were force to take war guilt. Germany had to take all of the blame for the war. This made Germany angry as they did not actually start the war and there were other people involved. Germany also had to pay reparation.
The elite undermined Weimar as a result of their traditional values and hatred of democracy. In addition, Hitler’s radical new approach to politics utilised the weaknesses in Weimar – he was charismatic and through propaganda convinced the public that he could be their saviour. During the years 1918-28 the Nazis had little impact on the political scene – apart from the failed Beer Hall Putsch, which did earn them admiration from some nationalists. However, during these years, some sections of the public were becoming increasingly disillusioned with Weimar. This was due to events like the devastating 1923 hyperinflation, and of course the Treaty of Versailles, which had tainted Weimar’s reputation from its inception.
The politicians, who signed the peace treaty on behalf of Germany, were named and shamed as ‘stabbing Germany in the back’. This notion was emphasised by opposing political parties who were egger to take any opportunity to make these politicians look bad to the people of Germany. Germany was a militaristic state which and the republic was not going to succeed with so many opposing forces such as ex-soldiers who were willing to fight any rivals. The treaty of Versailles caused a profound sense of injustice and resentment amongst the German people therefore this translated into hatred of democracy. The treaty was not the only reason for the failure of the Weimar Republic, issues such as the period time and the great depression contributed to this also.
A lot of Germans thought that the Treaty undermined Germany though it was initially set up with the intentions of becoming a peace agreement between Germany and its allies. In 1918 Germany became a republic and the Weimar constitution took force on the 11th of August 1919. The Weimar republic, which was a democratic, yet flawed system, wasn’t well liked by Germany because it had signed the Treaty of Versailles. Another reason why the Germans had a negative attitude was because when the Weimar was signed many people saw the leaders and socialist politicians as “stabbing Germany in the back.” (Geary 1993: 14) The Treaty became widely known as Diktat because the Germans found it so oppressing and it was so humiliating. The Treaty of Versailles did many things to Germany, but some of the most consequential points of all were that; Germany was forced to accept the blame for WWI, it had to pay £6,600 million in reparations, their army was reduced to just 100,000 men and a lot of their territory was given up to Great Britain and France.
There were a number of factors throughout the period 1919-1934 which were responsible for the downfall of the Weimar Republic. The Weimar Republic's inability to deal with the increasingly dominant economic and social issues in Germany caused discontent throughout the country and consequently caused the German citizens to doubt the Republic. The actions of Hitler and the Nazi party were also a significant contributing factor to the destruction of the Weimar Republic, as as they gained support through their use of legality, propaganda and violence support for the Weimar Republic decreased. However the Weimar Republic's inability to deal with the problems of Germany was a more significant factor than the rise of the Nazis, as their failures were the main reason behind why the Nazis were able to gain power, demonstrating the Weimar Republic was mainly responsible for its own destruction. The failure of the Weimar Republic to fix the increasingly pressing problems of Germany consequently contributed massively to their downfall, as it demonstrated their weakness.
Fighting between some of the leading Nazi’s also meant that it would have been near impossible to put together an effective economy with all missions heading towards the same aim. It is fair to say that the strengths towards this statement highly outweigh the weaknesses, as the war economy was very poorly coordinated due to the many factors that contributed to German war production decreasing. In February of 1942, Albert Speer was appointed as Minister of Armaments, which at the time was a crucial role in the Nazi’s dominant mechanism. This was became the centralising ministry amongst all
Source 1 seems to suggest that the Kaiser was the main cause of many of the problems apparent in Germany were due to the unchallengeable authority of the Kaiser. “It was the Kaiser…who insisted on exercising that authority” suggests that the dominance of the Kaiser was responsible for creating a lot of the problems in early 20th century Germany. This view is also shared by the historian John Rohl, who argued that Germany “was run as a ‘functioning monarchy’ with power concentrated in the hands of one man”, and therefore the Kaiser alone was responsible for successes or problems. Source one also suggests that the Kaiser “was responsible for ruining Germany’s relationship with Britain”. A key example of this would be the “Kruger telegram”, in which the Kaiser sent a personal telegram to President Kruger of the South African Republic, congratulating him on defeating British raiders.
Several attempts from both the left and right sides of government tried to imbue the nationalistic beliefs that were embodied in Germany before they were destroyed by their humiliating defeat in WW1. These include the Spartacist uprising, the Kapp Putsch and the Munich Beer Hall Putsch. The disillusionment felt by the people and their need to restore pride in their nation influenced many factors that led to the failure of the democracy, and to the rise of the Nazi political party and its leader Adolf Hitler. In hindsight, a mixture of political, social and economic issues, combined with nationalistic goals give grounds to the reason that nationalism mainly brought about the fall of the democracy of the Weimar Republic in Germany. By the outbreak of WW1 in August 1914, Germany was well established as a major and prominent world power.