Political instability and Extremism 1919-24

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  • Political Instability and Extremism 1919-24
    • The Problems of Coalition Government
      • The electoral system was based on proportional representation - so no party could ever become a government alone
        • Therefore there were a lot of coalitions
      • Many parties were focused on the overthrowing of the republic
        • This left the moderate middle parties (SDP + Centre Party + DDP) to form stable coalitions
      • Society became more polarised and support for moderate parties lessened
        • After June 1920 the SDP ceased taking a leading role in government due to internal divisions
      • Between Feb 1919 + Nov 1923 there were 10 coalition governments
        • It was the extreme anti-democratic parties which benefited from undermining the confidence in the democracy
    • Challenge from the Left
      • On 5th Jan 1919 the Sparticists staged an armed uprising in Berlin.
        • It was poorly supported and prepared
          • General groener was forced to use the Freikorps (as there were few military unites under his command) to put down the revolt
            • The defeat of the uprising deepened the division on the left further
      • The KPD (Communists) had only minority support in Germany -and did not have the support or determination to lead a communist revolution.
        • The workers' then turned to supporting the RIGHT
      • The fear of a red (Communist) revolution led many to support the right
    • Challenge from the Right
      • There were many competing right-wing groups with different objectives
        • These divisions weakened the right's power to overthrown the government
      • The Kapp Putsch 1920
        • General Von Luttwitz refused to disband one of his Freikorps groups when the defence minister (Gustav Noske) demanded
          • Luttwitz marched his troops on berlin to protest - supported by Wolfgang Kapp
            • General Hans Von Seeckt and Ludendorff were non-committal
            • The Unions called a general strike.
              • The regular army was called on to bring the revolt down,  but they would not fire on other troops.
                • Within 4 days the Putsch collapsed - Kapp and Luttwitz were forced to flee
                  • Lessons from it: Army couldn't be trusted; civil servants could be disloyal; the workers as a group could show their power, without the army the government was weak
                    • Judges showed leniency to the right wing in the trials
      • Political Assassinations
        • In August 1921 the former finance minister was assassinated by 2 members of the terrorist league the Organisation Consul
          • Erzberger had signed the Treaty of Versailles + was a representative on the Reparations Committee
        • Hine 1922 the foreign minister Walter Rathenau was murdered for being a Jew + a minister in the Republican government
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