Weimar Republic 1919-1933

Strengths and weaknesses of the Weimar Republic/constitution 1919-1933

Reasons for threat of political extremism in the Weimar Republic 1919-1933

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  • Weimar Republic 1919-1933
    • Reasons for + threat of political extremism.
      • Left
        • SPD
          • committed to parliamentary democracy
        • Failure:
          • Bad co-ordination
            • Incapable of mounting a unified attack on Weimar democracy.
          • Poor leadership
            • e.g.Karl Luxemburg + Rosa Liebknecht
              • internal divisions + disagreements on tactics
          • Concessions
          • Repression
            • Authorities systematically repressed the rebels with brutality
          • KPD
            • Pressed for a workers' revolution
        • USPD
          • split
          • wanted the creation of a radical socialist society but within a democratic framwork
        • The extreme left posed much less of a threat to Weimar than was believed at the time.
          • Germany was facing a Bolshevik-inspired 'Red Threat'
      • Right
        • Anti-democracy
          • rejection of Weimar = destroy democratic constitution
        • Anti-Marxism
          • fear of communism
        • Authoritarianism
          • dictatorial regime
        • Nationalism
          • The core of the right - deeply hurt by the war guilt clause
        • A formidable threat:
          • sizable electoral base
            • 1919 more than 1/4 of the electorate voted for the right
          • extensive support - elites
          • military potential
        • Failure:
          • did not have majority support
          • weakened by internal divisions
          • Weimar republic fought back = supporters vigorously defended it.
    • Strengths  + weaknesses of the WR
      • Strengths
        • President + Reichstag voted in by suffrage (over 20)
        • Bill of Rights secured individual rights and freedoms
        • Power balance between President, Reichstag + Reichsrat
        • PR = broad spectrum of political opinion
        • Article 48 - allow the president to prevent a dictator being voted in
      • Weaknesses
        • Constitution = the product of moderate left-wing Parties = not representative of traditional Parties
        • Many of its features were not accepted i.e Bill of Rights/PR
  • PR System = gov's = short-lived + compromise difficult.
    • Weaknesses
      • Constitution = the product of moderate left-wing Parties = not representative of traditional Parties
      • Many of its features were not accepted i.e Bill of Rights/PR
  • Article 48: could be abused + undermine democracy
    • "defeated armies returned to starving homes" - British historian Elizabeth Wiskemann
      • Reasons for Left PE
        • Left
          • SPD
            • committed to parliamentary democracy
          • Failure:
            • Bad co-ordination
              • Incapable of mounting a unified attack on Weimar democracy.
            • Poor leadership
              • e.g.Karl Luxemburg + Rosa Liebknecht
                • internal divisions + disagreements on tactics
            • Concessions
            • Repression
              • Authorities systematically repressed the rebels with brutality
            • KPD
              • Pressed for a workers' revolution
          • USPD
            • split
            • wanted the creation of a radical socialist society but within a democratic framwork
          • The extreme left posed much less of a threat to Weimar than was believed at the time.
            • Germany was facing a Bolshevik-inspired 'Red Threat'
    • Reasons for Left PE
      • Had deeper roots in society.
        • Right
          • Anti-democracy
            • rejection of Weimar = destroy democratic constitution
          • Anti-Marxism
            • fear of communism
          • Authoritarianism
            • dictatorial regime
          • Nationalism
            • The core of the right - deeply hurt by the war guilt clause
          • A formidable threat:
            • sizable electoral base
              • 1919 more than 1/4 of the electorate voted for the right
            • extensive support - elites
            • military potential
          • Failure:
            • did not have majority support
            • weakened by internal divisions
            • Weimar republic fought back = supporters vigorously defended it.
      • Early 1920 events moved in its favour.
        • Reasons for Right PE
          • War Guilt Clause = article 231
          • November criminals = accepted 'shameful peace' TofV.
        • Reparations
          • Reasons for Right PE
            • War Guilt Clause = article 231
            • November criminals = accepted 'shameful peace' TofV.
        • The 'stab-in-the-back' myth = Dolchtosslegende

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