2.3) Germany: Political developments and the Working of Democracy, 1924-28.

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Reichstag elections and Coalition Governments:

ELECTIONS:

  • 2 elections in 1924, both showed support for parties who favoured Weimar Republic.
  • These were SPD, DDP, DVP and Centre.
  • 61%+ and 67+ voted for Pro-republic parties in May and December.
  • Nazis lost half their vote from 6.5% to 3% in May and December.
  • Communist party was ignored.
  • Nationalists decided to work with the repubulic instead of against it.
  • Nationalists electoral support fell.
  • First time ever, Conservative right wing party DNVP coalitioned with a reich government in Jan 1925.
  • Democratic parties that struggled to give stability were supported.
  • In 1928 the Nazis lost more votes but the KDP got more.
  • The Nazis were now even behind minor parties like Bavarian peoples party.
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Reichstag elections and Coalition Governments:

COALITION GOVERNMENTS:

  • 1923-1930 = 7 coalitions.
  • Weimar Governments in the golden age were more stable than those before it.
  • Support for extreme left/right parties was declining.
  • Weimar coalition were unstable. Only 6/23 cabinets from 1919-32 had majority supprt in the Reichstag.
  • Minorty parties only survived if there was some unity between a party in a coalition.
  • Many say Weimar had an endless cabinet crises.
  • Some issues wrecked a coaltition cabinet.
  • E.g. Luther's Government fell over flags when Hindenburg wanted the old imperial flag with the republic one in German consulates abroad.
  • There were problems in having a stable coaltion. Parties like SPD and DNVP wouldn't serve in the same cabinet.
  • Moderate parties didn't have enough for a majority.
  • But the 'Great Coalition of 1928' by Hermann Muller lasted for 2 years.
  • Memebers in this coaltion took a year to agree on policies but there was still conflict over budgets and foreign policy.
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Development of Political parties:

  • Better conditions in 1924-28 allowed pro-democracy parties to give a stable democratic system in which they failed.
  • Deputies in the Reichstag didn't represent their constituency.
  • Deputies were chosen via party lists to represent a large area.
  • There was no connection between them and constituents.
  • Had to bahave according to party, ignored electoral demands.
  • Many factions of parties were weakened and in a coalition cabinet were not flexible.
  • Many parties only cared for their interests.

THE SPD:

  • 1924-28, largest single party.leading role in revolution and making of Weimar in 1918.
  • Wanted a vital democratic government but was only in 1/6 of the coalition after 1924.
  • Marxist rhetoric was it's trademark in the 1860s which meant that it made the SPD inflexble on important issues.
  • Was more effective as opposition than governent.
  • Linked with tradeunions appealling to industrialist.
  • Wasn't liked by Farmers, young or middle class.
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Development of Political parties:

THE CENTRE PARTY (ZENTRUM):

  • Defended interests of Roman Catholics.
  • Was supported by industrialists, farmers and landlord.
  • Party was flexble but divided on social/economic issues.
  • Was vital for democracy, was in every coaltion.
  • But in 1928 it drifted to the right as Heinrich Bruning was more right wing than Marx.

DDP:

  • Declined in mid-1920s, was liked by academic and professional groups.
  • Gave impression that it had intellectuals that had limited experience.
  • Had internal disputes.
  • But still wanted success in democracy and was in every coaltion.

DVP:

  • Conservative, but like DDP wanted democracy and was in all coaltions
  • Supported by industrialists, leading figure was G. Stressemann.
  • Became more right wing and pressure group like after Stressemann's death.
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Development of Political parties:

THE DNVP:

  • Conservative nationalists, extended from supported landowners to industrialists, proffessional groups and workers.
  • Was anti-democratic and wanted a monarch back, resented the TofV.
  • Anti-Weimar, refused to join coalitions.
  • But party became more diverse, divided internally as young members agreed with democratic parties.
  • Joined Luther and Marx cabinet in 1926 and 27.
  • Hungenburg took over when it lost great support and restored it's old ways of anti-democracy.
  • Allied with the Nazis against the young plan.

THE NSDAP (NAZIS)

  • Declined after failed Munich Putsch and had to reflect.
  • Hitler wrote Mein Kampf and thought of different tactics in prison.
  • He decided to win mass support rather than an armed overthrow.
  • Hitler was released early from prison and wanted to rebuild the party.
  • But his party and stormtroopers were banned in organisations.
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Development of Political parties:

NSDAP (NAZIS) CONTINUED:

  • Until 1927 he was banned from speaking and used the time to reorganise the party.
  • At the end of 1927 he had 75k members and 7 deputies it the Reichstag.
  • They wanted broad support and concentrated on rural areas and Protestant north.
  • Lost 100k voters in 1928 elections, but in the north their vote got 18%.
  • In October 1929 they had 150k followers and had their first town council.
  • Nazis were now reviving.

THE KPD COMMUNISTS:

  • Largest party outside Russia. Had support in vital industry places like the Ruhr, Saxony and Hamburg.
  • Wanted to overthrow the Weimar.
  • Policies and Tactics were influences by Soviet Union.
  • E.g. During the crises of Hyperinflation and occupation of the Ruhr the KPD was told in Moscow to revolt in Saxony and Hamburg.
  • After 1924 they were told to attack the SPD instead of Nazis.
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1925, election of Hindenburg as President:

  • Ebert, the first president died in 1925.
  • Full national/constitutional election had to be held for his successor.
  • If candidate never got 50% in the first round, their would be a second round, like UK's AV.
  • Karl Jarres (right wing), Otto Braaun (SPD), Wilhelm Marx (Centre), Thalmann (KPD) and Ludendorff (Nazis).
  • Jarres got most votes but no majority, SPD were 2nd.
  • Jarres withdrew and Hindenburg took over.
  • SPD thought Hindenburg would do less well than Marx compared to Braun and removed it's candidate to aid Marx.
  • Hindenburg, Marx and Thalmann were left.
  • The left vote was split because of Thalmann's candidacy and Hindenburg won with 48%.
  • SPD got 45%.
  • Hindenburg was a war hero, authoritarian, many saw him as moving away from democracy.
  • Many said his winning was the start to restore the old order.
  • But many thought wrong, he encouraged many parties in the Reich to work with him.
  • He obeyed the constitution and never abused his powers.
  • He helped anti-democracy parties like DNVP make democracy work.
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Attitudes to the Republic:

  • Many parties wanted politcal advantage over national interest.
  • In the early 1930s Hindenburg became impatient and his party moved carefully with the economic issues.
  • He used power to rule by decree routinely, so after 1925, presidential power was with a man with no belief in democracy and interest to defend it.

ATTITUDES OF THE ELITE AND SOCIAL GROUPS:

  • The old elites who were fond of the army, civil service and judiciary were against democracy and linked Weimar to betrayal.
  • It hated it even more after the TofV, political and economic crises at the start of the republic.
  • Hindenburgs victory actually made a bit of ammends as it brought back an authoritarian government.
  • But many industrialists felt that Weimar never kept their promises and how they used the army/police against politicians showed how demcracy was failing.
  • Mittlestand was important for moderate parties in making Weimar succeed.
  • Couldn't generalise mittlestand as it was diverse with wealth, religion and party.
  • But lower mittlestand lost out during hyperinflation and weren't represented.
  • Stressemann brought economic stability and Hindenburg Political stability.
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