Opposition from the right Essay
Intro- Mainly conservative forces such as the army, industrialists, landowners and other members of the elite. Many were members of the DNVP (German National People’s Party).
Also the Freikorps (Free Corps) and paramilitary groups which had thrived in post war Germany. Numerous Völkisch groups (national groups-concerned with Germanic identity) that had roots in pre-war period.
They resented the Weimar Government blaming them for the harsh Treaty of Versailles and the ‘stabbed in the back’ myth. Many extreme rights wanted an ‘authoritarian-nationalist regime’ – government led by a single leader who would restore Germany’s greatness. They rejected the Weimar system and its principles.
Things to talk about
Right wing Assaniations
General Ludendorff, Wolfgang Kapp and General Von Lüttwitz-
- There were many on the political right in Germany who wished to see the new republic overthrown by force. The issue of supposed “Stab in the back” simply strengthened their resolve.
- Amongst those violently opposed to the Weimar Republic were General Ludendorff and Wolfgang Kapp, who formed the National association in October 1919 to raise support for their cause. Kapp in particular wished to see the restoration of a monarchy. General von Luttwitz, who was a leading organiser of the Friekorps, joined them in their conspiracy.
Meeting Treaty restrictions: Disbanding
- As the terms of the Treaty of Versailles demanded a reduction in the numbers in the army to 100,000, so the state started to disband various units. It was against this background that the conspirators were able to find support for an uprising.
- In March 1920, the government ordered the disbanding of the Ehrhardt Marine Brigade who was stationed in Berlin. The leader of the brigade was Hermann Ehrhardt, who was a leader in the Friekorps.
Rejecting the disbandment and seizure of government buildings
- Luttwits rejected the disbandment and on the 13 March, used 5,000 troops from the brigade to seize government buildings in Berlin
Army’s refusal to attack the Friekorps
- Only the commander-in chief of the army General Reinhardt, was prepared to use force against the uprising, but all other commanders were unwilling to release troops. The government fled to Stuttgart.
- However, the Putsch collapsed because the trade unions called a general strike and the cautious civil service refused to accept Kapp’s orders. The unions’ strike was so effective because it included workers from the key industries of electricity, water and gas
Key lesson about the Kapp Putsch
- When the Weimar Government ordered the army to fire/disband Kapp and the Freikorps they were exposed to the their ultimate weakness.
- General Hans von Seeckt told Ebert, “Troops do not fire on troops...”
- In effect, the Kapp Uprising showed that the Weimar Republic could not fully rely on army support (especially in right wing uprisings.)
- striking workers had helped ensure the collapse of Kapp’s uprising but many remained on strike after the uprising. They hoped to receive concessions from the govt. they had just helped.
- The Kapp Putsch had sparked a series of strikes and a huge Spartacist revolt occurred in the mining region of the Ruhr.
- Under the new coalition led by Hermann Muller the army was sent in to put down these strikes.
- In Bavaria the SPD government was replaced by a right wing party.
- Govt. took no action against General Hans von Seeckt and other army leaders for their lack of support.
Bavarian Uprising- Right Wing Control
- Left Revolutionaries temporarily gained control in Bavaria.
- After overthrow of Bavarian monarchy and creation of Republic on 7 November 1918, there had been political confusion.
- March 1919- a soviet republic was proclaimed, which created Red Guards(armed socialist workers) and workers’ councils.
- In May 1919, this was bloodily suppressed by the Freikorps (700 killed) and a right wing govt. was established.
- Bavaria became a an ideal place for extreme right wing groups to flourish.
- Between 1919-23 Weimar politicians lived in fear of political assassination.
- Some right-wing Germans resorted to murder to weaken the new parliamentary democracy.
- Lenient attitude of conservatives judges (kept in their positions by new govt.) reinforced the trend.
- Hundreds of devoted servants were assassinated, including Walter Rathenau.