Weimar Germany Summary


Weimar Germany Revision

Interpretations of the Weimar Republic

·         It was doomed from the start

·         The republic had the potential to succeed & failed due to specific circumstances and misfortunes

Differences between the two views in…

1)      Possibilities of Liberals unifying Germany in 1848

View One – feeble attempt, failed

View Two – brave attempt by liberals, combination of conservative rulers and foreign powers crushed them

2)      Reasons for WWI

View One – aggressive ideas became widespread, wanted to dominate Europe. Grasp for power caused war

View Two – threat from socialist movements in Germany, government saw minor gains abroad as a way to distract from this. British and French were jealous of upstart state and this led to war

3)      Reasons for failure of Weimar Republic

View One – democratic ways went against Germanys traditional militaristic values so failed to gain support

View Two – Treaty of Versailles and Great Depression caused major problems leading to the gamble of appointing Hitler as ruler as he was anti-communist (mistake of the elites)

4)      How Hitler came to power

View One – the people voted him to power

View Two – he skilfully exploited nationalist resentment and fear, manipulating people to get him to power

5)      Efficiency of the Nazi regime

View One – very efficient, embarked on plan to rid Germany of Jews and sub-humans

View Two – impressive looking to mask the chaos of different interests

6)      Reasons for WWII

View One – Hitler prepared for war, was purposely looking for it to spread power

View Two – war was stumbled into after feeble western democracies encouraged Hitler to revise Versailles and misunderstanding on attack on Poland lead to war

7)      Nature of post-war Germany

View One – Nazism lurked beneath the surface and Germans still wanted to express their power

View Two – prosperous parliamentary regime, east and west peacefully reunited in 1990 after popular revolution

Weimar Positives and Negatives

Positive Signs

Negative Signs

Removal of Kaiser (November 1918)

Anger regarding WWI

Previous attempts to set up democracy (1848)

Militaristic traditions – militaristic leaders

Had an elected Reichstag with some powers (to approve laws) and political parties

Democracy was unpopular with the most powerful/key groups in society (army, civil service, judiciary, landowners – Junker Class)

Well educated population

Tradition of authoritarian leadership – Kaiser and Chancellor

Advanced economy

Potential economic problems

Liberal cultural traditions

Communist and right wing threats


World War One

Reactions: majority of Germans supported (even socialists who opposed nationalism), felt it was defensive against aggressive enemies (Britain, France, Russia), hoped for quick victory, period of patriotism – Volksgermeinschaft (people's community)

War: quick victory plan failed, two fronts – mostly eastern (Russia), naval blockade – seven shortages by 1917, support for the war broke down – socialists opposed, 2 million killed, 5 million injured by 1918

Defeat: Autumn 1917 – economic and military crisis, April 1917 – USA joined allies, Germany's allies on verge of…


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