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History

Was Weimar doomed?

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Was Hitler's success because of Weimar's failure? Was the Weimar constitution to blame or was Weimar doomed from the start?

Arguments

Throughout this section (Germany - Weimar), we have been assessing how successful the Weimar Republic was. It was beset by problems in the early years, but the stability and prosperity enjoyed by Germany during the period 1924-1929, suggests that it was successful to a degree.

However, throughout this time, Hitler and the Nazi party came to prominence and eventually gained control in 1933.

It is arguable that the problems which beset the Weimar Republic from the start finally 'got it in the end':

  • The vilification of the government as the November Criminals continued even into the 1930s, when Hitler referred to the government as the November Criminals in his election speeches.
  • The weakness of the Reichstag governments because of proportional representation continued right to the very end, and lay behind the Hindenburg/Papen deal with Hitler in January 1933.
  • Hitler used Article 48 to destroy the Republic after January 1933.

Yet:

  • The Republic lasted 13 years - the world in 1933 was very different to 1919, so there was no simplistic cause-and-effect.
  • The Republic was very successful during the period 1923-1929. When the pro-democracy parties organised themselves properly, the Republic could be very strong.
  • The Republic would have survived if Hindenburg and Papen hadn't made Hitler chancellor; the Nazis had not done as well in the November 1932 elections as they had in July 1932, and some historians believe that their appeal was beginning to wane.

The historian AJP Taylor said that there was nothing wrong with the Weimar Republic per se: he blamed the stupid men who lacked the will to maintain democracy the politicians of the Centre and Social Democratic parties, and particularly Hindenburg and Papen for Hitler's rise to power.

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