.. exchange may have had a somewhat subtle effect in Germany. However, as said earlier, Germanys prosperity was merely financed by international loans and was excessively reliant on foreign investment. Correspondingly, Germany was thus forced to remain in a very vulnerable position, the results leading to the onset of depression and the virtual crumbling of the Republics very foundations in recourse to the Wall Street crash during the end of 1929. The depression that hit Germany in 1929, is said to have been the most severe economic depression in modern world history.
It devastated the lives of the urban population as well as those living in the country districts who in recourse to the economic circumstances struggled desperately. Many farmers, small businessmen and retailers were in trouble while process and wages were rising. The unemployment figures for Germany show the rapid deterioration of the economic climate. In September 1929 1.3 million employable workers were unemployed, for September 1930 the figures rose to 3 million, in September 1931 the figure was 4.35 million and by 1932 unemployment reportedly escalated to 6 million. These conditions, in addition to the loss of confidence generated overseas which resulted in the rapid withdrawal of the foreign loans Germany relied on extensively placed additional strain on the republic.
The extent to which Germany had come to rely on foreign assistance was underlined when these loans were rapidly withdrawn. The political repercussions were just as acute. To illustrate, as a consequence of the existing circumstances, unresolved issues and old determinations to destroy the Republic again resurfaced. The avowed determination of the old anti-republican elites to destroy Weimars already battered parliamentary and democratic institutions were renewed. These resulted in the renewed attacks by the extremes of the left and the right who proceeded to take advantage of the situation and manipulate it to suit their own ends.
Strikes, violence and constant bloodshed in street battles against communists, that suggestibly were deliberately provoked by the brown shirted toughs of the NSDAP soon replaced political dialogue and debate, and while the Republic had no Republican army to deal with the synchronous persistence of violence, the power of Weimar to instil democracy became largely disabled. Moreover, the continued unrest further exacerbated a general feeling of a loss of faith in the Republic and support for it therefore deteriorated. Concurrently the Republic had also been suffering from structural weaknesses which also played a major role in crippling its progress. For example, the constitution of the new Republic emerged finally from the National Assembly in July 1919. It was, on paper, the most liberal and democratic document of its kind the twentieth century had ever seen.
In practice though, it left much to be desired. One of its weaknesses was the elaborate system of proportional representation which was devised to allow for minority parties to have a share in the system of government. Unfortunately, this system also made it virtually impossible for a single party to hold a majority in the Reichstag and therefore coalition governments (never the most harmonious political arrangements) were inevitable. Coincidently, there were also so many political parties, at least six major and many more minor ones, that it was hard to form stable coalitions for effective government. Another weakness was the powers vested in the President. For instance, the President was the commander of the armed forces, was capable of dissolving the Reichstag and submitting any law passed by it to the referendum, was responsible only to the people who elected him and under the infamous Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, the President had the right to suspend civil liberties – with the Chancellors assent – in an emergency, thus giving him virtual dictatorial powers.
Chancellor Bruening was first to make use of Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution from 1930 on when he, in response to the political and social unrest incurred in Germany during that period, was provoked to rule under emergency decree. Correspondingly, politics were radicalised once more and resulted thus, in the intensifications of divisions amongst the parties in the Reichstag to an extent that parliamentary government became all but impossible. Accordingly, the Weimar constitution became unworkable as well as unwanted. Moreover, as a result of the existing atmosphere and circumstances at the time of the Republic, the Republic perhaps eventuated in not being looked at as a State in which the German people desired to live or to which they were prepared to give positive encouragement. The people, for example, may have seen the culminating economic crises as a crisis of the newly evolved system and as such saw democracy to mean national humiliation, economic disaster and personal uncertainty. The repercussions had the effects of advantaging the communists who succeeded in gaining the support of an overwhelming number of the urban workforce.
However, the main beneficiary was Hitlers party, the NSDAP, who managed to increase their seats in the Reichstag from 12-107 thus concluding in their eventuating as the second largest political party at the time. Thereafter, as the NSDAP continued to attract a positive response from the people, eventually seizing power in 1933, the Republic was doomed to eventual collapse and ultimate destruction. It is suggested that the eventual collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler to power was almost inevitable. To illustrate, as a result of the existing circumstances of economic crisis, near, if not, complete social disaster and almost universal discontent, there were ultimately only two choices left open to the German people; a narrow, army-backed Presidential dictatorship (the Communists) or a young, dynamic and broadly-based Nazi movement. For many, particularly the middle classes, the second choice was perhaps also perceived as the only choice available to them, especially as the prospect of Communist rule, with also the existing presence of Article 48 that allowed too much power to be vested in any one person, may have seemed too frightening a risk to undertake.
Indeed the contrast between the spectre of Communist disorder with the Nazis promises of law and order, economic stability, the curbing of the unions, the endorsement of traditional values and the promise to crush Marxism was at the very centre of Hitlers success. In addition, very many powerful groups preferred to lend their support to the opposite extreme, namingly, the NSDAP. Moreover, Hitler managed in transmitting his party as having the dual attraction of offering radical solutions to economic problems while upholding patriotic values. He seemingly promised something to everyone and the German people, thus responded to him as he had foreshadowed. Nonetheless, the Nazis still did not succeed in retaining more than thirty seven per cent of the vote. In November 1932 Hitler lost an additional thirty four seats. However, in as much as the acting president (von Hindenburg) allowed himself to be convinced by generals and right-wing politicians that only the Nazi leader could restore order in Germany, in the following year leadership was passed to him nonetheless.
Hindenburg, according to his lights, was a good President, at least until extreme old age rendered him helpless in the hands of his advisers. Accordingly, Hitler was made Germanys fifteenth post war Chancellor in January 1933. At this stage Germans had scarce knowledge of what the future under the rule of Hitler would mean or eventuate in. However, Hitler lost no time in a founding a harsh totalitarian state known as the third Reich which he enforced within a mere month of his appointment. The results were the destruction of a modern civilised society that turned crisis into catastrophe, bringing the democracy of Weimar to its end; its ultimate conclusion devastating the whole of Europe.
In conclusion, when assessing the reasons for the failure of the Weimar Republic and the ascent of the NSDAP to power, one has to make various considerations; for these events occurred as a result of a plurality of factors. Perhaps the most important factor was the economic crises which befell the Republic in 1923 and again in 1929. However to neglect considerations like the possibility that the revolution of 1918 failed to create institutions loyal to the new regime, that perhaps the constitution of the Republic was too idealistic and lacking in practicality, causing certain structural weaknesses and finally, that the desertion of the Republic by the masses and more powerful interests made the failure of Weimar and the rise of Hitler to power a mere matter of time would give a distorted view of the issue. Moreover, several political and social issues arose with the creation of the Republic, one of which was the influence of Imperial Germany. The Republic failed to resolve these issues and these issues created the context that made the failure of the Republic and the rise of a dictatorial leader to power possible. Bibliography : Fischer. F., (1986), From Kaiserreich to third Reich, Oxford University Press, London. Gilbert. M.,(1997), A history of the twentieth century: Volume one: 1900-1933, Bath Press, Great Britain. Gill.
A., (1994), An honourable defeat, William Heinemann Ltd, London. Ramm. A., (1984), Europe in the twentieth century 1905-1970, Longman Group Ltd, USA. Simon. T., (1983), Germany 1918-1933 revolution, counterrevolution and the rise of Hitler, Oxford University Press, London.
Peukert. D., (1991), The Weimar Republic, Penguin Press, London. Traynor. J., (1991), Challenging history: Europe 1890-1990, Macmillan education limited, London.