Germany 1919-1933: POLITICAL PROBLEMS

Internal Opposition outside the Reichstag

Shortly after the Weimar Republic was established in November 1918, the Sparticist movement, led by Rosa Luxembourg, attempted a putsch (political coup) in order to replace the new leadership with a Communist leadership under the instruction of the new Communist government of Russia. The success of the October Revolution in 1917 for the Russian Marxists coupled with the dire economic and military position the Weimar Government was in led the left-wing Sparticists to believe they could attempt a takeover. The rebellion was quelled however, when the Government called upon the Freikorps (a paramilitary group populated by ex-army recruits) who prevented the Sparticists from taking Berlin by force. The Sparticist rebellion was a clear and early indication of the political opposition to the Republic from the left-most side of the political spectrum.

Socialist Democratic Party formulated the Weimar Republic in 1918 headed by Ebert. Signed the Treaty of Versailles in November 1918 and were known as the 'November Criminals' as the Germans felt like they had been 'stabbed in the back.' The Treaty of Versailles was very harsh as it took away a lot of German territory, required Germany to pay reparations, their army was limited, blamed Germany for starting the war and Germany was not allowed to join the League of Nations.

The Spartacist Uprising in January 1919


The Kapp Putsch March 1920
- Right Wing uprising led by Wolfgag Kapp who headed the Freikorps (ex-army men)
- Ebert instructed the army to stop the rebellion, but the army refused to fight against the Freikorps as they had been comrades
- Ebert called for a general strike and without the help of the workers, the Putsch could not continue and so it was unsuccessful

Consequences of the Kapp Putsch
- The government could not enforce its own authority
- Showed that some Germans were in support of the new formed government because they participated in the strike

The Munich Beer Hall Putsch

Although the NSDAP or Nazi Party had a presence within the Reichstag, it was linked with several paramilitary groups across Germany and Austria. With the help of the Nazi-affiliated SA, Adolf Hitler attempted an elaborate coup in 1923, inviting several of Munich's leaders to a meeting at a Beer Hall and holding them hostage at gunpoint. After Munich's leading politicians refused to co-operate Hitler led a march on Munich which was met with armed resistance from the Munich Police. Hitler was arrested and jailed for his failed attempt at removing Munich's comparatively socialist leadership.


Internal Opposition within the Reichstag

Inside the German Parliament, the political differences between the representatives were exacerbated by the Weimar Constitution's Proportional Representation. The Reichstag consistently failed to form a majority, President Hindenburg's support throughout the entirety of his time in office from 1925 to 1933 was from various coalitions involving the Catholic Centre Party. Both the ultra-left wing Communist Party (KPD) and the ultra-right wing National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) groups desired an end to the the Weimar Republic. The "Nazis" wished for return to the autocracy of the Bismark, while the KPD intended to place control of Germany in the hands of their Marxist brethren in Russia. Such divisions ensured the Reichstag regularly appeared indecisive, as parties squabbled against a system they had no interest in supporting.

Breakdown of the Democratic Government (1930 - 1932)
People in power kept changing:
1930 - Bruning as chancellor
1932 - von Papen as chancellor
late 1932 - von Schleicher as chancellor
Both had very little support in the Reichstag

1933 - Hindenburg appointed Hiter as chancellor.


Death of Stresemann

Gustav Stresemann was elected chancellor in 1924 in the final year of Weimar Republic-founding President Ebert's term in office. Stresemann's time as Chancellor was accompanied with 5 years of relative political stability, the Dawes Plan had given Stresemann the excuse to take out extraordinary loans from the US and Britain in order to to kickstart the German economy to the point where by 1929 Germany was a major industrial power again in Europe. Stresemann's political and economic policies prevented both the extreme right and left wings of the Reichstag from making a case that the coalition government under Stresemann was ineffectual. As Stresemann's death coincided to the collapse of the NY stock exchange in 1930, the end of his life and career is considered to also be the end of the peaceful and prosperous years of the Weimar Republic.


Also Coalition Governments - frequent changing of govts, stalemates, gave rise to rule by decree by President, esp Hindenberg