There has been so much talk about the Weimar Republic lately that I thought we could use a little review.
What I like about this article is this quote:
The government, composed of members from the assembly, came to be called the Weimar coalition and included the SPD; the German Democratic Party (Deutsche Demokratische Partei--DDP), a descendant of the Progressive Party of the prewar period;
HA! I knew the progressives were mixed up in this somehow.
This government started out with the right idea, mix of power between the president and the parliament. Where they went wrong was giving the president the power to dismiss the cabinet, dissolve the Reichstag, and veto legislation.
This government was not totally accepted by the populace at large and very severe political battles and unlikely alliances plagued it's entire existence. The extreme right worked with the Communist party (KPD) towards its destruction. The VersaillesTreaty laid the groundwork for it's demise. It never stood a chance.
All this infighting resulted in nothing getting accomplished to help stabilize what was in effect a new nation. Violence was rampant and many do not know but it was at this time Youth paramilitary groups came into existence. There were as many as five different political parties with no one gaining enough support to take control. Multiple coup d'état usually ending in defeat, some for as simple a reason as a general strike!!!
The republic was falling more and more behind on it's reparations payments as stipulated in the treaty. There were incursions by French and Belgian troops trying to collect their payments. The government response? They halted all industrial activity! A nation already burdened with high unemployment and now industry at a standstill.
There were indeed wheelbarrows of cash needed for purchases of food items. What jobs there were, paid employees twice a day in cash, so the workers could run make their purchases before the prices went even farther up.
Chancellor Stresemann formed a new coalition and somehow managed to gain cooperation between the different factions, although limited. The economy began a short lived recovery. Short only because of the depression and the Wall Street crash. Loans were re-called which Germany could not pay. The easing unemployment once again skyrocketed.
Were it not for the Great Depression, Hitler may not have found an opportunity (or a crisis to take advantage of) to come to power.
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