- The Germans did not have any familiarity with democratic government. Coalition governments couldn’t decide how to aid Germany, and they were unable to stop domestic issues.
- The Treaty of Versailles had to be enforced by the Weimar Republic. Some people blamed their government for surrendering to the world powers.
- The stability of the middle class was destroyed by inflation, for which many felt the government was responsible.
- There were a large number of political parties, so the disenchanted were able to choose one to support.
- Hitler received backing from the middle class and anti-Communists, as well as the industrialists.
- Germany was devastated by the depression, and the Nazis were an alternative to communism that still offered relief.
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The Weimar Republic had a large number of issues from the start. Germany was used to having a leader as opposed to leading itself. Democracy was new to Germany and many were prepared to seek political leadership from the left and right wings. Strength was considered more important than policy and practicality.
The republic also suffered after the Treaty of Versailles. Many German factions attributed the harsh terms enacted by the treaty to the government. Resistance was violent and unhindered, with wavering amounts of success.
There were several rebellions. The Spartacist movement, a communist group, rose at the start of the republic in an effort to recreate the events in Russia of 1917. The Freikorps, a Munich group that rose in Hitler’s young Nazi movement called Kapp Putsch, squashed these rebellions.
The Weimar republic’s inability to contain and eliminate these rebellions was partly due to the economic struggles of the time. A damages bill of 6.6 billion pounds meant a struggling economy for years to come. The strikes in Ruhr caused French reaction that, along with the hyperinflation, only did more damage to the economy. Many were calling for a sturdier form of dictatorial government. Support was absent from all sides. Unemployment caused the lower classes to lean towards the left wing. Lack of national pride caused the right wing movements to become more popular. Economic disasters left the middle and even upper classes searching the boundaries for answers.
It was the constitution itself that truly sealed Weimar’s downfall. No political party was able to seize control. Proportional representation created many minor parties with very little political authority. In this political climate, almost nothing could be accomplished. Progressive measures would be resisted and never be enacted. It was this lack of force and failure to unite that led to the popularity of the extremist movements. Ultimately however, the law caused the failure of the Weimar Republic. According to their constitution, the president could rule by decree. This law permitted Hitler to legally take measures that guaranteed a prompt end to democracy in Germany.