The Weimar Republic 1924-1929: Years of recovery and achievement?

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Jonas, Una, Lara, Monika, Kevin, Paulina, Sebastian

The Weimar Republic 1924-1929:
Years of recovery and achievement?

In 1923 the Weimar Republic had faced severe crises and had survived.

Weimar Republic lasted longer than Third Reich.

Weimar Republic mainly failed due to Great Depression in 1929.

Republic without Republicans: One of the most important aspects of a republic is democracy. From 1930 onwards the right wing parties which did not support democracy got more votes than parties which supported democracy. The term republic without republicans means that the German Republic was not supported by its people. (G: Demokratie ohne Demokraten)
The political parties in Weimar Germany
SPD: - founded in 1875

- main creator/supporter of Weimar Republic

- support from the working class

DDP: - liberal middle-class party

- played major role in drawing up the constitution

- failed to attract voters

KPD: - formed from the Spartacists

- wanted to spread Marxist ideology / soviet system

- hostile to republic and SPD

- attempted many revolts against the government -> they all failed

Z: - founded in 1870

- main goal was to protect the interests of the Catholic church in the government

-broad support across the classes (therefore Centre Party)‏

DVP: - moderate conservative party

- main support from the protestant middle-class and industrialists (free trade)

- the party moved continuously to the right

DNVP: - was the main conservative party

- was hostile to the republic but joined later in 1925 the government

- wanted to protect the interests of industrialists and big landowners

NSDAP: - like the KPD it tried to get power by revolts -> failed (Munich Putsch under Hitler)‏

- afterwards they tried it with legal electoral methods

- main support in regional elections, especially in farming areas
The elite and the parliamentary system

Elite supported Republic due to lack of better option

Industrialists: more control of wages

Landed aristocracy: more influence

Generals: army as “a state within the state”/ more authoritarian system

Many employers against democracy

Economic recovery

Allies wanted Germany to be able to pay

USA: had lent money to GB and F

Dawes Plan 1924: American loans to Germany

Prospects for economic recovery: Germany, spot for foreign investment until 1929

Some historians say: still significant problems

Rentenmark--> Reichsmark, 1924
Politics after 1923:

More peaceful but still frequent fights

Nazis (SA) vs. KPD (paramilitary Red Fighting League)‏

1924: economic situation stabilized

> main democratic parties were voted again

> DDP lost ground

Political weaknesses:

proportional representation electoral system

voting system: voters in 35 vast electoral regions voted for a party list, not for a certain representative

political disenchantment

parties divided among themselves

no symbol appealing to popular emotions

> (only ’Constitution Day’ in 1928)‏

lack of charismatic leader > people attracted by ’totalitarian temptation’

so-called political stability (1924-1928) was only stable in comparison to turmoil of 1918-1923

Elections of 1925:

Hindenburg wins, both a positive and an ominous sign for Weimar democracy (as he did not represent democracy; was the one who also put forward the stab-in-the-back myth)


Conservative View:

Critical of Weimar’s economic performance in 1920’s:

State was living beyond its means

wages increased unrelated to productivity (due to strength of trade unions and state arbitration)‏

low internal investment

persistence of high unemployment

“sick economy, which could not possibly have gone on in the same way” (Borchhardt)‏
Alternative View

-rather left-wing

main reasons for limited economic performance lay with a lack of entrepreneurial attitude

inadequate investment from industrial elite

low productivity caused by government subsidies

industrialists’ formation of cartels reduced entrepreneurial spirit

A Synthesis

- recent research after collapse of east German state

workers and employers contributed to economic weakness because:

both groups sought to defend their position

wages did rise due to local shortages

low investment caused by savers’ lack of confidence

government’s priority of trying to balance budget


Nov.1918: - 8-hour working day for workers + system of industrial tribunals

Advances in social services:- improved hospitals, schools, housing, roads, electricity supplies - 40% of federal government expenditure went on war-related pensions

1927:- social insurance scheme extended to protect over 17million workers in event of unemployment

growing tensions between employers and workers:

unemployment insurance lost financial basis by mass unemployment

elite reinforced its suspicions of new democratic system (e.g. due to high taxation)

before slump 8-hour limit extended to 10-hour limit to help employers

WELFARE STATE PROTECTED WORKERS BUT IT AROUSED RESENTMENT OF EMPLOYERS (=> cf. urban Mittelstand who later supported the Nazi Party)

Germany’s economic performance

revaluation and compensation (for money lost during hyperinflation)

Debts were reassessed at 15 % of their original value

was not a good idea, led to a so called

“long-running saga of revaluation”

- weakened the Weimar republic and kept bitterness over hyperinflation alive

After 1923 the economy improved but it’s rate was erratic

Already in 1926 there was a downturn and unemployment grew

agriculture was far worse: world surplus of grain

indebtedness and bankruptcies

the outbreak of peasant violence against eviction

“the farmer’s revenge” in 1928
The crucial gap between the middle-class and the proletariat began to disappear

the middle-class too was soon to express their resentments politically

economic performance was mixed

crucially, economic recovery was fuelled by foreign, short-term loans

“if the short-term credits are called in, a large

section of our economy would collapse”

(Stresemann, 1928)‏

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