How stable was the weimar republic between 1925 and 1929

I am going to look at the years of 1925 to 1929 and establish how stable they were politically and economically for the Weimar republic.

First of all I need to determine what is meant by ‘stable’. In today’s context I suppose it would mean a well ordered, prosperous society led by a democratic leader seeking to better the country. This is my interpretation and as such is not universally accepted, in fact it maybe unique to me but never the less will be used as a platform for comparison.

To go back to the time however and contrast 1925-29 with 1918-23 would make it seem considerably more stable than what we might call stable today.

To try and better understand the divisions within the republic we have to look at the foundations. The Germans had been forced to agree to armistice terms offered by the allies due to SPD action in causing disruption in government. I believe this won them no friends.

As such the republic was forced upon the German people, so from the start the democracy was unwelcome by the right and more extreme left wing groups such as communists (KPD) and Spartacists. Elite’s supported the republic through fear of alternatives; many key figures in society; judges and civil servants disliked republic! And few among opinion formers tried to win support for the republic (church, newspapers). In addition to this the republic was founded on a lost war which Germany was made responsible for, the infamous article 231 which many Germans resented.

All this adds to the instability of the Weimar Republic

It is the view of Kurt Borchard that the years of 1924 – 29 were years of ” slow growth and relative stagnation” and as like myself this view is widely accepted by many.

However I feel it is taken out of context and the years 1925-29 were not so unstable. There are many arguments that support my case.

The (Charles) Dawes plan is a foreign, American plan, helping Germany to try and secure its economy, which is of even more importance considering The Treaty of Versailles left Germany militarily weak. This can be seen as a positive move by the allies to co-operate with Germany and help prevent any recurrences of hyperinflation.

However stabilising the plan is there is still going to be resentment in one form or another. As the Germans are still paying it means they are still responsible for the war, an idea which many disliked. However the opposing argument to this is that a right wing anti-Weimar party the DNVP helped push it through the Reichstag which meant people were willing to work within the framework of democracy to better the country and were coming round to the idea of its existence.

This is further verified if we look at 1926-28 where the returning vote for mainstream pro-Weimar parties, at the expense of the anti-republican right, indicates lack of economic turbulence and a stable situation.

It is not just at home in Germany that we can look at, the Stresemann years of 1923-29 can be looked upon in many respects as a success for a number of reasons.

His policy of forfillment won him many supporters, some 700, 000 protested in Berlin at his murder alone. The policy proved to the allies that the terms of the treaty were unworkable and as such a revision of Versailles would be needed. Although it was not the revision of article 231, which arguably means he failed in his foreign policy objectives, but the sums of money that were to be paid that were revised and lowered.

The Loacarno Pact of October 1925 can be seen as a point, which proves divisions will always remain no matter what. In 1926 Steresmann won the Nobel Peace prize for his contributions to the new atmosphere of co-operation, i. e. the locarno pact. Yet many Germans saw the locarno pact as benefiting the French only and further more the league of nations was seen as the enforcer of versailles so entry into this was unwelcomed by many. So no matter what Steersman did he could not win!

There is a strong thought that if Stresemann could have had article 231 revised then the Weimar Republic would have been greatly stablaised due to the war guilt clause being dropped. In addition would have resolved reperation payments, but as he failed in his main foreign policy objective it did the republic little good.

I feel that Stresemann failed in his foreign policy, to a certain degree, because of his political background. He was a national liberal that felt the way forward was to accept the republic. This however was not what the nationalistic right felt but what the more moderate left favoured. However due to his nationalistic past he was un-trusted politically by the left and lost favour with the right.

In addition to this there is strong evidence to suggest that although Stresemann did well with foreign policy his achievements were to subtle to be greeted enthusiastically by the majority so lost favour politically and did not do enough to motivate the German population.

Politically the country was considerably more stable than previous years as the number of governments appointed fell dramatically but voting patterns in 1928 show a drift away from the centre parties before the 1929 crash and that growing disillusion with the republic was increasingly shown at elections

There is further evidence to suggest that the Weimar republic was unstable in the May election of Alfred Hugenburg. In 1928 he was elected leader on an anti-democratic platform after the Lambach article tried to trigger a change in policy. This election clearly shows the antidemocratic feeling around and brought the DNVP closer to the NSDAP (Hitler)

From the evidecne I have been presented with I can safely say that the years 1925-29 were unstable. The extent to which they were unstable is still an issue of great debate amoungst historians. From the evidence presented I believe that the country was put under pressure to accept something it did not want from the start and then forced to pay for a war which it did not start. If you look at it in that respect it is hardly surprising that it was unstable.

The economy was put under heavy pressure as a result of hyperinflation and was still recovering from its effects afterwards, the Dawes plan did a lot to stabalise the economy but it made the german recovery too dependant on american loans which would eventully lead to trouble and did in 1929. Stresemann’s great success outside his country was marred by article 231, if he had achieved in his aims and changed article 231 it could have been a very different story but as it stood article 231 remained in the treaty, and remained despised by the people.

Polotical stability rose after 1924 but that was compared with the turmoil of earlier years, the instabililty is further verified by employers trying to claw back the initiative they felt they had lost to the trade unions, which were seen by many as to powerful. It is argued that they squezed profits and middle class income thus hindered the economy. To couple this with 210, 000 workers locked out in 1928 it is quite plain that there is social and political unrest in all areas of the Weimar republic.

The social effects of the Weimar republic were to greatly upset the country the fears of cultural decay were politicised by the right and blamed by the lazy, un-German Weimar republic. I feel this is a major part as although it did not do anything to affect the things such as article 231 it played a major part in peoples social lives and if they don’t feel secure in themselves then it is not going to help the republic any as it promotes this alien form of culture

Therefore I believe that the country was stable compared with 1918-23, if it weren’t then i hardly think they would be called ‘The Golden Years’, but were unstable enough to cause the events to happen which happened, and the wall street crash was a major player as it caused the depression but even without the crash the country was still unstable.