Collapse of the Weimar Republic - governments' and voters' responses to the slump

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Transcript of Collapse of the Weimar Republic - governments' and voters' responses to the slump

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Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Governments and voters responses to the slump

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Governments responsesGovernments across the world not just Weimar Germany - struggled to deal with the effects of the Depression.Many Germans believed the government did not need to intervene as the country had overcome a 1926 economic slump without state intervention.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

This led to different proposals about the German government should do to maintain the strength of the currency.Suggestions included:Cut welfare spendingRaise taxesReducing/stopping reparation payments

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

The German government found it difficult to end the crisis.The coalition nature of governments made it hard to agree actions. In March 1930 the SPD government collapsed as they could not agree on welfare cuts. German governments also feared that intervention could cause hyperinflation.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Germans governments actions were also restricted by outside groups too.Legal restrictions in the Dawes and Young Plans meant the Reichsbank could not simply print more money.Foreign investors also did not want to lend to Germany as they did not trust the currency.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Governments coped by spending less money, including making unpopular welfare cuts.From 1931, the government started spending more money (in 1931 reparation payments were suspended for a year), including on public works schemes and giving land to peasants and workers.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

German governments also introduced protectionist policies, although these arguably made the situation worse for Germany.Protectionism is when a government prioritises products from its own country over those bought elsewhere (imports). This can be done using import taxes.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Protectionist policies provided a certain benefit in that it helped some German companies to hire or retain staff.However it resulted in retaliatory policies when foreign governments did the same to German products, thus reducing exports. Also, Germans had to pay higher prices for certain products.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Voters responsesThe economic crisis especially unemployment and falling wages caused huge anger amongst Germans.As a result of this, many of them began to lose faith in the Republic and democracy, leading to growing support for extreme parties.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

During the period of economic depression there were five national elections, and also various state elections.Each of them was held against a backdrop of rising unemployment and homelessness as workers could not afford to live in their homes, often moving into shanty towns instead.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

From July 1928 to December 1932, unemployment rose from 1.25 million to 5.75 million.During this time, Nazi election votes went from around 1 million to c. 11 million.Also in this period, the Communist Partys (KPD) votes went from around 3.2 million to 6 million.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Extremist parties offered simple messages which attracted votes from desperate Germans.The Communists pledged to take control of factories and businesses in order to create work for Germans. The Nazis portrayed their leader Hitler as the only man who could save Germany.

Our last hope: Hitler

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Weimar Germany had always struggled to gain support from most Germans.The economic crisis saw the concept of democracy lose even more support. There was a huge increase in anti-democracy parties in the Reichstag, meaning parliamentary democracy could no longer function.

Collapse of the Weimar Republic

Historians views

William Carr: inconceivable that Hitler could have ever come to power without the effects of the world economic crisis.Detlev Peukert: The end of the Republic did not happen overnight and was not the product of any single set of causes.Eberhard Kolb: The downfall of the Republic was the fault of opponents that destroyed it by unscrupulous methods. Eric Weitz: The effects of war, Versailles, hyperinflation and the Depression left Germans desperate for a solution by 1932.