Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Leticia Lyons
Last updated: November 14, 2019
There are many, many articles in the Weimar constitution that concern the welfare of the German public, and not only is it irrelevant to mention them all but also tedious – however the basic concepts are important, and they did to a certain extent exist in this large document. Germans had the right to form societies – as long as they weren’t breaking the laws and freedom of elections and secret voting were guaranteed. School attendance was compulsory, up to the age of 18 and all who lived by the constitution were entitled to a right to freedom of faith in which they worshipped.So far – so good. As suggested earlier, all of these principles sound sweet and one could think that with these basic human rights in place the country would be easier to run, the inhabitants happier and the German public would benefit throughout the Weimar constitution: so did the Germans benefit? One of the most well known problems with the Republic was the Economic Disaster.
The disaster came around as a result of the level of reparations set by the Allies at the treaty of Versailles.Once Germany realised she couldn’t repay payments, and consequently stopped paying them, the Allies got uneasy – which may or may not have been indirectly caused by the Dawes Plan (Monetary Cycle): Because of the tension of the Allies, because of the lack of repayments from Germany – the French occupied the Ruhr, in order to try and take what they felt was rightfully theirs. The German government ordered passive resistance from the workers of the Ruhr, which was one of the major economic profit-spinners of Germany.The government agreed to pay the wages of the workers for the passive disobedience, and finding that they could neither pay these, nor the repayments began deficit financing. This caused hyperinflation – and money became simply worthless.
The middle and upper classes were dreadfully affected, as their hard earned money suddenly became worthless. People were being paid – but having to take their wheelbarrow to collect all of the money, such was the scale of the inflation. The only thing that really retained its wealth was property.The deficit financing, intentional or not (to appear unable to pay repayments and thus have them lowered) not only crippled the nations economy – but crippled the German public also – by all accounts, for the public it was not a smart move. The German public also suffered a depression – which was in total fairness to the German government, a worldwide one as a result of the Wall Street crash in 1929 – 6 years after hyperinflation. Even through this depression the Germans only recognised the good parts of their economy – and believed thus that Germany had a strong and thriving economy.
They were wrong however – Germany had been in economic trouble since the end of the First World War – and probably before. The wall street crash, which lead to the world wide depression came about as a result of severe ‘ramping’ (hyping) of the stock market. Americans were showing a great interest in the stock market, and share prices were going through the roof. It was not uncommon for companies to lie about their status, in order to further their share price. The government of the USA believed that they had no responsibility for what was occurring.Finally – something had to give, and on October 24th 1929 the stock market crashed, with numerous shockwaves sent through the world of stock broking. Germany was worst affected by the ensuing depression.
This was because Germany depended upon the Dawes plan (see graphic above) for loans, in order to pay reparations, as declared at the Treaty Of Versailles. As soon as the depression gripped America, the Dawes plan was replaced with the Young plan. This Young plan was formed by Owen Young, and was a new plan for the payment of reparations.26,350,000,000 was to be paid over a very lengthy amount of time. It was clear that Germany was never going to be able to pay off the first amount set by the Treaty Of Versailles – so for Germany this gave their country a greater level of stability – which was a benefit for the people of Germany. Nevertheless, unemployment still rose sharply to 6,000,000 by the end of 1933. This statistic was eventually to assist Hitler into power, in the duration after the Wall Street crash, whilst the depression was still very alive.Some may say that Hitler’s ride to power was a form of absolute recovery – although this is highly debatable.
Almost certainly though, the Young plan was a sign on hope for Germany. Separate to economic crisis and benefits, stability was to come to Germany, in the form of their acceptance into the League of Nations in 1926. This temporarily brought a sense of peace to Germany, now that they were finally being allowed to negotiate fairly, and have their say. There was a general feeling that the Treaty Of Versailles needed to be updated slightly, and this was done in the Locarno plan in 1925.
A committee met to discuss a number of issues that hadn’t been fully settled at the end of the 1st WW. They understood that Germany was finding it difficult repaying reparations and that the UK was abusing some terms of the Treaty Of Versailles also. Therefore, the best way to do things was to set the tone, with a fresh agreement which Germany agreed to, and negotiated upon in order to try and get a settlement that suits everybody. This should have been beneficial to the public – and was a step towards improving foreign relations.The acceptance of Germany to the League Of Nations should have been seen as an honour – but Germany was only to leave the League in 1933 – she had other plans. But, the inclusion of Germany in the League was at least temporarily beneficial for the German public. The instability of the system of Government was not good either.
As covered in a previous essay – there were too many parties, catering for too many different interests, which was not really beneficial for the public.Whilst presumably the range of parties would give greater choice and greater diversity for the people in political parties, it actually proved instrumental in the fact that Germany simply couldn’t produce a strong party, neither a strong government, or coalition! Whilst choice is often good, it wasn’t here, and the constant switching of policies and parties would not just have been confusing, but also detrimental to the country, with fundamental elements being shaken up and turned around consistently. Germany had been left in a state by the Imperial government.The new democracy was not left with not much to work with – a lot needed doing to get the state in a respectable shape. Germany had been torn apart by war, and the steps that the government tried to take through stability measures, and attempting to turn the country into a more respectable nation in the process. They did achieve stunted success, and the public did seem to see an improvement.
It was a tough time for a new government – but the public seemed to enjoy a more stable lifestyle, with better foreign relations and better attitudes being shown towards Germany – at least until 1933, and the rise of the Nazis.