German-French Unity, Basis for European Peace

By Hermann Lutz | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
Tribulations of the Weimar Republic

The political leaders of the first German Republic have been severely criticized for their failure to preserve democracy. This is not the place to discuss in detail the history of the Weimar period from 1919 to January, 1933. A rapid survey of the main factors that eventually destroyed the Republic will fulfill the purpose of this book.

The transformation of Germany's social structure from autocratic monarchy to republicanism was not in reality a natural evolution produced by internal forces in a crisis of the nation. It was much more the direct consequence of President Wilson's clear announcements that the complete elimination of autocracy was indispensable to obtain a peace on his terms.1 Recognizing this vital necessity, the German people in January, 1919, elected to the National Assembly 350 members of the Socialist, Democratic and Centrist parties, as against 64 conservative members, thereby endorsing by an impressive majority the establishment of the Republic. In a special study, S. William Halperin states that there were nowhere stauncher believers in Wilsonian idealism than the men and women who composed the parties of the Weimar coalition in 1919.2 Of course, there were considerable sections amongst the Germans whose conversion to democracy was not genuine but was rather a tactical move in the effort to attain a bearable peace. Nevertheless, the potentialities for a firm establishment of the

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German-French Unity, Basis for European Peace
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Preface xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Part One 1
  • Chapter One - Changing Opinions 3
  • Chapter Two - The Peacemakers' Spirit, 1919 30
  • Chapter Three - Tribulations of the Weimar Republic 96
  • Chapter Four - Why Hitler Rose to Power 105
  • Part Two 145
  • Appendix 179
  • Notes 201
  • Bibliography 247
  • Name Index 253
  • Subject Index 256
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