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The political establishment in Germany succeeded in maintaining the political status quo through a policy of moderate reform’. How far do you agree.
It could be argued how the political establishment in Germany was not successful in maintaining their political status quo due to the backward constitutional system that allowed little true democracy as well as the government’s foreign policy, that gave of bad publicity at times. However, it could be argued that their moderate reform such as improved insurance policies and the creation of an effect economy meant that Germany indeed was successful in maintaining the political status quo through a policy of moderate reform. although I maintain that overall, the moderate reform was not successful in maintaining there was a political status quo as it did not cover up the poor parliamentary system.
Form the country’s inception in 1871, it was instituted it would be a federal state of 25 sub regions, each containing their own parliament and in some regions there was universal suffrage whilst in others there was not. The overall parliamentary system consisted of the national Reichstag with the Bundesrat being the upper house. Whilst this seems to point to the fact that the system was democratic, indeed this was far from the case due to the chancellor’s indpeendce from the Reichstag and the Kaiser’s right to dissolve it and remove the chancellor at any time. Consuqently,how can there be a political status quo when the politicalsystem itse;f was so backward and undemocratic. The constitution was designed by Bismark in 1897 in order to provide total power to the elite. The Reichstag could not initiate leglisaltion and in many regions there was no sufferage at all. Therefore it seems that the political establishment did not maintain a political status quo.
Furthermore, the government’s actions often gsve of a vey bad publc image due to the poor political establishment, maintaining how it did not mainitan a a suscsessful political status quo. For example the Dialy Telegraph of 1906 proved how their was no coherent constitutional plan on freighn policy as the Kaiser publicly announce din th Britiah newpaer that Germany was looking to ally with Britian. He had not checked with his goovernemtnt before he made such a sweeping statement and it highlighted the numerous weeknesses in the political establishment. The estalishment’s flaws weakened diplomacy through manhy other fa cotrs. For example, it roginally seemed that the Kaiser wanted to maintina a positive relationship with the British yet the fact the supported the Ductch in the Boers wars (1896-1902) over the British wekaned relations. Indeed the key flaw in the government was the Kiaser’s autrocracy and ability to act freely without consulting with the cnahncellor of the Riechstag,m often resulted in rash decisions such as these. Additonly, the Kaiser rashly ordered for the navy to send the gunbouth ‘the panther’ to Agadir in 1907 when the Fench wer ein the procvess of tasking over the region. This further weakened diplomacy. It is therefore evident how due to the numerous flaws in the political establishment, a politicalstus was not established, despite any effect that moderate reform cold have.
However, the affects of ht emoderate political reform should not be overlooked despite the extneisve flawes of the political establishment. Indeed some very sucsessful reforms that seemed to provide the status quon of any advanced government. For example Bethman Hollweg made some considerable advancements to the economomy and welfare sytem when he first launched health and woprk insurance. These were yet improved by his sucsess Von Bulow who, in addition to making insurance more extensive and increasing cover, he limited the working day from 10 to 8 hours as well as prohibiting minors under the age of 13 from working. Other reforms to improve livinign conditions were also made. Therefore it is evident how there certainly was advancement in the economic and welfare system. Indeed the economic csytemw as one of the most sophisticated in the world and there economic production wass in leahgue withthe great powers. Reforms to the educates system also made it one of the most sophisticated in the world with an extremely high amount of people attending Germany’s leading universities. These reforms seemed to give Gemrany the same advanced status ad the othjer great powers. Accordingly it could be argued how these modertre reforms concealed the flaws in the political system and were sucsessful in mainitaining the political status quo.
In conclusion there is certainly room to argue that the moderate reforms served in excelling the politicalstatus quo. However, it is indistutable how the politicalestablishment had numerous falings such as it’s undemocratic constittutin that resulted in poor decisions byt heTsar as well as a lack of freedom and an autocratic reighn. Therefore, I maintain that the political establishment in Germany did not succeed in maintaining thepolitical status quo through a policy of moderate reform.
The Weimer republic had a fundamentally weak economy . Discuss.
The Weimer Republic was clearly flawed from its outset due to a number of intrinsic weaknesses. After the war, the entire German infostructure was in dire chaos with its economy virtually in ruins. With the huge reparations bill of £6600 million, it seemed as if there was almost no chance of possible recovery. The Weimer republic was faced with numerous difficulties and it could clearly be argued that the economy was inherently flawed due to Germany’s enormous war debts. Although, on the other hand, it could be argued that although the Weimer Republic economy was met with a multitude of difficulties, it wasn’t fundamentally week as with assistance from America and a change of currency helped facilitate a growth in Germany’s economy.
After the treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919, Germany’s economic future seemed unpromising. The country’s banks and export industries were badly disrupted due to the war and due to the inability to import fertilisers due to the blockade, thousands died of malnutrition. Even before the war, the country was in large debt so the huge reparations bill seemed to almost tipple the economy. The inability to import raw materials such as oil, steel, nitrates and copper due to the blockade severely curtailed mass production. Germany lost her main industrial zone, the Ruhr, due to the treaty. Moreover, at the birth of the Weimar Republic millions of working days were lost due to strikes. One of the greatest threats which hit the constitution shortly after it’s birth was the currency collapse in 1923. This was due to the fact that in 1922, the national debt stood at an astounding 469 million Marks. What made matters worse was the fact that the French Prime Minister Poincare refused to suspend reparation payments in July 1922 and demanded various ‘productive guarantees’. These included 60% of the dyestuff industry on the left bank of the Rhine as well as the statemines of the ruhr. The only way for the government to attempt to bail themselves out of this economic disaster was to print more money. This led to hyper inflation, the affects being even more disastrous than the first world war. Thousands died of malnutrition due to food shortages and people could be seen queuing for hours just to purchase basic amenities such as a loaf of bread, of which costed many their entire life savings due to the affects of the inflation.
This clearly points to the fact that the Weimer republic’s economy was fundamentally weak. However, it could be argued that although the economy was faced with numerous problems at its outset, it was not fundamentally weak. The finance minister Gustav Stressman went to every effort to restore the state of the economy from 1923, he chanced the currency to the Rentenmark and made full advantage of loans from America. It seems that his predecessors were not as adept as him in financial matters so it could be argued that they were able to revive the economy earlier.
It is therefore evident how although the Weimer Republic was met with numerous difficulties form it’s outset, it was not intrinsically weak. The finance ministers should have been able to sort out the numerous problems that faced them but most of them were just aristocrats with little knowledge on managing finances.
To what extent was the effective government of Germany in the years 1919-33 handicapped by the nature of the Weimar constitution? 9 46
As a result of the numerous flaws evident in the Weimer constitution of 1920, it could be said how it was a dominant factor of the weaknesses of the effective government. However, it could be argued that the government was not initially effective due to flaws outside the constitution such as it was born out of defeat and the vast opposition. Consequently it could be argued how the effective government of Germany was not solely handicapped by the Weimer constitution. However due to the fact that the constitution maintained numerous flaws from its inception such as Article 48, the parties inability to work within the realms of proportional representation and the misdemeanour of the judiciary system; I maintain that the effective government of Germany in the years 1919-1933 was handicapped by the nature of the Weimar constitution to a remarkably high extent.
Matthias Ertzberger, leader of the Catholic Centre party, was responsible for the new Weimar constitution. Whilst, it appeared to be one of the most democratic of Europe with universal suffrages granted to anyone over 20, a key flaw was Article 48. This emergency law was able to override any other term of the constitution, accordingly it decreases it’s substance to a ‘temporal democracy’. This is due to the fact that if it was misused, the constitution could be devoid of democracy. Indeed, this is what exactly occurred when Hindenburg became Chancellor in 1927. Politically, the situation was spiralling out of control due to weak coalitions, so he deemed it necessary to use Article 48 to override the constitution. The fundamental weakness of this article was the ambiguity of what was to be an ‘emergency’, indeed it was led open to interpretation. Incredibly, Hindenburg used it 66 times in 1933 to pass every single law due to the weakness of the Reichstag. Article 48 was manipulated by Hitler in 1933 after the Reichstag fire, and used it to temporarily suspend freedom of press and speech. Consequently, Article 48 proved to be the catalyst for the constitution’s demise. Therefore the effective government of Germany from 1919-33 seems handicapped by the Weimar constitution to a great extent.
The existence of proportional representation was an additional weakness. Although it was originally advocated by socialists to facilitate greater equality, in reality it led to friction amongst parties that resulted in weak coalitions. As the constitution was somewhat different than what had presided pre 1919 since political parties were far more insignificant than; the burst of democracy meant that many were not able to tolerate the new voting system. It primarily resulted in week coalitions due to the inability of parties to gain the majority in the Reichstag; this was not achieved even once in the years of Weimar. Furthermore, friction between parties was highly extensive and they were not able to cooperate with each other. This was most evident in the late 1920’s when the SPD and DVP entered into a collation yet their clash in left and right ring ideals led to an ineffective government, consequently Hindenburg felt the need to use Article 48. This was clearly an apparent weakness that lead to Hindenburg’s disbandment of the Reichstag. Therefore, it is further evident how the effective government in the years 1919-1933 was handicapped by the constitution.
The weakness in the government was also represented in the judicial system. The majority of the judiciary served before the war and were known to be conservative and right wing. This resulted in disdain for the SPD when it was in government and a lack of cooperation. Moreover, sentences were often misbalanced due to bribery, nepotism and corruption. Some sentences for seemingly minor cases were unnecessary long whilst other s for more serious offences were deemed too short. For example, after the Munich Putch when Hitler was tried on account of treason; he was friends with the judge so he got of with a light charge of only 5 years. It was than shortened to an incredible 9 months; clearly portraying the corruption in the system. A key flaw of the constitution therefore was the fact that the judiciary system was made completely independent of the Reichstag. This resulted in a lack of enforcement and consequently bribery, nepotism and corruption. This clearly portrays how the flaws in the Weimar constitution handicapped what was an effective government from 1919-33.
However, it could be argued that the rise of extremism and the fall of the Stock Market in 1929 were more fundamental causes for the government’s demise. Indeed the government was running most effectively until the late 1920’s when fascism was on the horizon. The emergence of extremism sapped away from support for the mainstream parties such as the SDP or the Centre Party. This was facilitated by the fall of the Wall Street Crash in 1929 where unemployment significantly rose. By 1933 6 million (one in three of the workforce) were unemployed. There is a key correlation between the economic crisis and the successes of extremist parties. Indeed the Nazis only achieved 3% of the vote in 1928 yet in 1933 they received the majority of seats in the Reichstag from any lone party, over 200. Therefore, it could be argument how the effective government was mainly handicapped by problems outside the constitution.
Ultimately however, I maintain that the effective government from 1919-1933 was predominantly hindered by flaws in the constitution. Article 48 was subject to constant abuse and manipulation that ultimately resulted in the removal of a democratic government in 1933. Moreover, the proportional representation voting system gave rise to exceedingly week coalitions and a lack of cooperation between parties. This consequently resulted in Hindenburg’s overlookment of the Reichstag when passing legislation. These flaws outweigh that of the rise of extremism that served in toppling the constitution in 1933.