What were the problems of Weimar politicians from 1929?

Leadership of the Weimar Government

The Great Depression, 1929

The Wall Street Crash is when the American Stock Market lost 89% of it's value, causing many Americans to become unemployed and the US economy to collapse.

It resulted in the US loans to Germany, which were provided under the Dawes Plan, being recalled.

This caused the fragile Weimar economy to collapse as it relied heavily on US loans.

As the coalition government of the Weimar Republic were unable to decide on how to solve the economic issues, President Hindenburg used Article 48, declaring it a time of emergency. This allowed him to frequently make new laws and decisions by himself, making the supposed democracy of the Weimar Republic look weak and ineffective.

Unemployment Rate of Germany from 1928 to 1935.

By 1933, the Weimar Republic had an unemployment rate of 30%, resulting in the rise of extremist parties who presented solutions to helping the German Economy Recover.

How did the Great Depression contribute to the decline of the Weimar Government?

  • After 1929, the government’s main aim was to reduce expenditure in order to cope with the reduced tax revenue caused by declining economic activity. Therefore, between 1929 and 1933, the budget for pensions of victims of war was cut by ⅓, which caused anger among ex-soldiers, who had always felt betrayed by the Weimar Government.

  • Many German industries began to decline and Germany was unable to afford to import the number of raw materials and food it required as the government found it difficult to borrow money from potential German investors (who had lost savings in 1929) and the foreign governments who might set unacceptable terms.

  • The number of bankruptcies increased significantly, as did unemployment, which was 1.4 million in 1928. This rose quickly to 2 million by the end of 1929; by 1932, the number had risen to 6 million, about one-third of the German workforce. However, the government did very little to solve the problems as Germany had recovered from the minor slump of 1926 without government intervention.

  • In March 1930, Müller SPD-led coalition government collapsed when it failed to agree on what cuts to make for unemployment relief. It was replaced by the centre-right coalition headed by Heinrich Brüning of the Centre Party.

    • Chancellor Brüning feared hyperinflation and government budget deficits over unemployment. As a result, he decided to increase taxes, implement wage cuts and reduce government spending. However, this likely exacerbated the problem and caused further resentment among German people who were already struggling to feed themselves.

    • This scheme by Brüning was actually rejected by the Reichstag. However, it was supported by Hindenburg, so he used decrees under Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution to enact the policies himself.

      • This demonstrated the weakness of Weimar politics.

      • Von Hindenburg was a militaristic, authoritarian man and had never liked democracy.

      • He used decrees frequently and not in times of real emergency. He issued 5 decrees in 1930, 44 in 1931 and 60 in 1932.

      • He also used his power to appoint and dismiss chancellors from March 1930 to January 1933.

    • The fall of Müller’s SPD coalition that had a majority in the Reichstag led to a large increase in the number of anti-democratic deputies in the Reichstag, a trend that continued in 1932. This meant that it became virtually impossible for any government to gain the support of the Reichstag, and parliamentary government declined.

  • Following the suspension of reparations in 1931, Chancellor Brüning set up public works schemes and his successor Papen began to allocate unused land to peasants and workers who had lost their savings and jobs. However, the damage to their livelihoods was irreparable and these schemes came too late for the government to regain public confidence and support.