The Failure of the Weimar Republic

F.L. Carsten asks whether Germany has learned the lessons of 1918-1933.

The fate of the first German Republic is a question of great contemporary interest: if the causes of its disintegration are properly analysed, they may provide valuable pointers to the weaknesses of parliamentary democracy in Germany and help in an assessment of its position today. What lessons can be drawn from the events of the years 1918-33? What factors, what institutions, and what individuals were responsible for bringing Hitler into power?

These questions are the more important because many of the leading participants have published their memoirs, usually of a highly apologetic nature—for example, Franz von Papen, Hjalmar Schacht, Otto Meissner, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Carl Severing.

Other writers have taken it upon themselves to come out in defence of President von Hindenburg, or the nationalist leader Alfred Hugenberg, or the Social Democrats. Still others have written heavily biased books, attempting to fasten the chief blame upon the President, the Reichswehr, the German Communists, German Heavy Industry, the Junkers, whichever the case might be.

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