Threats to the Weimar Republic (from the left and right) (Threats from…
Threats to the Weimar Republic (from the left and right)
Threats from the political left
The KPD: KPD opposed the republic and wanted to rebuild the state alongside Marxist ideology. They believed that the Russian Revolution would lead the way for revolutions across Europe. They were not willing to accept the Republic.
March 1920 (Ruhr) - Formation of the Ruhr army by 50,000 workers to oppose the Kapp Putsch. Crushed by the German army and the Freikorps.
SIGNIFICANT: March 1919 (Bavaria) - Creation of soviet republic 'Red Bavaria'. It was crushed by the Freikorps.
Red Bavaria: Eisner (USPD) took charge but he could not unite the Socialist parties and was assassinated (21 Feb 1919). A soviet republic with a Red Army of workers was set up by Levine. However, (after a month) the Freikorps crushed it and killed 1000 people in May. This became known as White Terror.
SIGNIFICANT: Summer 1923 (Saxony and Thuringia) - 'German October'. Wave of strikes ad creating of SPD/KPD state government. Plans for a military uprising by the communists. Overthrown by the German Army.
The German October: In the crisis of 1923, left-wing threats came to a head in central Germany. The KPD and SPD had a coalition government in regional governments of Saxony and Thuringia. The communists went further and made military preparations for an uprising with 'Proletarian Hundreds' (defence units). Stresemann reacted quickly - the army crushed the units and the regional governments were re-created with no communists.
January 1919 (Berlin) - Spartacist uprising to seize power. It was crushed by the German army and the Freikorps.
March 1921 (Merseburg and Halle) - 'March Operation' uprising of strikes which were organised by the KPD. These were put down by the Police.
Was there a Red Threat?
Seemed to be a Bolshevik-style red threat and the propaganda portrayed that there was a large threat. However, in reality they did not pose much of a threat and did not have the political power to take control.
The reasons for their failure are:
Poor leadership - Leadership suffered from divides.
Concessions - Government made decisions that split the extreme left.
Bad co-ordination - Incapable of mounting a unified attack.
Repression - The authorities repressed the rebels brutally.
Threats from the political right
There was no shared ideology that the extreme right wanted to implement but they shared the idea of Nationalism. Which was support for the national identity. This was drawn together with other beliefs.
Anti-democracy - rejected the Weimar system. They wanted to destroy democratic constitution as it was 'weak'.
Anti-Marxism - They did not like communism at all. It threated their traditional values and the ownership of property and wealth.
Authoritarianism - dictatorial regime (the extreme right favoured this).
Nationalism - National spirit, it was at the core of their beliefs. Reinforced by the betrayal of the November Criminals (those who signed the Armistice.)
Organisations of the extreme right
Racist Nationalism: Became apparent before the War with the appearance of Volkisch which was associated with Aryan racism. By the early 1920s there were probably around 70 small nationalist parties which were racist including the Nazi Party.
A party that allowed extreme and traditional views was the German Workers' Party founded by Drexler which Hitler joined in 1919 and became the leader of after 2 years. However, it became divided.
DNVP (German National People's Party): coalition of nationalist-minded old imperial conservative party, it included the Fatherland Party and the Pan-German League. It contained extremist and racist views. The party of landowners and industrialists, however, appealed to some of the Middle-class. The largest party in the Reichstag for the extreme right.
Consul Organisation: In the 1920s the government tried to control the actions of the Freikorps, but a new threat for the right emerged in the form of political assassinations. Between 1919-1922 there were 376 political murders - 22 by the left and354 by the right. The most notorious terrorist gang were the 'Consul Organisation'. It was responsible for the deaths of Erzberger (murdered because he was Catholic and member of ZP who signed the Armistice), Rathenau (foreign minister who drew up Rapallo Treaty, he was Jewish and liked democracy) and Gareis (leader of USPD, murdered because he was a socialist.)
Freikorps: Due to the demobilisation of the German Army there were around 200 paramilitary groups in Germany by 1919.They were employed by the government to suppress threats from the extreme left. They were anti-republican and wanted a restoration of authoritarian rule so had no respect for Weimar government and were prepared to use violence to intimidate others. They became key players in 'white terror'.
Extreme Right Uprisings
The Kapp Putsch: Freikorps played a major role. Due to the unease in the ranks as they reduced the size of the army during 1920.
It was proposed that two brigades of the army were to be disbanded - the Ehrhardt Marine Brigade and the Baltikum that were stationed in Berlin. Wolfgang Kapp and General Luttwitz decided to exploit the situation. They encouraged 12,000 troops to march on Berlin and seize the main building, they did this virtually unopposed and installed a new government.
The Munich Beer Hall Putsch