The Weimar Republic is so often seen as a stepping stone to Nazi Germany that we often talke little time and effort to understand it on its own merits. There are so many apocryphal statements that it was “doomed from its foundations” (May 1998 Paper 3 Europe Exam) or was a “regime born in defeat that few could accept” (author unknown) but we really need to challenge these assumptions.
We often consider certain issues to be central to Weimar’s failure – Article 48; proportional representation – but are these the real villains? Did most Germans find Versailles completely unforgiveable or was it something that politicians stated as fact without concrete support for this assertion to whip citizens into a frenzy?
We need to remind our students to think critically about these things, after all the Weimar Republic lasted longer than Nazi Germany and, despite problems in the first years, did not plunge the country into war. Weimar provided stability and most Germans supported the government; theyoften saw Bolshevism as the only alternative and that was completely unacceptable.