If the Weimar Republic was seen as one of the most democratic electoral systems, then why did some political groups resort to political violence to assert their ambitions?
Analyse the extremist party factfiles (above) then evaluate:
- The leadership of each group
- The strengths and weaknesses of each group
- How severe a threat each group posed to the government
- Why the military supported the government in dealing with some groups, but not others.
Although the Weimar Republic had a democratic constitution, some extremist groups did not think that this was how Germany should be run. Those on the extreme right believed that a return to an authoritarian system, with a strong military leadership was the only way to keep society safe. Others on the left felt that communism was the fairest form of government.
These differences in ideas resulted in a number of severe conflicts throughout Germany. Between 1919 and 1923, extremist political parties resorted to violent attempts to overthrow the government and take over the country.
In November 1918, the German Army’s high command had agreed to support the government and use troops to maintain stability in Germany. The government also had the use of over 5,000 Paramilitaries (Freikorps).
The government relied heavily on the Army and/or the Freikorps to take violent action in order to put down extremist challenges from the ‘left’. However, when called upon to overthrow the right wing Kapp Putsch, the army failed to provide action against the Freikorps when requested by the government. As General Von Seeckt (senior officer in the German Defence Ministry) declared: “Troops do not fire on troops.”