Why did the Weimar republic survive the crisis of 1923-24? The French allied invasion of the Ruhr in January 1923 catapulted the fragile Weimar Republic into the direst crisis of its short life. From it, confidence in a completely depleted currency as well as control over major political unrest from both left and right wing radicals had to be restored. The invasion came about due to the inability of the German regime to make reparation payments on time to France as their economy was faltering under the weight of inherited wartime-problems coupled with a loss of confidence post acceptance of a humiliating treaty.
This gave way for French troops to occupy the German industrial heartland of Ruhr as a way of enforcing the Treaty of Versailles by taking what they claimed was owed to them. The Weimar government had to act, knowing that with capitulation to the occupying troops, uproar would race the country greatly threatening their current position as well as any hope of the Republic gaining any future appeal among its people. However, the foolishness of attempting any direct confrontation with occupying troops was also appreciated, thus temporary resolution came by calling for ‘passive resistance’.
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However, passive resistance was only to be a temporary solution. With industry at a complete standstill and many out of work according to the strike, welfare had to be made available to all taking part, hugely adding to the countries already oversized budget deficit. This crippled the economy and lent a fatal blow to the currency which lost all its value. A ragging hyperinflation which had never occurred so severely throughout history soon followed.
With the country burred under a mountain of worthless banknotes and people driven to the limits of their endurance, the appeal of extremist parties grew as they offered a solution to the apparent incompetence of the government. Extreme measures had to be taken to save the future of the Republic and they came in the form of Gustav Stresemann, Chancellor as of August 1923. Stresemann took two key steps towards Weimar recovery. The first was to call off passive resistance which, although an unpopular choice, was vital in stimulating German business.
Industry had to be running if the economy and the Republic was to stand a chance of survival. On the 15th of November 1923 Schat introduced a new currency, the Rentenmark, to replace the Mark. The Rentenmark was to be based on land values and foreign loans at an exchange of one Rentenmark to 10,000,000,000,000 million marks. It was crucial that the people had confidence in the new currency for it to succeed as it did not possess a stable base or a realistic way for the value of the land backing the currency to be converted into cash.
Nevertheless, regardless of the steps taken toward the economy the Weimar Republic had to overcome the political unrest of 1923 that posed a serious threat to the continuity of the republic. The actions of Stresemann of calling off passive resistance were met with great opposition particularly by the Nationalists in Bavaria where a real rebellion against the federal government was apparent, and at Kustrin and Spandau, areas close to Berlin ,where havoc was being caused by the “”Black Riechwehr. On the other side of the spectrum the Socialist governments of Saxony and Thuringia were taking steps to set up a more communist style system as money and advisers began to arrive from Russia . With the country about to be split by independent government and chaos being caused by renegade Freikorps there was an urgent need to restore law and order. In order to overcome this crisis Stresemann made use of Article 48, allowing him to empower the defense minister and head of the army to restore the government’s authority.
Regular units of the Freikorps dealt with the “Black Riechwehr” before dealing with the governments of Saxony and Thuringia . Impressed by the decisive action of the government, the Bavarian nationalists showed greater restraint It is important to note another crisis the Weimar Republic had to get through in1923 was that of the Munich putsch lead by Hitler’s NSDAP. These right wing extremists plotted to seize control of Bavaria and then march to Berlin by storming a political meeting being held in one of Munich ‘s beer halls on the 8th of November and taking hostage important members of office.
The Weimar managed to survive the attempted coup due to one key factor: the nature of the revolt. Carried out in a fever pitch of excitement and desperate urge to take action, it resulted in it being disorganized, ill timed and greatly lacking in the number of those need to overthrow a government. Although Hitler was successful in gaining control of the Beer hall in Munich and forcing the officials present to swear their allegiance to him, the putsch was easily put to a stop when the mere 3,000 SA men faced with a police barricade left16 Nazis dead and caused the rest (including Hitler himself) to flee.
Therefore the Weimar Republic somehow managed to overcome the great obstacles of 1923 by the decisive actions of the government which was unlike any of its previous modes of action and a bit of luck that their opposition was disorganized and divided. The Weimar republic continued into 1924 where in December elections moderate parties made gains, strengthening the stability of the regime. Concurrently, the Dawes finance plan between Germany and America was established putting the country on the track of greatly economic recovery.