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To what extent did the Versailles Treaty contribute to the crisis faced by the Weimar Government?

Uploaded by strokesroc on Nov 15, 2004

The Versailles Peace Treaty, signed by Germany in 1919, can only be partially held responsible for the crisis faced by the Weimar Government. In 1923, the Weimar Government reached a terrible crisis point in which it sank into chaos, facing serious problems both politically and economically. Politically, the Weimar Government encountered extreme opponents from both the right and left wing; however, not all political threats faced by the Weimar Government were due to the Versailles Peace Treaty. Economically, the Weimar Government were also faced with severe difficulties. Before the end of WWI, under the Kaiserreich, Germany was already carrying the burden of trade deficits and war economy so the cause of all the economic problems can not be limited to the Treaty though the Treaty was indirectly linked to the problems of hyperinflation. The Weimar Constitution, another contributory factor of the crisis, was not at all a result of the Versailles Peace Treaty as the set up and contents of the constitution was never stated as a term in the Treaty.

The Versailles Peace Treaty should not be responsible for the establishment of the Weimar Constitution. The Weimar Constitution was a very weak written composition of the Government that tried to set up a democratic system. Article 17 of the Constitution stated the voting system which was known as proportional representation. Proportional representation is where a party that gains 20 per cent of the vote will also gain 20 percent of the seats in the Reichstag. This kind of system proved to be a problem, as argued by historian Geoff Layton. He said that the introduction to proportional representation encouraged the formation of new and splinter parties; this made it even harder for any one party to gain the 50 % of votes required to become government. The only way for a party to gain that extra percent of votes needed to become the government was to befriend other parties. This was even more of a complication because there was a lot more compromising due to the different ideas and policies. Another weakness of the constitution was Article 48 where it stated that in the case of an emergency the President may suspend civil rights and take whatever was needed to restore the country. Geoff Layton said that the flaw of this article was that in the cases of emergencies the President could just overthrow the government and simply rule...

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Uploaded by:   strokesroc

Date:   11/15/2004

Category:   World War I

Length:   5 pages (1,162 words)

Views:   2926

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