Born in the ashes of defeat the Weimar Republic was undermined with the failures of the past. Due to widespread distrust in democracy, reinforced by economic crises, aggravated by the Treaty of Versailles, and opposing parties from both ends of the political spectrum, the Weimar Republic was doomed for failure. The new government was the body that signed the Treaty of Versailles, and to many, that was a betrayal. The consequences were severe, and many were looking for someone to blame, the government was ideal.
In retaliation, on the part of the Allies, the Treaty of Versailles was heavily skewed against the Germans. It placed upon them unrealistic reparation demands which were impossible for Germany to fulfill, being seen as unfair and unreasonable. This also stirred up political tension and controversy, thus contributing largely to the post-war political and economic hardships that Germany faced. The TOV was seen by Germans as a ‘diktat’ or dictated peace in which they were forced to reduce their army, lose all their colonies and pay back reparations for WWI.
From this came the ‘dolchstosslegende’, or “stab in the back legend” which claimed that socialists, pacifists and Jews had betrayed the German army whilst they were supposedly winning the war. This became the way that Germans would have to accept defeat and caused much disappointment when the Weimar Government endorsed the TOV. Consequently, many Germans lost faith in the government and loathed them for taking on such an unreasonable ‘dictated’ peace agreement. The constitution was also a contributor to the collapse of the Weimar Government.
Firstly, the change in parliament to have proportional representation led to smaller and more numerous political parties emerging, and thus creating a harder process to actually form a government and maintain. Smaller parties were being forced into joining in coalition with other parties, and thus, agreements must be formed between them as well as agreements on particular policies. The effect this had was that the parliament was weak and divided with no strong driving force to rule the struggling country, this led people to lose faith in the democratic system. Secondly, the large degree of uncertainty as to how much power was invested n the people via the Reichstag and the President. The right wing feared absolute power being placed in the hands of the parliament and thus, a president was put into place to act as a ‘counter-balance’. As a result, there was particular ambiguity and distrust in the constitution from very early on as it was unclear as to whom was ruling Germany – the people or the president. This was further heightened by Article 48, which gave the president permission to become the decision maker by suspending civil rights in the even of an emergency whilst order was restored.
However, even though many of the Constitutions features were rejected by the extremes of the political spectrum, the Constitution itself was acceptable in theory, it was rather the execution and misuse of it that led to it disheartenment the Weimar Republic. These factors once again, caused the Weimar Government to be undermined as faith in the new democratic system diminished, the parliament weakened the political instability. Also discouraging the Weimar government was the opposition from each side of the political spectrum.
The left wing Spartacist/KPD group, led by Liebknecht and Luxemburg, were loyal to the ideas of Karl Marx and were committed to the concept of developing a world revolution (like the revolution in Russia the previous year). With the fall of the Kaiser, the Spartacist group saw an opportunity to put Germany in a similar system. In January 1919 they revolted, and tried to take control of Berlin, with the support of the USDP they proclaimed a new revolutionary government. However, Ebert had already won the support of the military with the Ebert-Groener pact, and the troops suppressed the revolt.
Overall, the Weimar Government faced many problems and issues, which affected its success and undermined it. There was potential for the reintroduction of a monarchy, or even a communist state, and several attempted revolutions occurred. The public blamed their problems on the Treaty of Versailles, and in turn blamed the government that signed it. Thus, during this short time, the Weimar Government faced many problems and much opposition. Thus, having inherited a difficult situation, it was inevitable that the new government would have faced difficulties from the start which led to its doom.