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3. Did the Power and Personality of the President Undermine the Republic?
About this Lecture
In this module, we look at the question of whether the power and personality of the President undermined the Republic. The President was, in many ways, a revamped version of the Kaiser, with similar powers, though more subject to parliament. Through Article 48 he could rule by decree in time of emergency and through Article 25 he could threaten to dissolve the Reichstag should it use its constitutional power to reject an emergency decree. These powers were used extensively and thus normalised by the Weimar Republic's first President, Friedrich Ebert. When Hindenburg was elected to the presidency in 1925, the Republic would have a President who had no commitment to democracy, and who would become convinced that a conservative dictatorship in his name was only way out of Weimar’s crisis. Hindenburg's rule by decree in the crisis years 1930-33 provided precedent for bypassing elected governments, and concentrated power in the hands of a few men around the President, who lacked electoral support and legitimacy and sought it by co-opting the Nazis. Crucially, the Nazi regime was based on the declaration of a state of emergency in 1933 that was renewed all the way up to 1945.
In this course, Professor Sir Richard J. Evans (University of Cambridge) discusses the rise of the Nazi Party from 1918-33. In the the first module, we'll set out the entire period with a timeline of crucial events. In the following modules, we'll then go on to answer some key questions: (i) did proportional representation cause political instability? (ii) did the power and personality of the President undermine the Republic? (iii) was the Weimar Republic undermined by inflation? (iv) was the Republic destroyed by the Depression? (v) did Hitler come to power legally?
Sir Richard J. Evans is Regius Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Cambridge and is Provost of Gresham College. He specialises in European history with a focus on Germany. He is the author of eighteen books, including a three-volume series called The Third Reich Trilogy.
Cite this Lecture
Evans, R. (2021, December 01). Germany – The Rise of the Nazi Party, 1918-33 - Did the Power and Personality of the President Undermine the Republic? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/germany-the-rise-of-the-nazi-party-1918-33/did-the-power-and-personality-of-the-president-undermine-the-republic
Evans, Richard. "Germany – The Rise of the Nazi Party, 1918-33 – Did the Power and Personality of the President Undermine the Republic?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Dec 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/germany-the-rise-of-the-nazi-party-1918-33/did-the-power-and-personality-of-the-president-undermine-the-republic