"Weimar Constitution Reexamined" by Jeff Provine
says: we're very pleased to present the tenth story from Jeff Provine's
excellent blog This
Day in Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this
post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
July 31st 1919,
on this day in the city of Weimar concerns over the problem of extremism
caused the National Assembly to vote for a final review in committee of
the otherwise greatly progressive document for its new constitution.
After the fall of the German Emperor in the Great War, the revolution in
Germany led to a greatly progressive document for its new constitution in
the city of Weimar. It called for sweeping checks and proportional
representative government, ideas evolved during the strong years of
Germany before the war.
However, throughout the nation, there were a growing number of "political
parties", a democratic ideal that had not yet affected Germany. Historical
reflection on parties from the first republic of neighboring France showed
a time of strife that would follow as extremists fought for their own mad
notions. They needed strong leadership initially to avoid this, or else
they might end up with a bloody revolution, a Reign of Terror, or even
fall to a Napoleonic tyrant of their own.
Just before final approval, the National Assembly voted to take a final
review in committee of this problem of extremism. After much discussion,
they decided to postpone truly proportional representative government
until the finances of the country were balanced and the war reparations
paid. Until then, Germany would have tiered elections aimed toward
moderate, unified leadership. To hold back single-handed power from
another kaiser, Article 48 (giving the president power to "take all
necessary steps" in the case that "public order and security are seriously
disturbed or endangered") was more carefully defined and limited to true
moments of panic or war.
The new constitution was ratified and came into affect in August of 1919.
When elections came around, it was seen that the radicals on both the left
and the right were taking wild stands. Fortunately, the follow-up
elections allowed for control over different angles and solid centrists to
take command. Many former low-level leaders before the war were returned
to office, and they set about to restore the strength of Germany despite
Initial problems broke out as violence challenged the strength of the new
republic. The communist Red Guards and the right-wing Freikorps both
instigated attacks on each other as well as civilians. Rather than simply
arresting whomever they could to try to bottle up a torrent, the German
government set about on a program of "Rationalization" where disagreeing
parties were drawn together to discuss their differences. While that
served as the cover, many times the plan was used to pit the extremists
against each other, such as the Freikorps paramilitary being used to bring
down an attempted communist coup in Bavaria. Whenever possible, the
government would then arrest leaders and exile them, sending many to
Soviet Russia or increasingly conservative Italy.
With balance vaguely achieved (though the process was continual... a young
artist named Adolph Hitler was arrested in Bavaria a number of times and
exiled to Austria in 1923, for example), the government focused on its
economic policies. Hyperinflation was controlled by freezing prices and
continually discussing reparation treaties with other countries, gradually
talking down the amount rather than paying fully as international tempers
In the 1920s, elections would broaden as the Goldene Zwanziger was in
swing. Few were interested in extremism while the country grew prosperous.
As the markets crashed and the Great Depression set in, however, the
political climate changed. Still, with even its short tradition of
leadership, the dark age only strengthened the German peoples' faith in
its government. A gradual system of social nets began to grow, mirroring
the public works projects put up in the United States by their president
The world economy would gradually pick itself back into place in the
1940s, helped a good deal by the international demands for food, steel,
and cloth in the Italian campaigns in Africa (to which many German
right-wing expatriates would go, alleviating unemployment) and the Pacific
War. Fought by the Japanese against the Americans, British, and French,
the financial and material needs of their countries would give Germany a
boost back into solvency. In fact, the war would even prove the
shortcomings of the League of Nations, which would be strengthened by the
Treaty of Kyoto in 1944.
When the Soviet Wars of the 1950s broke out, Germany found itself on the
front lines after the conquest of Poland. The armies of Stalin and later
Khrushchev, began marching west and south, conquering and even entering
the Mediterranean. Joining with former enemies France, England, and the
United States, Germans fought for their nationhood, holding out for long
years against sieges and bombings by Soviet forces. With the defeat of
Soviet Russia and the fall of communism in 1971, Germany and the Allies
set to rebuilding the world.
says in reality, the Weimar Constitution was academically brilliant, but
did not have the practicality for the real world. Hyperinflation would
cripple Germany, which would be fought over by extremists each thinking they
had the best idea. Through propaganda and chutzpa, the once tiny National
Socialist party would gain power under Hitler, strengthening Germany but
forever changing the history of the world.
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Today in Alternate History web site.
Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of
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