AH Challenge: The Weimar Republic Survives TL

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Glen, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. Glen ASB & Left Hand of IAN Moderator

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    In almost every ATL I've seen, the Weimar Republic seems to either be preempted by a different WWI ending or taken out by variously different coups or other events.

    So here is the challenge: a Weimar Germany that survives to the present day. How does it happen? What would the world be like with this Germany instead of the Germany of OTL?
     
  2. Steffen Kursed as a Klever Kraut

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    I think two issues are important: political stabilty and solid positioning of germany as a western power, not zigzagging between east and west.

    pod: chancellor Cuno manages a political victory over the french during the ruhrkampf, thereby restoring the national pride a bit.

    Whith newly won prestige, he could survive, and I see a government spending less on welfare and not raising the expectations.

    Also, I ´d say that he as a former director of hamburg-amerika paketschiff AG, (HAPAG) had connections to the anglo-american world and could come to a better understanding with them.
     
  3. Dave Bender Member

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    Different Chancellor in 1933

    President Hindenburg needs to appoint someone chancellor other then Hitler. And this new chancellor needs to be popular and competent. I suggest Gen. Lettow-Vorbeck. He was immensely popular, and I doubt anyone would consider him incompetent.

    Lettow-Vorbeck lived into the 1960s. He could serve as chancellor for a period of 20 years or so. During this period Germany gets it's act together both politically and economically. Maybe another golden age, similiar to that experienced under Otto Bismarck.

    You are still going to see some troubles during the 1940s. Russia, Italy, and Japan are all looking for territory to gobble up. But this time Germany will be allied with Britain and France. This may be enough to deter Stalin from expanding westward. Italy, by itself, is no real threat. The U.S. can worry about Japan.
     
  4. Wozza Well-Known Member

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    You are obsesses with Lettow-Vorbeck!

    Questions though:
    Why was he not involved in politics?
    In OTL the Nazis offered the conservatives a popular base, how could Lettow-Vorbeck solve the problem?
    The Weimar republic was already dead by 1932 and was a conservative decree ruled semi-dictatorship. You have to create conditions where that state can become permanent - and you cannotjust ignore the Nazis they have to be seen off somehow.
     
  5. Glen ASB & Left Hand of IAN Moderator

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    Lettow-Vorbeck was a very interesting historical figure, and worth consideration.

    He was. Initially, he was in the Reichswehr and supported openly the Kapp Putsch, but this was brought down by a general strike that rendered the country ungovernable by the Putsch. After that he had to leave the army and did go into politics, serving in the Reichstag. He was a vociferous critic of Hitler and the Nazis and tried to develop a conservative coalition against him. But it didn't come to fruition. Hitler upon rising to power essentially banished him to Hamburg as a menial laborer.

    That is a good question. Perhaps an earlier POD where Lettow-Vorbeck did not come out openly supporting the Putsch? This would allow him to build a broader coalition perhaps against the Nazis, one more Right-Center than Right as he tried to do.

    Yes, the Nazis have to be deflated, but so do the Communists and the many other radical groups of both ends of the spectrum in Weimar Germany. So, any ideas?
     
  6. Glen ASB & Left Hand of IAN Moderator

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    This would certainly help. The Ruhrkampf seems to have been a really harmful affair for the Weimar Republic. However, it is not clear to me that Cuno was the one who could avoid it or even improve the government afterwards.
     
  7. Glen ASB & Left Hand of IAN Moderator

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    Looking things over, I would suggest that any POD which would save the Weimar Republic would have to occur by 1925. I think that avoiding the election of Hindenburg as President is vital to preserving the Republic.

    The POD could have been during the ruhrkampf, with either Cuno having more success or Stresemann becoming Chancellor earlier.

    Gustav Stresemann seems to have been one of the most important figures in stabilizing the Weimar Republic in the 20s, first as Chancellor and then as Foreign Minister. Giving him more influence in Weimar would likely help the Republic.

    Or it could have been in 1923, with Stresemann being a bit harder on the Beer Hall Putsch, thus both hurting the Nazis more and remaining in power (his going easy on the Beer Hall Putsch is quoted as one of the things which resulted in him losing the Chancellory).

    It could have been as late as the Presidential Election of 1925, with either Hindenburg declining to be the second round candidate, or perhaps Otto Braun being accepted as the Weimar Coalition candidate, and/or the Communists agreeing to support the Weimar Coalition candidate (whether Braun or the OTL candidate Wilhelm Marx).

    The point is to have a president in power who will not sabotage the government (and not be going senile) when the second blow of the Great Depression hits. It would also be nice to get Weimar a little bit healthier to weather the coming crisis.

    As a post-script, having Stresemann more successful than he already was and having him live longer (not dying of a massive heart attack at age 51 years old) would probably help as well.
     
  8. Dave Bender Member

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    Deflating Enemies

    Nazis have to be deflated, but so do the Communists

    Gen. Lettow-Vorbeck would receive broad support from the center and right wing of German politics. These as the same people that supported Hitler. If Lettow-Vorbeck is successful as chancellor I would expect to see the Nazi party melt away. Only a tiny, inconsequential Nazi party will remain.

    The communists will not go away so easily. However their numbers will dwindle over time. When Stalin clearly becomes a clear threat to Central Europe (~1940) it will devastate membership in the German communist party. They may even be banned outright if they are too cozy with Stalin's Soviet Union.
     
  9. Wozza Well-Known Member

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    Gen. Lettow-Vorbeck would receive broad support from the center and right wing of German politics. These as the same people that supported Hitler. If Lettow-Vorbeck is successful as chancellor I would expect to see the Nazi party melt away. Only a tiny, inconsequential Nazi party will remain.


    Why? Why is his position different to that of Schleicher or Papen? He has no mass party or street presence.
     
  10. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

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    I like Stresemann; and it's worth noting that he wanted better ties with Britain and (surprisingly) France.

    Might be impossible after the occupation of the Ruhr, of course. But could we see a European effort to cope with the Depression?
     
  11. Glen ASB & Left Hand of IAN Moderator

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    Could you expand on this?
     
  12. Glen ASB & Left Hand of IAN Moderator

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    From First World War.com, "Returning to Germany as a national hero (and having been promoted general in the field), Lettow-Vorbeck was likewise admired by his former enemies as a courageous, tenacious and honourable fighter. Once in Germany he immediately joined the Freikorps, and at the head of a brigade successfully crushed Spartacist forces in Hamburg....From May 1929 until July 1930 he served as a deputy in the Reichstag, later unsuccessfully trying to establish a conservative opposition to Hitler."

    So he did have a "street presence" in the early days. He actually served in the Reichstag briefly in 1929-30, and he opposed Hitler strongly, something Papen didn't do (Papen lifted the ban on the SA and advised Hindenburg to name Hitler Chancellor!).

    Schleicher actually wasn't too bad, but he was a behind the scenes man who rose to power through Hindenburg, but was also removed from power by Hindenburg. He was by comparison to von Papen a more moderate conservative, authoritarian but with more parliamentary leanings. He was opposed to Hitler, but was willing to work with Strasser, so a little weak on the Nazi front. However, I see nothing to indicate a similar level of popularity among the public or the military comparable to von Lettow-Vorbeck. In fact, Schleicher was murdered in the Night of the Long Knives, whereas Lettow-Vorbeck was not. Quite frankly, the reasons Lettow-Vorbeck survived was probably because he wasn't in power, but also because he was still a national hero, the only undefeated commander of WWI, and it would have turned the Army against Hitler had he been assassinated. Apparently, the same was not true of Schleicher.

    If von Lettow-Vorbeck had not supported the Kapp Putsch, and instead had stayed in the Reichswehr, then if Hindenburg had elevated him to the Chancellory instead of Schleicher, there would have been a chance that the Nazis could have been opposed, and quite frankly, Lettow-Vorbeck was not one to follow orders he believed counter to nation and honor, and if Hindenburg had tried to pull on him the stunts he did Schleicher, I could see Lettow-Vorbeck attempting and even succeeding in a coup at that point. However, there would be a lot of fighting, and it is not entirely clear to me who would win in the end, the Nazis, the anti-Nazi Right, or the Socialists.

    So Lettow-Vorbeck is of a different quality than the others you mention here. In a different constellation of circumstances, it is entirely possible that he might have come to power, and even thwarted both the Nazis and the Socialists/Communists. However, I am not certain that he would have been the one to save the Weimar Republic. We have no evidence historically of his abilities in Governance (though he seems a governmental genius in Alternate History governance). And he was much more of a right wing, monarchist than anything else.

    What distinguishes him from most others of his time was his successful war record, his clearly non-racist views, and his ardent anti-Nazism AND anti-Communism. These features are what make him such an alluring figure for Alternate Histories.

    Practically speaking, at least from my cursory reading of the Weimar period, Stresemann seems to have a much more substantial record in terms of actual policies of benefit to the Weimar Republic, as well as enough political clout to have them implemented. However, he was fatally weak in the Beer Hall Putsch, and that isn't promising. I wonder if there wouldn't have been some way to team up Strasemann and Lettow-Vorbeck, allowing the two bolster each other's strengths....
     
  13. Derek Jackson Member

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    The best chance of Weimar surviving was for Lenin to have his stroke early in 1917 and for Hitler to have died of his wounds
     
  14. Glen ASB & Left Hand of IAN Moderator

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    Does this presuppose that Lenin with a stroke in 1917 leads to the failure of the Bolsheviks in Russia, in turn leading to less extremist left and/or less feared left in Germany?

    And do you also presuppose that without Hitler the Nazis would be unable to attain power in Germany in 1933?

    Lastly, does this assume that there would be no other Right wing and/or Left wing take-overs of the Weimar Republic?

    Please expand.
     
  15. Dave Bender Member

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    Lenin to have his stroke early in 1917

    This does wonders to help post WWI Russia. However I do not think it would make a lot of difference in Germany. Home grown German communists were a much bigger threat. Unless the German communists received external support from the Soviet Union. Which is possible.
     
  16. MarkA MarkA

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    Weimer fell because its political problems were compounded by economic ones. It could not cope with reparations and the effects of the Great Depression simultaneously.

    If Britain had been more forceful with France and insisted that reparations be suspended indefinately or abolished altogether in the years immediately prior to the GD, Germany would have been in a much healthier position. Communist and fascist membership would grow just as they did in all western countries during the depression but probably at the same rate as in the other western countries. That is, the explosion in membership that reflected the collapse in confidence of many people in democracy may not have occured if the Republic had been stronger economically.

    I think the other key is that the SPD must be included in a coalition to 'ride out' the Depression. The Socialists are still the biggest party in Germany before the Depression. A government of national unity to see the country through the crisis maybe successful.
     
  17. Glen ASB & Left Hand of IAN Moderator

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    Stresemann might have been able to encourage the British to do so if he were in power longer, and did his best to do so as Foreign Minister, actually getting a fair amount of the reparations reduced on the 'ability to pay' plan.

    Lettow-Vorbeck was, bizarrely enough, rather well thought of in Britain, and might have been able to garner more support from Britain as well.

    While other countries lessening the reparations on Germany would very much help, I think it would still take a domestic political POD as well, though whether such could be triggered by that, maybe. If Wilhelm Marx had been able to achieve much lower reparation payments, or get rid of them entirely, n(or another country does it for him) that might have boosted his popularity enough to win the presidency on the second ballot in 1925.

    Agreed.

    A national unity government would probably be good, if it could hold together. Wilhelm Marx belonged to Zentrum, the 'Center' party. With him as president, this would be a more likely possibility. It would not happen with Hindenburg as president I think.
     
  18. Glen ASB & Left Hand of IAN Moderator

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    So, what POD seems the most promising and/or likely to people for this?
     
  19. MarkA MarkA

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    I think the most likely POD would be for the United States in 1920 or early 1921 (before April) to come to an agreement with Britain and France over their respective war debts. This is turn would have encouraged Britain to press France more firmly on lessening or eliminating German reparations.

    With reparations not such a pressing issue, the main rallying point for ultra-nationalists and fascists would disappear. In addition, the currency would retain its value and Germany would not have to export its profits or its gold. Britain and France could put political and economic controls in place to ensure Germany did not economically dominate Europe because it did not have to support its own armed forces.

    Josef Wirth would then have an opportunity as Chancellor to stabilize the Reich via democratic processes. This in turn would rob the extreme right of its support base. The middle class is not going to turn to the fascists if their jobs and incomes are protected and their living standards are improved.
     
  20. Glen ASB & Left Hand of IAN Moderator

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    Josef Wirth appears on the surface at least to be more of a center left or left polititian. Would he have ended up working more closely with the Soviets?

    How do we get the United States to come to accord with UK and France on war debts, and would this necessarily translate into lowered reparations? Certainly sounds like it would help, but I don't see it as a guarantee.

    Without massive war debt, it is true that this would start to strengthen the Weimar Republic, but would that be enough? I suppose a better showing early on by the left could lessen the likelihood of Hindenburg becoming president in 1925, and of course they might be a bit harder on the beer hall putsch in 1923.