Democracy in Crisis

Weimar Germany, 1929-1932

By Robert Goodrich

192 pp., 8 x 10, 5 halftones, 3 figs., 5 tables, notes

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6554-2
    Published: January 2023
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6555-9
    Published: December 2022
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6305-8
    Published: December 2022

Reacting to the Past

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Democracies do not die; they are killed. Democracy in Crisis explores how a democracy, grounded in fair elections, parliamentary institutions, and a liberal constitution, nonetheless can fall prey to extreme partisanship, ideological radicalism, procedural manipulation, and external pressures.

Arguably the greatest failure of this democratic challenge came in Germany in the early twentieth century--a failure that led to the Third Reich. Here, all of the great ideologies of the modern West collided as roughly equal and viable contenders during the so-called Weimer Republic, 1919-1933. For over a decade since World War I, liberalism, nationalism, conservatism, social democracy, Christian democracy, communism, fascism, and every variant of these movements struggled for power. Although the constitutional framework boldly enshrined liberal democratic values, the political spectrum was so broad and fully represented that a stable parliamentary majority required constant compromises--compromises that alienated citizens embittered by national humiliation in the war and ensuing treaty, struggling to survive in economic turmoil, and confused by rapidly changing cultural norms. As positions hardened, the door was opened to radical alternatives.

In the game, players, as delegates of the Reichstag (parliament), must contend with intense parliamentary wrangling, constant and uncontrollable world events, street fights, assassinations, and even insurrections. Our game begins in late 1929, just after the US Stock Market Crash as the Reichstag deliberates the Young Plan (a revision to the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I). The players belong to various political parties and must debate these matters and more as the combination of economic stress, political gridlock, and foreign pressure turn Germany into a volcano on the verge of eruption.

About the Author

Robert Goodrich is professor of history at North Michigan University.
For more information about Robert Goodrich, visit the Author Page.