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The Collapse of the Weimar Republic: German Émigrés and the American Cold War

The Collapse of the Weimar Republic: German Émigrés and the American Cold War

by Peter C. Caldwell, Rice University

Nearly 100 years ago, the Revolution of 1918 toppled the German Empire, leaving in its wake Germany’s first democratic republic. Fourteen years later, the Weimar Republic came to an end, toppled by elites who invited a racist, populist party to take over the government, a party without any coherent policies to address Weimar’s economic crisis. Dictatorship was the solution, since for Hitler the problem was democracy itself. An intense debate arose already during the Republic about what democracy was: how the people’s will fit with a system of political representation, the role of elites, the place of law in restraining politicians (or the people), and the role of values in a democracy. These debates continued after 1945, in both the United States and West Germany, and continue to influence discussions of democracy today.

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Perspectives on Politics  /  Volume 15, Issue 2  /  June 2017, pp. 477-481