Weimar remembers the democracy destroyed by Nazi rule

7th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

In 1919, Weimar legislators met to found a democratic republic, replacing the monarchy that had lost the First World War.

Weimar -- Weimar honored its role on Friday in the brief flowering of German democracy that occurred between monarchism and Nazism 90 years ago.  

On February 6, 1919 in Weimar, a quiet provincial city far from the riots and violence of Berlin, German legislators met to found a republic -- replacing the monarchy that had lost the First World War.

The assembly stayed in the town until August 1919. Despite its fervor of creativity and reforms, the Weimar Republic disappointed many voters, who replaced it with a Nazi dictatorship, the Third Reich, in free elections in 1933.

Many Germans still view the fractious Weimar period as a failure. Chancellor Angela Merkel did not attend Friday's ceremonies, which were organized by the city and left-of-center parties -- who take a more sympathetic view of the first German democracy.

The Weimar Republic deserves more respect, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

Steinmeier, the top-ranking Social Democrat in the Merkel government, said at a ceremony in the city's National Theatre that the first democracy failed because its citizens had not been committed to its preservation.

"The Weimar Republic was not condemned from birth to failure," he said. "It bore hope and the promise of a free order in Germany."

He hailed its achievements, including the vote for women, freedom of expression, the legalization of trade unions and unemployment insurance. Steinmeier said the republic had been destroyed by an "unholy alliance" of the far left and far right.

This year contains two other important German anniversaries where Merkel is to preside: the 60th birthday of the present-day German Federal Republic and the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.


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