Triumph exposes much ugliness in that the victorious party may become complacent, or arrogant, in its success and depart from the earnestness required to sustain such fortunate conditions. Heinrich Mann reminds his countrymen after losing World War I that they have returned to earnestness and humble beginnings and must cooperate to bring their nation back to greatness. Only through hard work, moral “uprightness” and true self-reflection can a nation regain their strong foundation internally and footing externally in international politics. Mann blames Germany’s past military victories and the prowess of their forefathers for leaving them accustomed to victory such that they were unprepared to cope with defeat and rebuilding their country. Self-deceit, looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, and general complacency with society is what victory brings, according to Mann, and in this regard defeat is viewed as a welcome and necessary invitation to reevaluate priorities and strengthen the national character.
Mann suggests to his bourgeoise audience that socialism is the political route to take. Despite potential rejection from the upper and lower classes, Mann appeals to their connection as compatriots who should desire the “material happiness” for each other. He hopes people will be able to find understanding, if not agreement, about the political course to take in rebuilding Germany and the national character. A republic that exemplifies the moral uprightness that Mann so desires from his nation will develop a conscience and “reconcile Germany with the world.”
The Preamble of the Weimar constitution speaks directly to these ideals. The German people were “inspired by the will to renew and strengthen their Reich in liberty and justice,” highlighting the strong foundation they wished to rebuild. Inherently, by establishing a republic of the people in the following sections and articles, they target the democratic principles that the western countries wanted to see. However, the socialist principles Mann advocated were not realized economically in the Constitution. Many of the other ideals put forth in the Constitution were also not realized either as the Weimar Republic ultimately ended in failure and takeover by the Nazi party. In regard to rebuilding international relations, Section 1, Article 4 asserts that the “accepted rules of international law are to be considered as binding integral parts of the German Reich.” The Weimar Constitution mentions international relations so early to reinforce Germany’s commitment to rebuilding its world reputation. Unfortunately, these relationships, whether marginally rebuilt or not, were set to be destroyed with the onset of Nazi power.
The obvious failure of the Weimar Republic necessitates the question and examination of other constitutions and what makes a successful one. Though the language, phrasing, and emphasis on different topics makes each nation’s constitution and other governing documents unique, certain aspects must be emphasized in order to assure the continuation of democratic tradition. However, I personally believe that the political culture of a nation is ultimately what decides the fate of a particular government. If the citizens are not accustomed to a democracy and not enthused with its proceeding, then there will be resistance and the government will fail. With acculturation and education democratic constituents and ideas can develop, but that takes time and resources unavailable to Germany during the Weimar Republic. The political culture and Weimar Constitution were not of the same ilk after World War I, leaving the path open for disruptive policies in later years.