Although the disagreements between Social Democrats and Communists were substantial ones, these two movements could have worked together to discredit and defeat fascism. Instead, competing for the support of Germany’s working class, these movements battled one another.
Facing daunting economic obstacles, SPD governments did succeed in introducing many reforms, including more humane working conditions in factories, workers’ participation in enterprise management, an 8-hour working day, low-income housing, free education for all.
Within the ranks of SPD-led political coalitions, however, factions quarreled, magnifying their differences from one another, and this in-fighting, combined with the Geat Depression, contributed to the demise of the Republic. Perhaps what Freud called a “narcissism of small differences” helps to explain the self-defeating actions of potential allies.