Topic 1, Impact of war, political crisis of October to November 1918 and the establishment of the Weimar constitution

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  • Topic 1, Impact of war, political crisis of October to November 1918 and the establishment of the Weimar constitution
    • The abdication of the Kaiser
      • 9th November 1918 Kaiser Wilhelm II
        • abdication has been annouced
        • end of September 1918
          • Germany on the brink of defeat
            • German allies tried to negotiate peace terms
      • The October Reforms
        • Kaiser began reforms which effectively ended his rule
          • 1. Appointed Prince Max of Baden as new chancellor
            • chancellor was responsible for the Reichstag and he established a new government based on the majority of the parties in the Reichstag
            • 2. The armed forces were under control of the civil government
              • Major constitutional transformation in Germany
      • The November Revolution
        • Unrest in the Navy spread to the main German Naval base at Kiel
        • 8 November a republic was proclaimed in Bavaria  and the Bavarian monarchy was deposed
    • Establishment of the Weimar
      • 19 January 1919- elections for constituent assembly
        • women able to vote for first time
      • SPD secured the largest number of votes
        • did not have overall majority
        • Had to compromise with other parties to establish a constitution
          • Philipp Schliemann, leader of SPD and coalition with the centre and German democratic parties
      • Assembly met in Weimar, hence the name
        • 'political authority derives from the people'
      • Strengths of the Weimar
        • a wider right to vote
        • proportional representation
        • constitution set out clearly the rights of the individual
        • full democracy in local government
        • Referendums could be called for by the president, the Reichsrat or by peoples request
        • Weaknesses of the Weimar
          • The Proliferation of small parties
            • smaller parties gaining more power, exploiting the parliamentary system to gain publicity
            • Fragmented party system
          • Coalition governments
            • no larger parties could gain an overall majority in the reichstag
            • all coalition governments were very short lived
      • President- head of state
        • elected every 7 years
        • had reserve powers, article 48
          • used on a regular basis
            • 136 occasions used
            • used his power in non-emergencies
      • The survival of undemocratic solutions
        • The Army
          • used against left wing revolts
          • Hans von Seeckt was appointed Commader in Chief
            • Believed the army as a whole could intervene with politics whenever he saw fit
        • The civil service
          • given a guarantee of their 'well earned' rights
          • top civil servants could wield enormous power
        • The judiciary
          • Article 54 of the constitution guaranteed the independence of the judges
            • penal code of republic; any one attempting to overthrow the Weimar should be sentenced to life imprisonment

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