From Kaiser to Fuhrer: The Wiemar Republic (3)

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3.1: The Weimar Constitution
A new system
1. National Assembly met in Weimar to create new constitution following January 1919
2. Largest party = SPD with 38% vote
3. SPD wanted socialist democracy, but compromised for a liberal democratic system
4. The Weimar Republic lasted from 1919-1933
5. First President = Friedrich Ebert (1919-1925)
6. Second President = Paul von Hindenburg (1925-1934)
The Constitution
1. A President elected every 7 years
2. The President could appoint and dismiss the Chancellor
3. The President was Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces
4. Under Article-25, the President could dissolve the Reichstag
5. The Chancellor and gov't had to resign if they lost the confidence of the Reichstag
6. The Reichstag elected every 4 years, with universal suffrage over the age of 20
7. Proportional representation (1 seat = 60,000 votes)
8. Federal system: 18 states with their own parliament
9. Reichsrat propose amendments or delay legislation passed by the Reichstag
10. A Referenda could be held with enough votes
The Bill of Rights
1. Freedom of speech, association and religion
2. The right to work
3. Worker protection
4. Welfare rights
5. Right to own property (businesses could not be nationalised without compensation)
Emergency Provisions
1. Under Article-48, President had power to rule via presidential decree in an emergency
2. But Reichstag could overturn any decree issued under Article-48

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The nature of the Weimar Republic's constitution
Democratic features
1. President was elected
2. Universal suffrage
3. Government wholly accountable to Reichstag
4. Proportional representation
5. Direct democracy: referenda
6. Members of Reichstag normally elected as Chancellor, instead of Junkers
7. Checks and balances (electorate held Reichstag to account, President needed support of
8. Bill of Rights
Criticisms of the Weimar Republic's constitution
1. President having too much power (Article 48 and 25)
2. Though -48 and -25 both had limitations
3.…read more

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Problems: the legacy of the Second Reich and WWI
The legacy of the First World War
1. Democratic politicians had no alternative to sign the Treaty of Versailles in November 1918
2. Many Germans blamed these politicians `November Criminals'
3. The `stab in the back' myth, started by Ludendorff and Hindenburg, led people to believe it
was the democratic, socialist politicians who `betrayed' Germany
4.…read more

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Problems: political extremists
The threat from the extreme left
1. Wanted to destroy the Weimar Republic for a Soviet State
The Spartacist uprising 1919
1. 1919, communist Spartacists tried to launch a revolution in Berlin
2. Ebert ordered Freikorps to crush rebellion
3. The leaders of the Spartacists, Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht were murdered
Strikes, raisings and communist takeover
1. Strikes and street violence instability
2. Communists revolted in:
a. Bavaria 1919
b. Ruhr 1920
c. Saxony and Thuringia 1923
3.…read more

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­ year of crisis
The inflationary problem
1. Wartime and demobilisation inflation
a. The cost of WWI was financed by increasing money supply and thus the German currency
declined in value
b. Wartime shortages caused price rises
c. Government expenditure high on support for widows, injured veterans and demobilised
d. Weimar made social security a constitutional right, meaning Germany was obligated to
support the unemployed
2. Reparations 1921+
a.…read more

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How did Weimar survive?
The weakness of Weimar's opponents
1. Weimar's opponents were disunited
2. They lacked effective organisation and support
3. Their aims were fractured
Poor leadership and planning of attempted putsches
1. The Spartacists attempted to turn a protest into a revolution, and had not carefully
planned it
2.…read more

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Golden Years' ­ politics and economics
1. Increased political stability
a. No putsches
b. No political assassinations
c. Creation of Grand Coalition in 1928 (left right and centre in command of a secure
2. Increased acceptance of democracy
a. 1928 election, 76% pro-Weimar parties
b. Nazis only 2.6%
c. Far right coalition failed to get support for anti-Young Plan referendum
3. The role of Hindenburg
a. 1928, chose SPD Chancellor despite opposition to socialism
1.…read more

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Britain and France comparatively better economies
5. Social tensions
a. Tension between workers and owners, owners resented arbitration
3.8: `Golden Years' ­ foreign policy and culture
Foreign policy
1. Ruhr crisis ended: Stresemann's tactic worked and France left Ruhr in 1925
2. Reparations renegotiated: Dawes Plan 1924 and Young Plan 1929 policy of fulfilment
3. 1925, Germany agreed with post-war borders with France in Locarno Pact
4. Germany admitted to League of Nations in 1926
Young Plan
1.…read more


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