From Second Reich to Third Reich: Germany 1918 – 45

These are some revision notes which I have prepared for my January exam on Germany. Note: It only covers the first section; collapse of Democracy 

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AS History ­ From Second Reich to Third Reich: Germany 1918 ­ 45
Effects of WW1 on Germany.
Germany expected a quick victory so her economy was not prepared when it turned out to be a
lengthy war. Conditions in Germany were becoming worse and worse, raw materials needed to
make ammunition were being blockaded by the allies and the naval blockade created starvation
throughout Germany. She had suffered far more losses than any other country, losing 1.8 million men.
Conditions on the front were not meant for 4 years of trench warfare resulting in military morale
deteriorating and people losing trust in the old government who had created these conditions.
Economic Social Political
War was financed by printing Emotional trauma for soldiers July 1917 ­ Reichstag voted for
money and borrowing ­ and their families peace
inflation occurred. Prices (2 million killed in war, 6.3
doubled. wounded)
£8, 394m reparation price. Major food and fuel shortages April 1917 ­ Radicals opposed
Only 16% was met by taxation as a result of the exceptionally the war formed the USPD
cold winter of 1916-17
There were expectations of Civilian deaths occurred from September 1917 ­ Fatherland
booty from victory (goods or starvation and hypothermia party founded by nationalists
property seized by force ­raw 1916: lost 121, 000 wanted Germany to make
material needed to make 1918: lost 293, 000 "peace of victory"
Strikes and resentment of Strikes and resentment of 1914 ­ most Germans rallied
industrial profits by workers. industrial profits by workers. (troops continued fighting after
defeat) to the nation by 1917
1917 winter was known as the 1917 winter was known as the 1916 ­ increasing military
"turnip winter" the only food "turnip winter" the only food control of government,
available ­ starvation available ­ starvation criticism of war
Child deaths increased by 50%
during war.
Agricultural production fell
1918 Europe hit by Spanish flu
epidemic 20-40m died

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The German revolution
The Revolution From Above ­ (replacement of current emperor with civilian government).
It was clear that a new government was necessary because they had not been successful in winning
the war. More importantly, the people of Germany had been led to believe by their government that
they were winning the war (through government propaganda). Only the leaders like Ludendorff and
Hindenburg new the true state, especially when America joined the war in 1917 when it became
clear that they would not win.…read more

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November. Recognising that Germany's socialists were now in control, a new six-man government
made up exclusively of socialists then came into office. Friedrich Ebert was its most influential
member. However this was only an interim government (intervening for a period because it is
after all, no one had elected it. Its main task was to find a new, permanent government
for Germany.…read more

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The moderates (SPD) then suggested a
national assembly (elected people who form laws). In order to do this a constitution would need to
be drawn up (principles on how a state is governed). A conference was set up which contained all of
Germany's soviets (workers councils) most of whom were under control of the SPD (because many
had rebelled under socialist influence) and so it voted in favour of a national assembly.…read more

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Germany was suffering from widespread hunger (allies blockaded food) which they could seek to
50, 000 Spartacists revolted, led by Karl Luxemburg and Rosa Liebknecht. Recognising the army's
unreliability, the government had to make different plans. Gustav Noske the defence minister,
allowed the formation of a privately organised military style units to help maintain order (control the
spartacists ­ instead of the army).…read more

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Ruled by the Kaiser (Emperor) who President (At the moment-Ebert) Elected every
appointed/dismissed government and could 7 years. Appoints/dismisses Chancellor (looks
dissolve the Reichstag. He controlled the after finances) Could dissolve Reichstag and
armed forces and Germanys affairs with other arrange for new elections. Commands the army
countries. and in an emergency could issue laws and
override constitutional rights of the German
Reichstag ­ (equivalent to parliament) elected Reichstag ­ elected by all Germans (over 20).
by males (they could only vote).…read more

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Hitler. (But at this
point he was only a chancellor so could not use it yet).
Democracy in crisis, 1919-1923
In the early years of the Weimar republic the extreme right got its power from the displaced ruling
class of imperial Germany (now replaced by republic) ­ from the Emperors/kings etc., army officers
and industrial tycoons (wealthy business people).
The German Nationalist Party (DNVP) was the most important extreme right-wing political party of
the 1920s.…read more

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Territorial provisions on Germany's western border ­ Alsace Lorraine given back to France. Rhineland
was demilitarised and the western part was occupied by allied military forces for 15 years (make
sure Germany was not re-militarising) Saar coalfields given to France for 15 years, would
compensation for the temporary loss and damage to Frances coalfields during the war.
Territorial losses on Germany's eastern border ­ `Polish Corridor' given to new Poland to make sure
it had access to the sea.…read more

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Republic by force. Before the treaty was
drawn up Germany's armed forces totalled more than half a million ­ 250, 000 in the Free Corps and
the rest in the regular army - huge cuts had to be made in order for Versailles terms to be obeyed.
As a result the Free Corps where disbanded. However the government had promised to incorporate
the Free Corps into the regular army in return for their efforts in defending the Republic.…read more

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Crisis of 1923 ­ Hyperinflation
Germany were feeling the effects of high inflations after WW1. Especially as the treaty of Versailles
had forced Germany to pay £6, 600 billion in reparations. In 1921 Germany had paid £50 million but in
1922 she had paid nothing. Instead Germany was trying to think of a way to negotiate the terms of
the treaty.…read more


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