Germany 1919-1939

Detailed notes on Germany between 1919-1939, looks at the rise of Hitler and his foreign policy. As well as looking at the affect on Germany immediately after the WWI and the affect the Treaty of Versailles had.

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GERMANY 191939
Situation in 1919.
The situation of Germany in 1919 was little short of disastrous. Having lost
the war, the Kaiser had abdicated and had fled to exile in Holland, leaving
his former subjects to pick up the pieces and find a new way of governing the
country. The harsh terms of the Armistice and the Treaty of Versailles were
deeply resented, and the new interim government was despised for signing
them, even though there was little or no alternative. Many people accepted at
face value the claim of General Ludendorff that the German Army had been
"stabbed in the back" by the politicians who had signed the Armistice, the
socalled 'November Criminals'. This was really no more than a convenient
excuse, for the clear fact was that the German Army was being pushed
steadily back by superior Allied forces and that Ludendorff himself,
recognising that Germany had lost the war, had advised the Kaiser to seek
an armistice.
All the same, the loss of territory, the military restrictions, the 'warguilt'
clause and reparations were deeply resented by all patriotic Germans.
The Weimar Republic.
New political arrangements clearly had to be made: Germany had been ruled
by a Kaiser since unification in 1871, and the leading states, such as Prussia
and Bavaria, had been ruled by kings for centuries. But now there was no
king or emperor.
Between February and July 1919 a National Constituent Assembly met in the
small town of Weimar, a spa resort in Saxony, to draw up a constitution for
the new German Republic: as a result, this period of German history is often
referred to as the Weimar Republic. Because the Social Democrats had been
the largest party in the old Imperial Reichstag (parliament), their ideas
formed the basis of the new constitution. Here are some of its most
significant points.
1. The head of state was to be a President, elected every seven years by
direct elections.
2. The new parliament was still to be known as the Reichstag, even though
the Reich (Empire) had ceased to exist.
3. Deputies in the Reichstag (MPs) were to be elected by universal suffrage
all adults were entitled to vote.
4. The strength of parties in the Reichstag was to be based on proportional
representation, i.e. they got the number of seats to which their proportion of
the overall votes had entitled them.
5. The President appointed the Chancellor, who was head of the government
(Prime Minister).
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Threats To The Weimar Republic.
Between 1919 and 1923, the Weimar Republic faced several threats to its
existence: there were three attempted revolutions and also perhaps the most
serious financial crisis of the early twentieth century.
The Spartakist Rising, January 1919.
This was an attempt by the Communist Party, led by Karl Liebknecht and
Rosa Luxemburg to overthrow the new government and establish a
Communist state, like Lenin had done in Russia.…read more

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French and Belgians agreed to
withdraw the troops.
In November 1923 he resigned as Chancellor, but remained as Foreign
Minister until his death in 1929, achieving several successes for Germany in
her relations with her former enemies.
The German mark had been losing value steadily since the war: now
inflation escalated with such incredible force that it is usually known as
'hyperinflation'.…read more

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The Stresemann Era, 192429.
In this period Germany made several significant moves in foreign policy.
The Locarno Pacts, 1925.
The most important of the various Locarno pacts saw Germany, France and
Belgium sign an agreement that all three would respect the frontiers
established at Versailles Britain and Italy guaranteed that they would
enforce these frontiers if they were violated in any way. There were other
agreements between Germany and several European countries about settling
disputes between them.…read more

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Adolf Hitler.
Hitler was born in Braunnau, Austria, in 1889: he failed to gain admission to
Art College or Architectural College in Vienna, later blaming Jewish art
lecturers for this failure. In 1913 he fled to Bavaria to avoid military service
in the multiracial AustroHungarian Army.…read more

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Sturm Abteilung, the SA, bullied opponents both inside
and outside the Party into obedience. Gradually other sections of the party
were established the Hitler Youth, the League of German Girls and the
'protection squads' of the Schutzstaffeln, the SS. By late 1928 the Nazi Party
had just over 100,000 members throughout Germany.…read more

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The Nazis Become Popular, 193033.
After the death of Stresemann, no German politician had the necessary ideas
or authority to deal with the worsening economic situation: Bruning, von
Papen and von Schleicher were appointed and dismissed as Chancellor by
President Hindenburg, none of them capable of halting the disaster.…read more

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Hindenburg was acting within the powers granted him by the Weimar
constitution. It was all quite legal.
These figures show the number of seats won by the various political parties in Germany under
the Weimar Republic. Since the Weimar constitution operated by proportional representation,
these figures illustrate clearly the level of support the different parties had.…read more

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For each of the five parties shown on the graph, work out whether their support increased,
decreased or remained steady in the period 1928 to 1933 and in each case try to explain why
this may have happened.


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