Notes on the Weimar Republic

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Birth of Weimar- Nov 9th Kaiser Abdicates- Nov 10th Ebert Becomes Leader- Nationalists
and Army had been `stabbed in the back'- January 1919 Spartacists Revolt in Berlin
Weimar Constitution- Attempted to set up the most democratic system in the world where
no individual could gain too much power. Before the war, Germany had no real democracy,
Kaiser was virtually a dictator. In the new constitution, any German over 20 could vote, A
system of proportional representation was introduced, A Chancellor was in charge of the
­day-to-day systems but needed half the support of the Reichstag, Head of State was the
President, he stayed out of the day-to-day business, but if a crisis occurred could use
Article 48 to make laws without the consultation of the Reichstag
Strengths of Old Weaknesses of Old Strengths of New Weaknesses of New
Constitution Constitution Constitution Constitution
Well Organised Undemocratic- People in Too
Law and Order Kaiser automatic Germany democratic-
Guaranteed ruler guaranteed many small
Strong Autocratic- Civil Rights parties had
Leadership Kaiser held all Democratic seats in
Decisive power Proportional Reichstag
Government Representation Article 48
Militaristic Reichstag gave
Society responsible for President
law making power to
Elected Head suspend
of State, the democracy
Communist Uprisings- January 1919- Spartacists led by Rosa Luxembourg and Karl
Liebknecht. Dealt with by the Freikorps. Ebert's ruthless measures led to bitterness
between Communist party and Socialists. Many Germans approved the tactics used.
Kapp Putsch- Right-wing ex-soldiers who were anti-communist. They liked the Kaiser's
dictational style; they liked a strong German army. Even though Ebert used the Freikorps,
he couldn't trust them. Some members were extreme nationalists who opposed
democratic ideas. They believed a powerful army could prevent the spread of communism.
The Treaty of Versailles restrictions applied to the Freikorps too so Ebert tried to disband
them in 1920. In March 1920, 5,000 Freikorps marched on Berlin and claimed that their
leader Dr Wolfgang Kapp as leader. The army refused to take action so Ebert's government
fled Berlin. The government then called a strike which was supported by workers
opposing the Freikorps. Gas, water and electricity supplies to Berlin were cut off. Dr Kapp
escaped to Sweden and Ebert returned to take power once again
The Economic Crisis- During WWI the government paid its bills by printing money. This
meant there was more money than gold reserves were down on paper money in

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This led to a vicious circle as workers demanded higher
wages which caused inflation
Hyperinflation/Ruhr Invasion- Germany spent huge amounts on the war. After the war,
Germany lost valuable raw materials when territory was taken away. After Germany failed
to repay reparations in 1922, France and Belgium moved into the Ruhr district which was
the centre of German coal and steel production site in 1923. The government ordered the
region to partake in passive resistance against the French.…read more

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Had Weimar Republic Solved Problems by 1929?- It seemed to have overcome problems of
its early years, but within 4 years Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany and within five
years the constitution had been overturned
Weimar Under Stresemann- Problems
Economy Culture Politics Foreign Policy
Precarious- US In villages and Nazis and Nationalists
could ask for country towns, Communists attacked
money back at they frowned upon were building Stresemann
any time the city life as it up their party for joining the
Big businesses glamorised…read more


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