Democracy and Dictatorship


The Monarchy Under Threat

- Kaiser didn't believe in democracy and preferred the army (militarism)

- industrialisation meant the working class gained more economic power (socialism)

- the government didn't want to pass reforms in fear of a socialist revolt

- SPD gained popularity 

- "Weltpolitik" introduced as a distraction 

- Navy Laws = patriotic, socialist opposition = unpatriotic

- by 1912, the SPD was the largest party in the Reichstag

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The War Ends

- naval blockades led to mass starvation

- people wanted an end to the war

- unrest was a borderline civil way

- members of the SPD called for the Kaiser's resignation

- Kaiser abdicated and the SPD declared a republic

- after, Germany was disorganised and so a temporary government was formed until January 1919

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The Weimar Republic

- Friedrich Ebert, leader of the SPD, was President

- in February 1919, members of the Reichstag met and created a new constitution

- The President was elected every 7 years

- The Reichstag was elected every 4 years, using proportional representation

- The President could use Article 48 to suspend the constitution and pass laws without the Reichstag

- This was intended for emergency use only, but later undermined democracy

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Early Unpopularity

- Germany was too weak to risk restarting the conflict and so signed the Treaty

- Ebert signed the treaty and so, the Republic was associated with pain and humiliation

- war guilt clause --> humiliated

- armed forces reduced --> vulnerable

- forced to pay reparations --> lasting damage

- lost empire --> no power

- the public called the treaty a "Diktat"

- The politicians involved were called the "November Criminals"

- Germans felt like they were stabbed in the back

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The Spartacist Revolt

The Spartacists, led by Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht, tried to take over Germany on the 6th of January 1919, when they tried to rake over Berlin.

Thousands of them roamed the streets, fired guns and tried to take over important buildings.

50,000 workers went on strike in support of the movement.

The Spartacists tried to enforce communism.

To deal with this, Ebert sent 2000 Freikorps, a group of tough-ex soldiers, to fight with the Spartacists.

The Freikorps attacked and, after three days of brutal street fighting, they regained control of the buildings and murdered the leaders.

Over 100 workers were killed.

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The Kapp Putsch

In March 1920, a right-wing politician and journalist Wolfgang Kapp gathered around 5000 Freikorps and took over Berlin.

He wanted to take over the whole country and recover the land lost in the Treaty of Versailles.

President Ebert and the government fled Berlin. However, Kapp didn't have the workers' support and they went on strike, resulting in no gas, water, electricity or trains.

After only 100 hours as Germany's leader, Kapp fled abroad and Ebert and his government returned.

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Occupation of the Ruhr

- By 1923, Germany could no longer meet the reparations payments

- France and Belgium invaded the industrial area of the Ruhr

- The government ordered workers to go on strike - passive resistance]

- Over 100 workers were killed

- The government continued to print money to pay the striking workers

- As shop prices increased, wages increased

- This caused a huge hyperinflation crisis

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Early Stages of the Nazi Party

- Hitler joined the German Workers' Party in January 1919 and was known as a passionate and skilled speaker.

- In 1920, the party was re-branded as the National Socialist German Workers' Party

- In 1921, Hitler became the leader of the Nazi Party.

- In February 1920, the party promoted its policies in the "Twenty-Five Point Programme", stressing German superiority and anti-semitism.

- The party wanted to raise pensions and increase health and education whilst rejecting the Treaty of Versailles, giving the party a nationwide appeal.

- Hitler formed the SA in 1921, mainly formed of ex-soldiers.

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The Munich Putsch

- In November 1923, Hitler's soldiers occupied a beer hall in the Bavarian city of Munich during a local government meeting.

- The next day, he marched into Munich.

- The news had already been leaked and so the police were waiting for Hitler.

- The police fired and the revolt quickly collapsed.

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Impacts of Munich

- Hitler's trial and book "Mein Kampf" gave the party nationwide publicity

- Millions of Germans read the book, including ideas of Aryan superiority and the right to Lebensraum.

- In 1926, Hitler declared that the party would only follow his own agenda

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Recovery Under Stresemann

Chancellor - Aug-Nov 1923

Foreign Minister - Nov '23-Oct'29


- Printed the new Rentenmark to fix hyperinflation

-  Dawes Plan - borrowed 800 million gold marks from USA to kickstart the economy.

- Young plan - lowered reparations and extended deadline


- Locarno Pact in 1925 - France and Germany would respect borders

- Joined League of Nations in 1926

- Kellogg-Briand Pact in 1928 - refrain from violence and war

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Living Standards in Weimar Germany

Germany had a period of "Golden Years" in the 1920s.

- In 1927, unemployment insurance was introduced to help support the unemployed

- The working classes became more prosperous as wages increased

- Mass housing projects were introduced, building more than 2 million houses.

However, this could only be supported by a strong economy, Germany's was weak

The middle classes felt ignored by the government and so resentment grew.

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Women in Weimar Germany

- given the vote

- 112 women in Reichstag from 1919 to 1932

- seen as capable workers

- traditional roles changed and new female sports clubs sprang up

- divorce became easier

Some nationalists felt that giving women freedom threatened traditional family life

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Culture in Weimar Germany

- period of creativity and innovation

- artists questioned traditional ideas like militarism and authority

- Bertholt Brecht - style of drama

- Bauhaus School of design - new buildings

- new music, literature and cinema

- new ways of critical thinking

- cabaret culture in Berlin

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The Great Depression

- October 1929 Wall Street Crash caused an international economic crisis

- Germany was dependent on USA loans but they could no longer afford to lend money

- There was mass unemployment in Germany - 6 million in February 1932

- The government cut unemployment benefits, causing anger

- The KPD promised a fair society and competed with the Nazi Party for votes

- In July 1932, 37% of votes were for the Nazis

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The Nazi Rise

The Nazis promised a more prosperous and less humiliating future.

Membership was over 300,000 in 1930

The promise to make Germany great again appealed to the unemployed and young people.

The Depression saw a 10% increase in voting.

Anti-semitic and anti-communist views were appealing.

The SA made the Nazis look organised and disciplined with strong leadership.

Propaganda was efficient and often targeted specific groups.

Hitler was patriotic and energetic, depicted as their saviour.

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Becoming Chancellor

Hitler ran against Hindenburg but lost, although Hindenburg didn't win a majority at first.

In July 1932, the Nazis won the most seats in the Reichstag but Hindenburg didn't appoint Hitler as Chancellor.

In November 1932 election, the Nazis lost seats in the Reichstag.

Hitler made a deal with Von Papen that if he managed to persuade Hindenburg, Hitler would allow Papen to be Vice-Chancellor.

Hindenburg agreed with Papen, thinking that he could control Hitler.

Hitler used his powers to call another election in March 1933.

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Establishing a Dictatorship


- Nazis controlled media

- SA terrorised opponents

- Blamed communists for the Reichstag fire


- Won most seats but not a majority

- Banned the communist party

- Enabling Act passed in 1933 to allow Hitler to govern without the Reichstag

- trade unions were banned in May 1933

- All other parties were banned by July 1933

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Achieving Total Power

- Hitler feared that Ernst Röhm was becoming too powerful


- Arrested and killed Röhm and hundreds more

- Hitler declared their murders legal for safety reasons

- Hitler showed he was free to act above the law

- Hindenburg died August 1934

- Hitler titled himself Der Führer 

- the army had to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler

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The Machinery of Terror

- The Law for the Reconstruction of the Reich (1934) gave Nazis control of local governments

- 1933 - special courts set up where criminals had their basic rights suspended

- 1934 - People's Court established, defendants almost always found guilty

- Judges didn't have to be fair and were expected to rule in favour of Nazis

- leader of SD aimed for Germans to be under continual supervision

- ** were Hitler's bodyguards

- The Gestapo interrogated and imprisoned without trial

- the public was encouraged to report disloyalty

- concentration camps set up, some becoming death camps

Some followed out of fear, some followed out of confidence.

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Nazi Propaganda

Propaganda intended to unite German people and show traditional German values.

It also included anti-semitic and anti-communist ideas

Hitler continually promised to reverse the ToV

The "Hitler Myth" made Hitler seem like a god.

Censorship was used to control how people thought.

Public rallies were used to spread propaganda.

The 1936 Berlin Olympics were used to show off German wealth and power.

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Nazis and the Church

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