Germany key topic 1

  • Created by: holly6901
  • Created on: 03-04-19 09:32

The legacy of the war and the revolution in 1918-1

Defeat in the war in 1918 led to a revolution in Germany in 1918-19.

The revolution

  • By Autumn 1918 German defeat seemed imminent
  • In October 1918, Prince Max of Baden formed a new government 
  • He approached President Wilson but he refused to discuss peace when Kaiser Wilhelm was in power.
  • Towards the end of October 1918, the German navy at Kiel refused to fight.
  • On 9th November Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated.
  • On 10th November a new republic was created under Chancellor Ebert.
  • On 11th November Ebert signed the armistice.
1 of 10

Setting up of the republic

In January 1919, a new democratic constitution was drawn up and finalised in August 1919.


  • It established the most advanced democracy in Europe where both men and women could vote at 20.
  • The President was elected every seven years.
  • The Reichstag had the power to pass or reject legal changes.
  • The Reichstag was elected by proportional representation every four years.
  • It established free speech and freedom of religious belief.


  • Article 48 allowed the President to make laws without asking the Reichstag which gave the President too much power.
  • Proportional representation meant even extreme parties got seats.
  • It also led to coalitions, which were often weak.
  • Army generals and judges also served under the Kaiser, they were against the republic.
2 of 10

The stab in the back theory and the Treaty of Vers

The republic was unpopular in the early years due to 'the stab in the back theory' and the Treaty of Versailles. 

The stab in the back theory

Many Germans thought the army had been 'stabbed in the back' by the politicians who signed the armistice.

The key terms of the Treaty of Versailles - LAMB - Land, Army, Money, Blame

  • The military terms reduced the German army to 100,000 men and demilitarised the Rhineland. It also banned Germany from having tanks, military aircraft and submarines.
  • Germany lost 13% of its land, including major industrial areas.
  • They had to pay reparations of £6.6 billion.
  • Germany had to accept blame for the war. 

Opponents to the Treaty called it a diktat or dictated peace.

3 of 10

Challenges from the left and right

The Republic faced several uprisings from the left and right.

Opposition from the left - The Spartacists

  • They were led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.
  • They demonstrated against the government in 1918.
  • Sixteen people died in the clashes with the army.
  • They formed the German Communist Party.
  • On 5th January 1919, they staged an uprising in Berlin to overthrow the government and create a communist state.
  • The rising was crushed so Luxemburg and Liebknecht were killed.

Opposition from the right - The Kapp Putsch

  • The Friekorps were furious about the Treaty of Versailles. 
  • In March 1920, they attempted to take power in Berlin through a putsch.
  • The putsch was led by Dr Wolfgang Kapp.
  • Kapp set up a new right-wing government in Berlin. The Army didn't stop the putsch, showing their dislike for the Republic. 
  • Berlin workers supported Weimar and went on strike, the putsch collapsed.
4 of 10


  • The government couldn't pay the first reparation payment.
  • In January 1923, the French marched into the Ruhr to take goods as payment.
  • The workers passively resisted the occupation and went on strike.
  • The government printed more money to pay the workers. 
  • More money printed and fewer goods turned inflation into hyperinflation.
  • By November 1923, $1 was worth 4,200,000,000 marks.
5 of 10

Reasons for economic recovery

There were several reasons for the economic recovery of the Republic. These included:

  • The role of Stresemann
  • American loans
  • The Retenmark
  • The Young Plan
  • The Dawes Plan

The Rentenmark

  • In November 1923, Stresemann introduced the Retenmark to replace the German mark.
  • This was a temporary measure in order to stabilise the currency and restore confidence.
  • The Retenmark's value was based on property values rather than on gold reserves.
  • It was converted into the Reichsmark the following year.

The Dawes Plan

  • The Dawes Plan in 1924 was to recognise Germany's attempts to pay the reparations.
  • Payments were altered to match Germany's ability to pay.
  • In turn, the French withdrew from the Ruhr.
6 of 10

American loans and the Young Plan

American loans

  • The Dawes Plan also aimed to boost the German economy through US loans.
  • Over the next six years, the US loaned nearly $3 billion.

The Young Plan

  • In 1929, Germany negotiated a further change to reparations.
  • A timescale for payments was made, with Germany paying until 1988.
  • The total figure was reduced from £6.6 billion to £1.85 billion.
7 of 10

Stresemann's achievements in Germany and abroad

Stresemann's role in the recovery of the Republic

  • In August 1923, Stresemann was appointed the chancellor to deal with hyperinflation.
  • He decided to call off passive resistance in the Ruhr and to negotiate the Dawes Plan.

Stresemann's achievements abroad

  • Stresemann greatly improved relations with Britain and France by ending passive resistance in the Ruhr. 
  • The Locarno Pact(1925) was signed by Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Belgium. This meant Germany agreed to keep its existing borders.
  • Germany had to become a member of the League of Nations for the Pact to come into force. It was given a permanent seat in 1926.
  • In 1928, Germany signed the Kellog-Briand Pact(the cornflake pact) along with 64 other nations.
  • These nations agreed to use their armies for self-defence only and to resolve all disputes by peaceful means.
8 of 10

Changes in society 1924-29


  • The real value of wages increased each year after 1924.
  • By 1928, Germany had some of the best-paid workers in Europe.
  • While unemployment generally fell, it remained high in professions such as lawyers, teachers and civil servants.

Unemployment insurance

  • The Unemployment Insurance Law(1927) required workers and employees to contribute to unemployment welfare.


  • The government also attempted to deal with a shortage of housing.
  • Between 1924 and 1931, more than 2 million new homes were built.
  • By 1928, homelessness had been reduced by more than 60%.

A new architecture movement called Bauhaus was emerging which used bold designs and basic shapes 

9 of 10

Changes in the position of women


  • In 1919, women over 20 got the vote.
  • The constitution introduced equality in education, civil service appointments and equal pay.
  • By 1926, there were 32 women deputies in the Reichstag.


  • Women enjoyed more freedom socially. They;
  • Went out unescorted
  • Drank and smoked in public.
  • Were fashion conscious.
  • Often wore short skirts.
  • Had their hair cut short.
  • Wore makeup.


  • There were more women in jobs, particularly in public employment, in shops and on the assembly line. By 1933, there were 100,000 female teachers and 3000 female doctors.
  • Those who worked in the civil service got equal pay.
10 of 10


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all WWII and Nazi Germany 1939-1945 resources »