Germany 1918-45

weirmar republic and nazi germany as history ccea

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  • Created on: 02-06-11 00:12

The Treaty of Versailles

  • The Weirmar Republic was associated with national humiliation
  • The loss of  The 1st  World War to France
  • Loss of land now a new found Polland territory
  • Forrbiden to form allies with Austria
  • Disarmament and an army reduced to 100,000 men with no air force or tanks
  • Rhine land was to be demilitarised and allied troops remained on right banks for severall years
  • Huge war reperation costs

Hitler later gained support by promising to reverse the terms of the Treaty, Britan also believed that the treaty was harsh on germany and believed Hitler should be allowed to do this.

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Weimar Constitution

1919 Germany became a democracy for the first time after the end of the first world war before this event Germany had been ruled by the Kaiser Willhelm.

The Weimar republic was an elected government, the capital of Berlin was under the control of communnist and the new government was forced to meer in Weimar instead of Berlin.

People voted  for MP's to represent them in the Reichstag/Parliament. The political party to gain a majority formed the government. The leader of the party became chancellor or prime minister.To keep a check on the actions of the new government a president or head of state was elected the relationship between them is was simillar to the monarch and the prime minister in the UK.

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Problems in Weimar Germany


  • German political parties found it difficult to get a majority in the reichstag as there were so many parties each of which represented a small group of people.This meant it was hard to pass legislation and also resulted in coalition governments.
  • Weirmar republic was blamed  for surrendering in 1918 and isgning the treaty, they were particularly blamed by the right wing groups such as the Nazi's.
  • There was no tradition of democracy and no reason to suggest it would survive for long. They faced serious competition from communists revolts  and right-wing paramilitries such as the Nazi's SA or the Freicorps
  • They faced economic difficulties recovring from the war and having to pay large reperations which made people turn to extremist parties and organisations .
  • Depression of the wall street crash and Germany suffered badly USA stopped paying loans to Germany and germans suffered badly
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Hyper inflation and Occupation of the Ruhr

  • As Germany was unable to meet the payments of reperations, the german currency collapsed and all germans suffered big financial losses. In 1923 French and Beligian forces occupied the Ruhr Germanys industrial region as they had stopped makinf reperation deliveries.
  • German workers were encouraged to strike and protest due to the occupation, the result was a period of hyper inflation as the government printed more money to put into the economy and resulted in the German Mark becoming worthless.
  • Many germans turned to extremists such as Nazi's and Communists
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The Nazi party

  • Nazis felt betrayed by the democracy, the treaty of versailles and the weimar republic
  • Hitler was a part of the army and was sent to spy on the DAP or German workers party  as they were seen to be potential trouble makers. However Hitlet must have been impressed by the small group as he joined the party.
  • The DAP changed their name to the NSDAP (The Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party) or for short the NAZI's.
  • Within a short while Hitler was speaking at meetings in beerhalls where people listened to his speeches on jews, communists and the Weimar politicans.
  • Hitler set up a army who were encouraged to wear uniform who beat up opponents such as communists they soon became known as The SA.
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Munich Beerhall Putsch 1923

The Nazi's had growing support and numbered several thousand, Hitler decided it was the right time to seize power in Bavaria (southern Germany) and then to march to Berlin.The revolt took place in Munich on the 8th of November, He planned to make the first world war hero General Luddendorff a dictator.The Nazi's kiddnapped the leaders of the Bavarian government and declared a revolution.

The next day they marched on Munich. Police crushed the rebellion and shot 6 of the 3000 Nazi demonstrators dead. Hitler was arrested and other leading Nazi's were put on trial.

Hitler had badly misjudged his support from the people of Munich. Though the judge sympathised and was given a minimum sentence of 9 months.Hitler used this time in prison to write mein Kampf which outlined all hitlers ideas in a book. He also changed his plan to gian power by using th system of elections. Hitler soon became Leader of the Nazi Party.

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The Recovery 1920's

  • Gustav streesemann became chancellor in 1923 he dominated german politics and helped stablise the country. In 1924 the allies made it easier for germany to pay reperations through the dawes plan where the USA agreed to loan money to Germany.
  • In Oct 1925 Stresemann signed the pact and Hindenburg was declared president of The Republic.Germany agreed not to challenge it borders with France and Belgium and allies withdrew forces in the Ruhr.
  • A new currency was established called the Reichsmark and an impressive economic recovery began.Due to Stresemanns sucess of improving the economy extremist groups like communists and Nazis lost support and the Weimar appeared to be working.
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The Wall Street Crash 1929

Streesemann died in 1929 when the world economic depressin occurs throwing Weimar Germany into crisis. Value of shares dropped and businesses would soon go bust. 6 million were made unemployed by1932.

Extremist groups became popular again and in the September of 1930 Nazi's managed to be the 2nd biggest party in the Reichstag their support growing as the depression deepened.

In july 1932 the Nazi's became the largest party in the Reichstag and Hindenburg was pursuaded to bring Hitler into government with the conservatives believing they could controll Hitler from the coalition. Hitler was appointed chancellor in 1955 and he soon abolished the office of the president after Hindenburg died and declared himself the fuhrer of the Third Reich.

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Growth of the Nazis 1920-33

The Nazis did not come with any new ideas of beliefs untill 1920's. All of their policys were either copied from othe parties or already populr in Germany previously. Hitlers anti-semitism was very popular as Germans blamed jew for losing the First World War.Hitler wanted to unitre everyone in the struggle to make Germany Great once again.

  • Demand for the union of Germans into a greater Germany
  • Nazi's used clever propaganda to win support such as speeches, radio,posters,leaflets,flags and banners
  • End to the Treaty of Versailles
  • Only fellow Germans can have a German heritage (excluding Jews)
  • All Germans have thr right to vote
  • All immigration of "non-Germans" must stop
  • Demand for large industries to share profits with workers
  • Improvements on pensions
  • New laws to confiscate property in the interest of the nation
  • Freedom of religion as long as it does not endanger the position of the state or moral standards of the German race (excluding Jews , Nazi's opposed jewish love of wealth)
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Nazi party 1924-28

When the Munich Putsch failed and it was not possible to seize power this way he vowed to win support legally.Nazi's concetated on propganda but did not do well in the elections in the 1920's. However support began to increase when the Wall Street Crash occured and Hitler realised this was his chance 1929-34.

By 1932 the Nazis were the most popular party in Germany although they did not have an overall majority in the Reichstag. In1933 President Hinden burg was forced to invite Hitler as Chancellor he believed Von papen could control Hitler as her was Vice Chancellor. They thought Hitler would make a mess as he had never been in such position before and he would resign quickly, this was a serious misjudgement. By 1934 Germany was a dictatorship.

Many people were glad that Hitler had come to power in 1933, he seemed to promise a way out for germany and promised to provide work, food and a comfertable home.Abroad there were mixed feelings about Nazi's some saw him as a brave man  others were worried that his rise to power would one day cause another war.

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The Third Reich

Problems with Hitlers Appointment of Chancellorship

  • He did not have a majority and could not pass laws easily
  • Commnists were a threat and a strong opposition
  • SA were dangerously powerful their leader Ernst rohm hinted he wanted to use the SA to get rid of Hitler

The Reichstag Fire & 1933 election

  • The German parliament was burnt down this event was blamed on the communists althought it has nto been proven.
  • The Nazi's used this as a excuse to throw suspicion on the communist party.
  • In march 1933 the Nazi's won the election and joined forced with the Nationalists giving them an over all majority.
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The Enabling Act 1933 and Night of The Long Knifes

The Enabling Act

  • With a majority in the Reichstag Hitler was able to pass the enabling act. Which gave him a rage of powers to deal with his opponents and soon the communist party was banned, many communists were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. Soon all political parties were banned and trade unions were shut down. Hitler had achieved almost total power over Germany.

Night of The Long Knifes 30th June 1934

  • Hitler was still worried about some members of his own party in particular Ernst Rohm the leader of the SA and so the SS Hitlers body guard butched and killed between 150-200 SA leaders including Erst Rohm. This put an end to disagreement in the Nazi party.
  • The SA was weakened and formed one ultra loyal SS to Hitler, soon after Hindenburg died as president and Hitler took on both roles and made a new title called the Fuhrer.
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Methods of control and repression

  • The SS was created in 1925 as Hitlers personal Body guards it had unquestioning obidence and loyalty to Hitler. By1933 it had 52,000 members.The SS destroyed the SA under Hitlers command. Himmler the leader of the SS became the Chief of German police in 1936 and was answerable to Hitler personally. He was ruthless and efficient.
  • The Gestapo or secret police  were greatly feared it had a wide range of spies and informers. The Gestapo could arrive at your home at any time and take you away for questioning. This was used to keep oposition quiet.
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Repression waws onlt half od the story of the Nazi Regime staying in power.

  • Propaganda was a big role and goebbels was made "minister of popular enlightment and propganda" in 1933. His role was to control the media to make the Nazis as popular as possible and prevent any criticism , in other words Censorship of the media,  radio and press.The Nazi's set up a Reich Radio company and promoted the production and radio, germany had the highest percentage of radio owers  by 1939. The Press was harder to controll as it had independance. The Nazi's had thier own publishing company and bought two thirds of newspapers by 1939. Newspaper sales fell by 1929 the doctored new was  boring to read.
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  • Hitler saw education as a tool to indoctrinate or brainwash the youth into Nazi principles to guarantee the long term survival of the Third reich. Youth organisations were set up and they kept a firm grip on schools.
  • In1934 Ministry of education and science was set up to control the education system. Many changed were made: some teachers were sacked; many teachers were forced to join the Nazi party; the ciriculum changed to include much more PE, German language and literature and biology became the study of Nazi race theories, Histiry classes now foucused on the mission of Germany and the Nazi's

Youth movements were Key to Nazi policy and youth:

  • League of German Girls 14-18
  • League of Young Girls 10-14
  • Hitler Youth boys 14-18
  • German Young People boys 10-14
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Children learned to love Hitler and were brainwashed by his ideas. For boys ther ewas physica training and for girls domestic training to prepare them for roles as mothers and citizens of the Third Reich.

The youth movements encouraged teamwork and  provided extra curricular activities. But the evidence shows that the German youth was not won over by 1939 and many youths resented the military style discipline.

A number of youth groups were opposed to the Nazi;s such as Swing Youth, Edelweiss Pirates adn the White Rose. But the Nazi's could not tolerate these young people and they were put down savagely in the 1940's.

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Economic policy and rearmment

  • Nazi policy pre 1933 had been deliebertly vauge so it would appeal to all classes. Nazis sometimes sounded anti capitalist but then other times they Hitler was able to assure bis businesses, Nazi policy still wasn't completely clear fater 1933 either.
  • So  Schacht was put in charge of the economy  his main ide was to encourage the Nazi's to create big building schemes sucha as great motorways. This would provide jobs  for millions of unem ployed in the early 1930's with all the new money being earnt by the workers they could spendon goods which would be good for german business. It seemed to work and unemployment fell dramaticlly to only 1.7 million by 1935.
  • He alo increased unemployment by creating jobs in rearming Germany. Jobs were created for making weapons and munitions for the rapidly increasing armed forces.
  • The revival of the economy helped the Nazi regime and it appeared to many people that Hitler had saved germany from the crippling economic problems of pre 1933.
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The Working Class

Workers made a number of significant gains :

  • a regular job
  • rents were fixed
  • cheap recreation
  • Wages increased in 1933 but very slowly

But the worker also lost out:

  • trade unions and right to bargin with employers
  • pay was controlled
  • freedom of movement was limited
  • May1933 workers had to join the Nazi controlled "german Labour Front"
  • Hours of work increased in 1933 in the armaments industry
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Farmers and Small Busines


  • Nazi's had made vauge promises to Farmers during Nazi rise to power. Nazi's liked farmers and Nazi ideology stressed blood and soil and they believed racially pure farmers stood for traditional German values
  • The Nazi's did give some help to the farmers but by 1930's they drifted into towns for higher wages creating a severe labour shortage on farms and the regime did nothing about this.
  • In reality Farmers did not thrive uner the Nazi regime

Small Business

  • Small business men had been promised much but gained little from Nazi rule. The regime needed and  favoured big business
  • Destruction of Trade Unions and spending on production of armament helped big business as profits, share values, income and investment all improved under Nazi rule.
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Racial Policy

  • Between 1933 and 1945 the Nazi's encouraged hatred of Jews not only in Germany but in German occupied countires after 1939. At first the Nazi's made it difficult for the Jews to live comfertabley in Germany by 1938 a series of laws were passed against them and after 1941 the Nazi's set about exterminating the Jews as the "Final Solution"
  • Anti-Semitism has an ancient history in Europe, not just in Germany and certainly not invented by the Nazis. It was rooted in hatred of Jews as the murderers of Jesus. It was strong in the 1900s. The Jews were a convenient "scapegoat". Jews were seen as unfairly privileged: in Germany, 1% of the population was Jewish, yet Jews were 5% of writers, 10% of doctors, and 16% of lawyers.
  • Hitler grew up in this culture of prejudice: he was a product of German anti-Semitism, not its creator. But Hitler's hatred of Jews was obsessive and vindictive, and it shaped his whole political philosophy. Hitler exploited hatred of Jews in his struggle for power. But after 1933 his policy was gradual: boycotts and discriminatory laws to start with. Fear of state terror and propaganda made it difficult for Germans to resist.
  • Many Jews left in fear: 30% did so between 1933-8. The Holocaust had not really begun in 1939
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Racial Policy

  • Before 1933Hitler and the Nazis attack the Jews in speeches and in Mein Kampf. Hitler uses the long tradition of hatred for the Jews to gain popularity
  • 1933 The Nazis come to power. Hitler orders a boycott of Jewish shops and businesses
  • 1934  All Jewish shops marked with a yellow star of David. Germans discouraged from entering Jewish shops. Jews dismissed from jobs in the civil service, education and the media.
  • 1935 The Nuremberg Laws. The Citizenship Law stated that Jews were no longer German citizens, they could not be employed in any public position and law no longer protected them. The Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honour banned marriages and sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews
  • 1936&37 Many Jews begin to leave Germany.
  • 1938 Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass). 30,000 Jews arrested, Jewish shops, synagogues and businesses burnt down or damaged. Jews forced to pay a collective fine.
  • Mass arrest of Jews March 1939. Thousands of Jews sent to concentration camps until 1945.

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Religion in germany

  • Before 1933 Hitler avoided any attack on Christian ideas, but in private said "One is either Christian or German. You can't be both." Hitler wanted to encourage both Catholics and Protestants to join the Nazis.After 1933 Hitler arrested Catholic and Protestant priests who stood up to the Nazis.
  • The Nazis attempted to recreate a pagan alternative to Christianity based on a  Germanic past - the German Faith Movement - based on the rejection of Christian ethics, "blood and soil", adulation of Hitler, and pagan ceremonies for baptism and marriage. This never really took off. But it showed how the regime tried to undermine the churches.
  • The churches' influence was never destroyed, only restricted. Hitler's policies needed time to become rooted in German life. Some historians argue the churches failed in their responsibilities: they did not oppose Hitler actively or openly enough.
  • The Nazis also tried to control German culture and destroyed or banned anything they disagreed with. The famous burning of books in Berlin, May 1933, by Jewish authors, summed this up. This barbaric act in once so civilised a nation shocked many.
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Women in Germany

The place of women in Germany had been changing since 1900. The birth rate was falling (more contraception), female employment was rising, women were better educated, and there were fewer men to marry because so many were killed in the First World War.

Nazism opposed feminism, saw women as inferior, their place was in the home; all summed up by Kinder, Kuche, Kirche (KKK, Children, Kitchen and Church). The Nazi Party itself allowed women Party members no positions of authority. But the Nazis wanted to boost Germany's population, to increase its power and to resettle "the East" - Lebensraum ("Living Space") for Germans. Here was the key role for women - mothers of the next generation of Nazis!

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Women in Germany

Between 1933-36 the Nazis passed laws banning women from the higher professions e.g. medicine and law. The Nazis tried to persuade women to give up jobs and stay at home by giving them interest free loans if they married. From 1937 Nazi policies no longer worked. Conscription and rearmament from 1935 created labour shortages. Women had to be allowed to get jobs once again. This was even more so in the war (1939-45).

 To increase the population the Nazis tried: anti-abortion laws to prevent abortions and contraception. Cash rewards were given to women for each new child. Bronze, silver and gold medals were given for women who gave birth to four, six and eight children. The population did rise between 1933-1939, so maybe this policy worked!

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The End

The Nazis tried to turn back the clock by creating a unified Germany of peasant farmers and workers getting along happily with the upper and middle classes. But it didn’t work. Farmers and workers did gain work, but they were controlled. The lives of women and children were limited and for other groups such as the communists, the Jews and the gypsies, Nazi life meant persecution.

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Kapp putsch

  • The Kapp Putsch took place in Weimar Germany in March 1920. Wolfgang Kapp was a right-wing journalist who opposed all that he believed Friedrich Ebert stood for especially after what he believed was the humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • The Kapp Putsch was a direct threat to Weimar’s new government. Kapp was assisted by General Luttwitz who lead a group of Freikorps men. On March 13th, 1920, Luttwitz seized Berlin and proclaimed that a new right of centre nationalist government was being established with Kapp as chancellor.
  • Ebert had no immediate response to this in the sense that he could not impose his will on the situation. For the second time, he had to leave his capital – once again undermining his status and to some emphasising his weak position within Germany. The government reconvened in Dresden and the only card Ebert could play was to call for a general strike to paralyse the movement of those who supported Kapp and Luttwitz.
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Kapp putsch

  • Kapp received support from one of Germany’s foremost military officers – General Luderndorff. But the main officer corps of the German Army failed to follow Luderndorff’s lead. It is possible that they felt some form of support for a president who had given them a free hand in dealing with theCommunists/Spartacists in 1919. Certainly, Ebert could not have been seen as being anti-military. However, the military did nothing to stop the putsch and give active support to Ebert.
  • The general strike called for by Ebert ensured that those who supported Kapp could not move around and such paralysis doomed the putsch to failure. Kapp and Luttwitz fled Berlin on March 17th.
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Importance of the Kapp putsch

  • The government could not enforce its authority even in its own capital The government could not put down a challenge to its authority Only the mass power of a general strike could re-establish Ebert’s authority.
  • However, the success of this strike does indicate that the people of Berlin were willing to support Ebert’s government rather than a right-wing government lead by Kapp. In this sense, it can be argued that Ebert had the support of Berliners. A counter-argument to this is that Ebert was irrelevant to the Berliners thinking – they simply wanted no more trouble in their capital after experiencing the Spartacists/Communist rebellion in 1919. Peace was more important than political beliefs.
  • Those who fought for Kapp and Luttwitz were obvious future supporters of the fledgling Nazi Party. Ironically, the Erhardt Brigade, one of Luttwitz’s main fighting force, put a sign on their helmets to identify who they were: the swastika
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The Communist- Left wing theat

  • The Spartacists, lead by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, were a group of radical socialists who found 'fame' in the first few months after the November Armistice when Germany experienced its so-called 'Revolution'. 
  • The Spartacists were actually founded in the summer of 1915 when both Luxemburg and Liebknecht left the SDP because of the party's support for Germany's participation in the 1st WW. The political philosophy of the Spartacists was determined by Rosa Luxemburg.
  • In December 1918, some of the Spartacists - including Luxemburg and Liebknecht - founded the German Communist Party. Luxemburg had written numerous pamphlets about Lenin and how his leadership of the Russian Revolution would be of such great value to Russia.
  • Germans (and Europeans in general) were terrified of the 'Red Plague' in Russia and the adoption of the name 'communist' was fraught with danger. Many soldiers had returned from the war fronts massively disillusioned with the German government and hugely suspicious of anything that smacked of left-wing political beliefs. Many who had quit the German Army joined the right wing Free Corps (Freikorps). 

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The Rising of the Sparticists

In January 1919, the Communists rose up in revolt in Berlin. In every sense it was a futile gesture against the government. Ebert withdrew his government to the safety of Weimar and allowed the Freikorps and what remained of the regular army to bring peace and stability back to Berlin once again. No mercy was shown to the Spartacists/Communists whose leaders were murdered after being arrested. The Freikorps was better organised and armed - they also had a military background. The majority of the Spartacists were civilians. No-one doubted who would win.

With the deaths of Liebknecht and Luxemburg, the party fell into temporary disarray though the Communist Party gained strength in the 1920's under the leadership of Thurman. In the 1919 election the Communists got no MP's into the Reichstag. In 1920, they got 4; in 1924 they got 62; in 1924 45 MP's and in 1928, 54 MP's. In each of these elections they did better than the Nazis. By 1928, the Spartacists/Communists had grown into a bona fide minority political party.

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hitler was no appointed chancellor 1955


very useful and in lots of detail! 5/% thanks!! :D


A brilliant resource - 30 revision cards to cover the whole period of Germany 1918-45.


good information, terrible spelling


good information, apart from it was the freikorps that crushed the munich putsch not the police.

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