Weimar Republic 1918-1929


Weimar Republic

In early October 1918, a new government was set up in Germany led by Prince Max of Baden. It was Germany's first parliamentary cabinet. The government was now accountable to the government not to the Kaiser.

President Wilson of the USA, would not negotiate with Prince Max about ending the war while the Kaiser and his military advisers were in charge

One reason the Kaiser abdicated in October 1918, the German navy mutinied and refused to fight the British navy because they felt such a move was foolish and might endanger the cease fire talks. Unrest began to spread across Germany.

The Kaiser abdicated on the 9th of November 1918, due to his wilting support.  Two days later, the Chancellor, Friedrich Ebert, leader of the SPD, accepted the armistice on the basis of US President Wilson's Fourteen Points. These points were the basis for peace negotiations

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The Treaty of Versailles

Why was the Treaty signed?

The Treaty was signed to end the war. It was signed on the 28th June 1919 and consisted of 440 articles setting out Germany's punishments.

What were some important terms of the Treaty of Versaille?

Terriorial Terms- All colonies to be given to allied powers, no union with Austria and Alsace-Lorraine returned to France.

Military Terms- Army not to exceed 100,000, no tanks, no militray air craft and the Rhineland demilitrised (the land that bordered Germany and France).

Financial Terms- Coal to be mixed in the Saar by France, reperations fixed at £6.6 billion.

What were the effects of the Treaty of Versaille?

The Physical Impact- In total, Germany lost over one million square miles of land (28,000 of which had previously formed part of European Germany) and 6 million subjects.

The Financial Impact- Germany had to pay £6.6 million as compensation to the Allies, this figure was agreed in 1921

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Opposition to the Treaty of Versailles

Germany lost 13 per cent of their land, 48 per cent of its iron production and more than 6 million citizens were absorbed by other countries.

For most Germans, the treaty was humiliating and shameful, due to the war guilt clause making it look like Germany had started the war. 

The people used the Weimar Government as a scapegoat and called them the "November Criminals".

Dolchstoss- The idea that the Weimar had stabbed the German people in the back.

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Weaknesses of the Constitution

Proportional Representation- This was the way that parties were decided into the Reichstag. The percentage of the vote they gained was the amount of seats they recieved in the Reichstag. This produced a large number of parties and made it difficult to create political stability because the government always ended up as a coalition, because no party had majority

President- Article 48 allowed the President to rule by decree without Parliament if public safety and order in the Reich is disturbed or endangered. Therefore, Germany was just referring back to their dictator days.

Challenges from civil service and judiciary- Many judges and senior civil servants did not want the Weimar because they didn't agree with its political liberal views. 

Challenge from the army- Leaders of the Army wanted the Kaiser to return because their status would be maintained under him. 

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The Freikorps

The Freikorps were right wing nationalists. They were used to put down the German Revolution 1918-1919. 

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Attacks from the Left

The main attack from the left was the Spartacist Uprising.

They were led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, who eventually sought to establish a state based on Communist ideals. 

In December 1918, the demonstrations led to conflict with the army, 16 spartacists were killed. At the end of the month, they formed the German communist partyt KDP

On 6th January 1919, the Sparatcists began their attempt to overthrow Ebert and the Weimar government in order to create a Communist state. 

Ebert used the regular army and the Freikorps to put down the rebellion. 

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Attacks from the Right

The main attack from the right was the Kapp Putsch.

When the Weimar government announced measures in March 1920 to reduce the size of the army and disband the Freikorp, there was uproar in Berlin.

The leader of the Freikorps and Wolfgang Kapp joined forces and drew up a plan to seize Berlin and form a right-wing government.

They were succesful in their seize of Berlin on the 13th March 1920. The new regular army was asked to put the Kapp Putsch down, but they refused.

Although the Putsch failed because trade unionists and civil servants supported the government. Very few army officers who took part in the Putsch were punished. 

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