Weimar - strengths and weaknesses
After Germany lost the First World War, the Kaiser fled and the Weimar Republic was declared in February 1919. The Weimar Republic was a genuine attempt to create a perfect democratic country.
Strengths of Weimar Republic:
- Bill of Rights - gave every German citizen freedom of speech and religion, and equality under law.
- The vote - all men and women over 20 very given the right to vote.
- There was an elected president and an elected Reichstag.
Weaknesses of Weimar Republic:
- Proportional representation - Each party was allocated seats in the Reichstag proportional to the number of votes for it. Resulted in dozens of tiny parties, none strong enough to get a majority, therefore, no government to get its laws passed in the Reichstag.
- Article 48 - In an emergency, the president did not need the agreement of the Reichstag, and could pass decrees. It did not say what an emergency was, therefore, it turned out to be the method that Hitler used to take power legally.
Weimar - problems 1919-1923
End of WW1 - People were starving, the Kaiser had fled and people hated the government for signing the armistice in November 1918 - they called them the November criminals.
Spartacists Uprising - In January 1919, Spartacists rebelled in Berlin, led by the Communists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Leibknecht.
Treaty of Versailles - On June 28 1919, many people felt that Germany had received a very harsh deal from it and they hated the government for signing it and agreeing to its conditions.
Kapp Putsch - In March 1920, a rebellion, led by Dr Wolfgang Kapp, that aimed to set up a new government as those involved were angry at the government for signing the Treaty of Versailles. The army refused to attack him, he was only defeated when the workers of Berlin went on strike.
Red Army - In 1920, after the failure of the Kapp Putsch, a Communist paramilitary group called the Red Army rebelled in the Ruhr.
Weimar - problems 1919-1923 cont.
The Weimar Republic's problems increased in 1923, as a result of a late reperations payment.
Problems that took place because of the late payment:
- Occupation of the Ruhr - January 1923
- A general strike
- Hyperinflation - between June 1921 and January 1924
- A number of communist rebellions
- Munich Putsch - November 1923
Weimar - crisis of 1923
The crisis of 1923 began because of a late WW1 reperations payment.
- Printing of paper money, a general strike, and weak economy from WW1
- Germany's money became worthless
- November 1923 - Munich Putsch attempted by the Nazis.
- Communists tooks over the Rhineland and declared it independent.
In 1919, Adolf Hitler joined the German Workers' Party. He became the leader, and changed its name to the National Socialists (Nazis).
The Nazi Ideology
- Lebensraum - the need for 'living space' for the German nation to expand.
- A strong Germany - the Treaty of Versailles should be abolished and all German-speaking people united in one country.
- Fürher - there should be a single leader with complete power rather than a democracy.
- Social Darwinism - the Aryan race was superior and Jews were 'subhuman'.
- Autarky - the idea that Germany should be economically self-sufficient.
- Germany was in danger - from Communists and Jews.
Nazi beliefs cont.
The appeal of the Nazis
In the 1920s, the Nazis tried to appeal to everyone. The 25-point programme had ideas that were:
- Socialist - eg farmers should be given their land; pensions should improve; and public industries such as electricity and water should be owned by the state.
- Nationalist - all German-speaking people should be united in one country; the Treaty of Versailles should be abolished; and there should be special laws for foreigners.
- Racist - Jews should not be German citizens and immigration should be stopped.
- Fascist - a strong central government and control of the newspapers.
Nazi beliefs cont.
The Nazis did not appeal to:
- working men who voted Communist
- intellectuals such as students and university professors
The Nazis were popular with:
- Lower middle-class
- Rich people who feared Communism
Josef Goebbels was in charge of Nazi propogand. Methods of campaigning that the Nazis used in the 1920s included radio, rallies, newspapers, Hitler's speeches, and posters.
The Munich Putsch 1923
In November 1923, Hitler tried to take advantage of the crisis facing the Weimar government by starting a revolution in Munich. Poor planning and misjudgement resulted in failure and the imprisonment of Adolf Hitler.
- Hitler assembled a large group of unemployed young men and former soldiers, known as the storm troopers (the SA). Hitler hoped to take power by starting a revolution. During the crisis of 1923, therefore, Hitler plotted with two nationalist politicians - Kahr and Lossow - to take over Munich in a revolution.
- Hitler collected the storm troopers and told them to be ready to rebel. But on 4 October 1923, Kahr and Lossow called off the rebellion.
- On 8 November 1923, Hitler burst into a meeting that Kahr and Lossow were holding, forced them to agree to rebel - and then let them go home.
- On 9 November 1923, Hitler and the Nazis went into Munich to take power. However, Kahr had called in police and army reinforcements. The police killed 16 Nazis. Hitler fled, but was arrested two days later.
The Munich Putsch 1923 cont.
- The Nazi party was stronger than ever before.
- The Weimar Republic was in crisis.
- In September 1923, the Weimar government had called off the general strike, and every German nationalist was furious with the government.
- Hitler had a huge army of storm troopers.
- The Nazi party was banned.
- Hitler went to prison.
- Hitler decided that he would never come to power by revolution; he realised that he would have to use constitutional (in accordance with current government) means, so he organised:
- the Hitler Youth
- propoganda campaigns
- local branches of the party
- the ** as his bodyguard
How did the Weimar Republic survive?
Gustav Stresemann and Charles Dawes
Gustav Stresemann had been a nationalist, but he realised that something needed to be done to save Germany. The most important thing he did in 1923 was to organise the Great Coalition of moderate, pro-democracy parties in the Reichstag. Germany now had a government that could make laws. Under Stresemann's guidance, the government called off the strike, persuaded the French to leave the Ruhr and even got the rest of the world to allow Germany to join the League of Nations in 1926. Stresemann also introduced reforms to help ordinary people such as job centres, unemployment pay and better housing.
Charles Dawes was the US budget director. In 1923, he was sent to Europe to sort out Germany's economy. Under his advice, the German Reichsbank was reformed and the old money was called in and burned. This ended the hyperinflation. Dawes also arranged the Dawes Plan with Stresemann, which gave Germany longer to pay reparations. Most importantly, Dawes agreed to America lending Germany 800 million gold marks, which kick-started the German economy.
How did the Weimar Republic survive? cont.
- Marlene Dietrich - singer/actrss
- Gropius the leader of the Bauhaus movement - architect
- Paul Klee and Otto Dix - artists
- Erich Maria Remarque - writer
- Fritz Lang - film-maker
Was Weimar stable during 1923-1929?
- The Great Coalition collapsed before the end of 1923, and the Reichstag returned to chaos.
- The nationalists and fascists did not win many seats in the Reichstag, but they were allowed to exist and campaign, so they were just waiting for the right opportunity to attempt a takeover again.
- Everything depended on American money - if that stopped, Germany was ready to return to crisis.
Hitler's rise to power
Hitler's rise to power cannot be linked to one event, but a mixture of factors including events happening outside Germany, the strengths of the Nazi party, and the weaknesses of other German parties. Hitler used these factors to his advantage and in 1933 he legitimately gained power to become chancellor.
- In 1929, the American Stock Exchange collapsed, and caused an economic depression. America called in all its foreign loans, which destroyed Weimar Germany. Unemployment in Germany rose to 6 million.
- In July 1930 Chancellor Brüning cut government expenditure, wages and unemployment pay. He could not get the Reichstag to agree to his actions, so President Hindenburg used Article 48 to pass the measures by decree.
- Anger and bitterness helped the Nazis to gain more support.
- Many turned to communism, but this frightened wealthy businessmen, so they financed Hitler's campaigns.
- In 1928, the Nazis had only 12 seats in the Reichstag; by July 1932 they had 230 seats and were the largest party.
Hitler's rise to power cont.
- The government was in chaos. Hindenburg had to use Article 48 to pass almost every law.
- In January 1933, Hindenburg and Papen came up with a plan to get the Nazis on their side by offering to make Hitler vice chancellor. He refused and demanded to be made chancellor. They agreed, thinking they could control him.
- In January 1933, Hitler became chancellor, and immediately set about making himself absolute ruler of Germany using Article 48.
Reasons Hitler rose to power
- Hitler was a great speaker.
- The moderate political parties would not work together.
- The depression of 1929 created poverty and unemployment, which made people angry with the Weimar government.
- The Nazi storm troopers attacked Hitler's opponents.
- Goebbels' propaganda campaign was very effective.
- Hitler was given power in a seedy political deal.
- Wealthy businessman scared of communism funded his campaigns.