Impact of the war on Germany
Political effects of the War
- There was an unsuccesful communist revolution in 1918
- The goverment was weak and people despised democratic leaders and believed F.Marshall Hidenburg had betrayed them.
Economic effects of the War
- Germany was nearly bankrupt, national income and industrial production had fallen.
- 600 000 widows and 2 million children without farthers
- By 1925, a third of state spending was on war pensions
Social effects of the War
- Huge divide between rich & poor, some made fortunes, others scraped by
- Soldiers had to be re-intergrated into society and women had to go to work
- The lost generation
The New Goverment
- There were several revolts by soldiers and sailors at Kiel and an Attempted Communist Revolution
- The Kaiser was forced to abdicate and Ebert, who was a socialist became the new leader, he signed the armistice
- He and his goverment drew up a new democratic constitution, however this was a big change from the Kaiser's autocratic rule
- Ebert was criticised from both the left-wing and right-wing
- The armistice was signed when many of the soldiers were still in France, so when they returned home they lay the blame for the defeat on Ebert
- The new goverment was seen as 'traitors' by many and were dubbed the 'November Criminals' who had stabbed Germany in the back
- However, despite these problems free elections were held for the first time in 1919 and Ebert was confirmed leader of the Weimar republic
The Treaty of Versailles
In 1919 the 'Big Three' met at Versailles to discuss the terms of the treaty of Versailles. France wanted Germany to pay, America thought the punishment shouldn't be harsh and Britain was somewhere in the middle. These are the following terms they compromised on at last
- The Germans had to accept the guilt for starting the war, this was viewed as very harsh by the German people
- They had to pay war reperations to the allies for damages caused, in 1921 it was agreed to be £6600 million (this was later changed)
- Germany's territories and colonies were taken away and controlled by the league of nations
- The size of Germany's Armed forces was cut down to 100 000 men, conscription was banned, there were no troops allowed in the Rhineland and the number of war machines was also cut
- A league of nations was set up as an 'international police force' and Germany wasn't allowed to join
Revolts in Germany 1919-20
The goverment faced heavy opposition and many were unhappy. On such group was the Spartacist's, who were communist and lead by Karl Liebnecht and Rosa Lukemburg. Early in 1919, they decided to revolt in many towns and overthrow the goverment. However, a group of Right-wing ex-soldiers weren't happy with this and formed themselves into a group called the Freikorps, who were then hired by the goverment to put down the rebellion and they won, then Liebnecht and Lukemburg were executed.
Soon there was amother communist uprising in Bavaria when the socialist leader died, and again the Freikorps crushed the rebellion, with around 600 communists dead. In 1920, when there was communist agitation in the Ruhr area, the Freikorps moved in again with 2000 casualties.
In 1920, there was the Kapp Putsch. Dr Wolfgang Kapp lead 500 Freikorps into Berlin as he felt 'stabbed in the back'. The army didn't shoot at them out of sympathy and Ebert seemed doomed but workers went on strike to oppose Kapp and he realised he had lost.The communists were punished harshly, but the Freikorps went free. This shows goverment attitudes towards communism, and they were very much afraid of it.
- Germany couldn't keep up with reperation payments, so French and Belgian troops marched into the Ruhr area (industrial area) to claim raw materials
- The goverment let this happen but the workers weren't happy, so they went on strike making Germany poorer
- The goverment couldn't pay for the costs of the passive ressistance so they printed lots of money, and the value of money shot down, making the economy unstable
- Hyperinflation had a huge effect on lives: savings were worthless, it was hard to pay workers, you couldn't hold on to money and the value of money could drop in half an hour
- However: debts could be repaid at a fraction of the cost, there was less crime, people were paid in goods and those on unemployment benefits got lots of money
- The weimar republic dealt with the crisis in three ways: The new chancellor, Stresemann ended passive resistance; American banker Charles Dawes made lots of money avalible to help German industry as it had agreed to pay reperations; and the old, worthless mark was scrapped and replaced by the tempoary Rentenmark which was limited to how much was in circulation to stabalise the economy and was laer replaced by the Rentenmark.