History: Germany 1914-1929


Results of the Munich Putsch

  • Early 1924 - Hitler and Ludendorff tried for treason. Trial made Hitler a national figure.
  • Nazi Party banned, and Hitler prevented from speaking in public until 1927
  • Hitler went to prison, where he wrote 'Mein Kampf'. Millions of Germans read it, and Hitler's ideas became very well known
  • Hitler decided that he would never come to power by revolution; he realised tha he would have to use constitutional means, so he organised:
    • The Hitler Youth
    • Propaganda campaigns
    • Mergers with other right wing parties
    • Local branches of the party, which tried to get Nazis elected to the Reichstag
    • The ** as his personal body guard, which was set up in 1925. I was this strategy of gaining power legitmately that eventually brought him to power.
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Munich Putsch (cont.)

  • Hitler went ahead anyway. 8 Nov - Kahr addressing a large meeting at Burgerbraukellas in Munich. Some 600 SA men surrounded the beer cellar and Hitler burst in, brandishing a revolver
  • He annonced national revolution had begun - persuaded Kahr, Lussow, and police chief Hans von Seisser to support him. People in beer cellar roared their approval.
  • Kahr, Lussow and Seisser were set free at Ludendorffs insistence and promptly informed the Berlin govt of situation. Weimar govt ordered Bavarian authorities to crush the Putsch
  • 9 Nov - Hitler led 3000 men into Munich, hoping for a show of mass support. As Nazi column neared town centre, armed police opened fire and 16 marchers died. Hitler survived, instead of fleeing to Austria - he was arrested.
  • Early 1924 Hitler and Ludendorff tried for treason. Trial made Hitler a national figure. Claiming he only acted as a patriotic German - turned trial into propaganda victory. Sympathy of judges ensured sentences were light. Ludendorff acquitted - Hitler sentenced five years in prison. Served less than a year in Landsberg.
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Munich Putsch

  • Nov 1923 - Hitler tried to take advantage of crisis facing Weimar govt by instigating a revolution in Munich. It seemed like perfect opportunity, but poor planning and misjudgement resulted in failure and subsequent imprisonment of Hitler
  • Why did Hitler attempt Munich Putsch in 1923?
    • 1923 - Nazis had 55000 and was stronger than ever before.
    • Weimar Republic was in crisis and about to collapse
    • Sep 1923 - Weimar govt had called off general strike, and every G nationalist furious at govt
    • Hitler thought he would be helped by important nationalist politicians in Bavaria
    • Hitler had huge army of storm troopers, but knew he would lose control of them if he did not give them something to do
    • Hitler hoped to copy Mussolini - who had come to power in Italy in 1922 by marching on Rome
  • What happened in the Munich Putsch?
    • Sep 1923 - form Battle League of right wing supporters/groups. General Ludendorff gave his support. Battle League plan was to control Bavaria, then to Berlin. Preparations reasonably thorough. Kahr indicated he might support Putsch - pulled out at last minute
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Instability of Wiemar govt - 1920 elections

  • Weimar coalition fell apart
  • SPD share of vote fell by 43%
  • DDP dropped 55%
  • KPD fielded candidates for the first term but got only 1.7% of vote
  • USPD doubled its share only 3 points behind SPD 
  • On the right DVP votes trebled and DNVP improved its showing by almost 50%
  • SPD, Centre and DDP occupied 78% of seats in National assembly now only 45% of Reichstag
  • Centre politician Fehrenbach agreed to form minority govt with Centre, DDP and DVP not SPD
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Instability of Wiemar govt - Reparations

  • May 1921 - allies set reparations at 138 billion gold marks
  • Said that unless G govt made a back payment of 12 billion gold marks the Ruhr industrial area would be occupied
  • 1 billion was to be paid at the end of the month
  • Fehrenbach resigned as he found the terms impossible and was replaced by Wirth from Centre
  • Wirth accepted the reparation demands despite opposition known as fulfilment
  • By seeking to fulfil the reparation terms, Wirth and Minister of reconstruction Rathenau decided to demonstrate that the terms were too tough
  • Right mounted massive hate campaign against Wirth and fulfilment policy
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Instability of Wiemar govt - Financial crisis 1922

  • G govt asked for a suspension of reparations - was refused
  • Dec - national debt was 469000 million marks
  • Inflation was drastically increasing providing ammunition for left/right extremists (capital and labour)
  • Tension mounted as industrialist called Stinnes suggest workers work 2 hours extra with no pay
  • SPD united with rump of USPD and refused to support Wirths govt
  • Wirth resigned Nov 1922 - replaced by Wilhelm Cuno
  • Govt tried to cut back expenditure
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Instability of Wiemar govt - Inflation

  • Weimar govt continued to print more and more money instead of decrease govt spending and increase taxes
    • Hoped to overcome demobilisation and reduce value of internal debt
    • Conveinence, maintain economic growth and increase production
  • Printing money meant that G goods were cheap abroad and foreign goods expensive in G
  • High demand of goods meant low unemployment
  • Economy did well compared to other countries 1919-22
  • 1921 - 1.8% unemployment
  • G can recover markets overseas markets
  • Industrial activity acted as stimulus for investment and G got lots of money from US
  • The 'good inflation' led to 'bad inflation' in 1923
    • Reparations led to govt printing more money
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The rise of the Nazi party

  • In 1921, Hitler then created the Sturmabteilung (SA) or strom troopers:
    • Were the Nazi's private army
    • Recruited from ex-soldiers, the unemployed and students
    • There 'Brown shirts' provided security at meetings and bodyguards for Nazi leaders
    • They broke up meetings of opposition groups
    • Rohm was put in charge of the SA
    • Many were thugs and they had a reputation for violence
    • Their reputation grew quickly, with many shows of violence at political events
    • As a result, Hitler was able to remove an opposition he faced swiftly, and opposition quickly faded away anyway due to the culture of fear the SA created
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The birth of Nazi party (1919-21)

  • Jan 1919 - Anton Drexler founded the German Workers' Party or DAP
  • Sep 1919 - Hitler first attended a DAP meeting. He shared the party's main views in rallying against; 
    • The communists and socialists for bringing down the Kaiser
    • The Weimar Republic for accepting the Treaty of Versailles
    • The Jews, whom they blamed for undermining the German economy
  • Feb 1920 - Hitler began working as Drexler's right-hand man and together they announced the new 25 point programme which included; scrapping the Treaty of Versailles, expanding Germany's borders and depriving the Jews of German citizenship
  • June 1920 - Hitler was an energetic, passionate speaker and his public speaking began to attract larger numbers to the meetings. He exploited the fact that so many people were dissatisfied with the Weimar Republic. Membership grew rapidly to 1100
  • Aug 1920 - Hitler suggested that DAP change its name to National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP or Nazi Party for short) and adopt the swastika as its Emblem
  • Mid 1921 - Hitler pushed Drexler aside and became party Fuhrer, or leader. Hitler creates the SA.
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Opposition from the right (cont.)

  • The powerful Conservative right wing posed arguably a bigger threat than those on the left; they were hostile to the republic from the beginning
  • In 1920, Noske was forced to put the T of V into effect; he ordered 2 Freikorp units, totalling 12000 men to disband. General Walther von Luttwitz, the commanding general refused and govt ordered his arrest - lead to Kapp Putsch
  • Why were the right hostile to the republic?
    • They hated the Treaty of Versailles
    • Disgusted by the end of the war
    • See a weak govt who have been unable to crush communism
    • Wealthy, influential eg landowners
    • Disproportionate amount of power so govt would want their support
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Opposition from the left

  • Hamburg - March 1921 - strike disruption
  • Halle - April/May 1919 - Strikers - govt call in Freikorps and army. March 1920 - Struggles, more than 1000 workers, 250 soldiers killed
  • Rhine - April/May 1919 - strikes, govt call in Freikorps and army
  • Ruhr - March 1920 - Communists form Red Army of 50000 workers and seized control of Ruhr. March 1921 - strike disruption - 145 people killed
  • Bavaria - March 1919 - Communist govt set up (ft workers councils) established after Kurt Eisner's assassination. May 1919 - 700 workers killed.
  • Munich - March 1919 - republic of soviets set up
  • Dresden - March 1920 - struggles - 1000 workers and 250 soldiers killed. March 1921 - attempted communist rising in Merseburg
  • Saxony - workers organised self defence units
  • Berlin - March 1919 - Sparticist uprising - 1200 workers killed. March 1920 - General strike helped defeat Kapp Putsch
  • There were also 22 political assassinations by left-wing opposition in this period; 10 of the assassins were caught and sentenced to death
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The Kapp Putsch

  • Who was it supported by?
    • Freikorps leader, Captain Hermann Erhardt
    • Sympathetic officers
    • Right wing civil servants and politician Wolfgang Kapp
  • What did the right-wing supporters do?
    • They marched their troops to Berlin
    • Kapp proclaimed himself Chancellor
  • What did the Weimar Govt do?
    • Ebert's govt fled to Dresden and ordered the regular army to crush the rising
  • What did the G Army do?
    • They did not fire on troops: 'Troops do not fire on troops' - General von Seeckt
  • What did the G workers do?
    • Encouraged both by some of Socialist members of E govt and the TUs, they called a general strike that spread across the whole of G
  • How did it end?
    • After 4 days, the putsch collapsed
    • Kapp and Luftwitz fled
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The Kapp Putsch (cont.)

  • The putsch showed that the army could not be trusted and the workers as a group showed their power
  • During their trails, right-wing judges were lenient and only one person was punished, which contracted strongly with the harsh treatment of the left-wing opponents. Again this showed  that the govt was not really in control.
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Political assassinations (cont.)

    • Outlawed extremist organisations - 'Organisation Consul' had to disband
    • Law had limited effect because of right wing sympathies of Judges
    • Strong conserv. govt. in Bavaria did no implement it
  • Rathenaus killers and their accomplicies received an average of only 4 years each in prison
  • Of right wing murderers, 326 went unpunished and only one was convicted and sentence to severe punishment before 1923
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Political assassinations

  • Right wing nationals organised themselves into patriotic leagues (Verbande), committed to elimination of politicians and those associated with betrayal of G. One of terrorist organisations was 'Organisation Consul'. In total there were 354 assassinations between 1919 and 1923.
  • 3 victims of political assassinations:
    • Hugo Haase
      • Shot in front of Reichstag, Oct 1919
      • Member of USPD in Eberts first ruling council
    • Matthias Erseberger (1875 - 1921)
      • Assassinated by 2 members of 'Organisation Consul' - August 1921
      • Former Finance Minister
    • Walther Rathenau (1867 - 1922)
      • 2 members of 'Organisation Consul' - June 1922
      • Foreign minister
  • How did the Reichstag deal with right wing assassinations?
    • 'For the protection of the Republic' - July 1922
      • 5 year law
      • Placed severe penalties on those involved in conspiracy to murder
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Instability of Wiemar govt - Treaty of Rapallo

  • Signed in 1922 with Bolshevik govt in Russia
  • Restored diplomatic relations between the two out casted countries
  • Satisfied Bolshevik need for foreign aid and capital investment
  • G was able to use Russia to secretly develop new military weapons and techniques
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Instability of Wiemar govt - Political extremism a

  • 6 weeks after Treaty of Rapallo, Rathenau (Jew) was gunned down by right wing extremist
  • Number of leading figures on the left were Jewish - was taken as evidence by right wings that the Germans defeat in 1918 was because of the Jews
  • Jews were blamed for subverting loyal German workers with their Judeo-Marxist ideology
    • Marx - Jewish
  • Also accepted the peace treatment
  • Politicians and newspaper editors said that many Jews avoided war service and took all the war profits
  • Blamed for inflation etc
  • 100000 orthodox Jewish immigrants from the east were seen as a threat to German race
    • Speak yiddish and hebrew and dressed different
  • March 1921 - army suppressed a communist revolt in Saxony
  • Right wing groups were also prepared to use violence and assassinating men they consider to be traitors
    • already have the figures
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Different chancellors from 1923-30

Chancellor                          Date                               Partners

Gustav Stresemann (DVP)   Aug 1923 - Oct 1923        SPD, DDP, Centre, DVP

                                         Oct 1923 - Nov 1923        DDP, Centre, DVP

Wilhelm Marx (Centre)         Nov 1923 - June 1924       DDP, Centre, BVP, DVP

                                         June 1924 - Jan 1925       DDP, Centre, DVP

Hans Luther (Non-party)       Jan 1925 - Dec 1925         DVP, DNVP, BVP

                                         Jan 1926 - May 1926        DDP, DVP, BVP

Wilhelm Marx (Centre)         May 1926 - Dec 1926        DDP, Centre, DVP, BVP

                                         Jan 1927 - June 1928        DVP, DNVP, BVP

Hermann Muller (SPD)        June 1928 - March 1930     SPD, DDP, Centre, BVP, DVP

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The 1924 (May and Dec) and 1928 election (cont.)

  • Govt formed in Jan 1925 under Hans Luther - was without party affiliation and had gained reputation as an effective minister of finance
  • New coalition include members of DNVP for first time - major achievement because Party previously adopted policy of outright opposition to Republic
  • DNVP found itself in embaressing situation of supporting policies it had denounced in campaign.
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President Eberts death

  • In 1925, President Ebert died
  • What happened after:
    • A successor had to be elected according to the terms of the Constitution
    • In first round of voting, there were seven candidates - none got above 50%
    • In second round of baldots, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg won with 48.3% of vote
  • Hindenburg was 77 years old, renowned for his military leadership in WWI and of a strong conservative, nationalist viewpoint
  • Openly disliked democracy, had little understanding of economics and was intolerant of the cultural 'modernism' of the Weimar years
  • However, he seemed to accept his constitutional position and, as an 'Ersatzkaiser' (Kaiser-substitute) he gave Republic an air of respectability that helped to reconcile some on right with acceptance of the regime.
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Does the election outcome show strength/weakness o

  • Strengths:
    • Showed that the Reich could handle itself after a president died or resigned
    • Completed in a very democratic and seemingly fair way
    • Shows, under Weimar Constitution, it works, democracy enforced
  • Weaknesses
    • Man who became in charge was biased and unknowledgable
    • Very hard to get 50% in order to become president
    • People voted Weimar-hating man - shows people do not like the govt - Hindenburg is meant to be representing the people
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Hyperinflation (cont.)

  • Who will benefit from hyperinflation?
    • Elites, middle class and businessmen as they are eligible for loans - can take out loan, easy to pay back the next day
    • Germany - State benefits as debt can be paid back really easy
    • Workers who have taken out loans/mortgages can easily pay it back
    • TUs benefit  as can negotiate wage settlements on a day to day basis - can threaten bosses with strikes
  • Who will lose?
    • Those on a fixed income; pensioners, workers, disabled, sick - money getting is now worthless
    • People with savings - value of savings now worthless
    • People with war bonds - even though payback same value, not same worth - feel betrayed; G lost war, had money that was worthless
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Hjalmar Schacht (1877 - 1970)

  • Had been director of National Bank from 1916 and was a co-founder of the DDP in 1918, although he left 1926
  • 1923 - became Reich Currency Commissioner and head of Reichsbank and introduced the Rentenmark
  • Helped negotiate the Dawes and Young Plans
  • Supported Hitler's rise to power and became Economics Minister in 1934, although lost influence after 1937
  • Was implicated in the 1944 July Bomb plot against Hitler, was tried but cleared at Nuremburg and returned to banking
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The 1924 (May and Dec) and 1928 election

  • In 1923 President Ebert called upon Centre Party leader Wilhelm Marx to form a new govt after collapse of Stresemann's coalition of the DVP, SPD and Centre Party
  • Marx's govt also became a coalition this time of the centre party, BVP, DVP and DDP
  • Explain why the left and right made significant gains in first instance:
    • They stole votes from the parties in the centre
    • DNVP got a lot votes due to them not liking the Dawes Plan
    • DNVP with 20% of vote became second largest party in Reichstag
    • SPD lost ground and large numbers of workers turned to KPD = 12.6% of vote
  • Explain why Marx called a fresh election in Dec - why did results vary?
    • Marxs minority govt had great difficulty in gaining majority on any proposal. Eg supporting the Dawes Plan
    • Due to many defeats in Reichstag Marx called another election
    • Economy was showing signs of recovery as unemployment was falling and wages were rising
    • SPD made gains at the KPDs expense
    • Nazis lost more than half of their support
    • DNVP managed to improve its seats
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What impact did WWI have on the G economy? (cont.)

    • Although economy grew prices continued to rise and by 1920 they were 14 times higher than 1913
  • Treaty of Versailles:
    • Land and colonies were lost
    • Saar coal fields were given to France for 15 years
    • Reparations set at £6.6 billion
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Occupation of Ruhr

  • Jan 1923 G failed to deliver reparations to Allies
  • French and Belgium troops advance into Ruhr to take coal, steel, manufactured goods as reparations
  • By end of 1923, 100000 troops in area. Controlled mines, factories and railways
  • Govt responded with passive resistance - G refused to work for French, stopped all reparations payments
  • French sent in their own workers which led to increasing violence and disastorous economic consequences for G
  • French sent up machine gun posts and demanded food without payment from shops
  • G blew up railways and destroyed bridges at night but French set up military courts for those who would not comply with French rule
  • Around 150000 G were expelled and some 132 were shot in eight months of occupation, including a 7 year old boy who was said by French to be accident
  • May 1923 monthly deliveries from Ruhr only third of 1922 and output had fallen to a 1/5th of preoccupation output
  • Ruhr worsened G economic situation in many ways:
    • Paying wages of striking workers drain on govt money
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Instability of Wiemar govt - Problem of Upper Sile

  • March 1921 - Polish govt refused to accept the result of a plebiscite (vote) in which 60% of population voted for Germany
  • Instead Polish govt supported Polish insurgents who laid claim to the bulk of the province
  • G responded by arming paramilitary units determined to ensure the vote be respected and Upper Silesia be returned to Germany
  • Allies put an end to the fighting
    • Accepted a report by League of Nations that 4/5 of Upper Silesia should be given to Poland including certain industrial areas that most had voted G
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Occupation of Ruhr (cont.)

    • Tax revenue was lost from businesses that ceased and unemployed worker
    • G had to import coal
    • Shortages of good pushed prices up
  • All of this resulted in hyperinflation
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  • Nov 1923 - currency worthless. 300 paper mills and 2000 printers working day and night to provide sufficient paper money and notes of ever higher denominations had to be printed
  • Workers to be paid daily/twice daily as prices rose by hour
  • Once received, paper notes spent fast as possible before currency devalued further, but not always easy to find goods to buy
  • There were serious food shortages, farmers not prepared to sell their produce for worthless money
  • Barter became common
  • Causes of hyperinflation:
    • Increase the amount of printed money - failure of govt to devalue money so print more - dont raise taxes
    • WWI cost 164 billion marks - none raised through taxes, got through war loans, treasury bills, and printing more money - nationalists dont want taxes as blame govt for agreeing to sign T of V - becomes patriotic
    • G failed to win war - would have been able to pay back war loans
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What impact did WWI have on the G economy?

  • Treasury Bills, Loans and Debt:
    • These were issued along with loans to fund the war. The expectation was that victory would enable the govt to pay back its debt
    • Debt grew from 5000 million marks to 144000 million marks from 1914-18
  • Increased in printed money:
    • Circulation of paper money increased from 2000 million marks in 1914 to 45000 million by 1919
    • The value of the mark fell and by 1920 it was worth less than 20% of its pre war value
  • Who benefited from inflation:
    • Elites took short term loans which could easily be repaid later with the inflated currency
    • Lessen govt debt burden
    • It was hoped that high inflation would persuade the allies that reparations were too high
  • Continuing inflation after defeat and unemployment:
    • The govt did not devalue the currency for fear of political repercussions and money was needed to rebuild industry and pay compensations 
    • Unemployment was low at 1.8% compared to GBs 17%
    • This encouraged investment from the USA
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Gustav Stresemann (1878 - 1929)

  • Was businessmen who became youngest member of Reichstag in 1907, as a NL
  • Joined Pan-German and Navy Leagues, was an annexationist in WWI and led NL from 1917 until split in 1918
  • Set up DVP, representing leading industrialists
  • Intially hostile to Republic and sympathetic to Kapp but changed views after Rathenau's assassination
  • Became chancellor in Aug 1923, served till Nov 1923 but continued as Foreign Secretary - negotiated Dawes plan
  • Won Nobel Peace Prize in 1926 and died, in office, days before the Wall Street Crash in Oct 1929
  • Against G sabotaging T of V
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How did Ebert strengthen his position? (cont.)

    • (cont.) Majority Socialists and only 90 Independent Socialists
    • Delegates passed resolutions demanding nationalisation of key industries and democratisation of army
    • Most delegates wanted G to be parliamentary democracy
    • 19 Dec - Congress approved (by large majority) to hold elections to National assembly on 19 Jan. In meantime, agreed power should be vested in Eberts govt
  • The resignation of Independent socialists:
    • 23 Dec - force of sailors, which had come from Kiel to defend govt, ordered to leave former regal palace. Disgruntled sailors barricaded themselves in palace.
    • Faced with direct challenge to authority, govt ordered regular army unit to attack
    • Failed, troops withdrew. Violence spread to other parts of Berlin
    • Fortunately, they left after issue of back pay settled
    • Independents angered - didn't know about it - 29 Dec - 3 independent ministers resigned
    • Ebert had free hand in govt, also faced growing opposition from streets
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How did Ebert strengthen his position?

  • The Ebert-Groener pact:
    • 10 Nov - General Groener agreed army would support govt but Ebert had to resist Bolshevism and preserve the officers authority against the councils
    • E's critics, then and since, have claimed it was proof he betrayed the revolution
    • However, E openly had a distaste to Bolshevik revolution
    • The pact was a reasonable precaution to protect his govt against violence from the extreme left
  • The Stinnes-Legien agreement:
    • 15 Nov - Hugo Stinnes was an industrialist and Carl Legien a TU leader. The TU's agreed not to interfere with private ownership
    • In return, employers guaranteed full legal recognition to trade unions, agreed to workers coucils (which were to be introduced into all large factories) which would help to regulate wages and working conditions, and accepted an 8 hour working day
    • This agreement, quickly endorsed by the government, did much to satisfy workers grievances
  • The all-German Congress of Workers and Soldiers Coucils:
    • Congress met in Berlin from 16-21 Dec. Over 300 of the 500 delegates supported the
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Revolution from above

  • In Oct 1918 events moved swiftly through a two stage revolution that destroyed the regime of the kaiser
    • 30 Sep - Kaiser accepted Hertling's resignation and proclaimed parliamentary govt
    • 1 Oct - Kaiser asked Prince Max von Baden - moderate conservative to form govt with ministers chosen from Reichstag rather than appointed by the by the Kaiser. Max created cabinet with representatives from majority parties, including prominent members of SPD
    • 3 Oct - Max asked President Wilson for armistace and peace based on Wilsons 14 points
    • 24 Oct - Wison replied to effect that because G govt was based on an 'aristocratic dictatorship', nothing but total surrender and a change of regime would be acceptable to allies. This increased calls from SPD, USPD and Zentrum for abdication of Kaiser
    • 26 Oct - Ludendorff forced to resign after he unilaterally tried to order army generals to resist surrender. Max reassured Wilson that military authorities had been placed under control of G govt
    • 28 Oct - G became parliamentary monarchy with agreement of Bundesrat and Emperor:
      • Chancellor and Minister (secretaries of state) were to be responsible to Reichstag as well as Bundesrat
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Causes of revolution from above and below (cont.)

  • Trigger causes
    • Revolution from above led to govt changing and Kaiser losing power
    • Sailors revolts and workers form councils
    • Set up elected councils of sailors, workers and soldiers
    • Prince Max announce Kaiser abdication and hand power to SPD leader, Ebert
  • Is it inevitable that a revolution from above will cause a revolution from below?
    • It can influence them such as in Russia after July days, led to Bolshevik revolution in Nov which both aimed to overthrow the PG
    • Revolution can be intiated from workers only such as French revolution in 1789-99
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Revolution from above (cont.)

    • Kaisers powers over army and navy were curtailed and all military appointments were to have counter-signature of Minister of War
    • Prussian 3 class voting system was abolished and parliamentary reforms introduced in number of the Lander
  • These constitutional changes took place in G at same time as Brit broke through last G defence system, the Hindenburg line (6 Oct) and need for armistace became more urgent
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Revolution from below

  • Second stage of revolution came as result of appaling living conditions and news of imminent defeat
  • 29/30 Oct - crews on two naval vessels moored at Wilhelmshaven mutinied, when ordered (24 Oct) to make suicidal attack against Brit ships clockading North Sea ports. Sailors raised Communist red flag and, when naval commanders tried to restore order, the mutany spread
  • Karl Liebknecht of left wing 'Spartacus League' called on soldiers, workers and other sailors to join a communist revolution and began plans for rising in capital, Berlin
  • 3 Nov - Kiel was held by c40000 rebellious sailors, soldiers, and workers
  • 6 Nov onwards - elected councils of workers, sailors and soldiers, modelled after the 'soviets' set up in Russia in 1917, were established in several major cities, establishing military and civil control
  • 7 Nov - King Ludwig III of Bavaria fled and an independent socialist republic was proclaimed
  • 8 Nov - Revolutionary shop stewards in Berlin appealed for general strike next day. The Sparticists, SPD and TU's supported the call
  • 9 Nov - Workers and soldiers councils were formed in Berlin, police headquarters was occupied and hundreds of thousands of demonstrators converged on city centre. Philipp Scheidemann,
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Wilsons 14 points

  • Issued in Jan 1918 as basis for peace in the world after WWI
  • Contained 14 principles which aimed for world peace such as freedom of seas and Alsace Lorraine returned to France
  • Was good on paper but no one supported them - whole idea collapse - too idealistic
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Revolution from below (cont.)

  • an SPD leader, proclaimed a republic from Reichstag window. 2 hours later, Karl Leibknecht proclaimed 'Workers Republic' from balcony of Royal Palace in centre of Berlin (Both did so before Kaiser had been persuaded to abdicate)
  • Prince Max announced Wilhelm's abdication and transferred his political authority to SPD leader, Friedrich Ebert - to create a sense of legitimacy. Kaiser, furious but powerless, formally abdicated and left for Holland
  • Peoples revolution ended with establishment of socialist republic - disappointed Sparticists - suggests that situation not as revolutionary as feard by middle and upper classes.
  • Sparticist league small organisation of barely 1000 members by end of 1918.
  • Most of those involved in protests supported USPD and wanted some form of democracy rather than communist dictatorship
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Causes of revolution from above and below

  • Five long term causes (pre WW1)
    • Kaiser couldnt keep chancellor and was extremely difficult to work with
    • Mainly focused on military side of running country and failed to address more important issues
    • Zabern affair caused uproar in G but WII supported military action - not good with Reichstag
    • Daily Telegraph affair showed Kaiser to be arrogant and worsened relations between Brit and G
    • He was used by upper class - figurehead
  • 5 short term causes
    • Failure of Schlieffen plan - cost in money and lives
    • War defeat
    • Turnip winter - 1000 calories a day
    • Allows for a military dictatorship to emerge
    • Increasing strikes for peace and a change in the constitution
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Political Breakdown in Germany in 1917

This came about as a result of:

  • Increasing strikes for peace and calls to reform G constitution, govt of Prussia and Lander
  • Failure of potato crop in 'turnip winter' of 1916 and 1917 meant people were living on animal fodder (1000 calories a day with hard and manual work)
  • Two Russian revolutions 1917, latter of which resulted in establishment of communist govt
  • Split in SPD first in 1916 with Sparticists, then in April 1917 with USPD (independent SPD) who were minority with commitment to end the war
  • 'Peaceful resolution'-July 1917 proposed by Matthias Erzberger in Reichstag, it called for end of war and no annexations. Passed by 212 to 126 votes (only conservatives were against it)
  • BH replaced by George Michaelis-July 1917-lasted to Nov and replaced by Count von Hertling
  • Establishment and growth of Fatherland party under Wolfgang Kapp and Admiral Tirpitz - by 1918 it had grown to1.2 million members (including right wing liberals, middle classes, conservatives and Army High Command)
  • CvH promised peace but Supreme Council still made all key decisions. After failure of Spring Offensive, Ludendorf suggested chancellor sought armistace based on Wilsons 'fourteen points'
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Schlieffen plan (cont.)

    • Britain:
      • 23 August 1914 - Battle of Mons - British Expeditionary Force is small but fired and reloaded rifles so fast G thought they were firing machine guns
      • Held up G, but BEF were outnumbered, retreated to River Marne to defend Paris
    • Paris:
      • Because Brit held up troops; gave France time to bring forces back to defend Paris
      • BEF also defend Paris
      • Led to battle of Marne
    • Russia:
      • Only took 10 days to mobilise, instead of the expected 6 weeks
      • G used 90% of forces fighting French, but now had to divert forces to Eastern Front, made it harder to fight Paris
  • Events and why resulted in failure of Schlieffen plan:
    • Brit performance at Battle of Mons (23 August 1914)
      • BEF had 70000 men, G had 160000
      • Took for G get to Paris so France and Russia more time to mobilies troops
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Schlieffen plan

  • Assumptions:
    • Belgium - They will not put up a resistance and would let them march straight through to France
    • Britain - would decide that her army would be better used to defend her Empire than to fight G over Belgium - in 1839, the Brit made a promise to protect Belgium
    • Paris - G troops would arrive in Paris so rapidly that the French would be caught off guard. French forces would still be based on their fortresses on G border, not expecting an attack through neutral Belgium. Therefore Paris would be undefended
    • Russia - had thought it would take Russia 6 weeks to mobilise so France could be defeated before fight could turn to the Eastern Front
  • Reality:
    • Belgium
      • King of Belgium did resist - 'Belgium is a nation, not a road.'
      • Knew he could not defeat G in battle so made decision for drainage system be destroyed, to flood the land and slow the G advance
      • Belgium mainly under sea level and relies on huge network of drainage ditches to keep the land dry
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Schlieffen plan (cont.)

  • Russian mobilisation:
    • Meant France was not a quick victory and could not focus all efforts on one side of G
  • Failure to capture Paris at Battle of Marne (6-12 September 1914)
    • Combined Brit and French forces met G forces outside Paris
    • French came close to defeat - saved by 6000 reserve soldiers brought to front in taxis
    • G retreat to higher ground, where they could establish a better defence and regroup
    • Paris saved - French and German losses are believed to be around 250000 men - Brit lost around 130000
    • Meant heavy loss for G army, even harder to fight war on two sides, had to retreat so meant longer time to fight France
  • Failure to block enemies supplies during race to the sea
    • December 1914 - there were lines of defensive trenches that stretched from Channel coast to Switzerland
    • Both sides needed to ensure supplies for armies and wanted to get to the coast, protect their supplies and cut off supplies to enemy
    • Distance of 475 miles
    • No army had strength or strategy to break through such a front line
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Schlieffen plan (cont.)

  • Neither side would retreat - it was a stalemate
  • The Schlieffen plan had collapsed as G unable to conquer Paris and France. It is now fighting a war on both sides
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Hindenburg and Lundendorff

  • What political turning point happened in August 1916?
    • Kaiser appointed Paul von Hindenburg as the army chief of staff, with Erich von Ludendorff as deputy
    • By surrending the supreme command (entrusted to the kaiser under the constitution) to Hindenburg and allowing him superiority over the Chancellor
    • It has been suggested that WII abdicated responsibility and allowed a military dictatorship to emerge
  • Military dictatorship - govt of Reich ceased to exist in first 2 years of war. BH promises never put into action (eg reform of Prussian franchise) as soon as H and L appointed, chancellor and emperor ceased to exist as a seperate force - instead dictatorship of high command
  • Not military dictatorship - kaiser actually quite active in setting wartime policy. Even after appointment of H, kaiser kept control of his appointments, neither H or L consciously shunned political authority of monarchy and govt remained fundamentally unchanged.
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  • It means 'the blessed peace of victory' - the glory that would come once war was over
  • Result of land annexations that would establish G supremacy in Europe
  • What was that attitude of SPD?
    • Believed G was fighting defensive war
    • Firmly against idea of territoral annexation and prospect of extending war in interests of the upper class
  • Why did anti war movements grow in 1916?
    • G public began to despair of victory
    • Deaths, wartime shortages and decline in living standards ended the Jubilant 'spirit of 1914'
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Fatherland Party

  • Seen as forerunner of National Socialist (Nazi) Party
  • Sought territorial annexations and was wholly behind the 'strong leader' Ludendorff
  • Anton Drexter, who founded the German Workers Party (which became Nationalist Socialist Party) was prominent member
  • Established under Wolfgang Kapp and Admiral Tirpitz and supported by donations from industry in Sep 1917
  • Attracted Conservatives, right wing liberals, middle classes and the Army High Command
  • By 1918 - had 1.2 million members
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Weimar Constitution

  • President
    • Elected every 7 years by men and women over age 20
    • Appointed and dismissed ministers and could dissolve Reichstag and call new elections
    • Supreme commander of armed forces
    • Had reserve powers to rule by decree in emergency without Reichstags consent (under Article 48)
  • Chancellor:
    • Had to have support of at least half Reichstag
    • Proposed new laws to Reichstag
    • Is in overall charge of running country
  • The Reichsrat:
    • Second chamber of G parliament, made up of 67 representatives from 17 seperate states
    • Each state represented in proportion to its population, but no state to have more than 40% of seats (to prevent domination by largest state, Prussia)
    • Could provide advice on laws but could be overridden by Reichstag
    • However, can veto laws passed by Reichstag
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Spartacist uprising Jan 1919

  • Aims of the Spartacists under Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg:
    • To replicate the Russian revolution of 1917 by:
      • Overthrowing the central govt using violent methods
      • Establishing soviets (workers and soldiers councils) in place of central govt in G towns and cities
  • The revolt:
    • Jan 1919 - 50000 workers went on strike and demonstrated in centre of Berlin. Demonstration taken over by Spartacist leadership.
    • Newspaper and communication buildings were seized and demonstrators armed themselves
    • However, many protestors returned home frustrated at lack of planning by Spartacists
    • General Noske,recently appointed Defence Minister, employed Freikorps-put down rising
    • Freikorps were ex-army soldiers who hated communists
    • Over 100 workers were killed during what became known as 'Bloody Week'
  • The aftermath:
    • Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were arrested and executed. Luxemburgs body was thrown in canal where it was not discovered until May
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Potential problems from signing the T of V

  • Growing resentment as the allied forces could spark a second war
  • Right wing extremists could gain popularity and come to power
  • Made people turn against the newly formed Weimar Republic, which could lead to a second revolution and the demise of the Republic in future
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Spartacist uprising Jan 1919 (cont.)

  • The communists and many of G working class developed a hatred for SPD
  • Sparticist Revolt had serious repercussions for Weimar govt. When its power was threatened by a growing Nazi party, the Communists and SPD could not set aside their differences
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The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

  • Russia lost:
    • 62 million people (1/6 of population)
    • 27% of farmland (some best in Russia)
    • 26% of railways
    • 74% iron ore and coal
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The divisions between socialists

  • The independents and majority socialists
  • Key issue was authority of workers and soldiers councils. Ebert viewed them as rival to parliamentary govt
  • Independents believed in parliamentary democracy
  • Majority socialists maintained belief revolution was over, Independents believed gains of revolution must be consolidated before assembly met
  • Independents believe that councils, the embodiment of revolutionary will of the people, should supervise the implementation of a crash programme of socialism - the nationalism of key industries, the breaking up of the great landed estates and democratisation of army, civil service and judiciary
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How well did Ebert deal with opposition from left?

  • Nov 1918 - seemed G might follow Russia with Communist Revolution
  • Socialists controlled Riechstag, and Soviets (workers councils) now assumer power in many German towns
  • However German socialist divided, and many opposed a Bolshevik style revolution
  • Ebert disliked Soviets and feared they were a possible rival to parliament
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Opposition from the right

  • Stab in the Back theory
    • This explained G's defeat as a result of being stabbed in the back by the 'November Criminals'
    • According to this view, the G army remained brave and succussful to the end; they could have won the war but for the antiwar agitators who caused unrest in society and the trecherous politicians who weakened G
    • This idea was popular with Friekorps, landowners, industrialists and civil servants - all of whom were traditional anti-republicans. It was also encouraged by Hindenburg who wished to remove any blame from G army
  • Friekorps:
    • A collection of groups as opposed to cohesive whole but all shared beliefs and objectives
    • Members could be described as conservative, nationalistic, anti-Socialism/communism and, once it had been signed, anti-Treaty of Versailles
    • Many members had faught in WWI and had military experience
    • They didn't believe G had suffered military defeat in WWI and members were very vocal supporters of stab-in-the-back legend that was eventually taken up by Nazi party
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T of V points (cont.)

    • G allowed no tanks or military aircraft; 6 battleships, 6 cruisers, 12 destroyers, 12 torpedo boats, no submarines, no airforce and have no conscription
    • Allied armies under allied commission of control, were to occupy west bank or Rhine for 15 years to ensure treaty was obeyed
    • Meant no fortifications or G forces could be placed within 50km of east side of river
    • G was not allowed to join League of Nations
  • Blame
    • G blamed for starting war in infamous clause 231, the 'war guilt clause'
    • Used to justify demand for reparations (compensation) to enable allies repair their own war damage
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Weimar constitution (cont.)

  • Other features:
    • There was a supreme court, independent of Reichstag and President
    • Republic had a federal system whereby there were seperate state govts in 17 Lander which kept control over their own internal affairs
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Weimar Constitution (cont.)

  • Reichstag:
    • Elected every 4 years by all G over 20 using proportional representation
    • Chancellor and ministers were responsible to Reichstag
    • Voted on budget; new laws had to originate in Reichstag, required approval of majority of Reichstag deputies
    • One deputy per 60000 votes, average 528 deputies
    • Can be govt ministers
  • Individual voter's rights:
    • Vote for local state assembly every 4 years and president every 7, Reichstag every 4 and in plebiscites (on occasional important issues)
    • 'All Germans are equal before the law'
    • Guaranteed freedoms of speech, of conscience and of travel
    • Guaranteed right to belong to TU, polictical parties, and other forms of organisation
    • Guaranteed right to work and employees given equal rights with employers to determine working conditions and wages
    • Had responsibility to use their intellectual and physical powers in interests of community
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How democratic was the Weimar constitution?

  • Democratic
    • Chancellor and ministers answerable to Reichstag
    • President elected every 7 years, Reichstag elected every 4
    • Proportional representation system (wide variety of interests represented)
    • G remained a federal state
    • Power to veto is gone - no absolute veto
    • Govt control of army
    • Referendums can be called
    • Presidential powers limited
    • Guaranteed fundamental rights and duties of G citizens - liberties and human rights
  • Undemocratic
    • Article 48 gave president authority to suspend civil rights and take whatever action needed to restore order - is president source of authority or is it Reichstag?
    • Proportional representation - no majority - encourages more parties and extremes
    • Lots of coalition govt - no consistency
    • Lander (individual states) lose some power
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Impact of Treaty of Versailles on Germany

  • Paris peace conference occured from 12-20 Jan 1919 in Paris to determine terms of surrender for defeated. Leaders of 32 states, representing 75% of worlds population attended
  • Most influential leaders were Woodrew Wilson (US President), David Lloyd-George (GB PM) and French PM Georges Clemenceau
  • May 1919 - G govt given document and were given 15 days to consider treaty and make amendments
  • Shocked govt responded with some admendments but these were largely ignored
  • June 1919 - peace treaty concluding the war was finally signed in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles
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T of V points

  • Land
    • Removed over 70000km squared (13%) of territory and all German colonies
    • Lost 15% of arable land
    • Lost entire Alsatian potash, textile industries and communications system built around Alsace-Lorraine and Upper Silesia
    • The whole of Rhineland area was to be permanently demilitarised
  • Money:
    • Loss of 75% of G iron ore, 68% of its zinc and 26% of its coal
    • Immediate 20000 million marks worth of reparations - payable mostly in industrial goods - demanded and G lost many economic assets
    • Five year ban on protection tariffs
    • Final amount of reparations was left to commission to decide, ot finalised until 1921, but was ultimately fixed at £6.6 billion (132000 million gold marks) over 30 years
  • Army
    • G disarmed 
    • G military forces (c300000 men in 1919) were to be cut by 31 March 1920 to to 100000 men in army - no more than 4000 could be officers 
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Was the T of V a harsh peace treaty?

  • Harsh:
    • Very revengeful
    • Not peace between equals
    • Allies not listening to negotiations
    • Funeral atmosphere set over Germany
    • Amusements shut down over a few days
    • T of V ignores all Wilsons 14 points
    • Germany only country kept out of League of Nations - no equal status internationally
  • Not harsh:
    • Clemanceau didn't get his own way - would've been much harsher
    • France been damaged - Germany naive to think union with Austria
    • Most terms warned in armistace agreement
    • Germany just as harsh before (treaty of Brest-Litovsk)
    • Just showing determination - Germany cant start another war
    • Although remove territory, but not anywhere where there was a majority German population
    • Germany not broken up
    • Germany had sufficient resources to re-emerge as a power
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The impact of WW1 on Germany

  • The start of war:
    • August1914, political disputes were swept aside in wave of patriotic support for G war effort
    • This included the SPD and TU who promised not to disrupt war effort through striking
    • This period of political truth was known as Burgfriede ('castle peace' or 'state of peace') and it resulted in unanimous votes in the Reichstag to grant war credits (G people lend money to govt for war effort with promise of return (with interest) after fixed period)
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International financial system under Dawes Plan


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German industry and agriculture

  • G govt mobilised economy for war from 1914:
    • Walther Rathenau, as leading businessman, took charge of organisation and supply as head of the war Materials section of the Prussian War Office
    • Cooperated with industrialists to form 200 war materials cooperations, financed by govt and used to requisition or buy raw materials for the production of armaments and equipment
  • Central Purchasing Company was set up to maintain trade with neutral countries
    • Although G limited in its export potential, built up debt
  • Pre-war G relied on imports, so war gave new importance to scientists and technicians, who were employed to develop 'ersatz' or substitute materials to provide greater self sufficiency
    • successful
    • Creation of large industrial complexes, combining several firms and emphasis on new technical processes provided a basis for post-war industrial development
  • 1916 - G industry and agriculture suffered from effects of Brit blockade and demands of conscription
    • By 1919, Industrial production was little over 1/3 of 1913
    • Loss of land, materials, and plants in T of V worsened problems
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German industry and agriculture (cont.)

  • After dislocation of war and first year of peace, period of rapid growth 1920-22, but 1923 - sharp decline
    • Output reached pre-war levels 1927, exceeded them 1928-29
    • Given rise to idea that, with hyperinflation over, currency stabilised, American loans providing investment, period of 1924-29 represented golden years of Weimar
  • Latter period saw fluctuations and omnious fall in production from 1928-29 when capital investment fell back
  • Overall, G economy growth between 1913-29 - 4%, US was 70%
  • Unemployment never fell below 1.3 million - reached 3 million by Feb 1929
  • In attempt to recapture lost markets and increase profit, industrialists 'rationalised' plants - getting rid of surplus labour, introducing new technology, adopting new managment and production techniques, forming cartels. By 1925 - 3000 cartel arrangements.
  • Heavy industry made some recovery. 1927 - coal production reached 79% of prewar, pig ion 68% and steel 86%. Increase in productivity. Output of blast furnaces trebled. Vereinigtr Stablwerke, formed 1926, linked coal, iron and steel interests of Thyssen, Stinnes, Pheonix and the Otto Wolf groups. It controlled 40-50% of total iron and steel production and 36% of coal production.
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German industry and agriculture (cont.)

  • Advances in chemical industry, often result of wartime research - eg large scale production of fertilisers at Leuna works near Merseburg, and the formation of IG Farbenindustrie in 1925 from number of major chemical companies that work closely in wartime. Interests from dye and rayon - dynamite and nitrogen.
  • Electrical industry continued prewar expansion. Siemens produced electric lighting, radios - development accelerated by wartime demands
  • Shipping and cement expanded under Wiking Konzern, large cartel
  • Car and aeroplane expanded - though luxury market and cars too expensive for average German
  • Smaller industries less well - they had less access to capital and restricted markets
  • Agriculture suffer greatly during war from loss of unprotected rural labour - women and old men left
  • 1916 - failure of potato crop, turnip winter (1916-17) when population lived off animal fodder - poor harvest 1917-18
  • Faced challenge of foreign imports and low prices - worldwide over production. Yields low, incomes rose slowly
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German industry and agriculture (cont.)

  • 1919, more than 20% of cultivated land owned by less than 1% of landowners.
  • 1919 Reich Resettlement law made provision for large estates to be redistributed to small farmers.
    • 1928 only 1/2 million Hectares released due to right opposition - 3% of small farmers benefited
  •  Landowners struggle to maintain traditional lifestyle in falling prices, they squeezed tenants
  • 1927-28 - farmers getting little return on cost of running farm, and faced high tax, substantial rents/interest on mortgages
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Is it right to call 1924-9 'golden age'?

  • Relied extensively on foreign credit. After USA agreed to supply money in the Daws Plan, other foreign investors were quick to see the potential of lending to G.
  • Offered highly precarious short-term loans at a time when internal credit squeeze made domestic investment more difficult.
  • Overseas investors hoped to get rich quick, from a country with huge economic potential, but extent of Gs dependence made vulnerable to recession in world markets
  • Economic improvements were not universal. Rate of economic growth was erratic and by late 1920s there were signs that economy was slowing down.
  • Small businesses and agriculture never benefitted from the 'boom' and cartelisation made matters worse for the farmer
  • G livving beyond means. Welfare state developments overstrained resources and pensions burden made huge demands on state finance 
  • Lack of capital, made worse by controls on circulation of money, prevented govt from injecting funds into industry to boast it.
  • Internal investment in late 1920s below that of pre-war years, while wages, pushed up by powerful trade unions, rose considerably faster than productivity
  • G economic performance compared to rest of world was not impressive
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Is it right to call 1924-9 'golden age'? (cont.)

  • World conditions did not favour G, which depended on export of goods at a time when World trade slumped.
  • 1926 - G balance of trade moved into deficit

Baseline: 1913=100     1920             1925

World                          93                 121

Germany                      59                 95    <-- G not very impressive

USA                           122                148

UK                              93                  86

France                         70                 114

USSR                          13                  70

Italy                             95                 157

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German economy

  • Grew 4% 1913-29, US grew 70%
  • Hyperinflation reduces, currency stabilises
  • Chemical, electrical, shipping, cement, car, aeroplane expanding - few people can afford cars
  • Dawes plan - beerhall, theatre set up, bringing over American ideas
  • Conclusion - during 1920s, are improvements but erratic. High unemployment, are improvements but don't benefit everyone. By late 1920s, economy starting to slow down.
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Social change under Weimar Republic

  • Unity and patriotism cut across class divisions.
  • Spirit of 1914 evaporated after food shortages - poor became malnourished and 40% of children developed rickets
  • 750000 died of malnutrition during winter 1918-19
  • Working class wages generally held up, but middle class lost out
  • Women began to work in armament factories - wage differentiate narrowed between sexes
  • 1918 - 1/3 of workforce was female and 25% of members belonged to TUs
  • Families suffered due to absent parents and interrupted education
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Why was 1918-24 hard for people of G?

  • Direction of resources to war efforts disruption to agriculture caused by conscription and Brit blockade of ports that was in place for 2 years previous all played part in spread of misery and distress
    • G civilians reduced to starvation level as food supplies dwindled; many lived on 1000 calories a day
    • Electricity supplies cut to conserve energy, public transport ceased to operate on reliable schedule, businesses could not function, the ill and needy could not be attended to, and the economy was close to collapse
    • Epidemic of Spanish flu, spread across the whole of Europe, hit the country badly, causing over a million deaths
  • Early years of Republic proved difficult for all classes
    • With govt support, immediate post war social problems rapidly addressed, the readjustment to civilian life after 4 years war unsettling
    • Not helped by political unrest and difficult economic situation, which spiraled out of control in 1923
    • Hyperinflation changed social attitudes as much as war
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Why was 1918-24 hard for people of G? (cont.)

  • 1923 crisis:
    • Workers paid daily or twice daily and many resorted to barter or went to the countryside to 'glean' what they could from the fields
    • Better organised employers paid employees in goods and whilst unskilled fared worst, most working class rode storm and rapidly recovered once real wages and living standards recovered in 1924
  • Those relying on savings, investments, fixed incomes, pensions and welfare support who suffered most
    • Young people unable to enter job market, the retired and sick all affected
    • Same with pensioners and war widows living on state pensions
    • Those who purchased fixed interest rate 'war bonds' lost out - interests became worthless and Landlords reliant on fixed rents
    • Hit white collar workers hard - lost savings and pensions, govt compensation scheme based on 10% of debt seemed inadequite
  • Those who had debts, mortgages and loans could pay off the money they owed, in worthless currency
    • Also helped enterprising businessmen as could repay loans once currency devalued further
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Why was 1918-24 hard for people of G? (cont.)

  • Those who paid fixed rents long term as real value of rents decreased
  • Owners of foreign exchange and foreigners living in G and some lower in social heirarchy
  • Countryside farmers benefit - food in demand and money less important in rural communities
  • Skilled workers as high demand for goods and services - but depended on region and levels of supply and demand
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How has state welfare expanded?

  • Nov 1918 - Workers granted 8 hr day, restrictions on TU abolished, industrial tribunials set up for arbitration between employers and employees
  • 1920 - War victim benefits added to social system already established under Second Reich. War related pensions set up for invalids, widows and orphans - more than 2.5 million people (40% of national expenditure)
  • 1922 - Youth Welfare Act promote physical and social fitness as youth service
  • 1923 - Unemployment relief turned into regular programme financed by employees and employers. National Insurance system extended 1913 agreement between Doctors and Insurance companies to provide the treatment for state-supported patients. Single agency replaced 110 seperate associations for miners before. System of binding arbitration introduced whereby an outside arbitrator had final say in industrial disputes
  • 1924 - Public assisstance programme replaced older poor relief legislation
  • 1925 - Accident insurance programme allowed diseases linked to certain types of work to become insurable risks
  • 1927 - Act concerning labour exchanges and unemployment insurance extended protection to 17.25 million workers (greater than any other country). Financed by a levy - half paid by workers, half by employers (scheme viable provided unemployed below 800000).
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Weimar culture

  • Reaction to pain of war and removal of censorship resulted in 'cultural explosion' within G in 1920s
  • Philosophy, psychology, art, architecture, literature, film, music and fashion were all affected
  • 'Modernism' and its desireton experiment and question became synonymous with the values of the Weimar Republic
  • Youth culture began to reflect American society; chewing gum, cigarettes, fashion, dance halls (with black jazz bands) and Hollywood films were popular
  • Berlin became the 'avant-garde' capital of Europe, renowned for its liberated night life, tolerance of same sex relationships and promiscuity
  • Reactions from the right:
    • For some the 1920s was an exciting and liberating time
    • For others, especially older generations, those affiliated with the church and those on the right, it represented a decline of their once great nation
    • The Zentrum and other right wing parties campaigned against 'tides of filth'
    • The artist Grosz was fined for 'defaming the military', whilst the Lander govt imposed their own laws on censorship
    • Pressure groups formed against female emancipation, nudism, homosexuality and
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Weimar culture (cont.)

    • (cont.) Americanisation. Others campaigned for anti-urbanisation and the return to working and living on the land
    • The Nazis exploited Jewish involvement in the arts, rallied against 'un-German' behaviour and distributed performances and exhibitions
    • Conservatives views were reinforced by authors such as Spengler's 'Decline of the West'  that painted a gloomy picture of democracy and declining civilisations
  • Reactions from the left:
    • Whilst many left wing intellectuals supported modernism, many Social Democrats were more inclined towards traditional culture than that of the avant-garde
    • Generally, left were dubious of mass commercial culture - both SPD and Communist Party feared cinema. There was fear that labour movement would never be able to offer a socialist alternative to match the sophisticated preoducts of film industry
    • By 1930 there were more than 5000 cinemas and in 1928 around 353 million cinema tickets sold to all classes
    • Some of the extreme left denounced modern cities as saturated/steeped in the evil of capitalism and saw rural communities as the road to classless and peacful society
    • However, on the whole, there was more curiosity on the left.
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Welfare system and social improvement

  • How did the Lander use foreign loans for social improvement:
    • Happened from 1924
    • Improved hospitals, schools, roads, municipal buildings and electricity supplies
    • Intiatives for affordable homes favoured as seemed to offer hope for future stability
    • 178930 homes built in 1925, over 70000 more than 1924, 1926 - 205793
    • Self build housing intiatives and experimentations in recovered/recycled building materials encouraged
  • What problems did new welfare system face:
    • Financial burden to the state:
      • 1923 - many became unemployed during period of passive resistance - benefit system nearly collapse
      • High taxation led to friction between elites and workers
      • Elites saw as attack on wealth and considered expensive bureaucracy yet another reason to oppose Weimar
      • Workers developed raised expectations, couldn't be met in G economic circumstance
    • Employer resistance
      • Tried to resist concessions and cartels formed used to 'monopolise' production, stifle
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Welfare system and social improvement (cont.)

  • (cont.) competition and keep prices high
  • Some smaller skop keepers and artisans resented help the govt gave to unskilled and urban workers, whom were regarded as social inferiors
  • Didn't want hard earned profits to be used to prop up 'no-goods', especially when they suffered competition from large department stores.
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Was period of 1924-29 stable?

  • After 1924, Weimar enjoyed greater domestic social stability as unrest and violence of early years faded and living standards rose
  • Future looked brighter and modern culture based on mass consumerism spread
  • Essentially city culture, but with proliferation of suburbs and manicipal development, more working and middle class could reap benefits of more comfortable lives with greater liesure opportunities and state welfare provision
  • Ownership of Radio, telephones and cars increased
    • Radio broadcasts, controlled by state, began in 1923 and although reception was variable (less than 50% in city and few in countryside) such developments, along with proliferation of newspapers and magazine, helped broaden minds
  • Press and social behaviour (manners, morals and attitudes) reflected spread of modernism (equated with Americanism) - especially amoung young
  • However picture variable - rural areas old ways persisted for much longer and less change visable
  • Traditional forms of entertainment stayed - beer halls, local choral societies, religious and folk festivals
  • Behaviour remained deferential and working peasant women, who attitudes everywhere were
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Was period of 1924-29 stable? (cont.)

  • (cont.) fairly ambivalent to emancipation, were more likely to be found at home with families
  • Change in countryside:
    • Farmers faced acute problems due to lack of land reform, which left too many farms too little to be profitable and losses of 1923
    • 1929 - income per head  in farming communities 44% below average (national)
    • Large Prussian landowners and small holder peasants equally affected and number of rural bankruptcies was high
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Source questions

  • Introduction
  • What key arguments in source are, using evidence?
  • What own knowledge do you have to support source?
  • What own knowledge do you have to contradict source?
  • Same as above for second source
  • Conclusion - which is more convincing and why?
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