Why was the Weimar Republic unpopular before 1924?
The Ending of the War
The Great War (August 1914) resulted in Europe being torn in two. The Allies vs The Central Powers (Germany inculded). USA joining in 1917.
1918 - German army has been pushed back to the Western Front, British navals imprisoned German fleet at Kiel causing shortages of food and water. Germans part of the war was going poorly. So...
Oct 1918 - German leaders realised they should seek peace. So the armistice was signed on the 11th November. Some thought this was betraying the German army. The notion was that the army hadn't been defeated but had been forced to surrender by their own government. The Dolchstoss was the idea of 'stabbed in the back'. The politicians became to be known as the November Criminals.
The Communist threat
New leader of Germany called Friedrich Ebert had to face the Sparacist uprising in January 1919. They were members of the Communist Party try to overthrow the November Criminals and set up a communist government.
The regular army couldnt provide adequate forces to defeat the Sparacists so he relied on the Freikorps - paramilitary groups of returning soldiers who refused to surrender weapons who were anti communist and anti socialist.
Due to so much violence, Ebert moved government to the town of Weimar. Ebert and Scheidemann were both members of the German Social Democratic Party, SDP. They relied on the army and death of communists, some thought this weakened the Weimars authority.
The Weimar Constitution
Following the abdication of the Kaiser (King), and new constitution had to be created and finalised in August 1919. Ebert and his colleagues were critisised for creating a weak system of government when things didnt go well in the post war years.
The Treaty Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles
11 November 1918 - signing of the armistice.
28 June 1919 - treaty ending war signed.
The treaty imposed severe terms on Germany. Most blamed Ebert and Weimar government for this.
War Guilt Clause - harshest term for Germany. This stated that they had to accept blame for starting the war in 1914. For most this meant shame and humiliation. Versailles was dictated peace. A scapegoat was needed and so Weimar government was used.
Political Unrest and Economic instablilty 1919 - 2
1919 - 23
Weimar Republic faced constant threats of existence of the government.
- Communists put down in 1919 - 20.
- The Freikorps failed. They refused to dispand and attempted to seize power.
- Unrest in Germany in years to 1923.
- Many political assassinations by ex- Freikorps. 376 murders from 1912-1922.
- No right wingers sent to death, but left wingers were.
Germany had gone through inflation during the war and had to borrow sufficient amounts of money to support the war efforts. The amount of money they owed was so big that the Weimar couldnt afford it and so in 1921, they began to print more money to pay France and Beligum and workers.
The value of the currency was rapidly decreasing, and there was no repayments so France sent troops into the Ruhr (main industrial land in germany).
1923, hyperinflation occured when the currency lost all value. People with savings or those on fixed income were literally penniless. Weimar politicians were blamed.
However summer 1923, Gustav Stresman became chancellor and introduced new currency. Loans from the USA and new currency enabled economic recovery.
Hitler and German Workers' Party
Hitler was angry at the defeat of Germany and so hated the Weimar Republic. He became an informant with his intelligence in the army.
Hitler made a powerful speech at the German Workers Party that resulted in him being noticed and asked to join by Drexler, founder of the party, he joined shortly afterwards. (DAP)
This started his political journey and he was leader of Germany within 14years. Within the party he was made responsible for propaganda and recruitment.
His themes were:
- The Dolchstoss (stab in the back)
- Disgust of Treaty of Versailles
- Communist- Jewish conspiracy bemt on destroying Germany
- Hatred of Weimar and November Criminals.