The Weimar Government and its Weaknesses

  • Created by: Hemdev
  • Created on: 30-09-17 12:51

Background Info

On 11/11/1918, the armistice was signed bringing an end to fighting the First World War (1914-18).

The setting up of the Weimar Republic did not signal peace for Germany.

The five years after the war were chaotic and the Republic faced a host of challenges includnig an attempted communist revolution, political assasitnations, Putsches (armed uprising) and massive inflations.

Above all, Germans had to accept that all the problems of the post-war years were the result of the decisions that had been made by the new Weimar Republic.

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Weimar Government: 10/1918-19/1/1919 (Part1)

By autumn 1918, Germany defeat in the First World War seemed imminent.

In 10/1918, a new German government was formed, led by Prince Max of Baden. US President Woodrow Wilson refused to discuss peace terms with Prince Max and Germany while Kaiser Wilhelm II was in control.

At the end of October, the German navy mutinied and unrest befan to spread across Germany.

9/11/1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated the German throne due to his waning support and fled to Holland. As a result, a new German Republic was declared and Chancellor Freidrich Ebert accepted the armistice that ended the First World War. Many Germans saw the ending of the war as a betrayal of the German army (Reichswehr). From its very beginning, therefore, many Germans, especially those in the army, despised the new Republic.

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Weimar Government: 10/1918-19/1/1919 (Part2)

In the final weeks of 1918, there were attacks on the new government.

Elections for a Constituent Assembly were held on 19/1/1919. After the election, it was decided that Berlin was a dangerous place for the members of Constituent Assembly to meet. Therefore, the decision was taken to meet in a more peaceful surroundings - The town of Weimar (hence the name of the new Republic). The most important result of the January elections was that no single party had a majority of seats. This mean that there would have to be a coalition goverment.

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The Weimar Constution

Following the abdication of the Kaiser, a new constitution had to been drawn up; this was finalised in August 1919. This was the first time that Germany had experienced democracy.

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Key Articles of the Weimar Constituion

Article 1: The German Reich is a republic. Political authority derives from the people.

Article 22: The Reichstag delegates are elected by universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage by all men and women over 20 years of age, in accordance with the principles of proportional representation.

Article 41:The Reich President is chosen by the whole of the German electorate.

Article 48:If public safety and order in the Reich is materially disturbed or endangered, the Reich President may take the necessary measures to restore public safety and order

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Some flaws of the Weimar Constitution

Proportional Representation: number of seats depends on votes gained.

  • This produced a large number of parties and made it difficult to create political stability. No party was able to win a majority and there were many coalition governments.

Parliament (Reichstag) or the President?

  •  Who had more power, Article 43 allowed the President to rule by decree without parliament.

Challenge from the army

  • Leaders of the army wanted the Kaiser to return because their status would be maintained under him

Challenge from civil service and judiciary

  • Many Judges and senior civil servants didn't want Weimar because they didn't agree with it's liberal political views.


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