The problems of the Weimar Repiblic

German reactions to defeat

The treaty of Versailles

The Weimar Constituion

Weaknesses of the Constitution

HideShow resource information

German reactions to defeat

In later years many Germans argued that they could have won the war in 1918.

They said that the politicians of the new republic - the 'november criminals' had betrayed them when they signed the armistace.

This theory won support among the army and German nationalists.

In fact, the army commanders knew they were close to defeat and encouraged the government to sign the cease-fire.

However the new republic was associated with defeat and this made it unpopular.

1 of 5

The Treaty of Versailles [1]

When the Germans signed the armistace they believed it would be based on Woodrow Wilson's fourteen points and would be fair and democratic.

However the Germans were not allowed to attend the Paris peace conference. They were not even told anything about the talks that took place there. But most German People still expected a reasonable peace treaty.

The hopes of the German people were dashed when they were presented with the peace treatry on 7 May 1919.

Germany was to be held responsible for causing WW1 and all resulting damage. This was used to justify demands for reparations or compensation/

Most Germans argued that they alone had not caused the war. The Germans were equally angry about the amount of territory lost.

The Germans were horrified with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and anti-treaty protests took place across Germany.

2 of 5

The Treaty of Versailles [2]

The German government insisted that it had no choice but to accept the treaty, as otherwise the Allied armies would occupy and partition Germany.

The popular press called for revenge.

On 28 June 1919 two German representatives signed the Treaty of Versailles.

The new republic had got off to a bad start. Not only was it blamed for German defeat in 1918, but also Germans did not forgive it for signing the Treaty of Versailles.

3 of 5

The Weimar Constitution

In August 1919 the Weimar government published its constitution. Germany was to be one of the most advanced democracies in Europe.

At a time when few other countries allowed women the vote, the Weimar constitution gave all men and women over 20 years old the right to vote.

The number of seats for each part was to be based on the total number of votes won by that party. This is known as propotional representation.

It gave small parties a share of the vote.

The Chancellor had to be supported by the majority of the Reichstag.

Germany was to be a federation. This meant that every German state had its own government. Each state sent a representative to the Reichrat.

The President was elected by the people.

The Constittution guranteed the German people a wide range of Human and Civil rights - such as free speech and the freedom of movement and religion.

4 of 5

Weaknesses of the Constitution

The new Constitution had several fundamental weaknesses.

  • The President had the power to appoint and dismiss the Chancellor.
  • If the President considered that there was a time of emergancy he could use Article 48 to suspend democracy and rule by issuing decrees or laws which didnt have to be passed through the Reichstag.
  • Prussia had an overall majority of representatives in the Reichrat, this meant that Prussia alone could veto any changes in the constitution.
  • Because of proportional representation, no party ever had a majority. This meant that all governments were coalitions of several parties.
  • This led to weak governments - with sometimes opposing ideas - who could not agree on policies. Decisions took a long time to be made.
  • Proportional representation encouraged the growth of extremeist parties such as the Communists and National Socialists.
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Causes and effects of WW1 resources »