The Weimar Republic, 1918 - 1929

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  • Created by: emma998
  • Created on: 14-04-14 11:12

Impacts of WW1 on Germany, 1918

  • Germany was left virtually bankrupt
  • National income was 1/3 of what it had been in 1913
  • Industrial production was around 2/3 of what it had been in 1913
  • By 1925 the government was spending 1/3 of budget on war pensions
  • The war left 600,000 widows and 2 million children without fathers
  • The war had deepened divisions in German society:
  • Huge gaps between living standards of rich and poor
  • Many German workers were bitter at restrictions placed on earnings during war while factory owners made vast fortunes from war
  • During war many women were called up to work in factories, damaging family values and society as a whole
  • Germany had a revolution and became a democratic republic - Weimar republic
  • War stresses led to revolution in October-November 1918 and abdiction of Kaiser
  • Many ex-soldiers and civillians despised new democratic leaders and came to believe the heroic leader field Marshall had been betrayed by the weak politicians
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Birth of Weimar Republic

  • Autumn 1918, Allies had clearly won the war
  • Germany in state of chaos
  • Allies offered Germany peace but under strict conditions including that they became more democratic
  • Kaiser refused
  • Revolution
  • 9 Nomber 1918, Kaiser abdicted his throne and left Germany for Netherlands
  • Socialist leader, Friedrich Ebert became new leader of Republic of Germany
  • Immediatley signed armistice with allies
  • Democratic government set up
  • Opposition from right and left wings
  • Despite this, January 1919 free elections took place for first time in German history
  • Ebert's party won majority and he became president of Weimar Republic
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Weimar constitution

  • Weimar constitution attempted to set up probably the most democratic system in the world where no individual could gain too much power
  • All Germans over the age of 20 could vote
  • System of proportional representation - a party's precentage of votes, equalled percentage of seats in Reichstag (parliament)
  • Chancellor appointed by President
  • In charge of day-to-day government 
  • Needed support of half of Reichstag
  • President was head of State
  • Stayed out of day-to-day government
  • In crisis could rule by decrees using article 48 which gave him emergency powers meaning he did not have to consult the Reichstag
  • Controlled the army
  • Appointed judges to the courts
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Threats from left

Spartacist rebellion, early 1919:

  • Communist party led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg
  • Party similar to the Lenin Bolsheviks who had just taken power in Russia
  • Joined by left wing rebel soldiers and sailors set up soviets in many towns
  • Ebert made agreement with Freikorps (ex-soldiers who bitterly opposed communism) to put down rebellion - Ebert Grona Pact
  • Bitter street fighting, both sides heavily armed, casualties high
  • Liebknecht and Luxemburg murdered and communist revolution had failed

Communist rebellion in Bavaria, February - May 1919

  • Bavaria - independent sociallist state led by Kurt Eisner, Ebert's ally
  • February 1919, murdered by political opponents
  • Communists seized oppertunity to declare soviet rupublic in Bavaria
  • Freikorps moved in to crush revolt in May 1919
  • Around 600 communists killed

Communists in the Ruhr, 1920

  • Police, army and Freikorps clashed with communists, 2,000 casualties 
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Threats from the right

Kapp Putsch, March 1920

  • Dr Wolfgang Kapp led 5,000 Freikorps into Berlin in rebellion
  • The army refused to fire on the Freikorps
  • Appeared as if the new deomocratic government was going fail to solve this rebellion
  • It was the general German public in paticular the industrial workers who ended the rebellion
  • They declared general strike which brought capitol to a halt with no transport, power or water
  • After a few days Kapp realised he could no longer succeed and left the country 
  • He was hunted down and died whilst awaiting trial
  • So after all it seemed that the new Weimar government did have the support of the German people or at least, the support over extremist right wing parties.
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Invasion of the Ruhr

  • First installment in 1921 of £50million was paid
  • In 1922 nothing was paid
  • Ebert did his best to play for time and negotiate concessions from allies
  • Allies refused help, still owed USA huge war debts
  • In January 1923, French and Belgian troops entered the Ruhr and began to take what was owed to them in the form of raw materials and goods
  • This was legal under the ToV
  • Results of occupation of Ruhr were disasterous for Germany
  • Government ordered workers to carry out passive resistance (strike) so that there would be nothing for French to take
  • French reacted harshly killing over 100 workers and expelling over 100,000 protestors from region
  • Halt in industrial production caused collapse of German currency
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  • Because Germany had no goods to trade and therefore no money, the government made the fatal mistake of simply printing more money in their desperation
  • Germany paid off debts in worthless marks including war loans of over £2.2billion
  • Set off chain reaction
  • With so much money in circulation, wages and prices rocketed
  • Money became worthless
  • Workers needed wheel barrows to carry home wages
  • Workers were paid daily rather than weekly
  • Prices of goods could change between joining back of queue and reaching the front
  • Poor people suffered
  • Worstly effected was the middle-upper classes who had savings and pensioners
  • Mney in a savings account which could have bought them a house in 1921 could not even buy them a loaf of bread by 1923
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Gustav Stresemann, 1923 - 1929

  • August 1923, new government under Gustav Strsemann took over
  • More skillful politician than Ebert and as a right winger had more support  
  • 1923 - Took in all worthles marks and replaced with new currency called Rentenmark
  • 1923 - Negotiated US loans under Dawes plan - 800million rentenmarks - money spent on re-building German industries, replacing old equipment and oublic works - created employment
  • 1925 - French troops leave Ruhr after calling off passive resistance in Ruhr
  • 1925 - Locarno pact with France - agree never to change border
  • 1926 - accepted into league of Nations
  • 1928 - Kellogg-Briand pact with over 60 countries never to go to war 
  • 1929 - Young's plan - extend deadline German reparations payments for further 59 years
  • 1927 German industry seemed to have recovered well
  • 1928 achieved same levels of industrial production as in 1913
  • Regained world's second greatest industrial power
  • Wages rose and for most Germans there was higher standard of living
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Hitler and the Nazis, 1919 - 1923

  • The Nazi party began as the German worker's party and was led by Anton Drexler
  • In 1919 Hitler joined the party interested in their ideas
  • Drexler soon realised Hitler's great talent and within months had put him in charge of propeganda and political ideas of party
  • 1920 the party announced its 25 point programme
  • Renamed itself as National Socialist German Workers' party or Nazis for short
  • In 1921 Hitler removed Drexler as leader and became the leader of the party
  • HItler's energy, commitment and power as a speaker were soon attracting attention. Hitler also was ahead of his time as a politican as he understood the power and importance of proganda
  • Hitler had clear and simple appeal
  • He stirred national passions in his audiences - gave them scapegoats to blame for Germany's problems
  • In 1921 he set up the SA (also known as storm troopers and brownshirts) which were hired thugs (many ex-soldiers who were unemployed) to protect Hitler's meetings and disrupt those of other parties
  • By 1923 still very much a minority party but HItler had given them a high profile
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Munich Putsch, 1923

  • By November 1923 Hitler belived that the moment had come to topple Weimar government
  • Government pre-occupied with economic crisis
  • On 8th November, HItler hijacked a local government meeting and anounced he was taking over government of Bavaria
  • He was joined by old war hero Ludendorff
  • Nazi SA took over official buildings
  • Next day government forces hit back
  • Police rounded up SA and in brief exchange of shots, 16 Nazis were killed by police
  • Rebellion broke up in chaos
  • Hitler escaped in car while Ludendorff and others stayed to face police
  • Hitler had miscalculated the support and mood of German people - did not rise up to support him
  • He and other leading Nazis arrested and charged with treason
  • At trial gained huge publicity for himself and ideas and impressed judges
  • Very light sentence - 5 years in prison, although only eneded up serving 9 months in comfort of Landsburg castle
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Nazis, 1924 - 1929

  • May 1924 elections, Nazis won 32 seats
  • Encouraged, HItler set up network of local Nazi parties which in turn set up Nazi youth, Nazi student league and similar organisations
  • By 1927, Nazis still trying to appeal to German workers as had done since party set up
  • 1925 HItler enlarged SA - about 55% came from unemployed, many ex-servicemen
  • Also set up ** - smaller group of thugs but fanatically loyal to HItler personally
  • Hitler appoointed Joseph Goebbels to take charge of Nazi propeganda - posters to radio broadcasts - believed the way to reach the "masses" was to appeal to their feelings
  • 1928 elections proved they were still fringe minority party with less than 3% support of public, prosperity of Stresemann years made Germans unintersted in extreme politics
  • Hitler realised appealing to the workers was simply not going to gain them support so instead decided to try to appeal to peasant farmers, middle-class shop keepers and small businesses
  • Large rural population - 35%
  • Nazis highlighted importance of peasant farmers in plans for Germany - pure Germans
  • However in the years up to 1929 they were still not a minority party
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