The Weimar Republic,1918-29

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  • Created on: 08-06-19 12:32

Legacy of WW1

The Legacy of WW1

The abdication of Kaiser Wilhem II

econcomic problems :

  • Food shortages causing 750,000 deaths
  • Germany was becoming bankrupt, owing debt of 150bill marks
  • Government had to commit paying war pensions for 60,000 war widows and two million fatherless children.

social problems :

  • Not enough goods like arms (such as bullets, guns and shells) they needed were produced.
  • German factory workers resented the fact that wages were becoming restricted.

political problems :

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Legacy of WW1 (pt2)

  • Treaty of Versailles was a huge burden for Germany
  • Germans began to accuse politicans for betrayal and called them "November Criminals"
  • Germany had experienced strikes from workers, revolution and mutiny. 

German Republic was declared on 9 Nov 1918.

The Armsitice which was a peace agreement between Germany and the allies was signed on 11th Nov. 

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Weimar Constitution

The Weimar Constitution

Following the abdication of the Kaiser, Germany became a republic (a democracy without monarchy)

The Weimar constitution was established on 31st July 1919, in a town called Weimar due to unrest still happening in Berlin

It was made up of the Head of State (also known as the President) who was elected every 7 years - the first elected was Ebert in 1918. Also the Government (it was ran by the Chancellor and the Cabinet were the decision-making main body of it) and the Parliament (made of two houses called the Reichstag and Reichsrat)

  • features of Head of State: could pass laws by decree, elected and dismissed the Chancellor and could suspend the constitution.
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Weimar Constitution (pt2)

The Weimar Constitution (pt2)

Features of Chancellor : 

  • required support of at least half of the Reichstag, responsible of running the government and chose all government ministers.

Features of Cabinet: 

  • elected member of parliament that worked closely with the Chancellor as ministers and was main decision- making body of government.

Feautures of Reichstag: controlled taxtation and approved laws  

Features of Reichsrat:  represented regions of coutry and each region sent a ceratin no. of representative depending on their size. 

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Pros and Cons of W.C

Strengths and Weaknesses of The Weimar Constitution


  • Women electorates allowed and voting age decreased from age 25 to 21 - gave Germany a strong democracy.
  • Power was shared and lied with the people.
  • Electorates could elect their president every 7 years and people in parliament.


  • Article 48 enabled president to pass laws without prior consent of Reichstag.
  • Proportional representation (no. of votes that were proportional to no. of won seats) made Reichstag have too many different parties (there were 29 at that time) . 
  • This lead to coalition governments (several political parites joined together) which made W.C appear weak and unstable due to parties often falling out and having no strong policies being made.
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Why was the Republic unpopular?

The Treaty of Versailles:

  • damaged Germany's economy which made the Republic weak
  • leaders blamed for signing it and therefore given the title 'November Criminals' for surrendering and were seen as traitors.

War Guilt Clause:

  • Article 231 of TOV stated Germany was guilty for starting the war - Germans resented this.
  • Forced to accept the blame.
  • Had to pay reparations of £6.6bill in annual instalments to Allies to repair damage.

Military Forces

  • Army limited to 100,000 .
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Unpopularity (pt2)

Why was the Republic unpopular?

  • navy limited to 6 battleships, 12 destroyers and torpedo boats and no submarines
  • no airforce allowed and no military allowed in the Rhineland (the land bordering France to reduce threat).


  • lost 11 of its colonies and 13% of its European territory.
  • Porish corridor was lost to Poland - millions Germans had to live under Polish rule.
  • Eupen and Malmedy were lost to Belgium and Alsace and Lorraine were lost to Poland
  • Lithuania took Memel in 1923.
  • Public votes held in Upper Silesia and North Schleswig to leave Germany.

Germans felt 'stabbed in the back' by politicans who accepeted the treaty which became known as a 'diktat'. Those who also criticised the treaty felt that the army had been let down by the 'November Criminals'.

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Opposition from Spartacists


The Spartacists were one of the opposition that the Republic government were faced with. They were left-wing, came from the Independent Socialist Party and were backed by the Soviet. It was based in Berlin and the uprising led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht

  • They revolted on 6th Jan 1919.
  • Spartacists took over the government's newspaper and telegraph bureau - made the government lose control of the capital.
  • Organised a general strike in Berlin.
  • Friedrich Ebert ordered the Reichswehr offices to organise demobilised soldiers into Freikorps (means 'Free Corps') units to put down the revolt.
  • It came to an end on 13th Jan when the rebels were driven off the streets, 3 days later their leaders Luxemburg and Liebknecht were fatally shot by the Freikorps.
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Opposition from Freikorps

Kapp Putsch

The Freikorps were known for putting down the Sparticist revolt. They were right-winged and made up of ex-soldiers who kept their weapons. Also they had 250,000 men in March 1919 and was organised by regular army.

  • The uprising was led by Wolfgang Kapp who was a nationalist politican
  • They revolted in March 1920  (after the TOV)
  • The rebels wanted to invited the Kaiser to return from exile and declare a new government of Germany
  • The rebels turned their arms against the Republic and 5,000 men, fearing unemployment decided to march on Berlin.
  • Ebert asked the head of army to resist the Freikorps but refused to and said 'Reichswehr does not fire Reichswehr'
  • The members of governments fled to Weimar and then to Stuttgart - looked weak.
  • The workers brought the revolt to an end by the government organising the trade unions to go on strike as they were socialist and had no desire for the return of the Kaiser.
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Opposition (pt3)

  • There was so much chaos involved that Kapp could not rule Germany and was forced to flee.
  • The rebellion collapsed and Weimar ministers returned.

Political violence :

  • There were 376 political murders between 19-22.
  • Most political parties hived armed men to guard their meeting.
  • Man responsible for surrendering to the Allies in 1918 was shot dead in Aug 1921.
  • Some right-wing extremists used to murders to weaken the new republic.
  • Most left-wing or moderate politicans were murdered compared to right-wing.
  • Conservative judges were sympathetic to the conservative cause and gave them light punishments.
  • 10 left-wing assassins were convicted and executed.
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Challenges of 1923

Challenges of 1923

In 1922, the Ruhr Crisis began when the Germans announced they couldn't afford to pay the payments for reparation installments. The French and Belgian troops invaded The Ruhr in response to the German government's failure to pay them. The Ruhr was the industrial heartland of Germany that contained 80% reserves of German coal, iron and steel. It also contained lots of good and factories. 

  • German workers were ordered to go on strikes in the Ruhr - this was an act of passive resistance so that troops would not remove good from the country but strikers continued to get paid.
  • The government printed lots of money to pay strike workers and pay the money they owed to France and Belgium.
  • As the workers kept spending money in the shops, shopkeepers began to increases prices.
  • Therefore more money was printed so shops raised their prices again.
  • Soon prices were inflating which was known to be hyperinflation.
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Pros and Cons of Hyperinflation

Pros and Cons of Hyperinflation


  • Some could not afford living essentials like bread.
  • Wages rose but not as quickly as prices. 
  • Some business went bankrupt.
  • Savings also became worthless and this affected the middle class the most. Those with fixed/monthly incomes or had pensions suffered the most.
  • Weimar government was blamed and made even more unpopular.


  • Farmers benefited as they were paid for more food.
  • Some people and businesses could pay off loans and mortgages.
  • Fixed rents for rooms / shops became very cheap.
  • Foreign visitors could buy more for their money.
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Reasons for recovery in 1923-29

Golden Age of Weimar

Gustav Stresemann was the new chancellor who played an important role in restoring Germany from the immediate crisis of 1923. However there were still significant weakenesses in its economy. 

Rentenmark (1923) was a new temporary currency which was later replaced by a permanent currency called Reichsmark - it solved hyperinflation, restored Germany's banking system and confidence in Germany rose. However savings that were wiped out weren't returned to people.

The Dawe's Plan (1924) made annual reparation payments to be reduced at an affordable level. Also American banks agreed to invest 800mill marks in German industry - this made Germany's economy recover but financially rely on the US, French to leave the Ruhr but some extreme politcal parties detested the fact Germany had restarted reparations because of their hate for the T.O.V.

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Reasons for recovery in 1923-29

The Young Plan (1929) had cut reparation payments from £6.6bill to £2mill and gave Germany 59 years to pay it off - it strengthed Germany because it made their outgoings easier to manage and made Republic look trusted and stronger.

The Lorcano Pact (1925) was an agreement Germany made with France and Belgium to keep its borders with them, The allies agreed to move their troops from the Rhineland and disuss Germany's entry into the League of Nations - it was not imposed on Germany unlike the T.O.V, improved relations, increased status and popularity for the republic.

League of Nations (1926) invited Germany to join and become a member of the council after being exluded - it showed Germany to be trusted and treated as an equal.

Kellog- Briand Pact (1926) was an agreement between 62 nations which Germany become one of to sign and promise not to use war to achieve their aims - it made Germany be seen as a respectable member of the international community. 

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Changes for workers and women

Changes for workers and women

Wages and work

  • Working hours were reduced and wages rose.
  • Working conditions improved. 
  • Hyperinflation made employment insecure.
  • Well-off germans resented seing workers benefiting.

Unemployment insurance 

  • 3% of workers' earnings were deducted to be put towards insurance that would give them a basic amount of benefits if they became unemployed or sick.


  • 15% rent tax was introduced to fund building association.
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Changes for workers and women (pt2)

  • 101,000 homes were built in 1925-29.
  • Some housing shortages but things had improved. 

Women at work

  • Article 109 gave women equal rights in work.
  • There was a drop in women working from 75% in 1918 to 36% in 1925.
  • Few women secured high status jobs.
  • Women were encouraged to go universities. 

Women at leisure

  • Many younger single women living in cities had greater social independence.
  • 'New Women' expresses their freedoms with shorter hair, more make-up and more reaviling clothes. Women began to smoke and drink unaccompanied by men and became more sexually liberal.
  • Traditionalists did not like the behaviour of 'new women'.
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Cultural changes 1924-29

Women in politics 

  • 90% turned out at elections.
  • Women earned the vote in 1918 and could stand for election.
  • Marriage was an equal partnership. 

Cultural changes, 1924-29


  • Weimar artists painted everyday life so that everyone could have access to their art.
  • They wanted to make art that commented on problems in German society or provoke thinking.
  • Their style of work was called Expressionism, which was concerned with raw emotion, the seedier side of everyday life and confrontinting the disaster of WW1.
  • Artists like Otto Dix and George Grosz were influential to the movement, as was Paul Klee.
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Cultural changes 1924-29 (pt2)


  • Films became popular all over the world in the 1920s.
  • Expressionism flourished in film-making, particularly on Weimar Germany due to fewer restrictions.
  • Some German films were very new and exciting in how they challenged traditional cinema.


  • It became a centre for new plays, operas and theatre shows.
  • Berlin became famous for its nightclubs which had naked dancers or put on 'transvestite evenings'.


  • Became a big business - the choice of 120 newspapers and magazines to choose from
  • German anti-war novel sold half a mllion copies in just three months.
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