Weimar Germany

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The Spartacists

Leaders: Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht

Aims: Germany to be a republic, to be goverend by the workers and soldiers councils in each town, with no national parliament. disarment of police and disband army. right to freedom of speech and benefits for workers.

Methods: street demonstrations and rallies, strikes, sabotage and assassination, with no support for the proposed parliament.

Uprising of 1919: many armed clashes between them and Freikorps durig 1918. They though the hardship and hunger of Germany would make them support a communist revolution. In January 1919, they tried to stage a revolution to overthrow Eberts Social Democratic government. They captured the government newspaper and telegraph office. It was badly organised, with no support from other left wing groups. The Weimar government encouraged the Freikorps to crush the uprising, being the only group strong enough to do so. the government depended on the Freikorp for protection. Thousands of Spartacists were killed by the Freikorps and the goverment survived. However President Ebert was made to look bad as he had relied on illegally armed men to kill working class men and women. Rosa and Karl were captured and later executed by the Freikorps illegally.

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The Weimar Constitution

What did the constitution say?

  • All men over 20 had the right to vote
  • Every 7 years there would be a re-election of president and every 4 years there would be a re-election of the Reichstag, they made laws, ensured government was doing its job properly
  • Proportional Representation- allowed small political groups to 'grow up'. The President, when appointing a government, had to use people from lots of different parties, a Coalition Government. 

Good points:

  • Bill of Rights guarenteed every German citizen freedom of speech, religion and equality
  • All men & women over 20 were given the vote
  • There was an elected President and Reichstag and the Reichstag made the laws and appointed Government

Bad points:

  • Article 48 - in an emergency the President could make laws without consent of th Reichstag, but did not define what and emergency was, giving them a lot of power.
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Treaty of Versailles

Terms of Treaty:

  • War Guilt - Germant to take all the blame
  • Reparations - give up 10% of industry ans 15% of farmland and could afford the high price of the reparations - £6.600M
  • Military restrictions  - no defence against France and Russia, army was pride of Germany. air force disbanded and army limited to 100,100 from 3million.
  • Territorial losses - 13% of land and 6million people and loss of colonies


  • Treaty was unfairly negotiated, it was forced upon them
  • Germany wasn't invited to the negotitions of th Treaty, they had no say
  • Germany was forced to accept, if not the llies would attack Germany

Germany felt it had been 'stabbed in the back' by its leaders who signed the Treaty

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The Kapp Putsch (1920)

Many soldiers that had been frced from the army joined th Freikorps, the illegal group of ex-soldiers who hated the government and communists, beat people up and caused havoc on streets. The allies wanted them disbanded, when the Weimar government attempted, the Freikorp marched on Berlin.

It was named after its leadrer Wolfgng Kapp, they claimed they had set up a new government, and the army refused to help the Weimar government.

the Government ran away. They relied on the aid of the workers, who wemt on strike. gounding the country to a halt. The putsch failed in days.


  • Government suposted by workesr and survived a major threat


  • The army had refused to help and the leaders of the putsch were never punished, this would of made them heros and they needed the aid of the army for the arrests.
  • the government was left looking weak and out of control
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Political Murders (1919-23)

Background: over 300 people killed in political assassinations between 1919-23. killed by left and right wing activists.

  • army and police would not always make arrests for the people committing the murders - especially as they were somtimes involved. To gain the army support the government sacked some left-wing governments, making the army happy and they worked harder to stop the murders.


  • Government forced to give in to the army to win their support
  • the army was harder on left-wingers like communists - unfair
  • Democarcy wasn't working and was undrr threat from violence
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French Invasion of Rhur (1923)

  • Governement unable to keep up with reparations payments.
  • In January 1923 French and Belgian troops marched into the Rhur of Germay, seizing factories and mines, whic was illegal under Versailles Treatty.
  • Government set up a policy of Passive Resistance - people in the Rhur were not to cooperate with French, including not working. Hardship followed as no money could be earnt.
  • Government paid strikers wages, costing huge amounts of money they didnt have. the French retailated by casting out 150,000 Germans from the Rhur. they also killed 32 people.
  • In August the new Chancellor, Stresemann, called off the resistance.
  • The economy was damaged by loss of production and high spending
  • the value of German currency was severly reduced by the crisis = poorer = no debts being paid
  • Governmen had to give in - upset right-wing extremists.
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Hyperinflation (1923)

  • printing of more money they didn't have
  • when too much money is printed the prices go up and mone becomes worthless
  • wages rose dramatially, but bosses had to put up their prices to pay wages
  • this meant prices went even higher and value of money declined even more - known as Hyper Inflation.
  • in October they introduced a new currency, this stabilised the economy until a new permanent currency was introduced. but the effects of the crisis were significant.
  • old peoples pensions had disappered
  • middle class were badly affected, they were paid monthly amd suffered fromrsisng prices, with savings becoming worthless
  • people were angry with the government  - they were ashamed.
  • rich people with land did well - property went up in value, keeping place with inflation and bought property from the old and middle class who were selling to live.
  • working class and unemployed were ok, income went up daily keeping up with prices.
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The Munich Putsch (1923)

  • Nazi group lead by Adolf Hitler, angry at the ending of passive resistance. Hoped for support with the people in crisis needing a way out.
  •  The Government had the army support and the putsch was crushed.
  • Nazis put on trial, but recieved light punishments and gained publicity.
  • Hitlet bacame famous
  • the Goverment was forced to use force to stay in power, again.
  • Judges supported Nazis, and allowed Hitler to make speeches in court.
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Weimar gets better 1923-29

  • The coalition and Stresemann: leading politican, he organised a coalition of moderate, pro-democracy partie in the Reichstag.
  • US Loans: gave money to aid German economy - old money scapped amd inflation was cut wiht reparations reduced and made more managable
  • New Policies and Laws: introduced reforms to help ordinary people such as job centres, unemployment pay and better housing.
  • Better World Relations: France left the Rhur when reparation payments were met and in1926 German join the League of Nations, it was back in the'family of nations' and en-route to gaig its old status.
  • Culture: German film, art, music, architecture and theatre were all well-respected in the wrld and gave the Germans new pride.
  • BUT: - The economy was dependant on US loans which could be recalled at any moment, the Nazis and Communists still caused trouble amd some felt the new culute was obscene and embarassing.
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