Weimar and Nazi Revison

This set of revision cards will begin from the end of World War One and the start of the Weimar republic.  The Rise of the Nazis, their consolidation of power and World War Two will be discussed under the topic that is named 'From Kaiser to Fuhrer 1900-45' the topic for A2 History excell. 


The peace Conference at versailles.

After WW1 ended, the Treaty of versailles was set up, based on Woodrow Wilson's (President of the USA) 14 points, discussed at a peace conference in Versailles.

  • 14 points revolved around 'self Determination' for Germany, which means they had the right to be governed by people who speak the same language and share same culture as the German people.

Though at the peace conference in versailles the allies had different ideas, the most influenntial leaders there were : Clemenceau (French PM) , Lloyd George (English PM) , Orlando (Italian PM) and Wilson  - The council of Four.  Issues debated were :

  • Creation of a League of Nations (woodrow wilson wanted peace)
  • Carthaginian Peace = Harsh settlement, maintaining inferiority of loser. (clemeancau wanted to end threat of War -encourage strength of poland)
  • Lloyd George/ Wilson didnt want french to be too powerfull either, so they decided the Rhine land would be de-militarised. 
  • Irredentist (orlando's priority) - wanted the italian speaking parts of Austria.
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Treaty of Versailles, 28th June 1919.

Key Features of Treaty of versailles were:

  • Disarmament : Severely Limits German Military Power.  Abolition of conscription, Reduction of Army to 100,000 men, No tanks, No Aircraft, No submarines (after Germans had declared unrestricted submarine warfare in WW1).
  • War Guilt : Art.231 = Germany must take the blame for WW1 ( not fair - but had to put a guilt clause in, to gain money from Germany).
  • Reparations: Contstantly renegociated, started as 132 million marks.
  • Loss of 13% of territory : Memel/ Western Upper Silesia/ Danzig / Saar land / Alsace and Lorraine/ Southern Schelswig/ Katowice
  • De-miltarisation of the Rhine Land
  • Creation of the polish corridor - giving Poland access to sea - creating a stronger Poland and Germany's expense. 
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German reaction to the Treaty of Versailles.

'Stab in the Back' myth  = Versailles was a humiliating 'Diktat' , had been signed by German socialist/communists of the Government, the November criminals, who undermined the army for wanting peace.  The left wing government were then seen as Anti- Germany. 

 Loss of territory/land that was emotionally important to Germany, which was more valuable than repartations.

National Resentment towards the treaty.

Germany was Humilated. 

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Was the Treaty Harsh enough?

Too Harsh ?

Too harsh - carthaginian peace had taken all strength away from Germany and caused such National resentment that it was the reason for WW2, as it gave rise to the Nazi Party. 

Not Harsh enough?

Not as harsh as WW2 settlementThey didn't want to damage Germany too much because the country had an influence in the economy, if the Germany could recover quickly European economy would be Prosperous.  Germany= still a united Nation/ Reparations are revised/ communist threat leaves Germany in strong position/ was 'wilsonian peace', not 'punishing peace' as hoped for by France/ belgium. 

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The Weimar Constitution

The weimar constitution wanted to encourage social progress after WW1, with the distribution of wealth and meritocracy = were people are credited on efforts and their hard work feeds back into society.  The new Federal state had two levels : National Government - concentrated on foreign power and economic affairs and State Government.

The constitution :

  • Every German 20 + can vote,
  •  President eleceted every 7 years,  
  • proportional representation systmem - often germany has a coalition gov beacause there are 36 parties
  • Article 48 - laws by decree can overide constitutional right only in emergency - undermining Reichstag
  • Welfare provisions upset elite
  • Hostile proffesors who will teach people to be anti-socialist after WW1
  • were Germans 'physcholgically' prepared for democracy
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Ebert / Groener Agreement, November 1918

The agreement between General Groener and Ebert is an agreement between the Army and the Government. 

The republic had just been declared and the Government was scared that there would be a communist revolution, turning Germany into a Bolshevik State.  

Ebert makes a deal with General Groener and the army ( who aren't popular after WW1):

  • In return for them suppress revolutionary activity, Ebert  would promise army supplies and protection of its status against the Armed militias (like the Red Army) 

The Army agree because they are conservative elite and they don't like the threat of a Bolshevik state and it will give them back power and influence.  

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Threats to the Weimar Republic, The Spartacist Rev

-  The Spartacists union , was a communist group that held their first congress in Berlin on the 1st of January, formally creating a German communist Party: The KPD.  The main leaders of the group were Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg.
5th January = Spartacist Revolutionary Uprising.  News paper offices were seized and revolutionairy committees were formed.  

-  However the rising was poorly planned and easily crushed by troops from the regular army and the Freikorps, who were led by Luttwitz. 

- 15th January = Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg were murdered by      Army. 

-  The alliance of Ebert and the Army crushing the revolutions 1918-19 saved the country from communist revolution. 

-  However it was significant = the revolt splits German Left wing - socialists (Freikorps/Government) and communists(Spartacists) who have the same ideas are now against each other. 

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Threats to the Wiemar Republic : Red Bavaria Febru

February 1919 = Kurt Eisner - USPD Leader in Bavaria = Assassinated by a Right Wing Student. 

Assassination + news of a soviet revolution in Hungary triggers revolution in Bavaria. 

6th April 1919 - Soviet Republic in Bavaria is Declared, led by communist leader Eugine Levine, who seized property of wealthy, raised a Red Army of workers who started to round up well-known right wingers and shoot them.  

Early May 1919 = Army + Freikorps sent 30,000 troops into Bavaria , crushing the Soviet Republic, Killing 1,000 members of the 'Red Army' 

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Threats to the Wiemar Republic - Ruhr Revolution 1

In response to the Freikorps the Ruhr Workers set up the Red Army - which was a peoples Militia.

15th march 1920 - they  seized power and set up a government in Essen with the aim of setting up a soviet state.  

The government sent in the Freikorps and a willing army to crush the revolution = ironic because the government used the same forces that they weren't sure were completely loyal or not.  

The Army attack the 'Red Army' in the Ruhr, they shot anyone they thought might be part of the revolution. 

The Red Army was finally defeated on the 7th April, and the Ruhr Revolution was over.  

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Threats to the Weimar Republic - Kapp Putsch1920

It was a right wing threat, that was a result of the reduction of rearmament of the army to 100,000 men after the Treaty of Versailles, the figure head was Ludendorf but it was lead by Wolfgang Kapp and General Von Luttwitz of the Freikorps.  The Right wing nationalists demanded that the T.O.V be  four days the Putsch collapsed and Luttwitz fled to Sweden.  

In March 1920 the Government Defence minister ordered that the Freikorps disband.  A group of army officers lead by luttwitz refused to disband and demanded the resignation of Ebert and the government and new elections to the Reichstag.

12th May 1920, Luttwitz led the Freikorps Brigade into Berlin where they seized the city.  The army= told to supress it, t General seekt ordered the army to stay in their Barracks saying : 'the Reichwehr does not fire on the Reichwher'.  The government fled the city,workers went on strike, defending the republic, the rebels failed to gain support and in rejected and that the Wiemar Republic be overthrown.

Significance = armies reluctance to support republic and loyalty to the Freikorps. It also shows that the Republic relied on unreliable forces to maintain order. 

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Threats to the Wiemar republic : Rhur Crisis 1923

  • Due to the growing financial defecit in germany and hyperinflation, Germany didn't pay some of the reparations (from the T.O.V).  January 1923, in retaliation France and Belgium flooded into the Ruhr to occupy it.
  • Germany = outraged and urge the workers and population of the Rhur to offer passive resistance  (refusal to work or collaborate with the franco/Belgian forces)
  • The french and Belgian, then arrested mine owners and took over mines and railways. 
  • Though the amount of coal delivered to france and Belgium decreased, the gov ehad to pay out millions of marks to support those who had lost revnue as a result of Passive Resistance.  Though because of the lack of income from tax the government had to spend more money. 
  • Financial/ political disaster, Also brought all Germans together in a united hate of the French. 
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Stabalisation of Currency.

Aug 1923 = New Government = Gustav Streseman = took measures to stabalise situation. 

september 1923 = payments of reparations were resumed, french agreed to set up a commision to study the problems with the German economy.

November 1923 = Rentenmark is established, replacing the old mark.  Also a Rentenbank was also opened and Hjalmar Schacht was Currency Commisioner. 

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The 'Streseman Years' - The Dawes Plan.

Streseman belived in furfillment (of the treaty of versailles) was the best way of dealing with the allies.  Germany needed raw materials , new markets, new sources of capital and the restoration of faith in the economy. 

Streseman coloaborated with an American banker, Charles Dawes, April 1924 the committee produced its proposals :

French would leave Ruhr/ Reparations would be paid over a longer period of time/ credit would be lent by America to help rebuild economy/ Reichbank would be organised under allied supervision. 

PROBLEMS : Germany had to accept they had to pay reparations, the DNVP aligned themselves with the government and led to fractions in the coalition = DDP and Centre party both withdrew thier support. 

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'Streseman Years' - Obstruction of the SPD.

1924-28 - SPD resisted being part of a coalition because they objected to join a coalition even though they were the largest party,  with 'Bourgeois Parties' ( like the DDP,DVP and Centre party).  The Republics problems with the system of government coalitions was made worse by the SPD.

This meant that the SPD's influence in the Reichstag Decreased, though the majority of the population supported the SPD party and held the key to weimar republics survival. 

The reluctance of the SPD to join a coalition was made worse when Hindenburg was elected President, who was an Anti-socialist. Hindenburgs attempts to exclude SPD from government further was not going to be popular.  Yet broad political consensus was essential for the Republic to tackle the political problems it faced. 

= the SPD have much to do with the fall of the Wiemar Republic because they purposely wouldnt compramise their views, letting an Anti-socialist, right wing party take over - weakening Weimars political legitamacy. 

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Election of President Hindenburg

Hindenburg = elected to office on the 26th April 1925 = serious consequences for the survival of the republic because Hindenburg made clear he would not accept a coalition with the SPD in. 

Hindenburg = right wing / Anti-socialist = election has huge impact :

  • Hindenburg uses presidential powers = Article 48 = greater influence = he worked tirelessly to exclude SPD from government, when there were socialist government's (Muller's Grand Coalition) - there were too many problems and it was always dissolved or overruled.  DVP/Z all supported Hindenburg. 
  • Hindenburg insisted on the inclusion of the DNVP in a coalition, ruling out Grand coalitions that covered political spectrum.
  • Hindenburg had little constrain to his power = 1926 Hindenburg blocked a law defining the use of Article 48. 

As parliamentry government failed the dependancy on the inteference of the President became so much more.

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Election, May 1928

Important turning point for the Wiemar Republic : 

SPD went from 22 to 153 seats 

KPD went from 9 to 54 seats 

Nazis (with 12 seats) and right wing votes generally went down. 

= POLARISATION = sable majority government = impossible. 

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The Young Plan, June 1928

The coalition was Muller's 'Grand coalition' steered through the young plan that was introduced in 1929.  The plan dealt with reparations and was drawn up because under the Dawes plan they would have had to start paying more in 1929.  

Young Plan :

Time scale : Germany was to pay 2,000 million marks each year for 59 years 

Responsibility for paying reparations would be Germany's, Exchange of payments would be in other currencies would be handled by Switzerland.  

Payments were to increase gradually 

French promised to evacuate the Rhine Land by June 1930 - five years ahead of schedule - important diplomatic victory for Streseman.

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The Freedom Law - Anti- Young plan 1929.

- many politicians were not impressed by the Young Plan - many Germans completely rejected reparations in the first place.  

- under Art 73 of the constitution it was possible to have a referendum, leader of the DNVP, Alfred Hugenburg formed the Reich Committee for a referendum to oppose the Young Plan.

- The committee won the support of a range of anti-republic groups including Stahlhelm, whose leader Franz Seldte helped raise 4 million signatures

- Hitler was invited to be involved by Hugenberg and then hitlers stature began to grow as being known amongst important right wingers like Thyssen and Heinrich class - the leader of the Pan German League.  

-  The Freedom Law demanded repudiation of Article 231 of T.O.V and immediate evacuation of areas occupied by allies.

- right = defeated = only 13.9% of the people who voted, voted for the Freedom law, despite being supported by Schacht - Reich stag passed young plan in 1930

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Collapse of Muller's 'Grand Coalition'

Economic recovery - mid 1920's = relied on short-term loans from abroad.  As depression worsened those who had lent money wanted it back.  one major consequence of depression was the employment system and the strain on unemployment benefit system.  

1927 - 1.3 million were unemployed, 1929 (feb) - 3.6 million unemployed.

the reich instotution that was responsible for benefits for the unemployed was borrowing 342 million reichmarks by 1929 = massive strain on government.  

In the Coalition that involved SPD/DNVP/Z all wanted to deal with it differently. 

SPD thought central/local gov and employers should raise their contribution to 4% DVP ought contributions should be increased and benefits cut                   The centre Party negotiated a deal that these decisions should be put of till 1930.  In march 1930 SPD deputies rejected the centre Parties compramise and brought down Mullers government. 

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Were the years 1924-29 economically stable ?

Monetary Stability -                                                                                        

  • Foreign Investment = 1924-29 = significant monetary stability = important to middle classes who had suffered hyperinflation (1923). Due to the establishment of the rentenmark and consequences of the Dawes plan = 25.5 billion marks was infiltrated into the economy from USA. Encouraged reconstruction of German industry - WSC (1929)  led to rapid withdrawal of this money.
  • Delay of Reparation Payments =growth in German Capital= stimulated inward capital investment = 1928 saw income 12% higher than in 1913.  Industry incurred serious growth rates.  However while period saw currency stability and economic growth it did not experience peace with industrial relations. WSC = polarisation.  
  • Agricultural problems = collapse in food prices in 1922 led to rural poverty (something the Nazis could use to gain support with the creation of the AA) 
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Were the years 1924-29 economically stable ?

Industrial Unrest -

Centre party = held their vote from 24-29            DVP/ DDP = drop in vote,        1928 = 3 million unemployed = economic problems stemmed from 'stable' years?

main problem = ability of Germans to adapt to stability after turbulence. The Turbulence of the past made industrial peace impossible : 

  • employers tried to claw back initiative they had lost from 1919-23 = 1918 legislation of 8 hour days was altered to allow 10 hour days. 
  • union demands for higher wages were ignored by employers - 1924-32 = 76,000 cases were brought to arbitration.  In the Ruhr in 1928 - ironworks owners locked 210,000 workers out rather than except the findings of arbitration. 
  • DVP opposed unemployment contributions that the SPD wanted to bring in = Economic polarisation and made coaliton government impossible and solving unemployment impossible - industrial unrest of workers. 
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Did the years 1924-29 see social change in Germany

  • Welfare State - enshrined the constitution - welfare provision payed by an increase in tax, Art 119 - responsibility of adults to protect children (concentrated on family life), Religious freedom guaranteed in Art 135-141,  and included commitments to new housing programmes and employment protection.
  • Housing and Public health - by 1927 300,000 homes had been built or renovated, there was better health insurance and medical care and reduction in deaths from certain diseases.
  • Women - the % of women who worked outside the home was the same as in 1914, though there was more women in the civil service -attitude to women was conservative = majority of women who did 'mens jobs' during the war gave them up after. The debate was should married women work? - condemnation of the Doppelverdienner (second earner) increased after 1924 when rationalisation of some businesses saw men laid off and in the depression of 1932. The law governing the legal state of female civil servants was passed = women were restricted to the home .
  • Youth - Riech youth law 1922 - all children have right to a decent upbringing.
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Wiemar Culture

Development of a Modern 'Wiemar Culture' 

Neue Sachlichkeit - New Objectivity - matter of fact style = Art Movement = summed up public mood? debated because society was polarised and much divided, though did reveal the disenchantment of WR and scepticism of ability to reform (in novel 'Berlin Alexanderplatz' by Alfred Doblin 

  • Bauhaus movement - architecture and other art forms associated with Walter Gropius - stressing relationship between art and technology, functionality of design and freedom from past = Artists like Kandinsky were inspired by this movement and the design of new towns in 1920's like Weissenhof near stuttgart (1927)
  • music of Schonberg/ ironic literature of Alfred Doblin.
  • Theatre /cinema focussed on social issues with the permeation of literature and alot was focused on WW1 like 'all quiet on the western front' by Remarque, published in 1928.
  • Alienation of the WR was common in writing from left and right, but not in art where it was attacked at failing to provide a viable new political culture
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Continuity - The conservative side to 'Wiemar Cult

Neue Sachlichkeit / Bauhaus movement = contrasted with nostalgia, romanticism and escapism or popular of popular literature and the Traditional taste of the majority population.

  • Literature = Arthur Moller and Oswald Spenger contributed to an anti-democratic German 'Destiny' literature which glorified the experiences of WW1 in the trenches.  Counteracting this was Writers like Remarque who wrote Anti-war offerings. Though Divisions were not just reflected in the war but also social issues of the time
  • Cinema = escapism found expression in films of Charlie Chaplin, the popularity, expressionism, nostalgia,fantasy and mythology contrasted directly with modernity of neue Sachlichkeit. 

Class of Cultures? cultural division ran deep and reflected political polarisation of politics.  Though culture was divided it agreed in the antipathy of the new republic that failed to give them what they needed politically.  The cultures did little to help stabalise the economy as it didn't help establish values that underpinned the WR.

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Foreign Policy 1924-29 - Better relations with the

1919-24 - Germany lacked relations with the allies because of the T.O.V(1918), the Bolshevik agreement in Rapello Treaty (1922) and the Ruhr Crisis (1923).

1924 onwards this changed because: 

  • Ramsey MacDonald was elected as the Labour government in Britain 1924, and they produced a  friendly attitude towards Germany and subsequent governments maintained the good attitude towards Germany.  
  • The May 1924 election for France saw a new left wing government come into power = French attitudes change and Herriot the PM/ President was more open to constructive dialogue with Germany.

This was good for Streseman as it gave opportunity to renegotiate the T.O.V and maybe even revise the reparations through constructive diplomacy.

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Foreign Policy 1924-29 = Locarno Treaty

one of Germany's most important diplomatic policy was to evacuate  the French from the Rhine land after the Ruhr crisis of 1923, when the French invaded it as a result of Germany neglecting to pay their reparations from the T.O.V

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