Origins of the Weimar Republic
At the end of the WW1, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated.
In November 1918, the goverment of Germany was left to the Chancellor- Ebert
He ordered the armistance, in which Germany surrended, to be signed, and drew up a new democratic constitution - The Weimar Republic
Effects of the Treaty of Versailles on Weimar Germ
The Treaty of Versailles was very bad for Germany, the country was serverly weakened as it lost a lot, and it created a negative attitude within the German people towards the new government.
- The new government was acossiated with the humiliating Treaty
- Opponents of the republic, the army, blamed the Government for signing the armistice that led to the Treaty
- The government was accused as stabbing Germany in the back, as the Treaty made Germany very weak (although the government didn't really have much choice to sign)
- Germany was forced to pay reperations she could not afford, this mean Germanys economy was very weak
The Constitution of Weimar
President - Head Of State
- elected every 7 years
- appointed and dismissed the Chancellor
- Article 48, would let the President pass laws through the reichstag without support, this could only be used in an emergency
- Responsible for day to day running of the Government
- Required support of at least half of the Reichstag
Reichstag - Parliment (made up of political parties)
- Elected by the German people - Proportional Representation
- Approved laws
German People - All adults over 20 could vote
- They elected members of parliment and the president
Instability of Weimar
- Enemies - The Weimar Republic had many enemies, political extremists (Right-Wing Nationalists and Left-Wing Communists)
- Proportional Representation - This is a system in which the number of represntatives from a given party is determined directly by how many votes that party gets nationally. This meant that there were many coalition governments, this made the government weak as it was difficult and slow to make decisions and pass laws
- Right-wing supporters - The Army and Judges who had served under the Kaiser remained, they disliked Weimar and democracy.
- Article 48 - This ultimately meant that the President could be a dictator in an emergency, the Weimar Government was supposed to be democratic
Spartacist Revolt - 1919
The Communists (who wanted everyone to be equal) also known as Spartacists in Germany wanted a revolt.
- On 5th January 1919 the spartacists staged a revolt.
- President Ebert asked ex-soldiers (Friekorps) to crush the revolt in exchange for keeping there old positions
- They agreed and the revolt was stopped, many Spartacists were killed or arrested
- Communists never forgave Ebert for brutally crusing their revolt
- Eberts use of the Friekorps meant that the Weimar Republic was reliant on Right-Wingers who hated it
Kapp Putsch - 1920
German Nationalitsts thought democracy was weak. They thought the new weimar government was a symbol of Germanys defeat. They wanted to see a strong goverment.
- In March 1920, Wolfkang Kapp, an extreme nationalist, and a group of Friekorps seized power in Berlin
- The government appealed to the workers of Berlin
- The workers striked and this brought a stand still to the city
- After a few days, Kapp gave up and fled Berlin
- Showed the Government had support of ordinary Germans (workers)
- Right-Wing continued to hate Weimar and would continue to challange it
Reperations and the French invasion of the Ruhr
The Treaty of Versailles said Germany had to pay for damage caused during WW1, these payments were reperations , 6,600 Million in annual instalments.
In 1922- Germany could not pay and asked for more time. Britain agreed to this but France insisted Germany must pay.
In January 1923 - French and Belgium governments sent troops into the Ruhr (the centre of German industry)
German workers used passive resistance (not fighting but not co-operating)
The German economy grounded to a halt
Due to the French invasion of the Ruhr and the passive resistance of the workers, the Weimar Government began to proint more money. However this simply caused prices to rise. Hyperinflation set in and the German mark (currency) became worthless
- Savings were wiped out (middle class affected)
- Prices rose faster than incomes and people starved
- People on fixed incomes and pensioners suffered badly
- Only people with loans benefited
- Hyperinflation made the weimar government increasingly unpopular
As chancellor, Stresemann tried to stabalize Germanys economy
Later he became foreign secretary in 1924, he was responsible for Germanys sucess with other nations
Life in Germany undoubtedly improved, although the recovery was only to a certain extent, these things improved:
- The German Economy
- Culture in Germany
- Politics and attitudes to Weimar
- International Relations
Recovery of the German Economy
Stresemann ended hyperinflation:
- He stopped printing worthless paper money
- He created a new currency, the Rentenmark
- He called off the resistance of the workers against the French occupation of the Ruhr (French troops didn't leave until 1925)
He signed two plans which futher helped Germanys economy to recover:
1924: Dawes Plan - In return for Germany starting to pay reperations once more, USA agreed to lend Germany 800 million marks. This could be used to build new factories which created jobs and goods to raise standards of living.
1929: Young Plan - This largely reduced reperations and extended the deadlines for payments.
However: The German economy heavily relied on USA loans
Culture and Politics
- Berlin became the pleasure and cultural capital of Europe.
- Artists, Poets, Authors and Architects had the freedom to express ideas under the rule of a democratic government
- Political extremists had much less support as the Weimar Republic was more popular. There were less Nazis and Communists in the Reichstag.
- However opponents still remained
- In 1925, Germany signed the locarno treaties with Britain, France and Italy which agreed the boundries of Western Europe. This meant France could not again invade the Ruhr. This improved relations with France
- In 1926, Germany joined the League of Nations. Germany was know recognised as a peace-loving nation and a great power who was given a permenant seat in the League
- In 1928, Germany signed the kellog-briand pact with 64 nations to agree to only keep armies for self defence and to settle disputes peacefully
However many German people believed that Germany was making new uneccesary relations with Enemies.
Extent of Recovery
Economically and Culturally Germany was thriving. Hyperinflation had ben overcome, there was less support for extremist parties and Germany had gained international relations.
- Germany depended heavily on American loans which could be withdrawn at any time
- Extremist parties were determined to overthrow the Weimar Republic
Early life of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party
- Was born in Austria in 1998, lived in poverty in Vienna
- He later moved to Munich where he volunteered for the army in WW1
- Won the first class - Iron Cross in the army
- When he heard of Germanys surrender he was bitter and blamed weak politicans, Jews and Communists for Germanys defeat
- In 1919 Hitler joined the German Workers Party, he later became leader and changed its name to the Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party (Nazis) In 1921.
- He organised his own private army, SA, stormtrooopers
- He drew up a 25 point programme which included reversing the Treaty of Versailles, destroying communisms and an attack on the Jews
- He attracted support and by 1922 the Nazi party had 3,000 members
Munich Putsch - 1923
In November 1923, Hitler and the Nazis attempted to seize control of Bavaria an area with a large Nazi following. The plan was to capture Munich and march onto Berlin.Hitler was convinced people would join him in overthrowing Weimar.
- On 8th November Hitler forced members of the Bavarian government to join him at gunpoint. Its leader was reluctant and alerted the police
- The next day, Bavarian police opened fire on Nazi stormtroopers in Munich, 16 Nazis were killed and Hitler was arrested and charged with treason
- Hitler used his trial to put across his right-wing views
- He recieved the minimum sentance due to right-winger judges
- When in prison he wrote his memoirs later published as Mein Kampf which included his view of Germanys rightful place in the world
Effects of the Munich Putsch
- The Nazis had lost a lot of credibility in Germany for there failed attempt to seize power
- They failed seizing power using force which convinced Hitler he must now use legal methods in order to gain votes
- Hitler and the Nazis gained publicity from the failed putsch and trial. Many people were impressed with Hitlers patriotic and nationalist views
- Showed Nazis had some support - i.e Judges
Nazi Party in Stresemann Years
- Only won 12 seats in the election of 1928
- There were quarrels and disagreement within the party during Hitlers period in prison
- Hitler had learned from his mistake and was determined to achieve power through legal methods
- He reorganised the party to make it more efficient. He set up a headquarters in munich and branches of the party throughout Germany
- Membership rose from 27,000 in 1925 to 100,000 in 1928
- SA englarged in size
- Nazi propoganda controlled by Josef Goebells