Weimar Germany (1918-23) - Early Threats to the Republic

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  • Created by: Holly
  • Created on: 09-05-15 14:32

The Problems of the Weimar Republic (1918-23)

  • It had to accept the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • The weaknesses of its Constitution.
  • Leftwing revolts like the Spartacist Uprising, Berlin and Bavaria Revolts.
  • Rightwing revolts like the Kapp Putsch and Munich Putsch.
  • The French occupation of the Ruhr.
  • Hyperinflation
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The Terms of the Treaty of Versailles

Germany had to:

  • accept war guilt for WW1
  • pay £6.6 million in reparations (mainly to France)
  • give up large amounts of its territory
  • agree to the disarmament of its armed forces
  • forbidden from uniting with Austria
  • give up all of its overseas colonies
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German Reaction to the Treaty of Versailles

  • They were enraged when they saw the extremely harsh terms of the treaty
  • They were not allowed to negotiate over the terms
  • They felt the terms were humiliating and extremely unfair
  • They felt they should not have to accept sole responsibility for the war
  • Many Germans started calling for revenge in order to reverse the effects of the treaty
  • Many Germans attacked the new Weimar democratic government for signing the treaty
  • Many labelled the politicians who signed the treaty "November Criminals" who had "stabbed the army in the back"
  • The treaty undermined the new democratic government, which led to the rise of the Nazi party and the Second World War
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Leftwing Attacks Against the Weimar Republic

Spartacist Uprising (1919)


  • led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, the Spartacist League wanted a Communist Revolution in Germany
  • the league renamed itself the German Communist Party
  • 5th January 1919: the Spartacists seized government buildings and organised a general strike.


  • the army quickly crushed the uprising and its leaders were shot
  • Ebert did a great deal with the army. In return for them crushing the Spartacist Uprising, he promised not to create a new army
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Leftwing Attacks Against the Weimar Republic cont.

The Berlin and Bavaria Communist Revolts (1919)

  • The new Weimar government faced further uprisings by Communists
  • March 1919 - the Communists organised strikes in Berlin
  • They were crushed by the Freikorps
  • April 1919 - the German provinance of Bavaria declared itself an independent Communist Republic but again was crushed by the Freikorps
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Rightwing Attacks Against the Weimar Republic

The Kapp Putsch (1920)

  • The Treaty of Versailles had restricted Germany's army to 100,000 men and many of the demobilised soldiers joined the Freikorps
  • The Allies demanded that Ebert disband the Freikorps
  • Wolfgang Kapp, leader of the Freikorps, marched into Berlin to seize power
  • Ebert called upon the workers of Berlin to support the Weimar government
  • The workers organised general strikes and the Kapp Putsch failed
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Rightwing Attacks Against the Weimar Republic cont

Munich Putsch (1923)

  • Hitler and the Nazi party tried to seize power in the city of Munich to spark the overthrow of the Weimar government
  • As the Nazis marched into the city centre, armed police and soldiers fired upon them in support of the Weimar government
  • Hitler and other Nazi leaders were arrested and imprisoned
  • Hitler used his trial to gain maximum publicity and portray himself as a national hero
  • Whilst in prison he wrote his book 'Mein Kampf' which outlined his ideas
  • He decided to seize power legally - by fighting and winning elections - rather than by trying another Putsch
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Economic Problems of the Weimar Republic

The Occupation of the Ruhr:

  • 1922 - the German government announced it could no longer pay reparations
  • The French invaded the Ruhr industrial region to get reparations by force
  • The French took control of the Ruhr's factories, steelworks, mines and railways
  • The Weimar government could not defend itself because the Treaty of Versailles had limited the size of its armed forces
  • The French shot 132 Germans and expelled 150,000 Germans from the region for refusing to obey the orders of the French military
  • As a result of the occuptation of the Ruhr and the resistance against it, industrial production in Germany ground to a halt
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Economic Problems of the Weimar Republic cont.

Hyperinflation (1923)

  • To pay the reparations, Germany started printing money, but the more money it printed, the more worthless it became
  • Prices rose which led to the demand for wages to rise, which led to more money being printed, which led to prices rising more
  • The prices of goods always rose faster than wages
  • Workers were seen carrying their wages home in wheelbarrows
  • The rises in prices meant that incomes were too small to live on
  • People struggled to buy food, clothes and heat their homes
  • People with savings in banks now found that their savings were worthless
  • People on fixed incomes, like pensioners, suffered the most
  • Only people who had debts or had taken out loans benefited
  • Hyperinflation increased the unpopularity of the Weimar government
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The Weimar Constitution

  • The Weimar Constitution made Germany a democracy
  • The President was to be elected by the people every 7 years
  • The Chancellor had to have the support of a majority of the Reichstag
  • All men and women over the age of 20 could vote for members of the Reichstag
  • The voting system was based on proportional representation
  • It made Germany a Federal Republic where each state had its own government
  • It guranteed personal freedoms (e.g. freedom of speech and freedom of religion)

Weaknesses of the Weimar Constitution:

  • The President had the power to appoint and dismiss the Chancellor
  • Under Article 48, the President could suspend democracy and effectively become a dictator
  • Proportional representation meant that no party ever had an overall majority in the Reichstag. This led to a series of weak coalition governments
  • Proportional representation gave a voice in the Reichstag to small extremist parties like the Nazi Party
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