Weimer Republic

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  • Created by: Laura
  • Created on: 03-01-14 22:26

Military

  • After the dissolution of the Imperial army, the Reichswehr in 1918, Germany's military forces consisted of irregular paramilitaries, namely the various right-wing Freikorps groups composed of veterans from the war.
  • The Freikorps were formally disbanded in 1920 (although continued to exist in underground groups), and on 1 January 1921, the Reichswehr was created.
  • The Treaty of Versailles limited the size of the Reichswehr to 100 000 soldiers (consisting of seven infantry divisions and three cavalry divisions), 10 armoured cars and a navy (the Reichsmarine) restricted to 24 ships. No aircraft of any kind was allowed.
  • The main advantage of this limitation however was that the Reichswehr could afford to pick the best recruits for service. However with inefficient armour and no air support, the Reichswehr would have had limited combat abilities.
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Military Loyalties

  • Hans von Seeckt, the head of the Reichswehr, declared that the army was not loyal to the democratic republic, and would only defend it if it were in their interests.
  • During the Kapp Putsch for example, the army refused to fire upon the rebels. However, as right wing as the army was, it hesitated to assist the Nazis, whom they mostly viewed as thugs.
  • The SA was the Reichswehr's main opponent throughout its existence, as they saw them as a threat to their existence, and the army fired at them during the Beerhall Putsch.
  • Upon the establishment of the SS over the SA in 1929, the Reichswehr took a softer look upon the Nazis since the SS seemed more respectable, and openly favoured order over anarchy. In 1935, several years after Hitler came to power, the Reichswehr was disbanded and re-formed as the Wehrmacht.
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November Revolution

  • The revolution that occurred in Germany in 1918-1919 was not really a revolution-at least not in the traditional sense of the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917, or even the German Revolution of 1848.  
  • The conditions which gave birth to revolution in November 1918 were unlike those of1789 in France, and although somewhat similar to those in Russia in 1917, they were still not quite the same.
  • Neither in France nor Russia did revolution come as a complete surprise even to purported revolutionaries. But it did in Germany.
  • There was no sustained revolutionary agitation and strategy preceding it and when it came even the Social Democrats were completely overwhelmed by events.
  • Berlin was in the grip of a general strike, as a number of communists advocated the overthrow of the post-war government, which had been formed after the resignation of Prince Max von Baden.
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By January 1919...

  • Berlin was in the grip of a general strike, as a number of communists advocated the overthrow of the post-war government, which had been formed after the resignation of Prince Max von Baden. 
  • Communists and workers armed themselves in preparation for what has become known as the Spartacist Revolt. 
  • The revolt culminated in its violent suppression when the government ordered the Freikorps – volunteer soldiers – to attack the workers and end the unrest. (Including Ernst Rohm)
  • Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, the two leaders of the revolt, were murdered. In April, the ailing revolution in Munich made another attempt to secure a socialist future in Bavaria, only to be crushed again by the Freikrops.
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Return to Stability

  • Yet although the nation was in a state of revolutionary turmoil, it was also beginning to stabilise itself. 
  • The aforementioned revolutions were eventually suppressed with the aid of the Freikorps. 
  • Prince Max von Baden had ceded control to the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) leader, Friedrich Ebert. 
  • Ebert managed to strike a deal with the conservative military leaders, promising reform not revolution, and thus ensured that the government could rely on the power of the armed forces. 
  • This was a major success for Ebert and ultimately secured victory over the communist revolutionaries. While communists may have called for the overthrow of Ebert’s government, they were not able to achieve this aim.

 This year of turmoil and unrest highlights the impact that the First World War had on Germany. It is clear that the suppression of communist revolution and the consolidation of the Weimar Republic did not signal the end of Germany’s political and ideological struggles.

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The political spectrum of German political parties

(http://i898.photobucket.com/albums/ac187/lauradeakinx/germanparties.png)

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Political Parties in the Reichstag

Political    Parties in the Reichstag     

June

1920

May

1924

Dec.

1924

May

1928

Sep.

1930

July

1932

Nov.

1932

Mar.

1933

Communist Party (KPD)

4

62

45

54

77

89

100

81

Social Democratic Party (SDP)

102

100

131

153

143

133

121

120

Catholic Centre Party (BVP)

65

81

88

78

87

97

90

93

Nationalist Party (DNVP)

71

95

103

73

41

37

52

52

Nazi Party (NSDAP)

-

-

-

12

107

230

196

288

Other Parties

98

92

73

121

122

22

35

23

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Themes

THEMES

THREE THEMES:  

  • Hyperinflation
  • political extremists (with paramilitaries – both left and right wing)
  • continuing contentious relationships with the victors of World War I. 

Don't assume that it was a complete failure! 

Successes:

  • Reformed the currency
  • Unified tax policies and the railway system and it did
  • Eliminated most of the requirements of the Treaty of Versailles in that Germany never completely met the disarmament requirements, and eventually only paid a small portion of the total reparations required by the treaty, which were reduced twice by restructuring Germany's debt through the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan
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