What problems faced the Weimar Republc 1919-23?

Republic, Opposition, Party politics, Treaty of Versailles, Constitution, Left Threat, Establishment.



Republic is born - out of humiliation and background of defeat.

  • The threats from the left and right split Eberts government; USPD wanted revolution with workers seizure of power. The SPD however wanted democracy.
  • The Spartacists - were radical ex members of the USPD group that wanted state ownership of businesses and large farms, and allow no police just workers militia to be created.
  • Ebert Groener agreement - In 1918 Ebert needed to support and force form the Army to defeat the threats from the KPD, Spartacists and USPD. He promised them supplies and protection of status against the workers militias  in return for protection for the Republic against revolutionary activity.
  • The Spartacist revolt - In 1919 the Spartacists and left wing groups led a revolutionary uprising in Berlin. Newspaper offices were seized, but it was poorly planned and easily crushed by the Freikorps and Army; who killed the revolts leaders. This put down of un democratic revolts was crushed by using anti-democratic means.
  • Red Bavaria - USPD leader was killed by a right wing; this lead to a Soviet Republic being formed. Property was seized but the Freikorps and Army crushed the Republic, whilst executing known communists.
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German Party Politics-

  • SPD, DDP, CENTRE PARTY; all agreed with the policy of fulfillment and supported the Republic or Parliamentary democracy.
  • USPD and KPD and NSDAP; wanted help for the working classes and opposed the Treaty of Versailles.
  • DVP accepted the republic but wanted a more autocratic government.
  • National Assembly in 1919 was the election of the first coalition Government of the Republic and it was a success for Ebert. The main parties elected were those that stood for democracy, with the coalition being made of the winning group the SPD, Centre Party and DDP.
  • Centre Party - 19.7%              DDP - 18.5 %                      SPD - 37.9 %

Treaty of Versailles -

  • The Germans belived it would be leanient.
  • The US wanted peace and self determination/ France wanted revenge and no future threat / Britain wanted reparations but no fear of retaliation.
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The Treaty of Versailles -

  • Versailles settlement - Germany was forced to sign as they could not fight another war. It was much harsher than they expected due to the 14 points.
  • Territorial provision - Germany was forced to loose allot of territory of financial and symbolic importance. Territory created new nations, and all colonies were handed over to the other powers or controlled by the LoN.
  • Military terms - decreased so it was not strong enough to seek revenge on the allies; 100,000 men and no aircraft or submarines.
  • War guilt and reparations - The reparation deal by Allies was not supported by everyone; US did not want any, GB and France did as they had suffered physically and physiologically more. Germans resented the War Guilt.
  • Compromise Treaty - The Treaty was also formed as the Allies wanted to keep Russia separate and limit its Communist threat; increased the land of Poland to act as a barrier.
  • Hindenburg - developed the stab in the back myth that escalated across Germany, making the people resentful of the republic.
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The Weimar Constitution -

  • Preuss formed the new constitution in 1918 introduced out of crisis. The compromise of parties in the January election had to be reflected in the Constitution. Born: July 1919
  • Reich had 18 states; lander. Executive powers given to the President; elected every 7 years. Central parliament made of Reichstag and Reichsrat. Each party gained one seat from 60,000 votes, preventing SPD from gaining majority.
  • Proportional represenation - BAD: Not widely accepted, allowed radical groups in so little legislation could be agreed upon. GOOD: Included what the country was supporting and reflected current times of support.
  • Importance of PR - ensured continuity in party politics, stopped SPD from taking control, allowed areas to be fairly represented. Gov's only failed due to misuse of its potential.
  • Artical 48 and executive powers -introduced to reduce possibility of dictators and governments taking too much control by allowing dismissal of Reichstag and disband of gov. BAD: Allowed Hindenburg to further his career. GOOD: Ebert used it to preserve the Republic by using the army to stop the Munich Putsch.
  • Federal State - Prevented one group or area dominating the Republic, and helped to include majority of the population view in gov.
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Threats in 1920 -

  • Kapp Putsch 1920 - A band of Freikorps refused to give up their job under the ToV. The Freikorps then seized Berlin, the Army refused to support the Republic by crushing them. Gov fled, but the workers of Berlin striked and the Kapp regime fell as a result. It proved the gov had no power over army, and had no power to stop future uprisings.
  • Ruhr Revolution 1920 - The Ruhr formed a Red Army due to fear of Freikorps. They seized power and set up a gov in Essen. Freikorps and the Army quickly crushed their revolt which was ironic.

Threat to the Republic were the Left?

  • Fear of communism across Germany spread due to the Russian revolution; the KPD gained votes due to split with the USPD, but the revolt they initiated failed as it was counterproductive.
  • The percieved fear of communism was greater than the actual fear.
  • As a result of these revolts and fear, the next 1920 election saw an increase in support for the radical groups due to wider opposition of the Republic. SPD as a result did not work with the other parties.
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Threat to the Republic were the Left?

  • Political violence - Due to Kapp Putsch failing, some Freikorps joined extremist underground groups, but many murderers between 1920-22 were right wing members. USPD leader murdered as he blamed the Right for ruining the Republic and the Centre Party leader Erzberger, as he campaigned for the signing of the ToV.

Attitude of the establishment towards the Republic?

  • Judicary - Due to article 54 they remained independent of the Constitution, and it was up to their personal opinion how they interpreted the laws set by the gov. The Right wing murderers for example were treated leniently, and so was Hitler after the Munich Putsch.
  • Army - Stood to protect its own interests and not the state. It only supported to state when organisations the army were against posed a threat eg Putsch's. Battles would not go ahead if it was against military and nationalists, but they did ban the NSDAP as the army did not want a split.
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Reparations -

  • 1921 Paris conference set the reparation payments at 226 miliard marks. But later at London conference this was split by half.The new consitution gov took out a loan from Britain to pay the first installment and complied under its policy of fulfilment.
  • Growing financial crisis - All the Allies found it hard to economically adjust after the war as trading, repair and the cost of living had increased. Due to the increase in French demand of German exports to its country, Germany printed more money to cover the increase in demand and it resulted in hyperinflation.
  • Rhur crisis, 1923- The Rhur was invaded by 60,000 French troops due to Germany failing to meet a reparation payment. As a result all German workers passively resisted, which meant the economy fell. Revenue was lost as there was a decrease in tax's, along with the gov having to pay those who were resisting. The German public lost all faith in their government.
  • Stabilisation of the currency - In 1923 Stresemann stabalised the German situation by introducing the new Retenmark, and sacked state employees. Retenbank was introduced with Schact appointed to oversee currency transformation.  
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