From Kaiser to Fuhrer: the democratic experiment 1919-1929


The Constitution: Some of the main features were as follows

-A president was to be elected every seven years with the power to select and dismiss the Chancellor who formed the Government.

-President was Supreme commander of the Armed Forces

-President could dissolve the lower house of the German Parliament, and call new Reichstag elections under article 25. New elections had to occur within 60 days of the dissolution. 

-Chancellor and Government accountable to the Reichstag and could be forced to resign.

-Reichstag reelected every 4 years

-Universal Suffrage for everyone over the age of 20

-Elections conducted using proportional representation (if 10% of the public vote for a party, 10% of the seats is given to that party), the minimum requirement to have a seat was only 60,000 votes across the Country.

-a federal system, Germany was divided into 18 regions each with their own parliament. These sent members to the Reichstrat (upper house of parliament) 

-Referenda on single issues could be held if enough people petitioned for one.

The Bill Of Rights: 

-Freedom of speech, assosciation and religion

-the right to work (govt should ensure everyone have a job or provide financial support)

-provision giving certain workers special protection in the new state

-welfare rights such as petition for the disabled

-the right to own property

Emergency Decree: Article 48 of the constitution states the president had power to rule via presidential decree in the event of an emergency, however the power was checked and could review/ overturn any decree issued under article 48.

Democratic Features:

-President (head of state) was elected

-Universal Suffrage (Women as well)

-Proportional representation produced very democratic results

-President appointed the Chancellor, but as the Govt needed to have Reichstag support it became normal for these members to be chosen.

-Also contained checks and balances, no one part of the constitution would be able to become too powerful. 

-Bill of Rights is also very democratic


Pro Weimar parties were: SPD, Centre Party, and the DDP. After 1920 also the DVP.

Opponants: Conservative DVP originall wanted constitutional Monarchy, right wing DNVP, Industrialists and businuss owners often felt the constitution gave too many rights to workers and by early 1930 many had stopped supporting the system.

Problems of Weimar Germany: legacy of the Second Reich and First World War

Legacy of WW1: defeat in the first world war created problems for new democracy, democratic politicians had no choice but to sign the armistice so many Germans then blamed them for losing the War and called them the "November Criminals."

The stab in the back myth which also wrongly portrayed the cause of German loss to the revolution and betrayel by democratic and socialist politicians was widely believed and undermined Weimar support.

Lack of public support: in 1919 elections saw majority for pro Weimar parties, but 1920 saw only 45% vote for these.

Persistance of the Old regime; Many of the Second Reich old elites still stayed in place. 1918 the radical socialist USPD called…


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