- On the 11th of November 1918 the Germans signed an "armistice"-- an agreement to stop fighting the Allies. The Allies then wrote up their own peace treaty -- the Treaty of Versailles -- and the Germans were not invitd to negotiate this and were instead forced to accept it to end the economic and military turmoil which had taken over the country, with strikes and uprisings in many major cities. The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to pay 136,000 million marks (£6.6 billion) in repatriations, cut their army to 100,000 men, cut their navy to 6 battleships, 6 crusiers, 12 destroyers and 12 torpedo boats and destroy their submarines and air forced. Germany also lost about 13% of its European land, 50% of its iron and 15% of its coal reserves: Alsace and Lorranie were ceded to France, Eupen and Malmedy to Belgium and Posen and West Prussia to Poland (this cut Germany in two) and Upper Silesia and Northern Schleswig joined Poland and Denmark respectively in plebisites. Danzig was also made an international city. Finally, the output of the Saar coalfields was to go to France for 15 years and the Rhineland was demilitarised. Many Germans were outraged by this on the grounds that, although their army had failed to win, it had never actually been defeated per se; they instead felt that their had been a betrayal, or stab in the back (Dolchstoss) by politicians in Berlin.
- By August 1919 a new constitution had been drawn up for the new Republic. The president, the new head of state, was elected every seven years and chose the chancellor, who led the day-to-day government. The president could also dismiss the parliament, control the army and call new elections, or even suspend the constitution and rule by decree under Article 48. The Reichstag was the dominant house of parliament, elected every four years by all Germans over 20 using proportional representation. The other house, the Reichsrat, contained members sent up from each of the 18 regions (Lander) according to their size; it could delay laws unless overruled by a two-thirds majority. Local government was also elected. Proportional representation, however, meant that there were many parties and that coalitions had to be frequently formed.
- The biggest problem faced by the new government at first was that it was bankrupt, having used up all of its gold reserves on the war effort. By 1923 repatriations could no longer be paid and in return…
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