Changes in politics:
The Weimar Constitution
The Weimar Republic, formed after Kaiser Wilhelm I fled after the end of the WWI, brought in many changes to the previous style of governance.
1) An Elected Reichstag was formed to pass laws and was also authorised by the Reichstrat
2) Both men & women could vote
3) Elected President
4) Bill of Rights guaranteed freedom of speech, religion & equality.
However, there were many flaws this is new democratic republic’s constitution.
1) The Reichstag could pass laws if there was 2/3 majority without consulting the Reichstrat.
2) The lowered voting age to 20 from 25, which brought a youth voter surge that aided the rise of extremist parties.
3) President had a long 7 year term and had overall command of the armed forces, so was extremely powerful
4) Article 48 of the constitution had vague terms (e.g. poor definition of an emergency) and could be easily exploited, allowing the President to dissolve parliament and pass decrees.
5) Proportional Representation meant with 28 German parties, it was difficult to find a majority and often inefficient coalitions were formed.
The Treaty of Versailles
Signed on 28 June 1919: It had many effects
1) Surrender Alsace-Lorraine to France according to Article 51
2) Surrender historic and culturally important, West Prussia
3) Lose 100% of colonies and overseas territories +13% of land
1) Lost 48% of her iron production areas +25% of coal production
2) Resource Rich Rhineland became D.M.Z +industry forbidden
1) Accept full blame of War according to Article 231
2) Army limited to 100,000 men
3) German Air force and tanks banned
4) Lost 12% of her people
With National gold reserves depleted after the war, and having lost 16% of her coalfields such as those in Silesia, the German government was bankrupt and could not afford to keep up repayments.
Occupation of the Ruhr
In retaliation to this in January 1923, French troops ordered by president Poincare were sent into the industrial area of the Ruhr. 80% of German coal and iron production was based there. This disruption increased debts, unemployment and the shortage of goods. Also money was spent by the Government to encourage the workers to strike through passive resistance.
Many of these issues contributed to inflation as supply was too small to meet demand. Failing factories and high unemployment meant less taxation revenue and during this period of 1919-1923, government income was only 25% of what was required. So the government was forced to print more money. By 1923 the government had 300 paper mills and 2000 printing shops. This had many effects:
1) Imports dried up as foreign suppliers refused marks
2) Difficulty to buy convenience goods: Price of a loaf of bread rose from 1 mark in 1919, to 200marks by 1922 and…