Summarise Germany before 1918.
- Mainly Protestant with a few Catholics and little but some Jews.
- Mainly Catholic countries surrounding it.
- Lots of different political ideas focused in one country.
- Rural areas vote conservative.
- Rural areas have more power.
- Government ruled by military men so lacks diversity.
- Messy government (2 houses of government).
What were some of Germany’s socio-economic developments?
1) Rapid Industrialisation- Germany’s economic switched from being based on farming to industry. Unification accelerated the process and by 1900 Germany had one of the largest industrial economies in Europe.
2) Rapid Urbanisation - By 1910 60% of Germans lived in towns and cities and the population of Berlin doubled between 1875 and 1910.
3) Rapid Industrial Migration - The movement of Germans throughout the country. Urbanisation was focused on the North and West while Germany’s South and East retained their strong rural character.
What was Germany’s industrial strengths?
1) Coal and Iron - By 1900 Germany was a chief producer of coal. Entrepreneurs took advantage of the tariff zone in the Ruhr area to open new mines. The coal and iron firms worked closely together to reduce production costs.
2) Potash - Once found it became high in demand and greatly improved the agriculture field.
3) New industries - The plastic and chemical industry became increasingly popular in Germany before 1918. The chemical industry became one of Germany’s biggest trade markets.
Who were the Junker?
They were wealthy conservative landowners and aristocrats. Saw Catholics and Socialists as threats and their economic interests were being threatened by demands of the middle class.
What were the priorities of the Junker?
To try and stay on top and to keep the political system the same as it currently is. May want to slightly please the middle class to avoid a revolution.
Who were the Upper Middle Class?
They liked how things were being run and didn’t look for change. They also feared socialism and mainly agreed with the junker.
What will the priorities of the Upper Middle Class be?
To work with the junker to keep society how it is and to keep on top. They would also encourage industrialisation to expand there businesses and power.
Who were the Lower Middle Class (mittlestand)?
Consisted of independent farmers, small craftsmen, etc. Their livelihoods were being threatened by industrialisation so they tended to support extreme nationalist/anti-Semitic groups.
What will the priorities of the mittlestand be?
To stop/slow down the process of industrialisation in order to try and get back their markets and grow their businesses once again.
Who were the Working Class?
Populations of most towns doubled, 37.9% of population employed in industry, working class had long hours and worked in dangerous environments. 25% of income spent on accommodation, etc. Rise in support for socialism.
What will the priorities of the Working Class be?
To do anything they can to fight for political change and to elect a socialist/more democratic government moving away from capitalism.
What were US President Wilson’s Fourteen points?
HIs fourteen point were devised as a means of dealing fairly with the aftermath of war. some point were specific towards Germany but there were also general principles, such as the establishment of a League of Nations. Wilson was determined to create a peace that would last and prevent another war.
Why was Wilson’s Fourteen points important?
Ludendorff, trying to avoid a humiliating defeat, saw them as an possible basis for a negotiated peace settlement. However, Germany’s autocratic political system would be an obstacle to this.
What were the October Reforms (1918)?
Following the recommendations of Ludendorff, the Kaiser began a series of reforms effectively ending his autocratic rule. These included:
- Prince Max of Baden appointed as new Chancellor (Chancellor was responsible to the Reichstag and he established a new government based on the majority parties).
- The armed forces were put under the control of the civil government.
What was the Peace Note?
On 3rd October, Prince Max wrote to Wilson asking for an armistice. When Wilson replied he demanded that Germany must evacuate all occupied territory, call an end to submarine warfare and fully democratise its political system. Ludendorff couldn’t accept these terms and tried to gather support for a last ditch military effort to resist but failed so fled to Sweden.
What was the impact of the Peace Note on the German people?
The people finally became aware of Germany’s hopeless military situation and was a shattering blow to their morale. They had lost respect for the Kaiser, seeing him as an obstacle to peace, and many sailors and soldiers lost respect for their officers. People were also less willing to deal with the food shortages.
What did the German people do after the Peace Note which showed signs of discontent?
During a strike in Friedrichshafen on 22 October, workers shouted “the Kaiser is a scoundrel” and “up with the German republic”. On the 28 October when the German navy’s high command ordered ships from Wilhelmshaven to attack British ships (to try and resist a humiliating peace), the crews of two cruisers refused to obey orders. This was the start of a much broader revolutionary movement.
What was the November Revolution of 1918?
- Unrest in the navy spread to the main German naval base at Kiel, 3 November 1918, sailors mutinied against their officers and took control of the base. The following day the revolt spread to the city.
- By 6 November there were workers’ and soldiers’ councils springing up all over Germany.
- 8 November, a republic was proclaimed in Bavaria and the Bavarian monarchy was deposed.
- 9 November, the SPD called on workers in Berlin to join a general strike to force the Kaiser to abdicate and threatened to withdraw support from Prince Max’s government.
- Despite the Kaiser continuing to refuse to abdicate, on the 9 November Max took matters into his own hands and released a press statement claiming that the Emperor had abdicated. Max then resigned and gave the position to Ebert, the leader of the SPD.
- It was also declared on the Reichstag balcony that the German Republic was now in existence.
- Additionally, General Groener told the Kaiser that the army would no longer fight for him.
all this happened before the Kaiser actually abdicated but after losing the support of the army he signed his abdication.
When was the armistice with the allies?
11 November 1918.
What pressure did Ebert experience from the left immediately after revolution?
Ebert could not ignore the fact that the workers’ and soldiers’ councils, in which the USPD and Spartacists (later KPD) established a foothold, had made the running in the early stages of the revolution.
On 22 November, an agreement was made where the government accepted that it only exercised power in the name of these councils. This was a temporary compromise.
USPD believed that the autocratic system of government would not be abolished unless the aristocratic estates were broken up, the army, civil service and judiciary democratised and the key industries nationalised under workers’ control.
What was the Ebert-Groener Pact?
10 November, General Groener telephoned Ebert to assure him that the army was on his side but in return Ebert should resist the demands of the soldiers’ councils to democratise the army and defend Germany against communist revolution. Ebert agreed. The pact was a necessary devise to ensure an orderly transition to the new Republic but Ebert’s critics on the left saw it as a betrayal of the revolution.
What struggles did Ebert face in the time up to the election of the Constituent Assembly?
- 6 December, a Spartacist demonstration in Berlin was fired on by soldiers, killing 16.
- 23-24 December, a sailors’ revolt against the government in Berlin was put down by the army and, in protest, 3 USPD ministers in government resigned.
- 6 January, the Spartacists launched an armed revolt against the government (Spartacist Uprising). After a week of heavy fighting in Berlin, the revolt was crushed.
What did the election of the Constituent Assembly look like?
The elections for the Constituent Assembly were held on 19 January 1919 and women were allowed to vote for the first time. SPD secured largest number of seats in the Assembly but they did not have an overall majority so comprimise had to be expected.
Describe the formation of the Weimar Constitution.
Ebert was elected as the first President of the Republic and the new government, led by Scheidemann was formed by the SPD in coalition with the Centre and German Democratic parties. The workers’ and soldiers’ councils handed over their powers to the Assembly, which could then concentrate on drawing up a new constitution. There was some disagreement concerning the new constitution but it was generally agreed that “political authority derives from the people”. There should be a break from the autocratic constitution drawn up by Bismarck for the German Empire.
What were the strengths of the Weimar Constitution, 1919?
- Provided a wider right to vote than in other countries. Women were allowed to vote and become deputies in Reichstag and State parliaments.
- System of proportional representation allowed for all parties voices to be heard in Reichstag if they won seats.
- There was full democracy in local gov as well as central gov. Prussia could no longer dominate the rest of Germany.
- Constitution set out clearly the rights of the individual. Statements included: “all Germans are equal before the law”, “personal liberty is inviolable”, “censorship is forbidden”, etc.
- Referendums could be called for by the president, the Reichsrat, or by people’s request if a tenth of the electorate applied for one.
What were the weaknesses of the Weimar Constitution, 1919?
- The proliferation of small parties. This enabled smaller parties (many which were anti-republican) to exploit the system to gain publicity and a say. As deep divisions in Germany start to emerge this becomes problematic.
- Coalition governments. Due to the amount of small parties, larger parties couldn’t gain an overall majority. Therefore, governments had to be coalitions to gain majority.
What is rule by presidential decree?
Article 48 gave the president the power to rule by decree in exceptional/emergency circumstances. These powers were often abused and there were often no safeguards as the president could threaten to dissolve the Reichstag and call new elections if it refused to agree. E.g. Ebert used Article 48 powers 136 times some of these times can be seen as emergencies but others he just wanted to override opposition in the Reichstag.
What are some of the surviving undemocratic institutions in Germany?
The new republic placed the need for stability above the desire for a completely democratic system so did not reform the following:
- The army.
- The civil service.
- The judiciary.
How was the army undemocratic?
Despite them being allowed to maintain much of their independence in the Weimar Republic, many in the army, e.g. General Seeckt, believed the army did not owe loyalty to the Weimar Republic but to a timeless Reich. The army often helped destroy left-wing revolts while conspirators from the right were often supported by elements within the army.
How was the civil service undemocratic?
Civil servants had a guarantee of their freedom of political opinion and expression as long as it didn’t conflict with their duty of loyalty to the state. Many were undemocratic and handled gov administration, senior civil servants were still recruited overwhelmingly from the aristocracy. Top civil servants could wield enormous power, especially when ministers in coalition govs were frequently changing.
How was the judiciary undemocratic?
Independence of the judiciary was guaranteed under Article 102 but judges who served the Second Empire remained in their posts. They were very anti-democratic. Left-wing groups were punished greatly but right-wing conspirators were treated very leniently.