The Establishment of the Weimar Republic and its Early Problems Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in The Establishment of the Weimar Republic and its Early Problems Deck (14):
1

How was the new constitution created?

- The National Assembly met in Weimar in February 1919
- It was finished by August 1919

2

What were the strengths of the new constitution?

- Germany became more democratic: men and women over the age of 20 were allowed to vote and there was a general election every 4 years
- No single group or person had all the power: the Reichstag was checked by the Reichsrat and power was shared between the President and the Chancellor
- Friedrich Ebert was elected by the Assembly as the first president and gained the support of powerful groups in society:
1) There would be no reform of the armed forces
2) There would be no nationalisation of private businesses
3) There would be a maximum 8 hour working day

3

What were the weaknesses of the new constitution?

- Proportional representation meant that even a party with a small number of votes gained seats in the Reichstag
- To get majority support, chancellors needed coalitions: this made stable government difficult as they all wanted different things
- The balancing of powers made strong, decisive government by the chancellor difficult in times of crisis
- This meant that the chancellor had to ask the president to suspend the constitution under Article 48
- Extreme parties didn't support the Weimar Republic and moderate Germans feared it was too weak

4

When was the Treaty of Versailles signed?

28th June 1919

5

What were the terms of the Treaty of Versailles?

- Germany had to pay £6.6 billion in reparations to the Allies
- Germany lost all its colonies
- The army was limited to 100,000
- The navy was limited to 6 battleships, 6 cruisers, 12 destroyers and 12 torpedo boats
- No submarines were allowed
- No air force was allowed
- The Rhineland was demilitarised
- Germany lost a lot of its votes
- Germany lost 13% of its European territory
- Germany lost 50% of its iron and 15% of its coal reserves

6

How did the German people react to the treaty?

- They did not believe they deserved such harsh punishment
- They believed their army had never been defeated and could have continued fighting
- They felt the army had been betrayed by politicians - the Dolchstoss
- The politicians who signed the Treaty were called the 'November Criminals'
So, the treaty:
- Made the Weimar Republic unpopular
- Stirred up political protest
- Harmed Germany's economy

7

What happened in the Spartacist Uprising?

- Rose Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht founded the Spartacist League - a communist group
- On 6th January 1919, 100,000 communists demonstrated in Berlin and took over key buildings
- Ebert and Gustav Noske (his defence minister) realised the regular army would not be able to put down the revolt alone
- They persuaded it to work with the Freikorps (anti-communist, demobilised soldiers who had refused to give back their arms)
- Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were arrested on 15th January and murdered by the Freikorps

8

What did the KPD want?

- A revolution like the one in Russia
- More power for workers
- Government by councils of workers or soldiers
- Abolish the power of the land-owning classes and the army

9

What happened in the Kapp Putsch?

- Right-wing revolt
- In 1920, 5000 supporters of Dr Wolfgang Kapp marched on Berlin to bring back the Kaiser
- For a while they controlled the city and the government fled to Dresden
- The government urged workers to go on strike
- Many workers obliged as they were socialist
- Gas, electricity, water and transport stopped and Kapp realised he could not govern
- He fled, was caught, and put in prison, where he later died

10

What did the right wing want?

- They resented the Social Democrats for abandoning the army in 1918
- They hated the communists who had rioted in 1918
- They feared the damage communists would do to their property and German traditions
- They wanted to reverse Versailles, reinstate the Kaiser, boost the army and return Germany to her former strength
- Gained support from the military, the judiciary and the civil service

11

Why did the French invade the Ruhr?

- By 1923, Germany could no longer pay their reparations
- The Allies, especially France, needed to pay war debts to the USA
- France sent troops into the Ruhr, where they confiscated raw materials, manufactured goods and industrial machinery
- Workers went on strike and there was some sabotage
- The French arrested those who obstructed them and brought in their own workers
- Many Germans resented the Weimar Republic for not resisting
- The Ruhr contained many factories and 80% of German coal and iron

12

How did the occupation of the Ruhr affect Germany?

- Germany's debts were increased
- Unemployment was increased
- There was a shortage of goods
- This caused inflation

13

How did Germany get to hyperinflation?

- The government didn't have enough money from taxes to pay their debts, so they printed more money
- In 1923, the government had 300 paper mills and 2000 printing shops for printing money
- This caused prices to rise
- This caused the government to print more money
- And so on
- In 1919 a loaf of bread cost 1 mark; by 1922 it cost 200 marks; by 1923 it cost 100 billion marks

14

What were the effects of hyperinflation?

- German marks became worthless in comparison with foreign currency: in 1918 £1 = 20 marks; in 1923, £1 = 20 billion marks
- Foreign suppliers refused to accept marks for goods, so imports dried up and there were shortages
- People had to carry bundles of money in baskets or wheelbarrows and many workers were paid twice a day so they could buy goods before the prices increased
- People's savings became worthless
HOWEVER
- Farmers benefited from rising food prices
- Some businesses were able to pay off loans and buy smaller, failing businesses cheaply