Flashcards in The Establishment of the Weimar Republic and its Early Problems Deck (15):
How was the new constitution created?
- The National Assembly met in Weimar in February 1919
- It was finished by August 1919
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
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
When was the Treaty of Versailles signed?
28th June 1919
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- Farmers benefited from rising food prices
- Some businesses were able to pay off loans and buy smaller, failing businesses cheaply