Weimar Constitution 1918-1929 Flashcards Preview

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1

What is Weimar Germany?

''Wiemar Germany'' or the ''Wiemar republic'' refers to the period after the first World War in 1918- when Germany underwent a revolution and shifted from being a Monarchy to being a republic.
-It ended when Adolf Hitler ascended through the Reichstag, became Chancellor and ultimately in 1934, became the defacto (real) leader and dictator (leader by force)- (''Fuhrer'') - ending this period and ushering (assist) in "Nazi Germany" - Germany under Hitler's rule.

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1918: Years of Change and Crises:

-1918: German generals in September decided to propose an armistice (truce) to end the First World War. In October, there is a "Kiel Mutiny" - the Kaiser tried to get the Navy to continue waging (carry on) war but they rebelled. the Kaiser finally abdicated and fled in November.
- 1918: Ebert- the leader of the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) declares a new Republic. This is the "German Revolution". There is a National Congress of German Worker's and SPD (Center-left) are elected as the leaders. USPD (Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany) - (left-wing) is unhappy.

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1919: Years of Change and Crises:

>1919: SPD signs the Treaty of Versailles (peace treaties), that brought World War I to an end. They accept all the treaty conditions, leading many in the Right (especially the Freikorps and Nazis) to say Germany was "stabbed in the back" and it could've won the war (which is untrue).

>1919: The New Wiemar Constitution is signed which says:
- Everyone over 20 can vote.
- Proportional Representation- meaning if a party has a seat in the Reichstag, no matter how small they are, the had a say in voting.
- Article 48- the President can suspend the Reichstag and rule by as a dictator through the chancellor (legal Official).
- Chancellor chosen by the president.
- Freedom of speech, Assembly and Association.

>1919: The KPD (communist party of Germany- Far left) tries to overthrow the government in the Spartacist Revolt (In January 1919, 100,000 workers went on strike and demonstrated in the centre of Berlin) rely on help from the Freikorps and the Army to put them down.

>1919: In Bavaria- Two radical communist leaders, Levien and Levine declare it "Raterepublik" a Soviet republic, however the Freikorps (Freikorps units were paramilitary formations which generally supported right-wing political causes) are used to brutally put them down. The extreme left (USPD and KPD) is angry at the SPD (which is moderate left) and this caused the SPD to have weak support from the Left.

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1920: Years of Change and Crisis:

>1920: the extreme right (DNVP, NSDAP, Nazis (NSDAP), SA and Freikorps) were becoming popular. They used ideas of being patriotic (loving and being loyal to Germany), anger at losing the War and fear of a Communist takeover as a way to gain support.

>1920: They received support from many people, including judges, rich people, the army and academic institutions. Wolfgang Kapp, a hardline nationalist, assembled the Freikorps and attempted a military takeover- the Kapp Putsch but this was unsuccessful.

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1923: Years of Change and Crisis:

>1923: This was a really bad year for Weimar Germany. Firstly, Germany found it really difficult to keep up with expensive reparation (debt) payments as part of its obligations in the Treaty of Versailles. As a way to try to keep up with the payment- the government printed more money, which decreased the value of the currency (called: German Papiermark).

>1923: Germany missed a payment so the French decided to occupy the Ruhr (occupation of the industrial Ruhr River valley region in Germany by French and Belgian troops). The businesses and workers in the Ruhr had a strike (encouraged by the government) - making things worse economically. This caused many Germans to become poor.

>1923: Hitler used this anger by normal Germans as an opportunity to stage a revolt: the Munich Putsch.

>1923: This plot was hatched in Munich by Gustav von Lahr (state-commissioner), Otto von Lossow (local Reichswehr commander), Colonel von Seisser (chief of police), von seekt (head of the Reichswehr), Ludendorff (former army commander), Hugo Sinnes (industrialist) and Hitler's NSDAP (Nazi party) were also involved.

>1923: The idea was to seize control of Bavaria (stating from a beer hall in Munich where top officials were) and then march on Berlin and take over the government. At the last minute von Kahr lost his nerve.

>1923: the revolt was badly organised, many people ended up resisting the takeover and Hitler and the Nazis were stopped. Hitler was then jailed- and in jail, he wrote "Mein Kampf"- (My Fight).

>1923: Gustav Stresemann, who is actually right wing, and was the Foreign Minister, stepped in and became Chancellor for 103 days. He manged to get the french out of the Ruhr and resolve hyperinflation by introducing a new German currency.

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1924: The Golden Years:

>1924: This is because the beginning of Weimar Germany's "Golden Years" of properity. Political extremism appeared to have been pushed to the margins as centre, pro Weimar parties acquired the greatest number of votes. Democracy appeared to have been accepted and Stresemann was the dominant face of the Weimar Republic as Foreign Secretary.

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1925: The Golden Years:

>1925: Stresemann negotiated the Locarno Pact - a series of agreements Germany, France, Belgium, UK and ITALY not to fight each other and promote peace instead.

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1926: The Golden Years:

>1926: Germany was the invited to join the League of Nations as a member state, meaning it was accepted back into the concert of Allied nations.

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1928: The Golden Years:

>1928: Germany signed the Kellogg Briand Pact, along with France and US. This pact was a promise by all three not to fight each other and to settle disputes peacefully.

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1929: The Golden Years:

>1929: This year was a major turning point for Weimar Germany as it had some successes as well as huge setbacks. Firstly, Stresemann negotiated the Young Plan, which agreed to replace the Daws Plan and bring a final settlement to the Reparations issue. It proposed to reduce the overall figure to 37 billion marks, to be payable over 58 years.

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1929: The Beginning of the End:

>1929: However there was the Wall street Crash: meaning USA wanted all the money it had loaned to Germany back. This also meant that Germany would no longer get any more financial help from USA - leading it to have a depression. Also Gustav Stresemann died - which led to political chaos.

12

Limitations of the Weimar Republic:

-There was no loyalty to Weimar from the Army, Judiciary, Academic Institutions Businesses and Landowners.
-The Army remained resentful (irritated) of the Versailles Treaty.
-Also judges showed they supported the right because they did not punish people like Hitler after the Munich Putsch very harshly.
-In education there were many teachers and University professors who wanted a strong German Dictator to lead the country.
-Big businesses disliked how much power their workers were given by the government (through trade unions) and landowners were afraid of a communist takeover which would rob them of their property.
-Overall these groups remained influential and when he "Golden Years" came to an End, they turned their backs on the SPD.
-Finally, the Constitution had a huge flaw that Hitler would use: Article 48 gives the chancellor the right to rule as a dictator if there is an emergency.