• November 1918 Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated.
• Jan 1919 elections.
• Feb 1919: new constitution agreed in the town of Weimar/Ebert President.
• System of government in the Weimar Republic – Elected president controlled army, administration and made emergency laws/ Chancellor responsible to the Reichstag/ Reichstag made laws, controlled the government and foreign policy/ Proportional representation/ Bill of Rights.
THREE PHASES OF THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC
• 1919-23 Problems
• 1923-29 Prosperity
• 1929-33 Collapse
PROBLEMS FACING THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC 1919-1923 [ILRIM]
1. Ineffective Constitution – Article 48 gives the President vast ‘emergency’ powers/ Proportional voting means lots of small, powerless parties and frequent changes in government/ The Army and the Judges were right-wing
2. Left Wing Rebellions 1919 – Spartacists led by Rosa Luxemburg & Karl Leibknecht/ Workers Councils seized power across Germany/ Communists took power in Bavaria. 1920 – Red Army rebelled in the Ruhr.
3. Right-wing agitation – 1920 Kapp Putsch - rebellion in Berlin / Nationalist terrorists murdered politicians (Rathenau 1922)
4. Invasion/Inflation – France invaded Ruhr - workers on strike = hyperinflation caused by money printed to pay strikers.
5. Munich Putsch – Nazis tried to take control of Bavaria.
INSTABILITY OF THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC 1919-24 [CROAPOP]
1. Communists wanted world revolution/hated the new government.
2. Right-wing politicians hated the ‘November criminals’ who signed Versailles Treaty – wanted the Kaiser back.
3. Officials (esp judges) were disloyal and hated the government.
4. Army led by General von Seeckt was unreliable.
5. Proportional representation prevented one party getting a majority.
6. Occupation of the Ruhr humiliated the Gernans and led to hyperinflation.
7. Printing money to pay strikers.
NAZI ORIGINS AND BELIEFS
1. Nazis based on Anton Drexler’s German Workers’ Party
2. Hitler takes over and becomes absolute leader.
3. 25 Point Programme – abolish Treaty of Versailles/ expel anyone not ‘true’ German/ anti-Jew/nationalise large industries/ generous old age pensions/ strong central govt
4. Mein Kampf – National socialism & loyalty to Germany/ Racism; all races inferior to Aryans/ Lebensraum (living space in Poland & Russia)/ Obedience to Fuhrer/ Use of armed force.
1. Weaknesses of the Weimar government
2. Nazi Party growing – but needs action if it is to stay unified
3. Stresemann called off the strike in the Ruhr – seemed like another surrender
4. Mussolini had seized power in Italy by a ‘march on Rome’ in 1922 – Hitler hoped to copy
5. Kahr, Lossow and Seisser were planning a coup, with Hitler’s support. When they called it off, Hitler went ahead to try to force them to do it.
1. 8 Nov 1923 – Hitler stormed a political meeting & said he was taking over govt of Bavaria/ Used stormtroopers to take over official buildings/ Government didn’t collapse
2. 9 Nov 1923 – Nazis marched on the town/ Police shot at and rounded up stormtroopers/ 16 Nazis killed/ Hitler was arrested and imprisoned.
1. Failure? – Hitler arrested, imprisoned and forbidden from speaking