Germany after WW1:
At the end of WW1 Germany had lost the war against the Allies and was utterly humiliated by them. The Germans were then forced into signing the treaty of Versailles otherwise the Allies would declare war again and turn Germany into ruins. Many critics of the treaty of Versailles said that Germany’s army was prepared to fight on. They said the army had been betrayed by the politicians in Berlin- They had been stabbed in the back. These politicians were called the November criminals and resentment followed the new republic all the way to its collapse in 1933. The treaty weakened the population of the Weimar Republic, harmed Germany’s economy and caused lasting political protest. The Germans called the treaty a diktat. This diktat said that: Germany had to reparations to the allies, all of Germany’s colonies were lost (11 of them), loss of military (no navy, army was reduced to 100,000 men), a diktat and they had to accept that they had caused the war to happen (war guilt) after the treaty had been signed.
After the treaty had been signed by the November criminals, the Kaiser had abdicated and so a new form of parliamentary government had been introduced to solve problems. The leading party was the social democratic but they had no experience of government. The new government was associated with accepting military defeat- Anger was directed at them. There was a big economic problem as all profit was sent to the allies (reparations). Therefore to solve this problem the government started producing valueless currency and this lead to hyperinflation. A multitude of weak governments (coalitions) which could not solve Germany’s problems- little public confidence in parliamentary democracy.
Key Problems with the Weimar Republic:
Political instability: There were many disagreements amongst the coalition parties, changes of leaders and government.
Economic Failure: WW1 had damaged the German economy and this was made wore by the Treaty Reparations. Millions of soldiers were unemployed. Families were starving.
Social Unrest: People were dissatisfied and looked for more aggressive solutions. Extremist revolutionaries: Spartacists and Freikorps. Spartacists wanted a revolution and wanted to take over Berlin. The Freikorps were uniformed ex soldiers and young mean set up as vigilante gangs to fight against them. The Weimar Republic could not cope and couldn’t rely on the army to help the either.
Weimar’s Political System: There was an elected president: Friedrich Ebert. He had special powers (Article 48 of the constitution) to run the country by decree when there was a major crisis. Many political parties and proportional representation mean not only one party could form a government by itself- all governments were WEAK COALITIONS problems weren’t getting solved + people get fed up of indecisive and weak governments. All the citizens had equal rights- even the extremist groups.
Treaty of Versailles and Reactions:
The treaty of Versailles was the peace settlement signed after World War One ended in 1918. The treaty was signed at the Versailles palace near Paris and the three most impotant politicians there were: David Lloyd (Britain), Georges Clemenceau (France) and Woodrow Wilson (USA). They were also known as the big three. Each of these politicians had different views on what should happen to Germany. Britain felt that Germany had to be punished but not to the extent that it left her destitute. France believed that Germany should be brought to her knees so that she could never start a war again and affect the peace through out Europe. However America just wanted to keep its proximity to Europe put to a minimum.
Before attending the meeting in Versailles, Woodrow Wilson wrote up 14 points on how Germany should be like from now. A few points on his list were:
Land that had been taken away from countries by the Germans had to be given back (e.g.: Alsace and Lorraine were given back to