The origins of the Weimar Republic (legacy of WW1 (Started in August…
The origins of the Weimar Republic
legacy of WW1
Started in August 1914> Europe was torn in two
the Allies- Britain, France, Russia fought against the Central powers- Germany, Austria, Hungary and Turkey
The USA joined the Allies in April 1917
1918- the German army was being pushed back on the Western Front in France, and the British naval blockade had resulted in shortages of food for the German people. German defeat was imminent
October 1918- a new government was formed in Germany- it included members of the Reichstag and was Germany's first parliamentary cabinet.
This meant that the government was accountable for the Reichstag rather than the Kaiser. (Up to this time, the Kaiser had had control over the army and the navy as well as the Reichstag.)
Armistice and revolution 1918-19
The leader of the new government (Prince max) approached the US president Woodrow Wilson about ending the war> he wouldn't discuss peace terms with Germany whilst the Kaiser and his military advisers were still in control
October 1918 the German navy mutinied (refused to obey orders from a higher authority)> Sailors refused to put to sea and attack the British Navy as it might endanger the ceasefire talks. Unrest spread across Germany.
9th November Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated > 2 days later the Chancellor of the newly declared German Republic accepted the Armistice
Due to his realization of the lack of support his position held
It was announced that there would be elections for a Constituent Assembly on 19th January 1919
Strengths of the Wiemar Constitution
The people of Germany had gained some power and control over who they wished to run the country> democracy was established (Men and Women had the vote at the age 20)
The head of the Government (the Chancellor had the have the support of most people in the Reichstag
A strong president was necessary to keep control of the government and to protect the country in a crisis
The system to determine the number of seats each party got was called proportional representation. It meant that the percentage of votes the party received was the percentage of seats they gained in the Reichstag
Eg. If a party won 10% of the vote they would be given 10% of the seats.
Weaknesses of the Weimar constituiton
The constitution were criticized for creating a weak system of government
Produced a large number of parties and made it difficult to create political stability. No party was able to win a majority and there were many coalition governments
Challenge from civil service and judiciary
Many judges and senior civil servants did not want Weimar because they did not agree with its liberal political views
Challenge from the army
Leaders of the army wanted the Kaiser to return because their status would be maintained under his rule
Reichstag or the president?
Article 48 (If Public safety and order in the Reich is disturbed or endangered, the president may take the necessary measures to restore public safety and order without consulting the Reichstag) > Unbalance in power as the definition of a 'crisis' is not stated in the Article meaning the president could take advantage of this article as he doesn't need consent from his colleagues.