Weimar Republic: Past Paper Questions (Establishment and Existence of…
Weimar Republic: Past Paper Questions
Establishment and Existence of Weimar Germany
Essay: Reasons for the survival of the Weimar Republic in the period 1918-1924
after the Kaiser abdicated and went into exile in Holland, Ebert (leader of Social Democrats) proclaimed a new Republic
first action - signing the Armistice with the Allies in November 1918
many saw this as an act of treason
most of instability post-war was economic instability, disconnect with TOV
Weimar able to survive due to
weakness of other parties
intelligent planning by Statesmen such as Gustav Stresemann
Paragraph 1: Crises Solved via Military/Popular Support
Ebert made pragmatic deals (e.g. Groaner-Ebert Pact)
Groaner was the general of army - meant Ebert could rely on Reichwehr and Freikorps to protect the Republic from extreme revolution
January 191: Spartacus Revolt - communist part attempted an armed revolution in Berlin. Defeated with help from Freikorps
South Germany: independent socialists set up a Republic in Bavaria in 1918 (led by Kurt Eisner)
Eisner assassinated in 1919
Socialists/communists failed to figure out how to govern Bavaria
communists eventually won
this challenged Ebert's authority
army put Munich under siege - caused food shortages
1st May 1919: Freikorps took over Munich by killing 600 (Ebert used army loyalty)
7th May 1919: TOV terms released to public - horrified
1920: Kapp Putsch
led by Wolfgang Kapp (nationalist politiican)
he wanted to establish a military dictatorship - angry about Versailles
supported by Ludendorff
but army did not follow Ludendorff's lead
defeated when workers in Berlin went on strike (not defeated by Ebert, but by the people)
showed that despite the government not being able to enforce its authority, the mss of power could re-establish Ebert's authority
showed there was popular support
Paragraph 2: Solving the Ruhr Crisis
1921: Allies agreed war reparation sum (132 billion gold marks / £6,600 million)
Germany couldn't afford to pay the sums - defaulted on many payments
1923: French/Belgian troops occupied the Ruhr and used the industrial resources as payback for lack of reparations
negative effects on the economy:
unemployment rise from 2% to 23%
prices rose out of control
tax revenues collapsed
government printed more money
led to hyperinflation
middle class lost many savings (they were a class that traditionally supported the parliamentary democracy, but they had lost faith in the Weimar Republic)
January - October 1923: value of German mark fell from 7,590 per US dollar to 4.2 trillion
President Ebert could rule by decree through article 48
used this to direct politicians to take effective measures to resolve economic crisis
Gustav Stresemann appointed as chancellor, he:
introduced a new currency, the Rentenmark, to help stabilised inflation
held this position for 102 days before becoming Foreign Minister
April 1924, formulated a new reparations plan with US banker Dawes
Germany agreed to make annual reparation payments in return for US loan
Paragraph 3: Weakness of Opposition and Strong Leadership in Weimar
9 November 1918: in the midst of relation of 1918-1919, politician Scheidemann proclaimed Germany a republic under Ebert
wise decision - rather than attempting to retain a constitutional monarchy
Weimar still faced threats from both: extreme revolutionaries and extreme nationalists
23 November 1923: Munich Putsch
believed they could explode the unrest which hyperinflation/Ruhr crisis had caused
Hitler and Ludendorff (former army general) attempted an armed rising in Munich
Bavarian police fired on them - Hitler arrested/tried for treason
sentenced to 5 years in prison
Munich Putsch had failed - due to military superiority of the Weimar state
Hitler believed that the Nazis were strong enough to seize power
mainstream Weimar parties - Centre, SPD, DVP, DDP had more support than Nazis (NSDAP), Communists (KPD) who were poorly organised
'examine the obstacles to the success of democracy in Weimar Germany (1919-1933)'
'what were the main features of the Weimar constitution, and to what extent was it democratic?'
'what was the Weimar state set up as a democratic state in Germany, and why did it fail to fulfil its promise and purpose?'
'"Full democracy undermined the state." To what extent do you agree with this statement with reference to Germany (1919-1933)?'
'examine the reasons for the establishment of democracy in Germany in 1919, and evaluate how effectively it dealt with the economic and political challenges it face up to in 1929'
'to what extent did the constitution of Weimar Germany have more strengths than weaknesses?'
'evaluate the reasons for the survival of the Weimar Republic in the period from 1918-1923.' (paper 3)
'examine the reasons why the democratic government in Germany was able to survive the various crises it faced in the years 1919-1924' (paper 3)
The Collapse of Weimar Germany
Essay: Why did Weimar Germany Collapse?
Paragraph 4: Act of Political Parties
many army and elites now wanted a more authoritarian government who could take control over things
as Nazi's gained votes in the Reichstag, their electoral success began to be supported by wealthy businessmen
KPD and SPD failed to unite against the Nazis - who had well-targeted campaigns
von Papen and von Schleicher
equally unpopular and weak
Brüning (March 1930 - May 1932,
used article 48 to reduce welfare spending, ordered wage cuts, increased tariffs on imports, increased personal income taxes
known as the 'Hunger Chancellor'
his budget led to increased poverty
too many coalitions and too much 'rule by decree' made the Weimar weak
Herman Müller was Chancellor and SPD leader at the start of the Great Depression
he refused to sanction welfare cuts in spite of the rising cost of unemployment benefits
led to the collapse of the Grand Coalition that had ruled since 1928
Paragraph 3: Economic Factors
the hash economic climate saw a rise in support for the Nazis
economic recovery during the 'golden years' was weak
2 of the largest banks collapsed
industrial production collapsed
depression saw unemployment figures of 6 million
agricultural sector affected by falling world prices
based on US loans
Stresemanns death very consequential
as foreign minister had had be a consistent moderating presence in the successive governments
Weimar Germany proclaimed on 8th November 1918 - after abdication of Kaiser
Weimar survived various crises between 1919 and 1923
following the appointment of Stresemann and Chancellor and then Foreign Minister - Germany experience the 'golden years'
successes - Dawes Plan, Young Plan, admission to League
1929, Wall Street crash and Stresemann's death a month later - triggered the collapse
Paragraph 1: Long Term Factors, Anger at WWII
TOV - signed in June 1919
was not a negotiated peace - a 'diktat' (dictated peace)
people blamed the Weimar government for signing the diktat
due to continued allied blockade German delegates had no choice but to sign
accept 'war guilt'
pay indemnity f 6.6 British pounds
army reduced to 100,000 men
no airforce, submarines
refused membership to League of Nations
principle of self-determination not applied to Germany
8 million people living in other countries (e.g. Poland, CZ, Austria)
Germany lost 13% of territory, 12% of population, 48% of iron ore deposits
some historians argue that Weimar Republic was doomed as a consequence of the peace
right wing opposition would be constant
reparations would cause major economic problems
Paragraph 2: Weak Constitution
President elected every 7 years
special powers to rule county by decree 'in the event that the public order and security are seriously disturbed or endangered'
no clear definition of exactly how/when it could be exploited - this would later be exploited by Hitler
had considerable power
Reichstag elected every 4 years with a proportional representation system
conservative Germans remember the Second Reich as economically successful and led by a 'strong' leader
the new government is seen as weak because of it's multiple coalitions
resulted in a multi party system which had difficulty forming strong governments
21 coalition governments in 14 years - only 8 had majority of support in the Reichstag
Germany was a federation - each state had considerable power over education/police ect.
new constitution - key factor in Weimar's failure
"proportional representation and coalition government were intended to produce stability and fair representation, yet proved fatal for democracy in Germany between 1919 and 1933." To what extent do you agree with this statement?'
"The Weimar Republic was doomed from the moment it was created." To what extent do you agree with this statement?'
"Weaknesses in the constitution and the failure of political parties to support democracy caused the failure of the multiparty state i Weimar Germany (1919-1933)." To what extent do you agree?'
"Economic issues rather than weaknesses in the constitution were responsible for the failure of democracy in Germany between 1919 and 1933." To what extent do you agree with this statement?'
"The failure of democracy in Weimar Germany (1919-1933) was not the result of constitutional weakness but the product of economic crises." To what extent do you agree with this statement?'
'to what extent were the actions of political parties more important than economic factors in the collapse of Weimar Germany?'
'analyse the political impact of the Great Depression on either Britain or Germany' (paper 3)