History Was Weimar Germany doomed from the start? - Coggle Diagram
History Was Weimar Germany doomed from the start?
L16 Germany in 1918
Germany in 1914
1870-1910: Germany population increased: 24million-65million. 40% employed in industry, 35% in agriculture
germanys industry was strong
Germany's growing population ensured a strong workforce
Germany had the best army
Germany had the 2nd best navy
Germany had a growing no. of colonies
Germany had a very strong gov
Germany was prosperous+secure
terrible poverty in Germany unlike in England or France where the gov helped+there is an adequate supply station to improve standards of living for poorer classes
long queues for food+coal
women worked, children went to shop
poor people in cities sent their children into the countryside to find whatever possible
food, medicine+clothes shortage
propaganda made by gov meant people at home believed they were winning
thousands died from malnutrition - usually deem typhus/a disease that their already weakened body couldn't resist
flu epidemic was sweeping through the country, killing thousands already weakened by the rations
resources were directed to the war effort so German people were suffering immensely
by 1925 ⅓ of budget spent on war pensions
lack of preparation mobilise civilian economy
industrial production was ⅔ of what it had been in 1913
national income was ⅓ of what it was in 1913
how far was each group responsible for kaisers abdication
the allies (Britain, France, USA):
they were successful so Germany wasn't?
26 oct - 5 nov- kaiser + his gov did not try to send the army to crush this mutiny.
it was quickly followed by strikes+demonstrations against war and the Kaiser all over Germany
soldiers mutinied + joined protests
nov 6 1918- soldiers' and workers' councils taken control in many cities
L17 Weimar constitution
what problems did the war create for weimar gov
kaiser wilhelm+gov actions
doesn't plan to lose war so doesn't raise taxes
Germany doesn't have any money
propaganda - people felt wronged as they thought they were winning the war
revolutions towards the end of the war
political parties vying for power
demonstrations on street by unhappy workers
plans for communists to overthrow weimar regime
weimar constitution 1919
allowed the President to declare a state of emergency in Germany in times of national danger and to rule as a dictator for short periods of time.
bi cameral assembly - parliament made up of two layers (reichstag and reichsrat)
represented the whole nation, made whole nation decisions
made up of politicians who were elected through universal suffrage - people of 20yrs+ could vote
politicians of reichstag sat for 4 years and they then had to stand for re election
reichstag used system of proportional representation for elections
issues e.g. finance, tax, foreign policy were discussed
role of president
head of state - elected for term of 7 years
could appoint his chancellor w/ recommendation that the chancellor should have the support of a majority in the reichstag
in theory he was the head of the armed forces
he could dissolve the reichstag and call a general election if he felt the political situation warranted it
he could veto reichstag legislation (laws passed by reichstag)
he could declare a state of emergency and rule by emergency decree
who could vote at elections
everyone including extremists from both sides of political spectrum - left+right
system of proportional representation meant that if any minor party got the necessary votes, they would have party members in the reichstag
major parties would continue to dominate the reichstag but minor parties could disrupt proceedings+make the party in power - social democrats look incapable of maintaining order in its very seat of power
nazi party did this in its early years
nazis got enough votes to get a few members into reichstag and those nazis elected then did what they could do to 'prove' to German people that Ebert+social democrats were incompetent w/ dealing w/ basics e.g. maintaining discipline in reichstag
L18 political parties in Weimar Germany
political spectrum left to right wing
communist - a political system where everybody is equal and all land and goods are allocated to people equally and the gov controls all industry, business and public services
Seeks an overthrow of the middle class and the state in a violent revolution.
Workers should then rule society through workers' councils.
conservative - conservatives do not like change. they like to maintain traditional institutions. they generally promote the interests of the wealthy and aristocracy
Tends to favour the interests of traditional elites, ie the aristocracy and the affluent middle class.
Emphasis on institutions and civil society.
Committed to democratic government rather than a violent overthrow of the state.
Seeks an improvement in workers' rights (eg pay, conditions, pensions, welfare state).
Favours no one group in society (eg workers, middle class) but rather tries to find a 'middle ground' to accommodate different interests.
Committed to a powerful leader and a strong army to advance the interests of the nation.
Contempt for democracy unless it serves those ends.
three key power bases in germany
left wing revolutionaries
Protested against the hunger and poverty caused by the war during its final months.
In Oct/Nov 1918, demanded the abdication of the Kaiser.
Wanted an overthrow of the whole political system so that the workers ruled Germany through workers' councils.
Some - including the Spartacists - wanted an immediate and violent revolution, others a 'wait and see' approach in which the workers would eventually become disillusioned with the Republic.
The Spartacists tried to take power in Germany in January 1919.
The leading party in the Reichstag (parliament). Their leader, Friedrich Ebert, became the first President of the new German republic in Feb 1919.
Tried to hold the early Republic together by suppressing left- wing revolutionary protest, using ex-soldiers (the Freikorps) to keep order.
Had some beliefs in common with the left-wing revolutionaries such as a fairer society for the poor, but they were also willing to work with traditional German elites such as landowners and the owners of industry.
right wing nationalists
Mostly comprised demobilised soldiers who returned from WW1 without any employment and who formed volunteer militias to help keep order (the Freikorps).
Worked with the Social Democrat government to keep order, including suppressing the Spartacist uprising in Jan 1919.
However, blamed the Social Democrats for announcing the abdication of the Kaiser and signing the armistice/Treaty of Versailles.
Freikorps units led by former army officer Wolfgang Kapp tried to take power in Germany in March 1920.
issues in Weimar germany
Article 25: the president may dissolve the Reichstag, precipitating a national election.
Article 48: in 'emergency' situations, the President may bypass the Reichstag and rule by decree.
The constitution intended the government (through the Reichstag) to be the main law-making body in the Weimar Republic.
The Chancellor, as head of the government, would bring legislation to the Reichstag and a simple majority (50 per cent +1 of votes) was required to pass the law.
However, in practice, the President abused his power.
Ebert (who was President from 1919-25) used Article 48 on 136 occasions.
Sometimes, this was in non-emergency situations.
Ebert could threaten to dissolve the Reichstag using Article 25 if they didn't accept his presidential decree
The Reichstag (parliament) had 423 seats.
In national elections, the number of seats a party won would be proportional to its overall vote share, ie 30 per cent of the national vote meant 30 per cent of the seats.
This meant that it was almost impossible for a party to govern by itself (because it would need more than 50% of the national vote, and there were several parties).
Therefore, the largest parties had to govern in coalition (together). This led to weak government because coalition partners would often squabble about policy and fudge a compromise, which often satisfied no one.
led to unstable government because coalitions often broke down and had to be replaced by another coalition.
Between 1919 and 1933 there were twenty different cabinets lasting for an average of around eight months.
instability due to coalitions; parties could very rarely agree, and even if they could agree and formed a coalition, they would often fall out quickly.
Inaction Constantly changing coalitions and lack of consistent policies meant that the government rarely got much done!
Change With coalitions constantly changing, it was hard to come up with a consistent government policy on anything
the parties themselves
KPD – Communist Party
Key support base: Working class men and women-especially those in favour of communism Ideas about how Germany should be run
They want Germany to become communist and reject democracy.
There will be one political party and no elections.
They want everyone to be equal and want the government to take control of all aspects of peoples’ lives .
USDP – Independent Social Democratic Party
Key support base: Working class men and women – especially those in favour of communism
They want a communist Germany and reject democracy.
There will be one political party and no elections.
They want everyone to be equal and want the government to take control of all aspects of peoples’ lives .
SPD – Socialist Party
Key support base: The working class
They want to uphold the system of government.
They support the Republic and are committed to reforming Germany to improve conditions for the working class
Key support base: All classes of society – but mainly Catholics.
They wanted a Republic.
They were mainly concerned with the interests of the Catholic Church, and were therefore very traditional in their views.
They didn’t want to change too much in Germany and were generally opposed to reform.
DDP – German Democratic Party
Key support base: Middle class Germans
They believe in personal freedom such as freedom of the speech, the press, the right to vote.
They are less concerned with improving the situation for the German working class and more with getting basic democratic rights.
DVP – Peoples’ Party
Key support base: Middle class intellectuals (doctors, lawyers etc)
They support the Republic but ultimately wanted a Kaiser back at some point to create a constitutional monarchy (the same political system as we have in the UK).
DNVP – National People’s Party
Key support base: Rich landowners and industrialists
They are a conservative (did not want change or reform to the country or the political system) and they wanted the Kaiser back.
They were against democracy.
They think they are the only ones who can defend the economic and social interests of large landowners as well as the interests of the rich industrialists.
They do not want communism or any other political system. They do not support the current Republic.
pro vs anti weimar parties
Social Democrats (SPD) - p.88-9
German Democratic Party (DDP) - p.89-90
Catholic Centre Party – p.90-93
Communist Party (KPD) - p.93-4
Nationalists (DNVP) - p.94-5
German People's Party (DVP) - p.95-6
It was born out of Germany’s defeat in the War. Remember it was the Allies that had insisted that Germany become more democratic!
Public Opinion People were suspicious of all the change and inaction. They did not trust the new government (afterall they signed the T of V).
It was built on shaky foundations. Right from the start extremist parties didn’t support it & even tried to topple it!
early crises 1919-23
spartacist uprising 1919
the spartacist league - communist group set up by rose luxemburh and Karl liebknecht
they wanted a full scale communist revolution like the Russian revolution of 1917- they did not trust new gov and thought Ebert would not improve the lives of working people
workers protesting throughout Germany Spartacists tried to turn this into a revolution
Took over governments newspaper and telegraph headquarters in Berlin
Protesters did not join them in taking over other buildings
Government ordered army to stop uprising
Army was helped by unit of Freikorps – units made up of ex soldiers who were anti-communists
Over 100 workers killed
Not successful – badly planned, lack of support
Bavarian uprising 1919
Communist People's government
Took power in Bavaria Freikorps killed many communists Spartacist leaders
Rosa Luxembourg+ Karl Liebknecht were murdered
red Ruhr uprising 1920
Many German workers were angry about bad pay + bad working conditions
Protested through 1919
In 1920 a Communist red Army of 50,000 workers occupied the Ruhr region of Germany + took control of its raw materials – Germany's industrial areas
German army with Freikorps crushed the rising
1000 workers killed
Failed – weak leadership + unclear plan
Kapp Putsch 1920
gov ordered freikorps brigades be dispanded - little need for them now that left wing groups had been crushed
12000 freikorps marched to Berlin – attempted to take over government
Government forced to flee to Dresden (Ebert)
Kapp was new leader for four days in Berlin
gov called strike to make kapp putsch workers flee
Plan was failure as Ebert government returned + Kapp didn't gain much support
Munich putsch – 1923
Hitler + Nazi party believed democracy led to weak government
Only one political party with one leader
Nazis planned to take over government + appoint General Ludendorff as leader
Hitler + 500 men burst into Kahr's (leader of Barvaria) meeting forced Kahr promise to support their plan
Failure – wasn't planned properly
Kahr withdrew his support
Fight in which Nazis were killed + leaders arrested
Hitler sent to prison for five years
Released after 9 months but Nazi fell apart w/o leader
L23 - how was Germany affected by the crises of 1923
the French occupation of the Ruhr 1923
When Germans could no longer repay the £6.6 billion in reparation repayments the French were angry
They sent troops to an area called the Ruhr in Germany which was industrial and produced iron. They then occupied this area to take resources from Germany
Germans in the area went on strike to stop the French getting these resources - passive resistance (any strike)
Germany had even less money as they were not making money in this area anymore
Germany had to print more and more money to try and pay the reparation repayments -> hyperinflation
More German money that was printed more worthless it became
Businesses had to increase their prices as money wasn't worth as much
People can't afford to buy things – became angry with government
Eventually government changed currency from Mark to the Rentenmark
Old people living on fixed pensions/people who lived on their savings found that these were now worthless
Workers as long as they had jobs, well protected to an extent as they were just paid higher and higher wages – unemployment benefit increased weekly
Those were debts/loans benefited. They could pay the money back at a fraction of the real cost
Rich people with not just money but assets/land/possessions/foreign currency were protected
Rich businessmen were able to take advantage of situation by taking over smaller companies which were going bankrupt – however in the end inflation was so rapid that normal business + trade became impossible – causing lots of unemployment
Real losers were not poor people who had little to lose, or rich who had ways to protect their wealth, but middle class who saw their savings + businesses destroyed
German State gained financially as it lost its debt
People said you very often bought things you did not need to trade them with others to get what you actually wanted
weimar Republic were weakened politically – great financial losses. people with savings suffered - turned many of them against the Democratic regime
Health suffered – especially among elderly – because of inflation – induced poverty
Millions were desperate – easy for demagogues (political leaders who seek support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument) to offer simple explanations + solutions
how the Weimar Republic dealt with crises of 1923
Streseman became Chancellor
He was willing to call off passive resistance policy
Policy was bankrupting Germany but it took courage to abandon it as many felt he was giving in to France
Government scrapped old, worthless money
They introduced Rentenmark – new temporary currency – to replace the Mark
By strictly limiting the amount of this currency in circulation the value of German money was stabilised
Next year a more permanent currency – reichsmark – was brought in
To keep support of army – who were strongly right wing, government gave orders that left-wing state governments in Saxony and Thuringia should be deposed
Once this was done it was much easier for government to get army to act against the much more dangerous right-wing nationalists in Bavaria
German government agreed to resume payment of reparations.
Allies then set up a committee under an American banker – Charles Dawes – to resolve the problems of how Germany was going to pay
Dawes Plan of April 1924 made huge loan available to Germany
Idea was that money would help rebuild German trade + industry
Money would then flow into the German government and they could pay regular reparations
L21 Weimar Germany 1924-29
who was Gustav streseman
Most historians consider him to have been one of Germany's most important leaders
Member of the right-wing DVP
After the Ruhr crisis, appointed Chancellor (Aug 1923) in a coalition government with the SPD
When government collapsed, he became Foreign Minister (Nov 1923) and remained in post for the rest of his life, in eight different government
Areas which can be used to measure how much Germany recovered
Changed government a lot –Weimar Republic has an image problem
Right+ left-wing trying to overthrow Weimar Republic
Governments were formed from coalitions of parties working together
sometimes these coalitions did not work well, leading to unstable governments
There were 25 separate governments in 14 years, and some only lasted a few weeks
After 1924, the political situation did not improve
Parties such as the communists and the Nazis clearly wanted to overthrow the Weimar Republic
In 1925, Hindenburg was elected president.
He was a prominent critic of the Weimar Republic, showing how weak the support for the republic was among the German people – instability
After the 1928 elections the Social Democrats joined a coalition with only parties who supported the Republic
this led to a more stable government because it showed that the middle-class parties were no longer suspicious of the Socialists This also helped decision-making
No more extremist uprisings – suggest governments are more stable
Although it's more stable, there are still parties in support of the kaiser
Loyal to the Republic – social Democrats, Democratic party, centre party
Wanted to overthrow – Nazis, Communist
Supported by industrialists – conservatists
Supported by landowners – nationalists
Dependent on American loans, that could be withdrawn at any time, Dawes plan
Unemployment, despite economy improvement, still not enough jobs (2 million unemployed)
Employers thought taxes were too high, too much spent on welfare
Income for agricultural work went down from 1925 to 1929 (1/2 national average income in 1929 for farmers)
Disparity of wealth
A few industrialists ran more than 1/2 of Germany's industries
Economy growing, recovering
Stability, so resentment against republic faded, less interest in extremism
Weimar Gov started a program of public building that made hospitals + schools
Industrial giants flourished, gas and electricity services taken into public ownership
Germany is enjoying borrowed prosperity using the 800 million Marks loan from Dawes plan
Culture not thriving
Thriving culture can demonstrate thriving country
Became more related to society – challenged middle-class way of life
Represented country's state
rise of 'new objectivity art'
led to most innovative+exciting art
directors e.g. Fritz Lang producing highly technologically advanced film of the decade: metropolis
rise of German actress - Martence Dietrich
Rise of Baunaus group
cabaret and nightlife
dating floorshows, sex discussed openly
experimental, famous for transvestite balls, men in women's clothes, homosexuality not treated as taboo in Berlin
tension+conflict below surface
the dating lifestyle which was characteristic 1920s Berlin was not found in other parts of Germany
people shocked by liberal attitudes
Berlin seen as sleazy+sex obsessed
by 1930s many artists forced to flee from Germany because despised/threatened by Nazis
Germany seen as threat, defeated power
Cannot join league of Nations
Gustav Streseman was to serve as Foreign Secretary to successive Weimar governments for a further six years post him being Chancellor for only five months
During this time he tried to improve the nation's standing + restore Germany to its rightful place among European nations
To achieve this he tried to bring about a better understanding w/ France + was prepared to collaborate w/ Allied governments by accepting the obligations imposed at Versailles
In July 1925 his efforts were rewarded
French + Belgian government agreed to withdraw their troops from the Ruhr
At the end of the year he travelled to Locarno to represent Germany at a major international conference
Locarno pact – conference held in Swiss town of Locarno on Lake Maggiore on 1 December 1925
Attended by representatives of most major European powers e.g. Austen Chamberlain of Britain + Aristide Briand of France
At conference Streseman stated that, as far as Germany was concerned, it's western frontier with France and Belgium were final and to be maintained for all time.
The various treaties of the Locarno pact were hailed as a major step towards the establishment of lasting peace – afterwards statesmen spoke enthusiastically about their new understanding + willingness to cooperate + work for peace – 'spirit of Locarno'
For their efforts, in 1926 Streseman + Briand shared the Nobel Peace Prize
The pact received mixed reception nationally + Reichstag only approved the pact after heated debate w/ 174 voting against acceptance
In good faith Britain withdrew troops from the Rhineland
1926 Germany finally admitted to LoN
French reaction more muted – French troops did not leave Rhineland until 1930
1929 – young plan renegotiated Germany's reparation payments
L22 Weimar Germany and the Depression
How did weimar Germany deal w/ the depression
After death of Streseman Wall Street crash happens in USA
Germany's economy was built on American loans
Germany borrowed this money to build new factories and buy new machinery
Germany invested this money into projects that in the long term would produce profits
They hoped that these profits would help to pay off the loans and the interest on these loans
Time was needed to make these profits
When Wall Street crash happened, foreign banks wanted the repayment of the loans but the German economy couldn't cope
Because the German economy couldn't cope, businesses couldn't find the cash and went out of business
Workers lost their jobs
actions of the weimar gov
Unemployment benefits rose
Because Weimar government is made of a coalition government, they did not agree on what to do
Social Democrats wanted to increase social benefit contributions (raise taxes essentially)
the DNVP did not want to increase taxes
The centre party (Bruning was a member of this) suggested a 2.5% cut in wages
Because they can't come to a decision, Hindenburg uses article 48 so Bruning can rule by decree
Election takes place in September 1930 – so Centre Party gets more seats so he can pass his laws more easily
actions of Heinrich Bruning
Bruning cuts government spending by reducing wages
Unemployment pays reduced by 60% - Deepening the crisis
Bruning's nickname is 'the hungry Chancellor'
Large landowners + farmers had been calling for help to protect their products from cheaper imported products
Government raise taxes on imported food (tariffs)
Forces German people to buy the German produce
German people have to pay higher prices for food
High unemployment, low wages, expensive food – Weimar Germany is not doing well
65 million people in Weimar Germany – 15 million of them relied on Social Security/charity – in 1930s German people are in despair