Politics of the early Weimar Government (1919-1924) - Coggle Diagram
Politics of the early Weimar Government (1919-1924)
Foundation of the republic
The revolution from below
On the 29th of october the crews at the ships in Wilhelmshaven revolted after being ordered to make a suicide attack against the british.
They would later be joined by sailors of the high sea fleet in Keil, who on the 4th of november had 40,000 sailors in their ranks
This revolutionary sentiment began to quickly spread south, reaching as far as Bavaria which declared an independent socialist republic on the 7th of november, forcing king Ludwig III to flee.
From the 6th of November, soldiers and workers began to set up elected soviet councils and began to establish control in several major cities.
On the 9th of November workers and soldiers councils were created in Berlin were they began to seize control.
Phillip Scheidemann declared republic from a reichstag window in order to slow down the progress of Liberknect, Much to Friedrich Ebert's frustration as he was unsure on weather to keep the monarchy.
On the 9th Baden saw that the situation was untenable and announced the Kaisers resignation, before the kaiser had agreed to it.
The revolution from above
By march 1918 Ludendorff knew that the war was lost after the failure of the spring offensive and he pushed the new Chancellor, count von hertling, to pursue constitutional reform and seek an armistice from the allies.
This was not due to a strong support for parliamentary democracy on the part of Ludendorff, but instead to try and get the new democratic government to be blamed for the failure of the war and preserve the reputation of the army.
On the 29th of september Hindenburg informed the kaiser the military defeat was unavoidable.
As the hundred day offensive the west the was in full swing, on the 30th of september the Kaiser accepted the resignation of Count Hertling and proclaimed a parliamentary government, making the moderate Max Von Baden Chancellor.
Hertling had been resistant to big constitutional reforms.
Von Baden immediately began to sue for peace with the allies and formed a broad cabinet government, He got a response on the 24th of october saying that only total surrender and regime change would be acceptable
Ludendorff tried to rally the army to reject these terms and was dismissed by the Kaiser on the 26th
Baden quickly pushed through new constitutional reforms that would put the Reichstag at the center of the german government, moreover the powers of the reichstag were curtailed.
The British were able to break through the Hindenburg line on the 6th of october, using highly effective combined arms strategy's that took the germans by suprise.
The creation of a new constitution
With the dust of the revolution settled Ebert formed a provisional governments with 3 members of the SPD and 3 of the USPD, calling it the council of peoples commissars in order to improve worker support.
Ebert appointed Phillip Scheideman as minister president (the title of chancellor would not exist until after the creation of a new constitution)
This government would serve until it handed over its power to the newly created weimar government in early 1919.
Before this had happened however the USPD had pulled out of the council, angered by the use of the military to crush the sailor revolt and Wilhelmshaven
Ebert began to work with the workers councils to secure support, moreover he established the Ebert-Groener pact in which he promised to right bolshevism, restore law and order and eventually work against the system of workers councils.
On the 15th of November he worked to create the Stinnes-Legion agreement in which employees agreed to recognise the legality of the trade unions and keep to an 8 hour work day, trade unionists promised to end unofficial strikes, maintain production and oppose the influence of workers councils.
On the 19th of january an election was held in which pro-republican parties (SPD,USPD and Zentrum) won nearly 80% of the vote
The new assembly met in weimar due to the recent spartacist revolt and began to hammer out a new constitution
A compromise between a centralised and federal government was agreed and the assembly approved the new constitution.
The Early Governments of the Republic
Was a member of the Zentrum party and formed a coalition after the june 1920 election results in which the centrist vote share collapsed
He cobbled together a coalition of the zentrum party, the center left liberal DDP and center right liberal DVP
However at this time the loyalty of the DVP to the republic was questionable and there right wing attitudes made government much more difficult.
Made it the first weimar government that did not contain the SPD
His government attempted to negotiate with the allied war council in the issue of reparations in the 1920 spa conference and 1921 London conference.
It was this more conciliatory tone that would bring his government down as the DVP would pull out of the government after the terms of the treaty of London. showing how they had strong nationalist sympathies.
Was the second chancellor of the republic and had been a SPD member of the Scheidemann government.
While he originally had been opposed to signing the treaty he announced that there was no other option but to sign or face an invasion of germany, Buaver would eventually sign the treaty
He governed on a coalition of the SPD and Zentrum, as the DDP refused to be part of a government that singed the treaty.
It was under his government that the Zentrum member Matthias Erzberger was able to make some radical reforms to the finance system.
This with lower or middling incomes had their taxes cut while the wealthiest had them raised, as well as facing a one of "Soak the rich tax"
There were also significant welfare reforms made during his time as chancellor.
His government was brought down by the events of the Kapps Putsch.
Joseph Wirth had been the finance minister during the Fehrenbach government and after its fall in may 1921 he formed the new government.
He based is coalition on the SPD, Zentrum and DDP and was a member of zentrum himself.
His chancellorship was to be the first one in weimar to last for more than a year (If his brief resignation and reinstatement is ignored.
In May 1921 he and his cabinet resigned over the split of upper silesia, which he not only felt was unfair but would also make it much harder to pay back reparations.
However Ebert begged him to stay on which he did.
However he felt that by November 1922 his policy of fulfillment and cooperating with the allies was failing, so he resigned, with WIlhelm Cuno taking over.
It was during his government that the july decree was passed, partly due to the assassination of Rathenau. He proclaimed the Reichstag that the "Enemy is on the right!"
It was this and his cooperation with the allies that led to him becoming a hate figure for the hard right, many of whom called for his assassination.
Came to power in November 1922 after the fall of the Wirth Government.
He was not a member of the reichstag and instead formed a government of experts, with the DDP, zentrum, DVP and bavarian peoples party supporting him.
However he had to deal with the french invasion of the Ruhr and the runaway inflation that it caused
His attempts to negotiate with the allies to restart the reparations and get french troops out of germany failed as they demanded an end to passive resistance.
However he would not last long and during the economic crisis that came during the Ruhr invasion he resigned after a no-confidence vote in him was tabled.
Was the first chancellor of the republic on governed on a coalition of the DDP, Zentrum and the SPD
He worked to stabilise the Reich during its first turbulent years
The main problem was dealing with the strike action caused by falling wages due to high inflation.
However his government would fall over the issue of the treaty of versailles which he and the DDP member of his government refused to resign.
He was seen as one of the leading "November criminals" and had an assassination attempt in which members of the organisation consul has sprayed him with prussic acid
His first government was short lived during 1920, being the third chancellor of weimar. He was quickly brought down by the first constitutional elections in which the SPD vote dropped by half compared to the 1919 election.
Again there were some reforms to welfare and taxation.
Rebellions and extra parliamentary opposition.
Left wing Opposition
The Spartacists did not start the revolt but they did encourage it, with Liberknect and Luxembourg encouraging them to overthrow the government, as well as forming a revolutionary committee.
Ebert tried to negotiate with the rebels but this soon broke down and he got defence minister Noske to crush to rebellion.
Using members of the Freikorps and the regular army the rebellion was quickly crushed with more than 100 workers killed.
Although he had ordered them to be captured alive the extra-parliamentary nature of the Freikorps led to them murdering both Luxembourg and Liberknect
It was after this rebellion that the far left of german politics became alienated from the republic and saw the SPD as having betrayed them.
However the January rebellion was not the first rising of the spartacists, they formed the KPD and boycotted the january election. They also continued to engage in marxist agitation and support comintern back activism
There was another rising by the spartacists in Berlin in March
Many of these far left groups had set up soviet socialist republics in major cities, which Noske had no mercy in crushing with the use of the regular army and Freikorps leading to around 5000 deaths.
In January 1919 before the elections broke out their were protests against the dismissal of the USPD councillors from the government, moreover they were also angered by the dismissal of prominent USPD officials who had refused to put down a sailors revolt.
Between april and may there had been a wave of strike in Halle and the Ruhr valley which combined produced 80% of Germany's coal. The government called in the Freikorps to crush these strikes who where demanding a government based on workers soviets and shorter hours.
In march 1919 their was further violence in Berlin due to further anger at the "Weimar Coalition" in the aftermath of the January elections
The strikers in berlin had wanted to get greater worker control over industry and democratize the military, the refusal to do so caused an uprising in which the Freikorps were called in.
It is estimated that 1200 people died during this revolution
The call for a strike during the Kapp Putsch (1920) led to a huge strike in the Ruhr and the creating of a red army of around 50,000 workers.
They attempted to seize control of the Ruhr put after the legitimate government was put back in control they called in the army to crush this rebellion.
During this time their were also struggles in Halle, Dresden, Saxony and thuringia, were self defence units were formed.
In 1921 there were communist risings in Meersburg and saxony which were again crushed
During a time of economic collapse there was also strike action in saxony and Hamburg in 1923
During this period the left also engaged in political assassinations with 22 people being assassinated by left wing opposition during the early Weimar years.
ten of these assassins were caught and they were all put to death.
During the revolution from below a socialist republic was proclaimed in Bavaria with Kurt Eisner as its president.
However this government was a total shambles and Eisner was kicked out after the January 1919 Bavarian election. Soon after this he was killed.
After Einser was killed their was total chaos in Muncih
The SPD who had done well in the elections formed a cabinet and suspended the parliament , however they where unable to seize control. At which point they fled at set up in Bamberg, with assurances of military support from Philip Scheidemann central government
After this a group of far left socialists and anarchists attempted to form a government that would be overthrown within a week, not before the transport minister declared war on switzerland after it refused to give it 60 Locomotives.
This government was soon replaced by a full blown Republic of workers soviets within a weak and began to assemble forces to take down the Bamburg government.
In a clash with the soviet republic this moderate government was defeated and had to work with General Noske to assemble a force to crush the socialist government.
This whole experience made the population of bavaria extremely anti democratic and anti communist and the government was quickly taken over by a strongly right wing government.
Right wing resistance.
The Kapp Pustch
In february 1920 the government began to downsize the size of the army in order to bring it to the size of the terms of the treaty of versaille.
This involved ordering two freikorps units stationed close to berlin to disband. However their leader, Walther von Luttwitz, refused and a warrant for his arrest was issued.
Luttwitz and the Freikorps leader captain hermann Erhardt began a march on berlin, were they supported the right wing civil servant Wolfgang Kapp proclaiming himself chancellor.
Ebert ordered the millitary to crush the rebellion but its leader, Hans von Seeckt refused.
The government was only saved after the socialists members of his government encouraged a nationwide general strike which brought the revolt to its knees.
Not only was the revolt destroyed by a general strike but also through the tensions with civil servants who refused to recognise his government, moreover the bankers in the city were lukewarm about the new government at best.
The Munich Pustch
Just before this Putsch there had been a rebellion by general Buchrucker in northern germany who had been a prominent supporter of the Kapp Putsch.
In November 1923 Hitler attempted to overthrow the republican government during the hyperinflation crisis and the end of passive resistance in the Ruhr
He tried to get Gustav von Kahr and and the leader of the Reichswehr (In Bavaria) Otto von Lossow to aide in in overthrowing the government, both of whom refused.
Therefore when Gustav Von kahr was giving a speech to a beer hall Hitler stormed the building and captured von Kahr, forcing him to support the rebellion.
However his captives quickly sunk away and Hitler had to march on the central Munich police station were the police gunned him and his supporters down.
Hitler was trailed by a sympathetic judge and was only given 5 years for his attempt to overthrow the government, however he would only serve 9 months, during which time he lived well and was able to be visited by his supporters.
During this period the right wing began to organise themselves into leagues, committing themselves to the elimination of prominent politicians, they would describe themselves as the "Patriotic leagues"
They had many prominent officials Such as Hugo Haase, Matthias Erzberger and Walther Rathenau
In total their was 354 political assassinations between 1919 and 1923.
Despite their prominence they faced little punishment, the republics civil service and judges were extremely sympathetic the right wing causes, the killers of Rathenau only got 4 years in prison and 326 of the right wing murders got of with no punishment, with only one getting a harsh conviction.
one of the most infamous of these groups was the organisation consul