GCSE History Revision Notes - Germany
Weimar - strengths and weaknesses
The Weimar Republic
After Germany lost the First World War, the Kaiser fled and a new democratic government of Germany was declared in February 1919 at the small town of Weimar. It was too dangerous to make a declaration in Berlin where there had just been a revolt by a Communist group called the Spartacists.
• A Bill of Rights guaranteed every German citizen freedom of speech and religion, and equality under the law. • All men and women over the age of 20 were given the vote. • There was an elected president and an elected Reichstag (parliament). • The Reichstag made the laws and appointed the government, which had to do what the Reichstag wanted. WEAKNESSES
• Proportional representation - instead of voting for an MP, like we do in Britain, Weimar Germans voted for a party. Each party was then allocated seats in the Reichstag exactly reflecting (proportional' to) the number of people who had voted for it. This sounds fair, but in practice it was a disaster it resulted in dozens of tiny parties, with no party strong enough to get a majority, and, therefore, no government to get its laws passed in the Reichstag. This was a major weakness of the Republic. • Article 48 - this said that, in an emergency, the president did not need the agreement of the Reichstag, but could issue decrees [Decrees: Laws passed by one minister in a parliament, which have not been approved by the majority parliament. ]. The problem with this was that it did not say what an emergency was, and in the end, it turned out to be a way that Hitler used to take power legally.
Weimar - problems 1919-1923
The Weimar Republic faced opposition from the outset in 1919, after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Economic hardship affected the whole nation and led to uprisings and assassinations.
The Weimar Republic was created at a time of confusion and chaos after Germany had lost the First World War. Many people felt that Germany had received a very harsh deal in the Treaty of Versailles and they resented the government for signing it and agreeing to its conditions.
The Weimar Republic faced violent uprisings from various groups, not to mention economic problems.
Germany between 1918 and 1919 was in chaos. People were starving, the Kaiser had fled and people hated the government for signing the armistice to end the war in November 1918 - they called them the November criminals. Bands of soldiers called Freikorps refused to disband and formed private armies. It was not a good start for the Republic.
There was continuous violence and unrest:
• In March 1920, there was a rebellion - the Kapp Putsch - that aimed to bring back the Kaiser . • Nationalist terror groups assassinated 356 government politicians. • Many of the people in Germany were communists who wanted to bring in a Russian-style communist government. There were a number of communist uprisings. For instance, in 1919 the Spartacists rebelled in Berlin.
• The Kapp Putsch march in March 1920, the right-wing nationalist Dr Wolfgang Kapp took over Berlin. The army refused to attack him; he was only defeated when the workers of Berlin went on strike.
The Weimar government's main crisis occurred in 1923, when the Germans failed to make a reparations payment ( payments made for damage caused in WW1. Part of T of V) on time, which set off a train of events that included:
• a French invasion of the Ruhr
• a general strike
• a number of communist rebellions
• an attempted Nazi putsch in Munich
Weimar - crisis of 1923
The 1923 crisis began when Germany missed a reparations payment. This situation spiralled out of control and once again the German people were unhappy and in financial difficulty, so uprisings occurred throughout the country.
The sudden flood of paper money into the economy, on top of the...
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