Germany: the Weimar Period

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Germany 1918 – 1939
Principal focus: Students investigate the key features and issues of the history of Germany 1918 – 1919 Key features and issues:
-      Successes and failures of democracy
-      Nature and role of nationalism
-      Influence of the German army
-      Nature and influence of racism
-      Changes in society
-      The nature and impact of Nazism
-      Aims and impact of Nazi foreign policy
Students learn about:
1.     Weimar Republic
-      Emergence of the Democratic Republic and the impact of the Treaty of Versailles -      Political, economic and social issues in the Weimar Republic to 1929 -      Collapse of the Weimar Republic 1929 – 1933

-      Impact of the Great Depression on Germany
2.     The rise of the Nazi Party
-      Rise of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) from 1923
-      Hitler’s accession to power
-      Initial consolidation of Nazi power 1933 – 1934  
3.     Nazism in power
-      Hitler’s role in the Nazi state
-      Nazism as totalitarianism
-      The role of propaganda, terror and repression; SA and SS; opposition to Nazism -      Social and cultural life in the Nazi state: role of Hitler Youth, women, religion -      Nazi racial policy; anti-Semitism: policy and practice to 1939  

4.     Nazi foreign policy
-      Nature of Nazi foreign policy: aims and strategies to September 1939 -      Impact of ideology on Nazi foreign policy to September 1939

1.     Weimar Republic
Emergence of the Democratic Republic and the impact of the Treaty of Versailles Emergence of the Democratic Republic
-      Oct. 2 1918 ®Reichstag was told Germany cannot win the war. Allies demanded the Germans establish democracy before peace would be discussed; this meant Kaiser Wilhelm II had to abdicate, which he refused to do. -      German revolution started at Kiel, where there was mutiny in the navy. Workers/soldiers soon followed their example, and revolution spread. -      9 Nov. ®revolution came to Berlin, and the Kaiser finally agreed to abdicate after being told army was no longer at his command. Power was now handed to Social Democratic Party (SPD), with their leader Friedrich Ebert becoming chancellor. -      9 Nov. ®Ebert received phone call from General Groener, commander of the army. Groener wanted support for officer corps, and in return would support govt. in resisting left-wing extremist attacks. Ebert agreed. -      To enforce law/order, irregular volunteer companies (known as Freikorps) were established to ‘defend Germany against communism’. Killed thousands of suspected communists. -      19 Jan. 1919 ®elections held; produced first elected govt. of Weimar Republic (WR). More moderate parties of Reichstag won most votes, showing majority of people wanted democracy. Extremist parties did not get as many votes, as they wanted to restore the old Germany. -      SPD won most with 165 seats. National Assembly voted Ebert as first President, who in turn appointed Philipp Scheidemann as first chancellor. A coalition govt. was formed between SPD, Centre Party and German Democratic Party. -      Constitution of WR was one of most democratic in the world, although there were vital flaws in proportional representation and Article 48. -      Ebert – Groener Pact: Ebert to remain discipline in the army and would oppose any revolutionary changes. Groener guaranteed the support of the army. Meant survival of the conservative elites  

Impact of the Treaty of Versailles
-      Chancellor Scheidemann resigned rather than accept the treaty. Ebert, Groener and Noske argued but had no choice but to sign the treaty -      Hitler’s opposition to the Treaty of Versailles built his support -      Germans were stunned by the harshness of the treaty, looked for someone to blame; army had not been defeated in the field, and therefore full brunt of blame placed on socialist government who signed the armistice – ‘the November Criminals’.  As a result, army reputation still intact....
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