The Weimar Republic
-By 1918, Germany was in shambles because the armies were in retreat, the navy was in mutiny and the population was rioting because they were being starved by the British blockade.
-On November 9th, the Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated, and a civilian government took over from him on the advice of General Hindenburg and Ludendorff.
-In January of 1919, the people elected an Assembly who made a constitution for the new republic. The Parliament was called the Reichstag, and was run by proportional representation. There would be an elected President as well, who could dismiss the Chancellor or the Prime Minister, and govern by decree (don't need Parliament's approval to pass laws) during an emergency.
-Friedrich Ebert was the first President, and a socialist. He was not a revolutionary, and he believed that the Parliament should just run the way it was running.
-The Spartacists (Karl Liebnecht and Rosa Luxemburg) wanted a Communist-style revolution in Germany, and in January 1919 they led a rebellion in Berlin against the new government.
-The Frei Korps put a stop to it quickly, and they were ex-servicemen who were violently opposed to communism.
-So, Berlin was too dangerous for the new government, so it was set up in Weimar instead. in June 1919, Ebert was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles, which put Germany at the feet of the Ally countries. Because of this, the Weimar Republic was forever associated with this humiliation, and many Germans despised them because of it.
-The Socialists, The Catholic Centre Party, and the Democratic Party supported the government, but were abused by those who were opposed to it, the Nationalists (rich land-owners who wanted the Kaiser back and set up the Frei Korps and hated communism) and later on, by the Nazis.
-The Frei Korps tried to forcefully take over in Berlin in 1920. This was called the Kapp Putsch (it was led by a man named Dr. Kapp), and it would have worked, if only all of the workers hadn’t decided to go on a general strike and paralyze the city. The Reichswehr (professional army) fled the city and refused to defend. Nothing really happened to the rebels though, because even the judges hated the government and wanted the Kaiser back.
-These rebellions against the government could have been stopped more easily, but the country was in economic shambles after the Treaty. The combination of political and economic crisis is what proved to be fatal for the Weimar Republic.
-In 1923, there was serious inflation because they lost both actual money (reparation payments) and the ability to make any money (industrial output and any of their profitable territories.) They simply printed off more money, but from 1921 onwards, the value of a mark plummeted. After falling behind on reparation payments to Belgium and France, they decided to take over Ruhr (industrial heartland of the country) in January 1923, and not leave until they got the coal they wanted themselves. The workers went on strike, and industry halted.
-Only the rich could keep up because their land and factories grew in value alongside the prices. The middle class was suffering though, and began listening to a man named Adolf Hitler, and Austrian who served in WWI as a good soldier.
-Hitler wanted to avenge the Treaty of Versailles, he hated Jews, and wasn’t too keen on Democracy.
-After seeing the invasion of the Ruhr, and how the horrific economic conditions, he attempted the Munich Putsch (seizure of power) in Bavaria with his Nazi party (National Socialist German Workers Party). They hoped to get power here, then go to Berlin. Ludendorff came with him from a beer hall to the Bavarian Parliament on November 9, 1923. The 3000 Nazi Storm Troopers/SA/Sturmabteilung were shot at by the Bavarian Police. Some died, and Hitler was sentenced to a light sentence of five years, but was released after just nine months. This made Hitler seem like a...
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