Key Issue One: How far do the early problems of the Weimar Republic suggest that it was doomed from the start?
The origins of the Weimar Republic; the armistice; the effects of the Treaty of Versailles
Political problems: the constitution and its consequences for government; political instability
Challenges to Weimar, 1919-1923: the Spartacists; attempted takeovers by the right-wing: the Freikorps; Kapp Putsch; Munich Putsch
Economic problems leading to hyper-inflation; the invasion of the Ruhr
The origins of the Weimar Republic and the Armistice
On 9th November 1918, the Kaiser abdicated, aware that Germany would have to accept defeat by the allies. This allowed him to slip away to Holland where he was granted political asylum and also to slip away from some of the blame for Germany’s inevitable punishment.
A Republic was declared and an interim government set up under Friedrich Ebert, leader of the largest political party, the Social Democrats, whilst plans were drawn up for a new constitution and political system. With Berlin in turmoil, a small town in the centre of Germany called Weimar was initially made the centre of the new government.
The Allies never viewed the armistice as anything less than a German surrender and this can be seen from the terms. The biggest concern for the French and British was actually that it should not guarantee Wilson’s 14 points. The terms contained the following major points:-
Termination of military hostilities within six hours after signature;
Immediate removal of all German troops from France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Alsace-Lorraine;
Subsequent removal of all German troops from territory on the west side of the Rhine plus 30 km radius bridgeheads of the right side of the Rhine at the cities of Mainz, Koblenz, and Cologne with ensuing occupation by Allied and US troops;
Removal of all German troops at the eastern front to German