AQA GCSE History Unit 2 Section A ~
Weimar Germany 1919-1929
Origins of the Weimar Republic
Autumn 1918 Germany had clearly lost the war and was in chaos
Allies offered Germany peace under strict conditions but Kaiser refused and fled Ger.
Socialist leader Freidrich Ebert became new leader of Republic of Germany.
He immediately signed an armistice with the allies and war was over.
In Jan 1919 free elections took
place for the first time in
Ebert was elected President of the Weimar Republic
The new Weimar consitution gave Ger a near perfect democratic system
The Reichstag was elected and elections were to be held ever 4 years.
The president was elected every 7 years.
In practice it proved v difficult to get 1 party into power
In 1919 Reichstag had many enemies , the
president had too much power (with his
Each party was allocated seats directly proportionate to the percentage of the vote they got, this resulted in
many tiny parties with non strong enough to get a majority and therefore no gov to get the laws passed
Effect of the TOV
Had no choice but to sign the TOV & had unfortunate results
New republic was immediately asscoiated with humiliating Treaty
Opponents blamed gov for signing it,
referred to gov as 'Nov criminals'
Gov accused of stabbing Ger army in the back
Ger could not afford to pay the reparations.
Challenges to the Weimar
Constantly under threat from extreme politcal groups
Opposition from the left
Communists known as Spartacists wanted a revolution similar to Russia's in 1918
Jan 1919 communists led by Liebknecht
and R Luxemburg seized power in Berlin
and the Baltic ports.
In Bavaria an independent socialist state was created under the leadership of Eisner.
But within weeks all revolts were crushed by regular troops and Freikorps.
The communist leaders were assassinated
Opposition from the right
Right wing opponents were people who liked having kaiser as a dictator
Liked Ger having a strong army, wanted territory, an empire
March 1920 Dr Kapp led 500 Freikorps into Berlin in a rebellion known as the Kapp putsch
Army refused to fire on them, looked like Ebert's gov was doomed
Industrial workers of Berlin declared a general strike which brought the capital to a holt.
Kapp realized he could not win and fled but was hunted down and died awaiting trial
Seemed Weimar had support and power afterall.
Then in Nov 1923 Hitler led an attempted rebellion in Munich known as the Munich Putsch
Hitler got off with a very light prison sentence
As set out in the TOV Ger was to pay £6600 million in reparations
1st installment of £50 was paid in 1921, but in 1922 nothing was paid.
Ebert tried to play for time but France grew impatient and Fr & Belg troops entered the Ruhr (illegally
under the TOV) and began to claim what was owed to them in raw materials and goods.
Results of this v bad for Ger
Gov ordered the workers to go on strike but French reacted harshly killing over 100 workers and expelling 100000 protesters from
More importantly the halt in industrial production in Germany's most important region caused the collapse of the Ger Currency.
Because it has no goods to trade, gov printed money
It paid off its debts in worthless marks
Set off a chain reaction
With so much money in circulation, prices and wages rocketed but soon this money was worthless
Poor people suffered but greatest casualties were those with savings .
Situation needed urgent action.
In Aug 1923 a new Gov under Stresemann took over.
He called off the strikes in the Ruhr.
He called in the worthless marks, burned them, replacing them with a new currency called the Rentenmark.
He negotiated to receive American loans under the Dawes plan
Even negotiated the reparation payments ~ the economic crisis was solved quickly
This could indicate that Germany's problems were not as severe as made out.
Hyperinflation did a great deal of political damage to the Weimar gov.
As chancellor he tried to stabilize Germany's financial position.
He became Foreign Minister in 1924 and was mainly responsible for the Dawes plan and German success abroad.
As foreign secretary he was responsible for several successes:
1925 Ger signed the Locarno treaties with Br, Fr & It ~ these guaranteed Germany's frontiers with FR & BEl
1926 Stresemann took Ger into LON
1928 Ger signed Kellog-Briand Pact with 64 nations. It was agreed that they would
keep their armies for self defence but solutions should be peaceful
However the economy was precarious as US loans could be called in at any time.
The Dawes plan in 1924 ~ in return for
Ger restarting reparations, the USA
agreed to lend Ger 800 million marks.
1929 Young plan introduced which reduced reparations by 67%
Responsible for a revival in Ger Culture . Writers, painters, poets flourished esp. in Berlin
Golden age for Ger cinema and music
However, in many villages the cities
represented a moral decline.
Wandervogel movement opposed
the revival of culture.
Politics had become more stable
But Nazis and communists were building up their party organisations
Most serious of all, German people elected
Hindenburg as president as 1926 who
Nazi Party Development
In 1919 Hitler joined the German Workers' party
Originally led by Anton Drexler who realised Hitler
had talent and within months put him in charge of
propaganda and political ideas.
In 1920 it
announced its 25
(the most important
points were the
abolition of the TOV,
union of Germany
and Austria, the
exclusion of jews in
He changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NAZIS) and
took over as leader in 1921.
He was a powerful speaker and was so successful that opponents tried to break them up, so he
hired the SA in 1921 to protect and disrupt
By 1923 Nazis still a minority but Hitler given them a high profile.
After Hitler was released from prison (after Munich Putsch) he decided to take power democratically
and so in May 1924 they won 32 seats in the Reichstag elections
They did a lot of propaganda etc but in 1928 they were still a minority party.
When the Wall Street crash happened Germany was badly affected and then Hitlers ideas now had a special relevance.
25 point programme v attractive to those hit by depression.
Nazis started to gain support.
Nov 1923, Hitler tried to topple the Weimar gov
It was preoccupied with an economic crisis (stresemann just called off the strike in the Ruhr)
8th nov, Hitler hijacked a local gov meeting and announced he was taking over
the gov of Bavaria, joined by Ludendorff
Nazi storm troopers took over official buildings, but next day Weimar gov hit back.
Police rounded up storm troopers and 16 nazis were killed, Hitler escaped
Hitler miscalculated the mood of the German people, it was a disaster as people did not rise up to support him
He was charged with treason but at the trial he gained enormous publicity for himself and his ideas, as his every word was reported in newspapers.
Hitler was only imprisoned for 5 years for a crime which legally deserved a life sentence & in the end he only served 9 months in the comfort of a castle.
He spent his sentence writing memoirs which were later published as Mein Kampf and in this book he outlined his views on German
history, and its rightful place in the world.