Weimar Republic

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"Weimar Germany" redirects here. Weimar Republic_sentence_0

For the German city, see Weimar. Weimar Republic_sentence_1

For the Bonn Republic, the German state between 1949 and 1990, see West Germany. Weimar Republic_sentence_2

For the Berlin Republic, the current German state since 1990, see Germany. Weimar Republic_sentence_3

Weimar Republic_table_infobox_0

German Reich

Deutsches ReichWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_0_0

CapitalWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_1_0 BerlinWeimar Republic_cell_0_1_1
Common languagesWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_2_0 Official:

German Unofficial: Danish, French, Polish, Czech, Dutch, Sorbian, Low German, Frisian, Lithuanian, YiddishWeimar Republic_cell_0_2_1

ReligionWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_3_0 1925 census:Weimar Republic_cell_0_3_1
GovernmentWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_4_0 Federal semi-presidential

republic (1919–1930) Federal authoritarian presidential republic (1930–1933) de factoWeimar Republic_cell_0_4_1

PresidentWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_5_0 Weimar Republic_cell_0_5_1
1919–1925Weimar Republic_header_cell_0_6_0 Friedrich EbertWeimar Republic_cell_0_6_1
1925–1933Weimar Republic_header_cell_0_7_0 Paul von HindenburgWeimar Republic_cell_0_7_1
ChancellorWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_8_0 Weimar Republic_cell_0_8_1
1919 (first)Weimar Republic_header_cell_0_9_0 Philipp ScheidemannWeimar Republic_cell_0_9_1
1933 (last)Weimar Republic_header_cell_0_10_0 Adolf HitlerWeimar Republic_cell_0_10_1
LegislatureWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_11_0 ReichstagWeimar Republic_cell_0_11_1
Upper houseWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_12_0 ReichsratWeimar Republic_cell_0_12_1
Historical eraWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_13_0 Interwar periodWeimar Republic_cell_0_13_1
EstablishedWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_14_0 9 November 1918Weimar Republic_cell_0_14_1
ConstitutionWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_15_0 11 August 1919Weimar Republic_cell_0_15_1
Government by decree beginsWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_16_0 29 March 1930Weimar Republic_cell_0_16_1
Hitler appointed ChancellorWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_17_0 30 January 1933Weimar Republic_cell_0_17_1
Reichstag fireWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_18_0 27 February 1933Weimar Republic_cell_0_18_1
Enabling ActWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_19_0 23 March 1933Weimar Republic_cell_0_19_1
AreaWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_20_0
1925Weimar Republic_header_cell_0_21_0 468,787 km (181,000 sq mi)Weimar Republic_cell_0_21_1
PopulationWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_22_0
1925Weimar Republic_header_cell_0_23_0 62,411,000Weimar Republic_cell_0_23_1
DensityWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_24_0 133.129/km (344.8/sq mi)Weimar Republic_cell_0_24_1
CurrencyWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_25_0 Weimar Republic_cell_0_25_1
Preceded by

Succeeded by




German Empire




Nazi GermanyWeimar Republic_cell_0_26_0

Preceded byWeimar Republic_cell_0_27_0 Succeeded byWeimar Republic_cell_0_27_1
German EmpireWeimar Republic_cell_0_28_0 Nazi GermanyWeimar Republic_cell_0_28_1
Weimar Republic_cell_0_29_0 German EmpireWeimar Republic_cell_0_29_1
Nazi GermanyWeimar Republic_cell_0_30_0 Weimar Republic_cell_0_30_1
Today part ofWeimar Republic_header_cell_0_31_0 Germany

Poland RussiaWeimar Republic_cell_0_31_1

The Weimar Republic (German: Weimarer Republik [ˈvaɪmaʁɐ ʁepuˈbliːk (listen)), is an historical designation for the German federal state that existed from 1918 to 1933. Weimar Republic_sentence_4

The state was officially the German Reich (Deutsches Reich), and was also referred to as the German Republic (Deutsche Republik). Weimar Republic_sentence_5

The term "Weimar Republic" refers to the city of Weimar, where the republic's constituent assembly first took place. Weimar Republic_sentence_6

Despite the change in the form of government, the official name of the state remained the same as it had been during the German Empire. Weimar Republic_sentence_7

In English the country was usually simply called "Germany," and the term "Weimar Republic" did not become common until the 1930s. Weimar Republic_sentence_8

Germany became a de facto republic on 9 November 1918 when Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated the German and Prussian thrones with no agreement made on a succession by his son Crown Prince Wilhelm. Weimar Republic_sentence_9

It became a de jure republic in February 1919 when the position of President of Germany was created. Weimar Republic_sentence_10

A national assembly was convened in Weimar, where a new constitution for Germany was written and adopted on 11 August 1919. Weimar Republic_sentence_11

From 1918 to 1923, the Weimar Republic faced numerous problems, including hyperinflation, political extremism (with contending paramilitaries) as well as contentious relationships with the victors of the First World War. Weimar Republic_sentence_12

From 1924 to 1929, the Republic enjoyed relative stability and prosperity. Weimar Republic_sentence_13

Those years are sometimes called the "Golden Twenties." Weimar Republic_sentence_14

The world-wide economic crisis begining in October 1929 hit Germany particularly hard. Weimar Republic_sentence_15

High unemployment led to the collapse of the coalition government and from March 1930 various chancellors ruled through emergency powers granted by the President. Weimar Republic_sentence_16

This period ended with Adolf Hitler's appointment as chancellor on 30 January 1933. Weimar Republic_sentence_17

Resentment in Germany towards the Treaty of Versailles was strong, especially on the political right where there was great anger towards those who had signed and submitted to the treaty. Weimar Republic_sentence_18

The Weimar Republic fulfilled most of the requirements of the Treaty of Versailles although it never completely met its disarmament requirements and eventually paid only a small portion of the war reparations (by twice restructuring its debt through the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan). Weimar Republic_sentence_19

Under the Locarno Treaties, signed in 1925, Germany moved toward normalizing relations with its neighbors. Weimar Republic_sentence_20

Germany agreed to the western borders that had been established through the Versaille Treaty, but its eastern borders remained subject to possible revisions. Weimar Republic_sentence_21

In 1926, Germany joined the League of Nations. Weimar Republic_sentence_22

From 1930 onwards, President Paul von Hindenburg used emergency powers to back Chancellors Heinrich Brüning, Franz von Papen and General Kurt von Schleicher. Weimar Republic_sentence_23

The Great Depression, exacerbated by Brüning's policy of deflation, led to a surge in unemployment. Weimar Republic_sentence_24

On 30 January 1933, Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor at the head of a coalition government. Weimar Republic_sentence_25

Hitler's Nazi Party held two out of ten cabinet seats. Weimar Republic_sentence_26

Von Papen as Vice Chancellor was intended to be the "éminence grise" who would keep Hitler under control, using his close personal connection to Hindenburg. Weimar Republic_sentence_27

These intentions badly underestimated Hitler's political abilities. Weimar Republic_sentence_28

By the end of March, the Reichstag Fire Decree and the Enabling Act of 1933 had used the perceived state of emergency to grant Hitler as Chancellor broad power to act outside parliamentary control, which he used to thwart constitutional governance and civil liberties. Weimar Republic_sentence_29

Hitler's seizure of power (Machtergreifung) brought the republic to an end. Weimar Republic_sentence_30

Democracy collapsed, and the creation of single-party state began the dictatorship of the Nazi era. Weimar Republic_sentence_31

Name Weimar Republic_section_0

The Weimar Republic is so called because the assembly that adopted its constitution met at Weimar from 6 February 1919 to 11 August 1919, but this name only became mainstream after 1933. Weimar Republic_sentence_32

Between 1919 and 1933, there was no single name for the new state that gained widespread acceptance and is the reason why the old name Deutsches Reich remained, although hardly anyone used it during the Weimar period. Weimar Republic_sentence_33

To the right of the spectrum, the politically engaged rejected the new democratic model and were appalled to see the honour of the traditional word Reich associated with it. Weimar Republic_sentence_34

Zentrum, the Catholic Centre Party, favoured the term Deutscher Volksstaat (German People's State), while on the moderate left Chancellor Friedrich Ebert's Social Democratic Party of Germany preferred Deutsche Republik (German Republic). Weimar Republic_sentence_35

By 1925, Deutsche Republik was used by most Germans, but for the anti-democratic right the word Republik was a painful reminder of a government structure that had been imposed by foreign statesmen, along with the relocation of the seat of power to Weimar and the expulsion of Kaiser Wilhelm in the wake of massive national humiliation. Weimar Republic_sentence_36

The first recorded mention of the term Republik von Weimar (Republic of Weimar) came during a speech delivered by Adolf Hitler at a National Socialist German Worker's Party rally in Munich on 24 February 1929. Weimar Republic_sentence_37

A few weeks later, the term Weimarer Republik was first used again by Hitler in a newspaper article. Weimar Republic_sentence_38

Only during the 1930s did the term become mainstream, both within and outside Germany. Weimar Republic_sentence_39

According to historian Richard J. Evans: Weimar Republic_sentence_40

Flag and coat of arms Weimar Republic_section_1

Main articles: Flag of Germany § Weimar Republic (1918–1933), and Coat of arms of Germany § Weimar Republic Weimar Republic_sentence_41

After the introduction of the republic, the flag and coat of arms of Germany were officially altered to reflect the political changes. Weimar Republic_sentence_42

The Weimar Republic retained the Reichsadler, but without the symbols of the former Monarchy (Crown, Collar, Breast shield with the Prussian Arms). Weimar Republic_sentence_43

This left the black eagle with one head, facing to the right, with open wings but closed feathers, with a red beak, tongue and claws and white highlighting. Weimar Republic_sentence_44

The republican tricolour is based on the flag that the Paulskirche Constitution of 1849 introduced, which was decided upon by the German National Assembly in Frankfurt am Main, at the peak of the German civic movement that demanded parliamentary participation and unification of the German states. Weimar Republic_sentence_45

The achievements and signs of this movement were mostly done away with after its downfall and the political reaction. Weimar Republic_sentence_46

Only the tiny German Principality of Waldeck-Pyrmont upheld the tradition and continued to use the German colours called Schwarz-Rot-Gold in German, (English: Black-Red-Gold) that had originated within a German-held state as early as 1778. Weimar Republic_sentence_47

These signs had remained symbols of the Paulskirche movement. Weimar Republic_sentence_48

Weimar wanted to express its origins in that political movement between 1849 and 1858; while anti-republicans opposed this flag. Weimar Republic_sentence_49

While the first German Confederal Navy (Reichsflotte, 1848–1852) had proudly deployed a naval ensign based on Schwarz-Rot-Gold, the Weimar republic navy, or Reichsmarine (1918–1933) insisted on using the pre-1918 colours of the former Kaiserliche Marine (1871–1918), which were Black-White-Red, as did the German merchant marine. Weimar Republic_sentence_50

The republicans took up the idea of the German Coat of Arms established by the Paulskirche movement, using the same charge animal, an eagle, in the same colours (black, red and gold), but modernising its form, including a reduction of the heads from two to one. Weimar Republic_sentence_51

Friedrich Ebert initially declared the official German coat of arms to be a design by Emil Doepler (shown in the first infobox above) as of 12 November 1919, following a decision of the German government. Weimar Republic_sentence_52

In 1928, however, the Reichswappen (Reich coat of arms) designed by Tobias Schwab (1887–1967) in 1926 (or 1924) replaced it as the official emblem for the German Olympic team. Weimar Republic_sentence_53

The Reichswehr adopted the new Reichswappen in 1927. Weimar Republic_sentence_54

Doepler's design then became the Reichsschild (Reich's escutcheon) with restricted use such as pennant for government vehicles. Weimar Republic_sentence_55

In 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) adopted all three signs of Weimar Republic—Reichswappen, Reichsschild and Reichsflagge—as Bundeswappen, Bundesschild and Bundesflagge (Federal coat of arms, escutcheon and flag). Weimar Republic_sentence_56

Armed forces Weimar Republic_section_2

Main article: Reichswehr Weimar Republic_sentence_57

After the dissolution of the army of the former German Empire, known as the Deutsches Heer (simply "German Army") or the Reichsheer ("Army of the Realm") in 1918; Germany's military forces consisted of irregular paramilitaries, namely the various right-wing Freikorps ("Free Corps") groups composed of veterans from the war. Weimar Republic_sentence_58

The Freikorps units were formally disbanded in 1920 (although continued to exist in underground groups), and on 1 January 1921, a new Reichswehr (figuratively; Defence of the realm) was created. Weimar Republic_sentence_59

The Treaty of Versailles limited the size of the Reichswehr to 100,000 soldiers (consisting of seven infantry divisions and three cavalry divisions), 10 armoured cars and a navy (the Reichsmarine) restricted to 36 ships in active service. Weimar Republic_sentence_60

No aircraft of any kind was allowed. Weimar Republic_sentence_61

The main advantage of this limitation, however, was that the Reichswehr could afford to pick the best recruits for service. Weimar Republic_sentence_62

However, with inefficient armour and no air support, the Reichswehr would have had limited combat abilities. Weimar Republic_sentence_63

Privates were mainly recruited from the countryside, as it was believed that young men from cities were prone to socialist behaviour, which would fray the loyalty of the privates to their conservative officers. Weimar Republic_sentence_64

Although technically in service of the republic, the army was predominantly officered by conservative reactionaries who were sympathetic to right-wing organisations. Weimar Republic_sentence_65

Hans von Seeckt, the head of the Reichswehr, declared that the army was not loyal to the democratic republic, and would only defend it if it were in their interests. Weimar Republic_sentence_66

During the Kapp Putsch for example, the army refused to fire upon the rebels. Weimar Republic_sentence_67

The vulgar and turbulent SA was the Reichswehr's main opponent throughout its existence, openly seeking to absorb the army, and the army fired at them during the Beerhall Putsch. Weimar Republic_sentence_68

With the ascendance of the SS, the Reichswehr took a softer line about the Nazis, as the SS presented itself as elitist, respectable, orderly, and busy reforming and dominating the police rather than the army. Weimar Republic_sentence_69

In 1935, two years after Hitler came to power, the Reichswehr was renamed the Wehrmacht. Weimar Republic_sentence_70

History Weimar Republic_section_3

November Revolution (1918–1919) Weimar Republic_section_4

Main article: German Revolution of 1918–1919 Weimar Republic_sentence_71

In October 1918, the constitution of the German Empire was reformed to give more powers to the elected parliament. Weimar Republic_sentence_72

On 29 October, rebellion broke out in Kiel among sailors. Weimar Republic_sentence_73

There, sailors, soldiers, and workers began electing Workers' and Soldiers' Councils (Arbeiter und Soldatenräte) modeled after the Soviets of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Weimar Republic_sentence_74

The revolution spread throughout Germany, and participants seized military and civil powers in individual cities. Weimar Republic_sentence_75

The power takeover was achieved everywhere without loss of life. Weimar Republic_sentence_76

At the time, the Socialist movement which represented mostly labourers was split among two major left-wing parties: the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), which called for immediate peace negotiations and favoured a soviet-style command economy, and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) also known as "Majority" Social Democratic Party of Germany (MSPD), which supported the war effort and favoured a parliamentary system. Weimar Republic_sentence_77

The rebellion caused great fear in the establishment and in the middle classes because of the Soviet-style aspirations of the councils. Weimar Republic_sentence_78

To centrist and conservative citizens, the country looked to be on the verge of a communist revolution. Weimar Republic_sentence_79

By 7 November, the revolution had reached Munich, resulting in King Ludwig III of Bavaria fleeing. Weimar Republic_sentence_80

The MSPD decided to make use of their support at the grassroots and put themselves at the front of the movement, demanding that Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicate. Weimar Republic_sentence_81

When he refused, Prince Max of Baden simply announced that he had done so and frantically attempted to establish a regency under another member of the House of Hohenzollern. Weimar Republic_sentence_82

Gustav Noske, a self-appointed military expert in the MSPD, was sent to Kiel to prevent any further unrest and took on the task of controlling the mutinous sailors and their supporters in the Kiel barracks. Weimar Republic_sentence_83

The sailors and soldiers, inexperienced in matters of revolutionary combat, welcomed him as an experienced politician and allowed him to negotiate a settlement, thus defusing the initial anger of the revolutionaries in uniform. Weimar Republic_sentence_84

On 9 November 1918, the "German Republic" was proclaimed by MSPD member Philipp Scheidemann at the Reichstag building in Berlin, to the fury of Friedrich Ebert, the leader of the MSPD, who thought that the question of monarchy or republic should be answered by a national assembly. Weimar Republic_sentence_85

Two hours later, a "Free Socialist Republic" was proclaimed, 2 km (1.2 mi) away, at the Berliner Stadtschloss. Weimar Republic_sentence_86

The proclamation was issued by Karl Liebknecht, co-leader (with Rosa Luxemburg) of the communist Spartakusbund (Spartacus League), a group of a few hundred supporters of the Russian revolution that had allied itself with the USPD in 1917. Weimar Republic_sentence_87

In a legally questionable act, Imperial Chancellor (Reichskanzler) Prince Max of Baden transferred his powers to Friedrich Ebert, who, shattered by the monarchy's fall, reluctantly accepted. Weimar Republic_sentence_88

In view of the mass support for more radical reforms among the workers' councils, a coalition government called "Council of the People's Deputies" (Rat der Volksbeauftragten) was established, consisting of three MSPD and three USPD members. Weimar Republic_sentence_89

Led by Ebert for the MSPD and Hugo Haase for the USPD it sought to act as a provisional cabinet of ministers. Weimar Republic_sentence_90

But the power question was unanswered. Weimar Republic_sentence_91

Although the new government was confirmed by the Berlin worker and soldier council, it was opposed by the Spartacus League. Weimar Republic_sentence_92

On 11 November 1918, an armistice was signed at Compiègne by German representatives. Weimar Republic_sentence_93

It effectively ended military operations between the Allies and Germany. Weimar Republic_sentence_94

It amounted to German capitulation, without any concessions by the Allies; the naval blockade would continue until complete peace terms were agreed. Weimar Republic_sentence_95

From November 1918 to January 1919, Germany was governed by the "Council of the People's Deputies", under the leadership of Ebert and Haase. Weimar Republic_sentence_96

The Council issued a large number of decrees that radically shifted German policies. Weimar Republic_sentence_97

It introduced the eight-hour workday, domestic labour reform, works councils, agricultural labour reform, right of civil-service associations, local municipality social welfare relief (split between Reich and States) and national health insurance, reinstatement of demobilized workers, protection from arbitrary dismissal with appeal as a right, regulated wage agreement, and universal suffrage from 20 years of age in all types of elections—local and national. Weimar Republic_sentence_98

Ebert called for a "National Congress of Councils" (Reichsrätekongress), which took place from 16 to 20 December 1918, and in which the MSPD had the majority. Weimar Republic_sentence_99

Thus, Ebert was able to institute elections for a provisional National Assembly that would be given the task of writing a democratic constitution for parliamentary government, marginalizing the movement that called for a socialist republic. Weimar Republic_sentence_100

To ensure his fledgling government maintained control over the country, Ebert made an agreement with the OHL, now led by Ludendorff's successor General Wilhelm Groener. Weimar Republic_sentence_101

The 'Ebert–Groener pact' stipulated that the government would not attempt to reform the army so long as the army swore to protect the state. Weimar Republic_sentence_102

On the one hand, this agreement symbolised the acceptance of the new government by the military, assuaging concern among the middle classes; on the other hand, it was thought contrary to working-class interests by left wing social democrats and communists, and was also opposed by the far right who believed democracy would make Germany weaker. Weimar Republic_sentence_103

The new Reichswehr armed forces, limited by the Treaty of Versailles to 100,000 army soldiers and 15,000 sailors, remained fully under the control of the German officer class, despite their nominal re-organisation. Weimar Republic_sentence_104

The Executive Council of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils, a coalition that included Majority Socialists, Independent Socialists, workers, and soldiers, implemented a programme of progressive social change, introducing reforms such as the eight-hour workday, the releasing of political prisoners, the abolition of press censorship, increases in workers’ old-age, sick and unemployment benefits, and the bestowing upon labour the unrestricted right to organise into unions. Weimar Republic_sentence_105

A number of other reforms were carried out in Germany during the revolutionary period. Weimar Republic_sentence_106

It was made harder for estates to sack workers and prevent them from leaving when they wanted to; under the Provisional Act for Agricultural Labour of 23 November 1918 the normal period of notice for management, and for most resident labourers, was set at six weeks. Weimar Republic_sentence_107

In addition, a supplementary directive of December 1918 specified that female (and child) workers were entitled to a fifteen-minute break if they worked between four and six hours, thirty minutes for workdays lasting six to eight hours, and one hour for longer days. Weimar Republic_sentence_108

A decree on 23 December 1918 established committees (composed of workers' representatives "in their relation to the employer") to safeguard the rights of workers. Weimar Republic_sentence_109

The right to bargain collectively was also established, while it was made obligatory "to elect workers’ committees on estates and establish conciliation committees". Weimar Republic_sentence_110

A decree on 3 February 1919 removed the right of employers to acquire exemption for domestic servants and agricultural workers. Weimar Republic_sentence_111

With the Verordnung of 3 February 1919, the Ebert government reintroduced the original structure of the health insurance boards according to an 1883 law, with one-third employers and two-thirds members (i.e. workers). Weimar Republic_sentence_112

From 28 June 1919 health insurance committees became elected by workers themselves. Weimar Republic_sentence_113

The Provisional Order of January 1919 concerning agricultural labour conditions fixed 2,900 hours as a maximum per year, distributed as eight, ten, and eleven hours per day in four-monthly periods. Weimar Republic_sentence_114

A code of January 1919 bestowed upon land-labourers the same legal rights that industrial workers enjoyed, while a bill ratified that same year obliged the States to set up agricultural settlement associations which, as noted by Volker Berghahn, "were endowed with the priority right of purchase of farms beyond a specified size". Weimar Republic_sentence_115

In addition, undemocratic public institutions were abolished, involving, as noted by one writer, the disappearance "of the Prussian Upper House, the former Prussian Lower House that had been elected in accordance with the three-class suffrage, and the municipal councils that were also elected on the class vote". Weimar Republic_sentence_116

A rift developed between the MSPD and USPD after Ebert called upon the OHL (Supreme Army Command) for troops to put down a mutiny by a leftist military unit on 23/24 December 1918, in which members of the Volksmarinedivision (People's Army Division) had captured the city's garrison commander Otto Wels and occupied the Reichskanzlei (Reich Chancellery) where the "Council of the People's Deputies" was situated. Weimar Republic_sentence_117

The ensuing street fighting left several dead and injured on both sides. Weimar Republic_sentence_118

The USPD leaders were outraged by what they believed was treachery by the MSPD, which, in their view, had joined with the anti-communist military to suppress the revolution. Weimar Republic_sentence_119

Thus, the USPD left the "Council of the People's Deputies" after only seven weeks. Weimar Republic_sentence_120

On 30 December, the split deepened when the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) was formed out of a number of radical left-wing groups, including the left wing of the USPD and the Spartacus League group. Weimar Republic_sentence_121

In January, the Spartacus League and others in the streets of Berlin made more armed attempts to establish communism, known as the Spartacist uprising. Weimar Republic_sentence_122

Those attempts were put down by paramilitary Freikorps units consisting of volunteer soldiers. Weimar Republic_sentence_123

Bloody street fights culminated in the beating and shooting deaths of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht after their arrests on 15 January. Weimar Republic_sentence_124

With the affirmation of Ebert, those responsible were not tried before a court martial, leading to lenient sentences, which made Ebert unpopular among radical leftists. Weimar Republic_sentence_125

The National Assembly elections took place on 19 January 1919. Weimar Republic_sentence_126

In this time, the radical left-wing parties, including the USPD and KPD, were barely able to get themselves organised, leading to a solid majority of seats for the MSPD moderate forces. Weimar Republic_sentence_127

To avoid the ongoing fights in Berlin, the National Assembly convened in the city of Weimar, giving the future Republic its unofficial name. Weimar Republic_sentence_128

The Weimar Constitution created a republic under a parliamentary republic system with the Reichstag elected by proportional representation. Weimar Republic_sentence_129

The democratic parties obtained a solid 80% of the vote. Weimar Republic_sentence_130

During the debates in Weimar, fighting continued. Weimar Republic_sentence_131

A Soviet republic was declared in Munich, but was quickly put down by Freikorps and remnants of the regular army. Weimar Republic_sentence_132

The fall of the Munich Soviet Republic to these units, many of which were situated on the extreme right, resulted in the growth of far-right movements and organisations in Bavaria, including Organisation Consul, the Nazi Party, and societies of exiled Russian Monarchists. Weimar Republic_sentence_133

Sporadic fighting continued to flare up around the country. Weimar Republic_sentence_134

In eastern provinces, forces loyal to Germany's fallen Monarchy fought the republic, while militias of Polish nationalists fought for independence: Great Poland Uprising in Provinz Posen and three Silesian uprisings in Upper Silesia. Weimar Republic_sentence_135

Germany lost the war because the country ran out of allies and its economic resources were running out; support among the population began to crumble in 1916 and by mid-1918 there was support for the war only among the die-hard monarchists and conservatives. Weimar Republic_sentence_136

The decisive blow came with the entry of the United States into the conflict, which made its vast industrial resources available to the beleaguered Allies. Weimar Republic_sentence_137

By late summer 1918 the German reserves were exhausted while fresh American troops arrived in France at the rate of 10,000 a day. Weimar Republic_sentence_138

Retreat and defeat were at hand, and the Army told the Kaiser to abdicate for it could no longer support him. Weimar Republic_sentence_139

Although in retreat, the German armies were still on French and Belgian territory when the war ended on 11 November. Weimar Republic_sentence_140

Ludendorf and Hindenburg soon proclaimed that it was the defeatism of the civilian population that had made defeat inevitable. Weimar Republic_sentence_141

The die-hard nationalists then blamed the civilians for betraying the army and the surrender. Weimar Republic_sentence_142

This was the "stab-in-the-back myth" that was unceasingly propagated by the right in the 1920s and ensured that many monarchists and conservatives would refuse to support the government of what they called the "November criminals". Weimar Republic_sentence_143

Years of crisis (1919–1923) Weimar Republic_section_5

Burden from the First World War Weimar Republic_section_6

In the four years following the First World War, the situation for German civilians remained dire. Weimar Republic_sentence_144

The severe food shortages improved little to none up until 1923. Weimar Republic_sentence_145

Many German civilians expected life to return to prewar normalcy following the removal of the naval blockade in June 1919. Weimar Republic_sentence_146

Instead, the struggles induced by the First World War persisted for the decade following. Weimar Republic_sentence_147

Throughout the war German officials made rash decisions to combat the growing hunger of the nation, most of which were highly unsuccessful. Weimar Republic_sentence_148

Examples include the nationwide pig slaughter, Schweinemord, in 1915. Weimar Republic_sentence_149

The rationale behind exterminating the population of swine was to decrease the use of potatoes and turnips for animal consumption, transitioning all foods toward human consumption. Weimar Republic_sentence_150

In 1922, now three years after the German signing of the Treaty of Versailles, meat consumption in the country had not increased since the war era. Weimar Republic_sentence_151

22 kg per person per year was still less than half of the 52 kg statistic in 1913, before the onset of the war. Weimar Republic_sentence_152

German citizens felt the food shortages even deeper than during the war, because the reality of the nation contrasted so starkly with their expectations. Weimar Republic_sentence_153

The burdens of the First World War lightened little in the immediate years following, and with the onset of the Treaty of Versailles, coupled by mass inflation, Germany still remained in a crisis. Weimar Republic_sentence_154

The continuity of pain showed the Weimar authority in a negative light, and public opinion was one of the main sources behind its failure. Weimar Republic_sentence_155

Treaty of Versailles Weimar Republic_section_7

Main article: Treaty of Versailles Weimar Republic_sentence_156

Allied Rhineland occupation Weimar Republic_section_8

Main article: Allied occupation of the Rhineland Weimar Republic_sentence_157

The occupation of the Rhineland took place following the Armistice with Germany of 11 November 1918. Weimar Republic_sentence_158

The occupying armies consisted of American, Belgian, British and French forces. Weimar Republic_sentence_159

In 1920, under massive French pressure, the Saar was separated from the Rhine Province and administered by the League of Nations until a plebiscite in 1935, when the region was returned to the Deutsches Reich. Weimar Republic_sentence_160

At the same time, in 1920, the districts of Eupen and Malmedy were transferred to Belgium (see German-Speaking Community of Belgium). Weimar Republic_sentence_161

Shortly after, France completely occupied the Rhineland, strictly controlling all important industrial areas. Weimar Republic_sentence_162

Reparations Weimar Republic_section_9

The actual amount of reparations that Germany was obliged to pay out was not the 132 billion marks decided in the London Schedule of 1921 but rather the 50 billion marks stipulated in the A and B Bonds. Weimar Republic_sentence_163

Historian Sally Marks says the 112 billion marks in "C bonds" were entirely chimerical—a device to fool the public into thinking Germany would pay much more. Weimar Republic_sentence_164

The actual total payout from 1920 to 1931 (when payments were suspended indefinitely) was 20 billion German gold marks, worth about US$5 billion or £1 billion British pounds. Weimar Republic_sentence_165

12.5 billion was cash that came mostly from loans from New York bankers. Weimar Republic_sentence_166

The rest was goods such as coal and chemicals, or from assets like railway equipment. Weimar Republic_sentence_167

The reparations bill was fixed in 1921 on the basis of a German capacity to pay, not on the basis of Allied claims. Weimar Republic_sentence_168

The highly publicised rhetoric of 1919 about paying for all the damages and all the veterans' benefits was irrelevant for the total, but it did determine how the recipients spent their share. Weimar Republic_sentence_169

Germany owed reparations chiefly to France, Britain, Italy and Belgium; the US Treasury received $100 million. Weimar Republic_sentence_170

Hyperinflation Weimar Republic_section_10

Further information: Hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic Weimar Republic_sentence_171

In the early post-war years, inflation was growing at an alarming rate, but the government simply printed more currency to pay debts. Weimar Republic_sentence_172

By 1923, the Republic claimed it could no longer afford the reparations payments required by the Versailles Treaty, and the government defaulted on some payments. Weimar Republic_sentence_173

In response, French and Belgian troops occupied the Ruhr region, Germany's most productive industrial region at the time, taking control of most mining and manufacturing companies in January 1923. Weimar Republic_sentence_174

Strikes were called, and passive resistance was encouraged. Weimar Republic_sentence_175

These strikes lasted eight months, further damaging both the economy and society. Weimar Republic_sentence_176

The strike prevented some goods from being produced, but one industrialist, Hugo Stinnes, was able to create a vast empire out of bankrupt companies. Weimar Republic_sentence_177

Because the production costs in Germany were falling almost hourly, the prices for German products were unbeatable. Weimar Republic_sentence_178

Stinnes made sure that he was paid in dollars, which meant that by mid-1923, his industrial empire was worth more than the entire German economy. Weimar Republic_sentence_179

By the end of the year, over two hundred factories were working full-time to produce paper for the spiralling bank note production. Weimar Republic_sentence_180

Stinnes' empire collapsed when the government-sponsored inflation was stopped in November 1923. Weimar Republic_sentence_181

In 1919, one loaf of bread cost 1 mark; by 1923, the same loaf of bread cost 100 billion marks. Weimar Republic_sentence_182

Since striking workers were paid benefits by the state, much additional currency was printed, fuelling a period of hyperinflation. Weimar Republic_sentence_183

The 1920s German inflation started when Germany had no goods to trade. Weimar Republic_sentence_184

The government printed money to deal with the crisis; this meant payments within Germany were made with worthless paper money, and helped formerly great industrialists to pay back their own loans. Weimar Republic_sentence_185

This also led to pay raises for workers and for businessmen who wanted to profit from it. Weimar Republic_sentence_186

Circulation of money rocketed, and soon banknotes were being overprinted to a thousand times their nominal value and every town produced its own promissory notes; many banks and industrial firms did the same. Weimar Republic_sentence_187

The value of the Papiermark had declined from 4.2 marks per U.S. dollar in 1914 to one million per dollar by August 1923. Weimar Republic_sentence_188

This led to further criticism of the Republic. Weimar Republic_sentence_189

On 15 November 1923, a new currency, the Rentenmark, was introduced at the rate of one trillion (1,000,000,000,000) Papiermark for one Rentenmark, an action known as redenomination. Weimar Republic_sentence_190

At that time, one U.S. dollar was equal to 4.2 Rentenmark. Weimar Republic_sentence_191

Reparation payments were resumed, and the Ruhr was returned to Germany under the Locarno Treaties, which defined the borders between Germany, France, and Belgium. Weimar Republic_sentence_192

Political turmoil Weimar Republic_section_11

Onset of the Great Depression Weimar Republic_section_12

In 1929, the onset of the depression in the United States of America produced a severe economic shock in Germany and was further made worse by the bankruptcy of the Austrian Creditanstalt bank. Weimar Republic_sentence_193

Germany's fragile economy had been sustained by the granting of loans through the Dawes Plan (1924) and the Young Plan (1929). Weimar Republic_sentence_194

When American banks withdrew their line of credit to German companies, the onset of severe unemployment could not be abated by conventional economic measures. Weimar Republic_sentence_195

Unemployment thereafter grew dramatically, at 4 million in 1930, and in September 1930 a political earthquake shook the republic to its foundations. Weimar Republic_sentence_196

The Nazi Party (NSDAP) entered the Reichstag with 19% of the popular vote and made the unstable coalition system by which every chancellor had governed increasingly unworkable. Weimar Republic_sentence_197

The last years of the Weimar Republic was marred by even more systemic political instability than in the previous years as political violence increased. Weimar Republic_sentence_198

Four Chancellors Brüning, Papen, Schleicher and, from 30 January to 23 March 1933, Hitler governed through presidential decree rather than through parliamentary consultation. Weimar Republic_sentence_199

This effectively rendered parliament as a means of enforcing constitutional checks and balances powerless. Weimar Republic_sentence_200

Brüning's policy of deflation (1930–1932) Weimar Republic_section_13

On 29 March 1930, after months of lobbying by General Kurt von Schleicher on behalf of the military, the finance expert Heinrich Brüning was appointed as Müller's successor by Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg. Weimar Republic_sentence_201

The new government was expected to lead a political shift towards conservatism. Weimar Republic_sentence_202

As Brüning had no majority support in the Reichstag, he became, through the use of the emergency powers granted to the Reichspräsident (Article 48) by the constitution, the first Weimar chancellor to operate independently of parliament. Weimar Republic_sentence_203

This made him dependent on the Reichspräsident, Hindenburg. Weimar Republic_sentence_204

After a bill to reform the Reich's finances was opposed by the Reichstag, it was made an emergency decree by Hindenburg. Weimar Republic_sentence_205

On 18 July, as a result of opposition from the SPD, KPD, DNVP and the small contingent of NSDAP members, the Reichstag again rejected the bill by a slim margin. Weimar Republic_sentence_206

Immediately afterward, Brüning submitted the president's decree that the Reichstag be dissolved. Weimar Republic_sentence_207

The consequent general election on 14 September resulted in an enormous political shift within the Reichstag: 18.3% of the vote went to the NSDAP, five times the percentage won in 1928. Weimar Republic_sentence_208

As a result, it was no longer possible to form a pro-republican majority, not even with a grand coalition that excluded the KPD, DNVP and NSDAP. Weimar Republic_sentence_209

This encouraged an escalation in the number of public demonstrations and instances of paramilitary violence organised by the NSDAP. Weimar Republic_sentence_210

Between 1930 and 1932, Brüning tried to reform the Weimar Republic without a parliamentary majority, governing, when necessary, through the President's emergency decrees. Weimar Republic_sentence_211

In line with the contemporary economic theory (subsequently termed "leave-it-alone liquidationism"), he enacted a draconian policy of deflation and drastically cutting state expenditure. Weimar Republic_sentence_212

Among other measures, he completely halted all public grants to the obligatory unemployment insurance introduced in 1927, resulting in workers making higher contributions and fewer benefits for the unemployed. Weimar Republic_sentence_213

Benefits for the sick, invalid and pensioners were also reduced sharply. Weimar Republic_sentence_214

Additional difficulties were caused by the different deflationary policies pursued by Brüning and the Reichsbank, Germany's central bank. Weimar Republic_sentence_215

In mid-1931, the United Kingdom abandoned the gold standard and about 30 countries (the sterling bloc) devalued their currencies, making their goods around 20% cheaper than those produced by Germany. Weimar Republic_sentence_216

As the Young Plan did not allow a devaluation of the Reichsmark, Brüning triggered a deflationary internal devaluation by forcing the economy to reduce prices, rents, salaries and wages by 20%. Weimar Republic_sentence_217

Debate continues as to whether this policy was without alternative: some argue that the Allies would not in any circumstances have allowed a devaluation of the Reichsmark, while others point to the Hoover Moratorium as a sign that the Allies understood that the situation had changed fundamentally and further German reparation payments were impossible. Weimar Republic_sentence_218

Brüning expected that the policy of deflation would temporarily worsen the economic situation before it began to improve, quickly increasing the German economy's competitiveness and then restoring its creditworthiness. Weimar Republic_sentence_219

His long-term view was that deflation would, in any case, be the best way to help the economy. Weimar Republic_sentence_220

His primary goal was to remove Germany's reparation payments by convincing the Allies that they could no longer be paid. Weimar Republic_sentence_221

Anton Erkelenz, chairman of the German Democratic Party and a contemporary critic of Brüning, famously said that the policy of deflation is: Weimar Republic_sentence_222

In 1933, the American economist Irving Fisher developed the theory of debt deflation. Weimar Republic_sentence_223

He explained that a deflation causes a decline of profits, asset prices and a still greater decline in the net worth of businesses. Weimar Republic_sentence_224

Even healthy companies, therefore, may appear over-indebted and facing bankruptcy. Weimar Republic_sentence_225

The consensus today is that Brüning's policies exacerbated the German economic crisis and the population's growing frustration with democracy, contributing enormously to the increase in support for Hitler's NSDAP. Weimar Republic_sentence_226

Most German capitalists and landowners originally supported the conservative experiment more from the belief that conservatives would best serve their interests rather than any particular liking for Brüning. Weimar Republic_sentence_227

As more of the working and middle classes turned against Brüning, however, more of the capitalists and landowners declared themselves in favour of his opponents Hitler and Hugenberg. Weimar Republic_sentence_228

By late 1931, the conservative movement was dead and Hindenburg and the Reichswehr had begun to contemplate dropping Brüning in favour of accommodating Hugenberg and Hitler. Weimar Republic_sentence_229

Although Hindenburg disliked Hugenberg and despised Hitler, he was no less a supporter of the sort of anti-democratic counter-revolution that the DNVP and NSDAP represented. Weimar Republic_sentence_230

In April 1932, Brüning had actively supported Hindenburg's successful campaign against Hitler for re-election as Reichspräsident; five weeks later, on 20 May 1932, he had lost Hindenburg's support and duly resigned as Reichskanzler. Weimar Republic_sentence_231

Papen deal Weimar Republic_section_14

Hindenburg then appointed Franz von Papen as new Reichskanzler. Weimar Republic_sentence_232

Papen lifted the ban on the NSDAP's SA paramilitary, imposed after the street riots, in an unsuccessful attempt to secure the backing of Hitler. Weimar Republic_sentence_233

Papen was closely associated with the industrialist and land-owning classes and pursued an extremely conservative policy along Hindenburg's lines. Weimar Republic_sentence_234

He appointed as Reichswehr Minister Kurt von Schleicher, and all the members of the new cabinet were of the same political opinion as Hindenburg. Weimar Republic_sentence_235

The government was expected to assure itself of the co-operation of Hitler. Weimar Republic_sentence_236

Since the republicans were not yet ready to take action, the Communists did not want to support the republic and the conservatives had shot their political bolt, Hitler and Hugenberg were certain to achieve power. Weimar Republic_sentence_237

Elections of July 1932 Weimar Republic_section_15

Because most parties opposed the new government, Papen had the Reichstag dissolved and called for new elections. Weimar Republic_sentence_238

The general elections on 31 July 1932 yielded major gains for the Communists, and for the Nazis, who won 37.3% of the vote—their high-water mark in a free election. Weimar Republic_sentence_239

The Nazi party then supplanted the Social Democrats as the largest party in the Reichstag, although it did not gain a majority. Weimar Republic_sentence_240

The immediate question was what part the now large Nazi Party would play in the Government of the country. Weimar Republic_sentence_241

The party owed its huge increase to growing support from middle-class people, whose traditional parties were swallowed up by the Nazi Party. Weimar Republic_sentence_242

The millions of radical adherents at first forced the Party towards the Left. Weimar Republic_sentence_243

They wanted a renewed Germany and a new organisation of German society. Weimar Republic_sentence_244

The left of the Nazi party strove desperately against any drift into the train of such capitalist and feudal reactionaries. Weimar Republic_sentence_245

Therefore, Hitler refused ministry under Papen, and demanded the chancellorship for himself, but was rejected by Hindenburg on 13 August 1932. Weimar Republic_sentence_246

There was still no majority in the Reichstag for any government; as a result, the Reichstag was dissolved and elections took place once more in the hope that a stable majority would result. Weimar Republic_sentence_247

Schleicher cabinet Weimar Republic_section_16

The 6 November 1932 elections yielded 33% for the Nazis, two million voters fewer than in the previous election. Weimar Republic_sentence_248

Franz von Papen stepped down and was succeeded as Chancellor (Reichskanzler) by General Kurt von Schleicher on 3 December. Weimar Republic_sentence_249

Schleicher, a retired army officer, had developed in an atmosphere of semi-obscurity and intrigue that encompassed the Republican military policy. Weimar Republic_sentence_250

He had for years been in the camp of those supporting the Conservative counter-revolution. Weimar Republic_sentence_251

Schleicher's bold and unsuccessful plan was to build a majority in the Reichstag by uniting the trade unionist left wings of the various parties, including that of the Nazis led by Gregor Strasser. Weimar Republic_sentence_252

This policy did not prove successful either. Weimar Republic_sentence_253

In this brief Presidential Dictatorship intermission, Schleicher assumed the role of "Socialist General" and entered into relations with the Christian Trade Unions, the relatively left of the Nazi party, and even with the Social Democrats. Weimar Republic_sentence_254

Schleicher planned for a sort of labour government under his Generalship. Weimar Republic_sentence_255

But the Reichswehr officers were not prepared for this, the working class had a natural distrust of their future allies, and the great capitalists and landowners also did not like the plans. Weimar Republic_sentence_256

Hitler learned from Papen that the general had not received from Hindenburg the authority to abolish the Reichstag parliament, whereas any majority of seats did. Weimar Republic_sentence_257

The cabinet (under a previous interpretation of Article 48) ruled without a sitting Reichstag, which could vote only for its own dissolution. Weimar Republic_sentence_258

Hitler also learned that all past crippling Nazi debts were to be relieved by German big business. Weimar Republic_sentence_259

On 22 January, Hitler's efforts to persuade Oskar von Hindenburg, the President's son and confidant, included threats to bring criminal charges over estate taxation irregularities at the President's Neudeck estate; although 5,000 acres (20 km) extra were soon allotted to Hindenburg's property. Weimar Republic_sentence_260

Outmaneuvered by Papen and Hitler on plans for the new cabinet, and having lost Hindenburg's confidence, Schleicher asked for new elections. Weimar Republic_sentence_261

On 28 January, Papen described Hitler to Paul von Hindenburg as only a minority part of an alternative, Papen-arranged government. Weimar Republic_sentence_262

The four great political movements, the SPD, Communists, Centre, and the Nazis were in opposition. Weimar Republic_sentence_263

On 29 January, Hitler and Papen thwarted a last-minute threat of an officially sanctioned Reichswehr takeover, and on 30 January 1933 Hindenburg accepted the new Papen-Nationalist-Hitler coalition, with the Nazis holding only three of eleven Cabinet seats: Hitler as Chancellor, Wilhelm Frick as Minister of the Interior and Hermann Göring as Minister Without Portfolio. Weimar Republic_sentence_264

Later that day, the first cabinet meeting was attended by only two political parties, representing a minority in the Reichstag: The Nazis and the German National People's Party (DNVP), led by Alfred Hugenberg, with 196 and 52 seats respectively. Weimar Republic_sentence_265

Eyeing the Catholic Centre Party's 70 (plus 20 BVP) seats, Hitler refused their leader's demands for constitutional "concessions" (amounting to protection) and planned for dissolution of the Reichstag. Weimar Republic_sentence_266

Hindenburg, despite his misgivings about the Nazis' goals and about Hitler as a personality, reluctantly agreed to Papen's theory that, with Nazi popular support on the wane, Hitler could now be controlled as Chancellor. Weimar Republic_sentence_267

This date, dubbed by the Nazis as the Machtergreifung (seizure of power), is commonly seen as the beginning of Nazi Germany. Weimar Republic_sentence_268

End of the Weimar Republic Weimar Republic_section_17

Hitler's chancellorship (1933) Weimar Republic_section_18

Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor on the morning of 30 January 1933 in what some observers later described as a brief and indifferent ceremony. Weimar Republic_sentence_269

By early February, a mere week after Hitler's assumption of the chancellorship, the government had begun to clamp down on the opposition. Weimar Republic_sentence_270

Meetings of the left-wing parties were banned and even some of the moderate parties found their members threatened and assaulted. Weimar Republic_sentence_271

Measures with an appearance of legality suppressed the Communist Party in mid-February and included the plainly illegal arrests of Reichstag deputies. Weimar Republic_sentence_272

The Reichstag fire on 27 February was blamed by Hitler's government on the Communists. Weimar Republic_sentence_273

Hitler used the ensuing state of emergency to obtain the presidential assent of Hindenburg to issue the Reichstag Fire Decree the following day. Weimar Republic_sentence_274

The decree invoked Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution and "indefinitely suspended" a number of constitutional protections of civil liberties, allowing the Nazi government to take swift action against political meetings, arresting and killing the Communists. Weimar Republic_sentence_275

Hitler and the Nazis exploited the German state's broadcasting and aviation facilities in a massive attempt to sway the electorate, but this election yielded a scant majority of 16 seats for the coalition. Weimar Republic_sentence_276

At the Reichstag elections, which took place on 5 March 1933, the NSDAP obtained 17 million votes. Weimar Republic_sentence_277

The Communist, Social Democrat and Catholic Centre votes stood firm. Weimar Republic_sentence_278

This was the last multi-party election of the Weimar Republic and the last multi-party all-German election for 57 years. Weimar Republic_sentence_279

Hitler addressed disparate interest groups, stressing the necessity for a definitive solution to the perpetual instability of the Weimar Republic. Weimar Republic_sentence_280

He now blamed Germany's problems on the Communists, even threatening their lives on 3 March. Weimar Republic_sentence_281

Former Chancellor Heinrich Brüning proclaimed that his Centre Party would resist any constitutional change and appealed to the President for an investigation of the Reichstag fire. Weimar Republic_sentence_282

Hitler's successful plan was to induce what remained of the now Communist-depleted Reichstag to grant him, and the Government, the authority to issue decrees with the force of law. Weimar Republic_sentence_283

The hitherto Presidential Dictatorship hereby was to give itself a new legal form. Weimar Republic_sentence_284

On 15 March, the first cabinet meeting was attended by the two coalition parties, representing a minority in the Reichstag: The Nazis and the DNVP led by Alfred Hugenberg (288 + 52 seats). Weimar Republic_sentence_285

According to the Nuremberg Trials, this cabinet meeting's first order of business was how at last to achieve the complete counter-revolution by means of the constitutionally allowed Enabling Act, requiring a 66% parliamentary majority. Weimar Republic_sentence_286

This Act would, and did, lead Hitler and the NSDAP toward his goal of unfettered dictatorial powers. Weimar Republic_sentence_287

Hitler cabinet meeting in mid-March Weimar Republic_section_19

At the cabinet meeting on 15 March, Hitler introduced the Enabling Act, which would have authorised the cabinet to enact legislation without the approval of the Reichstag. Weimar Republic_sentence_288

Meanwhile, the only remaining question for the Nazis was whether the Catholic Centre Party would support the Enabling Act in the Reichstag, thereby providing the ⅔ majority required to ratify a law that amended the constitution. Weimar Republic_sentence_289

Hitler expressed his confidence to win over the centre's votes. Weimar Republic_sentence_290

Hitler is recorded at the Nuremberg Trials as being sure of eventual Centre Party Germany capitulation and thus rejecting of the DNVP's suggestions to "balance" the majority through further arrests, this time of Social Democrats. Weimar Republic_sentence_291

Hitler, however, assured his coalition partners that arrests would resume after the elections and, in fact, some 26 SPD Social Democrats were physically removed. Weimar Republic_sentence_292

After meeting with Centre leader Monsignor Ludwig Kaas and other Centre Trade Union leaders daily and denying them a substantial participation in the government, negotiation succeeded in respect of guarantees towards Catholic civil-servants and education issues. Weimar Republic_sentence_293

At the last internal Centre meeting prior to the debate on the Enabling Act, Kaas expressed no preference or suggestion on the vote, but as a way of mollifying opposition by Centre members to the granting of further powers to Hitler, Kaas somehow arranged for a letter of constitutional guarantee from Hitler himself prior to his voting with the centre en bloc in favour of the Enabling Act. Weimar Republic_sentence_294

This guarantee was not ultimately given. Weimar Republic_sentence_295

Kaas, the party's chairman since 1928, had strong connections to the Vatican Secretary of State, later Pope Pius XII. Weimar Republic_sentence_296

In return for pledging his support for the act, Kaas would use his connections with the Vatican to set in train and draft the Holy See's long desired Reichskonkordat with Germany (only possible with the co-operation of the Nazis). Weimar Republic_sentence_297

Ludwig Kaas is considered along with Papen as being one of the two most important political figures in the creation of the Nazi regime. Weimar Republic_sentence_298

Enabling Act negotiations Weimar Republic_section_20

On 20 March, negotiation began between Hitler and Frick on one side and the Catholic Centre Party (Zentrum) leaders—Kaas, Stegerwald and Hackelsburger on the other. Weimar Republic_sentence_299

The aim was to settle on conditions under which Centre would vote in favour of the Enabling Act. Weimar Republic_sentence_300

Because of the Nazis' narrow majority in the Reichstag, Centre's support was necessary to receive the required two-thirds majority vote. Weimar Republic_sentence_301

On 22 March, the negotiations concluded; Hitler promised to continue the existence of the German states, agreed not to use the new grant of power to change the constitution, and promised to retain Zentrum members in the civil service. Weimar Republic_sentence_302

Hitler also pledged to protect the Catholic confessional schools and to respect the concordats signed between the Holy See and Bavaria (1924), Prussia (1929) and Baden (1931). Weimar Republic_sentence_303

Hitler also agreed to mention these promises in his speech to the Reichstag before the vote on the Enabling Act. Weimar Republic_sentence_304

The ceremonial opening of the Reichstag on 21 March was held at the Garrison Church in Potsdam, a shrine of Prussianism, in the presence of many Junker landowners and representatives of the imperial military caste. Weimar Republic_sentence_305

This impressive and often emotional spectacle—orchestrated by Joseph Goebbels—aimed to link Hitler's government with Germany's imperial past and portray Nazism as a guarantor of the nation's future. Weimar Republic_sentence_306

The ceremony helped convince the "old guard" Prussian military elite of Hitler's homage to their long tradition and, in turn, produced the relatively convincing view that Hitler's government had the support of Germany's traditional protector—the Army. Weimar Republic_sentence_307

Such support would publicly signal a return to conservatism to curb the problems affecting the Weimar Republic, and that stability might be at hand. Weimar Republic_sentence_308

In a cynical and politically adroit move, Hitler bowed in apparently respectful humility before President and Field Marshal Hindenburg. Weimar Republic_sentence_309

Passage of the Enabling Act Weimar Republic_section_21

The Reichstag convened on 23 March 1933, and in the midday opening, Hitler made a historic speech, appearing outwardly calm and conciliatory. Weimar Republic_sentence_310

Hitler presented an appealing prospect of respect towards Christianity by paying tribute to the Christian faiths as "essential elements for safeguarding the soul of the German people". Weimar Republic_sentence_311

He promised to respect their rights and declared that his government's "ambition is a peaceful accord between Church and State" and that he hoped "to improve [their] friendly relations with the Holy See". Weimar Republic_sentence_312

This speech aimed especially at the future recognition by the named Holy See and therefore to the votes of the Centre Party addressing many concerns Kaas had voiced during the previous talks. Weimar Republic_sentence_313

Kaas is considered to have had a hand therefore in the drafting of the speech. Weimar Republic_sentence_314

Kaas is also reported as voicing the Holy See's desire for Hitler as bulwark against atheistic Russian nihilism previously as early as May 1932. Weimar Republic_sentence_315

Hitler promised that the Act did not threaten the existence of either the Reichstag or the Reichsrat, that the authority of the President remained untouched and that the Länder would not be abolished. Weimar Republic_sentence_316

During an adjournment, the other parties (notably the centre) met to discuss their intentions. Weimar Republic_sentence_317

In the debate prior to the vote on the Enabling Act, Hitler orchestrated the full political menace of his paramilitary forces like the storm division in the streets to intimidate reluctant Reichstag deputies into approving the Enabling Act. Weimar Republic_sentence_318

The Communists' 81 seats had been empty since the Reichstag Fire Decree and other lesser known procedural measures, thus excluding their anticipated "No" votes from the balloting. Weimar Republic_sentence_319

Otto Wels, the leader of the Social Democrats, whose seats were similarly depleted from 120 to below 100, was the only speaker to defend democracy and in a futile but brave effort to deny Hitler the ⅔ majority, he made a speech critical of the abandonment of democracy to dictatorship. Weimar Republic_sentence_320

At this, Hitler could no longer restrain his wrath. Weimar Republic_sentence_321

In his retort to Wels, Hitler abandoned earlier pretence at calm statesmanship and delivered a characteristic screaming diatribe, promising to exterminate all Communists in Germany and threatening Wels' Social Democrats as well. Weimar Republic_sentence_322

He did not even want their support for the bill. Weimar Republic_sentence_323

"Germany will become free, but not through you," he shouted. Weimar Republic_sentence_324

Meanwhile, Hitler's promised written guarantee to Monsignor Kaas was being typed up, it was asserted to Kaas, and thereby Kaas was persuaded to silently deliver the Centre bloc's votes for the Enabling Act anyway. Weimar Republic_sentence_325

The Act—formally titled the "Act for the Removal of Distress from People and Reich"—was passed by a vote of 441 to 94. Weimar Republic_sentence_326

Only the SPD had voted against the Act. Weimar Republic_sentence_327

Every other member of the Reichstag, whether from the largest or the smallest party, voted in favour of the Act. Weimar Republic_sentence_328

It went into effect the following day, 24 March. Weimar Republic_sentence_329

Consequences Weimar Republic_section_22

Main article: Nazi Germany Weimar Republic_sentence_330

The passage of the Enabling Act of 1933 is widely considered to mark the end of the Weimar Republic and the beginning of the Nazi era. Weimar Republic_sentence_331

It empowered the cabinet to legislate without the approval of the Reichstag or the President, and to enact laws that were contrary to the constitution. Weimar Republic_sentence_332

Before the March 1933 elections, Hitler had persuaded Hindenburg to promulgate the Reichstag Fire Decree using Article 48, which empowered the government to restrict "the rights of habeas corpus [...] freedom of the press, the freedom to organise and assemble, the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications" and legalised search warrants and confiscation "beyond legal limits otherwise prescribed". Weimar Republic_sentence_333

This was intended to forestall any action against the government by the Communists. Weimar Republic_sentence_334

Hitler used the provisions of the Enabling Act to pre-empt possible opposition to his dictatorship from other sources, in which he was mostly successful. Weimar Republic_sentence_335

The Nazis in power brought almost all major organisations into line under Nazi control or direction, which was termed Gleichschaltung. Weimar Republic_sentence_336

The constitution of 1919 was never formally repealed, but the Enabling Act meant that it was a dead letter. Weimar Republic_sentence_337

Those articles of the Weimar constitution (which dealt with the state's relationship to various Christian churches) remain part of the German Basic Law. Weimar Republic_sentence_338

Reasons for failure Weimar Republic_section_23

The reasons for the Weimar Republic's collapse are the subject of continuing debate. Weimar Republic_sentence_339

It may have been doomed from the beginning since even moderates disliked it and extremists on both the left and right loathed it, a situation often referred to as a "democracy without democrats". Weimar Republic_sentence_340

Germany had limited democratic traditions, and Weimar democracy was widely seen as chaotic. Weimar Republic_sentence_341

Since Weimar politicians had been blamed for the Dolchstoß ("stab-in-the-back"), a widely believed theory that Germany's surrender in the First World War had been the unnecessary act of traitors, the popular legitimacy of the government was on shaky ground. Weimar Republic_sentence_342

As normal parliamentary lawmaking broke down and was replaced around 1930 by a series of emergency decrees, the decreasing popular legitimacy of the government further drove voters to extremist parties. Weimar Republic_sentence_343

No single reason can explain the failure of the Weimar Republic. Weimar Republic_sentence_344

The most commonly asserted causes can be grouped into three categories: economic problems, institutional problems, and the roles of specific individuals. Weimar Republic_sentence_345

Economic problems Weimar Republic_section_24

Main articles: Dawes Plan and Reichsbank Weimar Republic_sentence_346

The Weimar Republic had some of the most serious economic problems ever experienced by any Western democracy in history. Weimar Republic_sentence_347

Rampant hyperinflation, massive unemployment, and a large drop in living standards were primary factors. Weimar Republic_sentence_348

From 1923 to 1929, there was a short period of economic recovery, but the Great Depression of the 1930s led to a worldwide recession. Weimar Republic_sentence_349

Germany was particularly affected because it depended heavily on American loans. Weimar Republic_sentence_350

In 1926, about 2 million Germans were unemployed, which rose to around 6 million in 1932. Weimar Republic_sentence_351

Many blamed the Weimar Republic. Weimar Republic_sentence_352

That was made apparent when political parties on both right and left wanting to disband the Republic altogether made any democratic majority in Parliament impossible. Weimar Republic_sentence_353

The Weimar Republic was severely affected by the Great Depression. Weimar Republic_sentence_354

The economic stagnation led to increased demands on Germany to repay the debts owed to the United States. Weimar Republic_sentence_355

As the Weimar Republic was very fragile in all its existence, the depression was devastating, and played a major role in the Nazi takeover. Weimar Republic_sentence_356

Most Germans thought the Treaty of Versailles was a punishing and degrading document because it forced them to surrender resource-rich areas and pay massive amounts of compensation. Weimar Republic_sentence_357

The punitive reparations caused consternation and resentment, but the actual economic damage resulting from the Treaty of Versailles is difficult to determine. Weimar Republic_sentence_358

While the official reparations were considerable, Germany ended up paying only a fraction of them. Weimar Republic_sentence_359

However, the reparations damaged Germany's economy by discouraging market loans, which forced the Weimar government to finance its deficit by printing more currency, causing rampant hyperinflation. Weimar Republic_sentence_360

At the beginning of 1920, 50 marks was equivalent to one US dollar. Weimar Republic_sentence_361

By the end of 1923, one US dollar was equal to 4,200,000,000,000 marks. Weimar Republic_sentence_362

In addition, the rapid disintegration of Germany in 1919 by the return of a disillusioned army, the rapid change from possible victory in 1918 to defeat in 1919, and the political chaos may have led to extreme nationalism. Weimar Republic_sentence_363

Princeton historian Harold James argues that there was a clear link between economic decline and people turning to extremist politics. Weimar Republic_sentence_364

Institutional problems Weimar Republic_section_25

It is widely believed that the 1919 constitution had several weaknesses, making the eventual establishment of a dictatorship likely, but it is unknown whether a different constitution could have prevented the rise of the Nazi party. Weimar Republic_sentence_365

However, the 1949 West German constitution (the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany) is generally viewed as a strong response to these flaws. Weimar Republic_sentence_366

Weimar Republic_unordered_list_0

  • The institution of the Reichspräsident was frequently considered as an Ersatzkaiser ("substitute emperor"), an attempt to replace the emperors with a similarly strong institution meant to diminish party politics. Article 48 of the Constitution gave the President power to "take all necessary steps" if "public order and security are seriously disturbed or endangered". Although it was intended as an emergency clause, it was often used before 1933 to issue decrees without the support of Parliament (see above) and also made Gleichschaltung easier.Weimar Republic_item_0_0
  • During the Weimar Republic, it was accepted that a law did not have to conform to the constitution as long as it had the support of two-thirds of parliament, the same majority needed to change the constitution (verfassungsdurchbrechende Gesetze). That was a precedent for the Enabling Act of 1933. The Basic Law of 1949 requires an explicit change of the wording, and it prohibits abolishing the basic rights or the federal structure of the republic.Weimar Republic_item_0_1
  • The use of a proportional representation without large thresholds meant a party with a small amount of support could gain entry into the Reichstag. That led to many small parties, some extremist, building political bases within the system, and made it difficult to form and maintain a stable coalition government, further contributing to instability. To counter the problem, the modern German Bundestag introduced a 5% threshold limit for a party to gain parliamentary representation. However, the Reichstag of the monarchy was fractioned to a similar degree even if it was elected by majority vote (under a two-round system).Weimar Republic_item_0_2
  • The Reichstag could remove the Reichskanzler from office even if it was unable to agree on a successor. The use of such a motion of no confidence meant that since 1932, a government could not be held in office when the parliament came together. As a result, the 1949 Grundgesetz ("Basic Law") stipulates that a chancellor may not be removed by Parliament unless a successor is elected at the same time, known as a "constructive vote of no confidence".Weimar Republic_item_0_3

Role of individuals Weimar Republic_section_26

Brüning's economic policy from 1930 to 1932 has been the subject of much debate. Weimar Republic_sentence_367

It caused many Germans to identify the Republic with cuts in social spending and extremely liberal economics. Weimar Republic_sentence_368

Whether there were alternatives to this policy during the Great Depression is an open question. Weimar Republic_sentence_369

Paul von Hindenburg became Reichspräsident in 1925. Weimar Republic_sentence_370

As he was an old style monarchist conservative, he had little love lost for the Republic, but for the most part, he formally acted within the bounds of the constitution; however, he ultimately—on the advice of his son and others close to him—appointed Hitler chancellor, thereby effectively ending the Republic. Weimar Republic_sentence_371

Additionally, Hindenburg's death in 1934 ended the last obstacle for Hitler to assume full power in the Weimar Republic. Weimar Republic_sentence_372

Constituent states Weimar Republic_section_27

Main article: States of the Weimar Republic Weimar Republic_sentence_373

Prior to the First World War, the constituent states of the German Empire were 22 smaller monarchies, three republican city-states and the Imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine. Weimar Republic_sentence_374

After the territorial losses of the Treaty of Versailles and the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the remaining states continued as republics. Weimar Republic_sentence_375

The former Ernestine duchies continued briefly as republics before merging to form the state of Thuringia in 1920, except for Saxe-Coburg, which became part of Bavaria. Weimar Republic_sentence_376

These states were gradually abolished under the Nazi regime via the Gleichschaltung process, whereby they were effectively replaced by Gaue. Weimar Republic_sentence_377

There were two notable de jure changes, however. Weimar Republic_sentence_378

At the end of 1933, Mecklenburg-Strelitz was merged with Mecklenburg-Schwerin to form a united Mecklenburg. Weimar Republic_sentence_379

Second, in April 1937, the city-state of Lübeck was formally incorporated into Prussia by the Greater Hamburg Act, apparently motivated by Hitler's personal dislike for the city. Weimar Republic_sentence_380

Most of the remaining states were formally dissolved by the Allies at the end of the Second World War and ultimately reorganised into the modern states of Germany. Weimar Republic_sentence_381

See also Weimar Republic_section_28

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Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimar Republic.