The Weimar Republic, 1919-1929


Flashcards for the Weimar Republic period in German History, A2 Edexcel
Flashcards by shann.w, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by shann.w over 8 years ago

Resource summary

Question Answer
What was the Spartacus League? It was the militant faction within the USPD, who favoured a soviet republic like Russia
What was the MSPD? Moderate SPD - wanted a democratic republic
Who were the leaders of the MSPD and the Spartacus League? MSPD - Friedrich Ebert, Philip Schiedemann and Gustav Noske Spartacus League - Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht
What were the aims of the MSPD and Spartacus League in 1918? MSPD wanted a democratic republic built around a parliament elected by the German people Spartacus League wanted a 'dictatorship of the proletariat' - system based on soviets elected by working classes alone
Why did the Spartacus League only want workers to elect the political system? Because by allowing middle and upper classes to vote allowed them to block Germany's transition into socialism
What was the National Assembly and what was it responsible for? It was an election by all Germans, of which were then responsible for drawing up a new constitution
What political party did the Spartacus League form when they officially broke away from the USPD? The German Communist Party - KPD
When and how did the Spartacus League start their uprising? January 1919 They seized control of public buildings and declared that the government had been overthrown
How did Ebert's provisional government deal with the Spartacus Uprising? Noske had authorised the formation of paramilitary units - the Freikorps - as the army was unreliable Freikorps crushed the KPD and murdered the 2 leaders
Who were the Freikorps and how strong were they? Paramilitary units; many from army units that remained loyal to their officers There were also civilian volunteers and university students 150 separate units, ranging from 500 to 10,000 men Total strength around 400,000
What other centres of revolutionary socialism did the Freikorps crush? Bremen and Hamburg in February 1919 A KPD-inspired strike in the Ruhr, February 1919 A KPD-led Bavarian Soviet Republic - crushed by 35,000 strong Freikorps in May 1919
What were the reasons for a KPD uprising? 1) Widespread hunger and unrest in Germany due to the continuing allied naval blockade 2) The army could not be relied on to crush it 3) They were receiving financial aid from Lenin's Russia
What were the reasons against a KPD uprising? 1) No organisational base 2) Numerically weak 3) No serious preparations made 4) Leaders lacked organisational skill 5) MSPD had formed an alliance with the army through the Ebert-Groener Pact
What was the result of the National Assembly elections in January 1919? MSPD, Democrats and Centre Party won 80% of votes between them
Why was this result not as emphatic a victory for democracy as it may appear? Many votes were down to Germans believing that the Allies would be generous on a democratic Germany Also, militant parties did not take a serious part in the election
When and where did the National Assembly meet? February 1919 in Weimar, because Berlin was too dangerous
Outline the 1919 Constitution - Electorate - men and women age 20+ - 17 states; own responsibilities representatives in the Reichstrat - Reichstag elected by proportional representation every 4 years - Chancellor headed the government - President elected by electorate every 7 years
What were the main differences between the 1871 and 1919 Constitutions? Women now had the right to vote Proportional representation was used instead of first past the post Head of state was an elected President, not a hereditary monarch Chancellor accountable to Reichstag and forced to resign if lost vote of confidence
What similarities were there between the 1871 and 1919 Constitutions? Remained a federal state Reichstag still the principle law-making body (still an imperial parliament even though no longer an Empire) Prussia not broken up into small units - remained largest state
What were the principal strengths of the 1919 Constitution? Ultra-democratic Proportional representation was fair Elections were frequent Constitutional guarantees of basic human rights, e.g. freedom of speech, assembly Referendums
What were the weaknesses of the 1919 Constitution? P.R. encouraged weak and unstable governments, and also allowed extremist parties to win seats in the Reichstag No ceremonial head of state Substantial power to the President - Article 48 to rule by decree was open to abuse
Who were the anti-Republic political parties of the 1920s, and on which side of the political spectrum were they? DNVP - far right USPD - left KPD - far left
Which party was initially anti-Republic in the 1920s? DVP - right
Which parties were pro-Republic in the 1920s? Centre Party DDP SPD - towards left
Which party came closest to gaining a majority in the Reichstag elections? SPD in 1919 - had 38% of the vote
How many coalition governments were there between 1919-1930? There were 16 different governments
What were the 4 types of coalition? Who was involved and how many times were they formed? Weimar coalition with SPD, DDP and Centre (5) Middle-class coalition with DDP, Centre and DVP (6) Right-wing coalition with Centre, DVP and DNVP (2) Grand coalition with SPD, DDP, Centre and DVP (3)
How was there a sense of continuity in the different coalition governments? Centre Party was in all 16 governments DDP was in 14 out of 16 governments DVP was in 11 out of 16 governments
What institutions in Germany failed to change after the events of 1918-1919? Judiciary, senior civil servants and police chiefs were allowed to maintain their posts - enemies of the Republic Distribution of wealth remained unchanged (banks and industries retained wealth)
What was the principal threat to the survival of the Weimar Republic? The far right The far left had been severely weakened and lacked unity
What was the main anti-Republic far right political party? What was their average vote? DNVP Average vote in 1920s election was 10%
Was the anti-Republican right able to seize power? Yes Support from officer corps in the army Backed by right-wing parliamentary organisations, e.g. Stahlhem Able to influence public opinion through the media due to media tycoon, Alfred Hugenberg
What were the 3 main reasons as to why the far right resented the Republic? 1 - Lost power and status they had pre-1918 2 - Weimar created by worst elements in society, e.g. Jews, Catholics, socialists 3 - Convinced themselves Weimar politicians were responsible;e for Germany's defeat and the Treaty of Versailles
What territory did Germany lose according to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles? Alsace-Lorraine to France Posen and West Prussia to Poland, creating the 'Polish corridor' Upper Silesia to Poland North Schleswig to Denmark Rhineland became a DMZ The Saar was placed under League of Nations control for 15 years
What were the military clauses of the Treaty of Versailles? The army was restricted to 100,000 men with no conscription, tanks, heavy artillery or general staff Navy restricted to 15,000 men with no submarines No air force was permitted
Did Germany get to keep or lose their colonies? They lost all their colonies in Africa and the Pacific (forfeited and became League of Nation mandates)
What was Article 231 of the Treaty? The 'war guilt' clause - Germany was responsible for all loss and damage Reparations fixed at £6600 million, or 132 billion marks
Why were Germans hostile to the Treaty of Versailles 'Diktat'? Had expected a fair negotiation, especially as they were now democratic Had expected the peace settlement to based on Wilson's 14-points, but it was disregarded
Why was the Polish corridor a problem for Germany? It gave Poland access to the sea and meant that East Prussia had been cut off from the rest of Germany Also, there were 1,000,000 Germans now under Polish rule with a say
How did Germany view the war guilt clause and reparations? Dismissed it as the 'war guilt lie' and viewed reparations as illegitimate Assumed that the Allies wanted to destroy the German economy completely
How did the peace settlement allow the far right to make a political comeback? Many Germans shared their view that Germany should not sign the Treaty Sense of nationalism Claimed they had been stabbed in the back - just what the public wanted to hear
What and who caused the Kapp Putsch of 1920? Caused by military clauses of TOV Noske could not incorporate Freikorps into regular army, so Ehrhardt (commander of a brutal unit) planned to topple government with Wolfgang Kapp
Was the Kapp Putsch successful? No - briefly occupied Berlin as army refused to move against them ("troops do not fire on troops") However, failed to win mass support, and an SPD-led general strike contributed to its failure too
How did Ehrhardt respond to the failure of the Kapp Putsch? Created the Organisational Consul - a political assassination squad
Who were victims of the Organisational Consul, and how was it put to a stop? Matthias Erzberger Attempted murder of Philip Schiedemann Murder of Walther Rathenau led to a security crackdown which put OC to an end
What was inflation like before 1923? It was a serious problem as Germany was still paying for war They had borrowed and printed money to pay for it, causing inflation
How did the reparations affect international confidence in the German economy? International confidence declined The value of the mark fell, so the cost of imports increased, pushing up the cost of living
What happened as a result of Germany failing to make a reparations payment on time in 1923? The French occupied the Ruhr in order to get supplies to make up for the reparations
How did Germany respond to the French occupation of the Ruhr and why did they respond in this way? They opted for a policy of passive resistance, as they had no military strength left
Why did passive resistance contribute towards rising inflation? Because nothing was being produced but the workers still had to be paid Expenditure therefore rose, and the government financed the deficit by printing more money
What happened to the German currency (the mark) during 1923? Confidence completely lost and the mark collapsed
Give an example of how much the cost of an item in Germany rose by due to hyperinflation in 1923? A loaf of bread cost 250 marks in January 1923. By November, the cost had risen to 200,000 million marks People collected their wages in suitcases - one worker found that someone had stolen their suitcase but not the money inside it
Who were the winners of hyperinflation? People with debt - paid off with worthless money Industrial tycoons such as Hugo Stinnes - made huge fortunes Generally the wealthier elements of society
Who were the temporary losers of hyperinflation? People with no substantial savings, mainly working class Their wages failed to keep up with inflation, so found it difficult to buy food, fuel and necessities during 1923 Recovered quickly when currency was stabilised
Who were the permanent losers of hyperinflation? People who had substantial savings, such as pensioners, those who had invested in war bonds Mainly the middle classes - saw their value completely wiped out
How did the KPD use the hyperinflation situation to their advantage? Made plans to seize control of Saxony, as there was serious unrest in the poorest districts of major cities in the form of hunger riots, strikes and looting
How did the circumstances also allow for a right-wing putsch attempt? French occupation of the Ruhr gave rise to nationalism Fears of a communist putsch was widespread
Describe the Munich Putsch of 1923 Hitler and the Nazis tried to attempt a march to Berlin and take over the government However, von Kahr was not supportive and therefore the putsch failed 14 Nazis were killed and Hitler was shot in the arm
Why was the Republic able to survive the left and right threats in the early 1920s? The left lacked popular support Anti-Republican right also lacked support; internal divisions were apparent in both putsches of 1920 and 1923 SPD quite influential; in 1922, half a million supporters protested against murder of Rathenau by Organisational Consul
What did Gustav Stresemann do, in regards to the economy, as the Chancellor, August to November 1923? Called off passive resistance in the Ruhr as it was an unsustainable policy Oversaw the introduction of the new currency - Reichsmark (1 trillion old marks for 1 Reichsmark)
What did Gustav Stresemann do, in regards to the political threats, as Chancellor between August and November 1923? Defeated communist threat by ordering an army into Saxony to crush them Waited for extreme right to self destruct in the Munich Putsch
Why did Gustav Stresemann not succeed for long as Chancellor? His policies created friction within the 'Grand' coalition The SPD was angry at interventionism in Saxony but non-interventionism in Bavaria Forced Stresemann to resign
What was Stresemann's attitude as Foreign Minister, 1923-1929? Idea of 'fulfilment' - improve relations with other countries by complying with terms in the hope that the Treaty would be modified once they realised Germany's good intentions
Why was 'fulfilment' opposed by the far right? Said that by paying reparations, Germany was accepting the 'war guilt lie'
What was the Dawes Plan of 1924 and its significance? Agreed to continue payments in return for a reduction in annual amounts Also, received sizeable loan from USA to restart reparations ($200 million)
What was the significance of the Dawes Plan? Political moderates accepted it, as it paved the way for French withdrawal from the Ruhr Anti-Republican right attacked it, saying Germany was 'enslaved' to the Allies
What was the Locarno Pact of 1925? Agreement to not change their western borders Welcomed by moderates but anti-Republicans saw it as betrayal to Alsace-Lorraine
Why was Germany's entry into the League of Nations in 1926 significant? It meant that Germany was no longer isolated, and its diplomatic position was improved It was now involved in international affairs again
What was the Treaty of Berlin, 1926? Reaffirmation of the Treaty of Rapallo from 1922 Mutual agreement to be neutral in the event of an attack in the next 5 years
What was the Young Plan of 1929, and did it succeed? An agreement to replace the 1924 Dawes Plan Reduce total liability from £6600 million to £1850 million It was not put into action due to the Wall Street Crash
How was the Young Plan viewed in Germany? Moderates - huge achievement Anti-Republican right - would 'enslave' Germany until 1988 Nazis involved in a protest against it
What was the overall significance of Stresemann's foreign policies? Return to prosperity and made the German economy attractive to foreign investors
Name some of the famous writers of the Weimar Republic Bertolt Brecht Thomas Mann Erich Maria Remarque
Name some of the famous artists from Weimar culture Otto Dix Max Ernst John Heartfield Paul Klee Kathe Kollwitz
Name some of the famous musicians from Weimar culture Paul Hindemith Kurt Weill Wilhelm Furtwangler Otto Klemperer
What was the famous architecture movement in Weimar Germany? Bauhaus
How popular was the cinema in Weimar Germany? Name a famous movie and some actors Very popular - 332 million cinema tickets were sold in 1926 Metropolis - very famous Actors e.g. Marlene Dietrich and Peter Lorre
What was the nightlife scene like in Weimar Germany? Night clubs, revues and cabaret venues on the rise Song, dance, stand-up comedy and political satire
What were the high profile spectator sports? Boxing and six-day bicycle riding
How did the new culture cause divisions Set the modernists against the traditionalists - viewed modern culture as shocking and upsetting Political left against the political right
What were the opinions on the jazz-influenced compositions of Weill and Hindemith? Liked by the modernists However, those who liked harmony and melody in music were shocked
Which city was the centre of new culture? How did some people view it? Berlin Cities outside of Berlin were less racy and more conventional, for example there were only 3 nightclubs in Frankfurt People viewed it as decadent and wicked
How did the Weimar artists present the political right in their works and why? Presented them as brutal and oppressive, because they were sympathetic to the left wing
How did the conservatives reply to the left-wing artists? Showed that Weimar experimentation was corrupting the youth, and leading to an increase in crime, abortion and divorce
What was the mood of the middle-class during the later 1920s (i.e. after 1923)? Felt prosperity was uneven - middle-classes had not been compensated for their losses during the hyperinflation
What was the Unemployment Insurance Act 1927? Benefitted the working class and offered support to those who had lost their jobs Middle-classes felt their taxes were being misspent
What did the trade unions succeed at doing in the 1920s? Won significant wage increases, narrowing the gap between the middle and working class incomes
How well did skilled craftsmen and the mittlestand (small businesses) do during the 1920s? Not very well: Skilled craftsmen were threatened by cheap mass-produced goods Mittlestand faced competition from the fast growing networks of large department stores
What was the Law for the Protection of Youth Against Trash and Filth 1926? Who opposed it? Successful attempt by the political right and churches to outlaw displays and exhibitions would could corrupt the youth Communists and social democrats opposed it, as it was a restriction on freedom of expression
How did Gustav Stresemann describe Germany's economy in the 1920s? "...doing well on the in fact dancing on a volcano"
What were the main positives of the German economy in the 1920s? -Currency stabilised; prosperity -Foreign investors -Low interest rates and easy credit -Mergers and takeovers e.g. chemicals giant IG Farben -Exports rose by 50% by 1929 -Increase in real wages -Housing conditions improved
What were the main negatives of the German economy in the 1920s? -Prosperity dependent on foreign loans - could be called back at short notice; fatal as shown by Wall Street Crash in 1929 -Agriculture declining; families in debt -high unemployment due to mass production techniques -Gov borrowing could not be sustained
Was there political stability in the later years of Weimar Germany? What was the result of the 1928 election? To an extent: -No extra-parliamentary action -Anti-Republican right made heavy losses in 1928 - Nationalist vote went from 21% (1924) to 14% by 1928
In terms of political stability, what continuing or worsening problems were there? -Short-lived, weak coalitions -Ebert died 1925, replaced by Hindenburg who was a sworn enemy of the Republic -Street violence worsening, e.g. between SA and Communists. Total of 162 killed in political street fights -Middle classes becoming alienated from the Republic
What were the 4 reasons for the middle-class resenting the Republic in the later 1920s? 1 - Blamed the Republic for the 1923 financial losses 2 - Complained about living in a 'trade union state' 3 - Unwelcome social trends, e.g. the New Woman, rising crime, sexual permissiveness 4 - Angered by scandals, e.g. Barmat 1924-5
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