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Why did the Weimar Republic Survive 1919 – 1923? PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Why did the Weimar Republic Survive 1919 – 1923?. Did the Weimar Government stand a chance? Which of the following posed the greatest threat to Democracy taking root in Germany: Place them in an order of greatest threat to democracy: Limited Nature of the 1918 German Revolution

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Why did the Weimar Republic Survive 1919 – 1923?

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Why did the weimar republic survive 1919 1923 l.jpg

Why did the Weimar Republic Survive 1919 – 1923?

  • Did the Weimar Government stand a chance?

    • Which of the following posed the greatest threat to Democracy taking root in Germany:

    • Place them in an order of greatest threat to democracy:

      • Limited Nature of the 1918 German Revolution

      • The Weimar Constitution

      • The Treaty of Versailles

      • Right Wing Extremism

      • Left Wing Extremism

      • The Economic Crisis

      • Attitudes of the German elite

      • Attitudes of ordinary Germans

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Why did the Weimar Republic Survive 1919 – 1923?

  • Limited Nature of German Revolution

  • The Weimar Constitution

  • The Treaty of Versailles

  • Right Wing Extremism

  • Left Wing Extremism

  • The Economic Crisis

  • Attitudes of the German elite

  • Attitudes of ordinary Germans

  • Compare your list to your neighbours

    • Do you need to rewrite your list?

    • Can you agree on a common list?

  • Why did the weimar republic survive 1919 19233 l.jpg

    Why did the Weimar Republic Survive 1919 – 1923?

    • Page 57 Hite and Hinton

      • Read events 1 to 12

        • With a partner decide whether you agree with a) or with b) or with neither!

    1924 1929 the golden age of weimar l.jpg

    1924 – 1929 The Golden Age of Weimar?

    • What evidence can you find that life got better for the majority of Germans between these years?

      • Culturally

      • Economically

      • Foreign Policy

      • Stability

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    A Golden Age? Culture


    Of Society



    • A period of experimentation

      • Liberal (anything goes)

      • Live for today! (Hyperinflation)

        • Dadaism

        • Surrealism

        • Bauhaus

    • Democratising Art

      • Making it accessible to the masses?

      • Reflecting the Zeitgeist

      • Backlash by Conservatives

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    Use pages 90 – 95 of Hite and Hinton to complete

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    The Golden Age of Weimar?Economics?

    • Hyperinflation came under control

      • Stresemann

        • Rentenmark

        • Dawes Plan - Repayments negotiated

          • First 5 years fixed repayments

            • From 1 billion marks up to 2.5 billion marks

            • Then payments according to economic performance of German economy

          • Allies to control Railways, Reichsbank and customs duties as collateral

          • All Allies must agree on any further sanctions

            • i.e. not France Alone

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    Did Stresemann usher in a period of prosperity – 1924 – 1929?

    • Use pages 74 – 76 to find evidence for the above table.

      • It may be useful to refer to the economic concepts on page 73

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    The Golden Age of Weimar?Foreign Policy?

    • Stresemann’s Fulfillment Strategy

      • Restore German Power and Prosperity but realising that Germany was in no condition to challenge Allies militarily

      • He would comply with the Treaty of Versailles, but would also try to negotiate to get it revised

      • Revisions wanted:

        • Reparations to be greatly reduced

        • Ruhr and Rhineland occupations to end

        • Eastern Borders to be revised

        • Military sanctions to be ended

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    The Golden Age of Weimar?Foreign Policy?

    • How to achieve revisions

      • Through negotiations

        • no military stick to use

      • Gaining confidence of Western powers

        • Through compliance

        • Ending German Diplomatic isolation

      • Using economic power as bargaining chip

        • Large market with a great potential

      • Develop relations with USA

        • To gain economic aid

      • Satisfy to France that Germany poses no military danger

        • So France will leave Ruhr and allow Rhineland to be remilitarised

      • Develop relations with USSR

        • A bargaining chip to frighten Western powers

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    The Golden Age of Weimar?Foreign Policy?

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    How successful was Stresemann’s Foreign Policy

    • Internationally

      • Restored Diplomatic Relations

      • Promise of removal of Allies from German soil

      • Reparations renegotiations allowed German economy to recover

      • But Eastern European relations/opportunities missed

    • Domestically

      • Foreign Policy successes not dramatic enough for electorate to appreciate

      • To subtle, it seemed as if his fulfillment policy legitimised harsh Treaty of Versailles

      • Even economic success depended on goodwill of USA

      • Nationalists unconvinced

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    The Golden Age of Weimar?Political Stability?

    • Look at graph on page 63

      • How stable does the period 1924 – 1928 appear

      • Descriptions of the party platforms can be found on page 66

    • Look at source 3.1 on page 62

      • How many governments were there between 1924 and 1928?

      • How many elections were there between 1924 and 1928?

        • Can you account for this discrepancy?

        • Was this a good sign for democracy in Germany?

        • Did the Weimar constitution make unstable government more or less likely? Why?

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    The Left loses to the RightThe Presidential Election of 1925

    • The Pro-Weimar Ebert died suddenly in 1925.

    • Weimar constitution allowed for 2 rounds if no-one got over 50% in the 1st round

      • Remarkably, new candidates could stand in the 2nd round

    • The first round was indecisive

      • Chart on page 69

    • The left attempted to coalesce around the Zentrum Marx

    • The right found a new champion in the form of Hindenburg

    • The Communists refused to compromise with fatal consequences for the left

      • Stalin referred to Socialists as Social Fascists and ordered KPD not to help SPD in any way.

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    26th April 1925

    • The new President had strong powers under the Weimar constitution

      • Ability to appoint and dismiss Chancellors and Ministers

      • Article 48

    • This election would come back to haunt the left!

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    Conservative Forces

    • The Weimar Republic never really won over the Conservative Germans or key opinion formers

      • Eg Church leaders, Teachers, Newspaper editors, Industrialists, Judges, Police, etc…

    • Why not?

      • Many appointed during Kaiser Wilhelm’s time

        • Certainly educated during that period of Conservative rule

      • Deep Conservative military tradition

        • Prussian Junker tradition

      • Large Catholic conservative population

      • Treaty of Versailles fulfillment policy

      • Decadent Art forms and cultural expression

      • Freedom of speech given to all!

        • Including reactionaries and anti-Weimar parties

      • Costs involved in Socialist ideas of a Welfare State

    • Page 70

      • Assign speech bubble to appropriate conservative German

    The golden years of 1924 1929 the bottom line l.jpg

    They were a massive improvement over 1919 – 1923

    Improved economy

    More stable and Peaceful

    Improved diplomatic Status

    Culturally exciting


    Only 5 ‘goodish’ years

    Hyperinflation damage not entirely repaired

    People still angry at Treaty of Versailles

    Conservative forces frightened by new liberal, decadent culture

    Stability dependent on unstable and fickle coalition forces

    Economic success dependent on USA

    The Golden Years of 1924 – 1929 The Bottom Line

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    The Coming of Fascist Germany

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    Rise of Nazism: Hitler

    • How important is the individual in History?

      • Borrowed ideas Mussolini, Darwin, Rousseau, Hegel, Nietzche

      • His interpretation of them?

    • Conventional or Unconventional early life?

      • Hitler himself was very vague on his early life

        • Why?

        • Significance?

      • Page 55 of Hite and Hinton

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    Post Munich1923 - 1929

    • Trial

      • Turned into blistering attack on Versailles, Weimar and Kahr/Lossow

        • Nationwide coverage

        • Sympathetic Right wing judges

        • 5 Years sentence (eligible for parole after 9months)

          • Minimum for Treason

    • 9 Months in Landsberg Prison

      • Open prison

        • Could receive visitors, presents, cards, etc…

      • Dictated Mein Kampf to Hess

      • Temporarily resigned from Party

        • Allowed Strasser, Ludendorff and others fight over what to do next

          • Ride to the rescue on Release?

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    The Roller Coaster Ride

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    Biding his time before Rebuilding

    • 1925 Presidential election

      • Ludendorff got less than 1% standing on a Nazi ticket

    • Hitler Refounded the party in 1925

      • Lays foundations of FuhrerPrinzip

        • Gave Hitler supreme power over policy and strategy

          • 25 points still kept

        • More formal rituals introduced

          • Uniforms

            • Brown shirts for SA

          • Flags

            • Red, Black and White flags with Swastikas

            • Wind up Communists

            • Same colours as Wilhelmine flag

          • Saluting

            • Heil Hitler (Hess the instigator)

          • Propaganda

            • Image building

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    Organisation of Nazis

    • The more socialist minded Strasser and Goebbels had built up a reasonably strong party structure in Protestant and Trade Union dominated North Germany

      • The Nazis would benefit but from this strategic shift

      • However, Hitler personally now had a viable rivals for the movement

        • Strasser and Goebbels

    • Bamberg conference 1926

      • Divide and rule principle

        • Outmanoeuvred more socialist minded Strasser

        • Promoted the very able Goebbels

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    Creating a Movement

    • He set up a network of local parties.

      • Gauleiter appointed directly by Hitler

    • He worked with other right-wing parties when necessary.

      • Eg Hugenberg’s DNVP over anti-Young Plan campaign of 1929

      • Hugenberg was the proprietor of a huge media empire

    • He set up the Hitler Youth, to attract young people to the party.

    • He created the SS

      • As a rival to the less than 100% dependable SA

    • He put Josef Goebbels in charge of propaganda

      • Appeal to feelings rather than argument.

      • using traditional and new media

        • posters, leaflets, radio and film, and organised rallies.

    • He cultivated the support of wealthy businessmen

      • promising them that he would destroy Communism and the Trade Unions.

      • This gave him the finance to run his campaigns.

    • Built up the idea of Volksgemeinschaft

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    Hitler’s financiers

    Hjalmar Schacht, Head of the Reichsbank, organised fund-raising parties for Hitler.

    Fritz von Thyssen, the German steel businessman

    Alfred Krupp, the owner of Krupp steel firm

    Emil Kirdorf, the coal businessman

    IG Farben, the German chemicals firm, gave half the funds for the 1933 elections

    The German car firm Opel (now a subsidiary of General Motors)

    Schroeder Bank – on Jan. 3, 1933, Reinhard Schroeder met Hitler and asked him to form a government.  

    And even some foreign firms including:

    Henry Ford of Ford Motors. Hitler borrowed passages from Ford's book The International Jew to use in Mein Kampf and had a picture of Ford on the wall of his office.

    Union Banking Corporation, New York (George Bush’s great-grandfather was president of the Corporation)

    WA Harriman and Co., the American shipping and railway company (George Bush’s grandfather was vice-president)

    Irenee du Pont, head of the American firm General Motors; he advocated the creation of a super-race by spinal injections to enhance children of ‘pure’ blood.

    Volksgemeinschaft l.jpg


    • The basis of National Socialism

      • National Community

        • Restore hope to all Germans

        • Economic problems would be solved

        • Traditional German values would be promoted

          • The noble peasant and honest small businessmen would be protected

          • Militarism and respect restored to its preeminent position in German society

        • Germans would help themselves

    • Split personality of National Socialism

      • Equal opportunities for all Germans

        • But only pure blood Germans

        • Volksgemeinschaft not available to other lesser peoples

          • Jews particularly excluded

          • Notably, monarchists excluded privately (but not publicly)

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    But still little success pre 1930

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    The Young Plan 1929

    • 1929 Renegotiation of Reparations repayments

      • Actually significantly eased repayments

    • Referendum called

      • Nazis join with Hugenburg’s Nationalist DNVP in denouncing the Young Plan

        • If you supported the Young Plan – you were in favour of the Treaty of Versailles

      • Hugenburg owned a vast media empire

        • Gave Nazis first significant nationwide exposure

        • Also gave Nazis some nationalist credibility by being identified with Hugenburg and anti-Treaty campaign

      • Only received 14% in referendum

        • But

          • Nazis identified as being a serious opponent to the Government

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    The Wall Street Crash

    • America sneezes

      • 1929 Sudden collapse in Wall Street Shares

        • Widespread panic selling

        • Urgent need for US investors to repatriate capital invested abroad

    • Germany Catches a cold

      • US short term loans had been invested in long term projects in Germany

      • Severe difficulties for German companies in covering capital outflows

      • Deflationary effect on economy

        • Germans still worried about Hyperinflation

          • Deficit financing frowned upon

          • Classical economic model praised balanced budgets

        • Massive layoffs and unemployment ensue

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    • Paramilitary units blossom

      • Brownshirts offer food, clothing and accommodation for recruits

        • Likewise

          • Stahlhelm

          • Communist Red Shirts

          • SPD’s Reichsbanner

    • Bored, hungry, desperate recruits joined these paramilitary groups and fought proxy battles in the streets

    • Violence bred violence

    • Authorities losing control of large sectors of urban centres

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    Mass Unemployment

    • Registered unemployed increased from:

      • 1.6 million in October 1929

      • 6.12 million by February 1932

      • In fact, it was probably nearer 8 million in total (33% of working population)

      • Including dependants, 23 million people were directly effected by unemployment

    • Germany’s Insurance system stretched to breaking point and beyond

      • Only designed with 800,000 in mind

      • Increased governmental expenditures when government trying to balance books.

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    Fall of Müller Government, 1930

    • Dispute over Unemployment benefit

      • Right wing DVP wanted to cut back unemployment payments

        • Balance books as per classical economic orthodoxy

      • Left Wing (Trade Union sympathetic) SPD wanted to protect unemployment benefits

    • Fundamental disagreement plus increasing lawlessness in Germany lead to resignation of Muller government

      • March 1930

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    Brüning Government

    • President Hindenburg appointed Centrist/liberal government under Brüning

      • Imposed austerity budget

        • i.e. cuts to balance budget

        • Defeated by parliament but passed by Article 48 (presidential decree)

        • Parliament still protested so Hindenburg dissolved parliament and called for new elections

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    The Nazi Party’s First Electoral Breakthrough

    • Nazis win 107 seats

      • Up from 12 in previous election

    • Although Communists also do well

      • Up to 77 seats

    • Nazis not tainted by association with government policies

      • Purely oppositional

      • Seem to offer an alternative

      • Soup kitchens, brown shirts, etc… seem to offer some practical examples of their good intentions

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    Brüning Government hobbles along

    • Pro-Republic parties do poorly in elections

    • Brüning needs to have tacit support of SPD to avoid being voted down by anti-Republic parties

      • i.e. Nazis and Communists.

    • What’s in it for SPD?

      • SPD hopes that it can restrain worst excesses of austerity measures

      • SPD hoping to avoid Brüning having to turn to Nazis for support

      • SPD needed support of Brüning’s Catholic party in order to continue running Prussia State legislature

    • Costs to SPD

      • SPD unable to offer opposition

      • SPD will be associated with unpopular Austerity measures

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    Brüning Government hobbles along

    • Nazis turned up in their brownshirts

    • Nazis and Communists frequently shouted down speakers

      • Fights often broke out in or around the parliament building

    • Brüning had no clear majority

      • Increasingly relied on using Hindenburg’s Article 48 to get laws passed

      • Parliamentary sessions were cut back to avoid unnecessary confrontations

        • 1930 it met for 94 days

        • 1931 it met for 42 days

        • 1932 it met for just 13 days!

    • The precedent for an authoritarian government had accidentally been set.

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    The Fatal Split in the Left!

    • SPD steadily lost support

      • Blamed for coming up with Weimar benefit system in the first place

      • Seen as being ineffective in standing up to austerity measures

      • Unable to form a government by itself

      • Losing support to more activist and oppositionist Communists and even to National Socialists

    • KPD (communists)

      • Under strict orders from Stalin not to help Social Fascists (SPD)

      • Disorder in Germany seen as a good opportunity to launch full communist revolution

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    The Harzburg Front

    • Meanwhile the right seemed to be unifying!

    • Named after Bad Harzburg anti-republican rally

    • Nationalists coalesce

      • Press Baron Hugenburg’s DNVP, Monarchists and Stahlhelm

    • Again, gives Nazis some respectability to be seen with respectable nationalists.

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    General Government expenditure restrained

    Taxes increased

    Civil Servant salaries cut

    Wages frozen to 1927 levels

    Unemployment benefit harder to get


    Law and Order


    Agricultural subsidies

    Particularly for Prussian estates!

    All in line with classical economics!

    Hoping to hold out until the general worldwide economy picked up.

    Particularly concerned with Hyperinflation!

    Brüning’s increasing unpopularity

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    1932 Presidential Election

    • Brüning refused Hindenburg’s request to be reelected by a simple unopposed plebiscite

      • This strained Bruning’s relations with the President

    • At the height of economic difficulties

    • Hindenburg a stalwart of the nationalist right.

      • However, he lost support in his traditional heartland east

      • But, he gained new support from pro-republic parties in the West eg SPD and Catholics

    • Hindenburg received 53% of votes

    • Hitler received 37% of votes

    • Once again, even though they lost, it showed that the Nazis were the only effective opposition

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    Brüning’s Downfall

    • Scrapping Grain subsidies!

      • It was difficult to continue subsidising aristocratic East Prussian landowners in a time of national crisis.

      • This was anathema to Hindenburg who was determined to defend his aristocratic heritage

    • Plus Backroom intrigue

      • General Schleicher was negotiating with Hindenburg to see his old friend von Papen take over chancellor

      • Papen was a centrist too (so would not overly alienate Brüning’s party.)

      • The ‘Cabinet of Barons’ would offer a more nationalist agenda for Germany and would protect aristocratic privilege.

      • Schleicher promised new elections and a lifting of the ban on the SA if Nazis did not oppose the creation of new nationalist government

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    The Cabinet of Barons

    • So called because of the quantity of barons, aristocrats and nationalists in the government.

    • Ideologically confused government but generally pro-monarchy and pro-business

      • Unemployment benefit cut yet further

      • Increased payments to Eastern farmers

    • Had to call for new elections in 1932

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    The Real Nazi Breakthrough

    • 1932 July elections

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