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People and Power – Germany 1918-1939. Conditions in Germany at the end of WWI. Conditions in the country: lack of food, fuel, medicine, soap, clothing. Outbreak of Spanish flu: killed thousands of Germans in winter of 1917. Why did the Kaiser abdicate?.

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Conditions in Germany at the end of WWI

  • Conditions in the country: lack of food, fuel, medicine, soap, clothing.
  • Outbreak of Spanish flu: killed thousands of Germans in winter of 1917.

Why did the Kaiser abdicate?

  • Mutiny at Kiel – loss of control of sailors, army and workers
  • German people hated the Kaiser because of the conditions in Germany
  • Germany’s allies had surrendered or had been defeated
  • USA entered war on Allies side in 1917 after sinking of Lusitania
  • America would not agree to peace unless the Kaiser abdicated

Who governed Germany after the Kaiser abdicated?

  • Ebert, leader of the largest political party in Germany, Social Democratic party
  • SPD formed a provisional government until elections could be held in 1919 to elect a proper government.
the spartacist rising
The Spartacist Rising
  • The Spartacists (Communists) tried to overthrow the government in January 1919 as they wanted to create a revolution in Germany like had happened in Russia in 1917.
  • They occupied public buildings, organised a general strike and roamed the streets firing guns and putting up red flags
  • 5 days later Ebert sent in the Free Crops (Freikorps) They were made up of ex soldiers who hated Communists and who were well equipped
  • The Free Corps recaptured many buildings held by the Communists and shot and killed many Communists
  • 2 days later, 12th January, they shot and killed the leaders of the Spartacists, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht
  • The rising had failed.

What was the Weimar Republic?

  • 1919 elections - SPD won majority and formed new government.
  • Known as the Weimar Republic as the government met in the German town of Weimar.
  • However, the Weimar Republic faced many threats in its first few years which made it weak and ultimately helped Hitler rise to power.

The Weimar Constitution

  • All men and women over 20 had the vote.
  • Freedom of religion, speech, to form and join political parties.
  • Right to a trial before being convicted of a crime.
  • The government was elected by proportional representationwhich meant small as well as large parties could be elected into government.
  • However, no one party could get a majority, so governments had to be coalitions (made up of lots of different parties who often wanted different things) This meant there could never be a strong government.
  • Also the President was elected by the German people buthe could run the country himself by passing emergency laws.

The Ruhr Crisis

  • In 1921, Germany just about managed to pay its first instalment of 2 billion gold marks - most of this 2 billion was paid in coal, iron and wood.
  • In 1922, Weimar Germany simply could not manage to pay another instalment.
  • France and Belgium did not believe this – in January 1923 French and Belgium troops took over the iron and steel factories, coal mines and railways.
  • Weimar government responded by ordering the workers in the Ruhr to go on strike and it ordered all people in the Ruhr to passively resist the French and Belgian soldiers.
  • This meant that they were not to openly confront the French and Belgian soldiers, simply that they were not to help them in any way whatsoever.
  • This led to violence and over the next 8 months of the occupation, 132 people were killed and over 150,000 Ruhr Germans expelled from their homes.


  • The decision to go on strike in the Ruhr proved disastrous for the German economy
  • The striking workers had to be paid and to do this, the government did the worst thing possible - it printed money to cover the cost.
  • This signalled to the outside world that Germany did not have enough money to pay for her day-to-day needs
  • Prices soon began to rise to match inflation.
  • Very quickly, things got out of control and what is known as hyperinflationset in. Prices went up quicker than people could spend their money.

Effects of Hyperinflation

  • People were paid by the hour and rushed to pass money to loved ones so that it could be spent before its value meant it was worthless.
  • Bartering became common - exchanging something for something else but not accepting money for it.
  • Pensioners on fixed incomes suffered as pensions became worthless.
  • Restaurants did not print menus as by the time food arrived the price had gone up!
  • The very rich suffered least because they had sufficient contacts to get food etc.
  • The group that suffered a great deal - proportional to their income - was the middle class. Their hard earned savings disappeared overnight. Many middle class families had to sell family heirlooms to survive. It is not surprising that many of those middle class who suffered in 1923, were to turn to Hitler and the Nazi Party. 
why was the weimar republic weak unpopular
Why was the Weimar Republic weak/unpopular?

The constitution made it weak…

Ebert blamed for signing the armistice – November criminals: army felt they had been “stabbed in the back”

Treaty of Versailles – Weimar government signed the treaty on 28th June 1919

Many enemies: political risings (Spartacists, Kapp Putsch) and murders of political figures showed Weimar republic was unpopular and weak

Caused hyperinflation in 1923

why did the nazis gain support during the 1920s
Why did the Nazis gain support during the 1920s?

Held meetings in beer halls – comfortable surroundings encouraged people to attend.

Hitler was a good speaker

The SA intimidated people and impressed others with their discipline and smart uniforms.

The Beer Hall Putsch gave the Nazis publicity in rural areas that had never heard of them before and people felt sorry for Hitler when he was imprisoned.

Propaganda techniques, newspapers, posters and leaflets.

Promised to revenge the much hated Versailles

The Weimar Republic was unpopular due to the TOV and being unable to control the country.

why did the nazis gain support after 1930
Why did the Nazis gain support after 1930?

Weimar Republic very unpopular when they did not help the people during the depression.

Hitler promised the people work, food, better pensions, profit sharing for the workers. To help solve their economic problems.

Nuremberg Rallies

SA continued to intimidate and impress people.

how did he gain control of germany in 1933
How did he gain control of Germany in 1933?

Reichstag Fire he blamed this on the Communist and asked Hindenberg if he would pass the enabling law, this gave Hitler power to pass any laws without Reichstag approval to protect the country. This gave him the power of a dictator.

Hindenberg could not appoint a successful Chancellor. Within 9 months Von Papen and Schliecher had failed due to their unpopularity with the Reichstag. The only person who could now do this job was Hitler. Hindenberg had to appoint him as Chancellor in Jan 1933. He was now the leader.

Hindenberg died in August 1934 and Hitler combined the president and chancellor’s positions together to become the Fuhrer. He now had total power.

how did hitler control his country
How did Hitler control his country?

First he took control over the whole country, previously there was 18 states in Germany under independent control, he eventually combined them together under his control.

Got rid of Trade Unions in May 1933 – took over their buildings and funds and arrested and imprisoned the leaders.

Got rid of political opposition – May 1933 took over buildings and funds and again arrested the leaders. He passed a law to prevent any political opposition.

SS got rid of the SA when Rohm it’s leader wanted more power. This earned the SS the job of Germany’s police force when they got rid of the SA.

Hitler controlled his country using the SS. People would inform on you if you said anything against Hitler or the Nazis and the SS would come to your home and remove you permanently.

He also used the Nazi Party with it’s 5,000 members to control it’s people. Towns were divided into small areas (blocks) which were supervised by a Nazi block leader. If you spoke against the Nazis than you would disappear.

He also started the Nazi youth movements which brainwashed and controlled Germany's youth. They would also inform on their parents and friends if they said anything.

how did hitler deal with his opposition
How did Hitler deal with his opposition?

Before the Sa were wiped out they were brutal in their dealings with any opposition.

The SS removed any opposition.

The SA when Rohm wanted more power were wiped out by the SS in a night of terror. The night of the Long Knives.

He got rid of political opposition by removing their property and money and imprisoning their leaders. He also passed a law to make sure no one set up political power against him.

Eidleweiss Pirates and the White Rose were attacked. Their leaders were executed and sometimes imprisoned.

revise hitler s germany
Revise Hitler’s Germany

How he dealt with women, children and Jews.

How he dealt with the Church