Weimar Germany

Weimar Germany

The Weimar Republic (1919-1933)

Formation and Constitution

  • Established in 1919 following Germany’s defeat in WWI, representing a shift from an authoritarian monarchy to a democratic republic.
  • Named after the city of Weimar, where its constitutional assembly was held.
  • Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution gave the president the power to take emergency measures without the prior consent of the Reichstag (Parliament).
  • Voting age reduced to 20, symbolising a progressive move toward broader representation.

Political Instability and Challenges

  • Frequent changes in government and coalition systems weakened its stability.
  • Significant threats from both the extreme left (Spartacist uprising in 1919) and right wing (Kapp Putsch, 1920).
  • Assassinations of prominent politicians such as Walther Rathenau (1922) showcased volatility and social unrest.

Economic Challenges

  • Enormous war reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles led to significant economic hardship.
  • Hyperinflation of 1923 severely affected German economy with the national currency losing its value.
  • Dawes Plan (1924) and later the Young Plan (1929) sought to restructure reparations to alleviate the financial pressure.

Cultural Developments

  • Era noted for cultural flowering included new artistic movements (Bauhaus, Dada), advancements in cinema, and philosophical strides.
  • The ‘Golden Twenties’ were a period of relative prosperity and liberal cultural life, despite political instability and economic problems.

The Collapse of Weimar Republic (1930-1933)

Great Depression

  • Global economic crisis in 1929 (Stock Market crash) led to the Great Depression.
  • Severe unemployment and economic crisis further discredited the Weimar government.

Political Developments

  • Emergence and rise of the Nazi Party with its charismatic leader Adolf Hitler.
  • Utilised public discontent and the weaknesses of the Weimar Constitution’s political arrangements (Article 48, proportional representation) to rise to power.

End of Weimar Republic

  • Ineffective governments and Chancellor Heinrich Brüning’s dependence on President Hindenburg and Article 48 led to a shift toward authoritarian rule.
  • Hindenburg appointment of Hitler as chancellor in 1933 effectively marked the end of the Weimar Republic and the onset of the Third Reich.

Remember, understanding the Weimar Republic requires a good grasp of both the political and economic context of the era, along with the cultural developments and societal attitudes that shaped its history. Be sure to cover each aspect in your revision.