Weimar Republic

Weimar Republic

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The Weimar Republic is the name given by historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

s to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 to replace the imperial form of government
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

. It was named after Weimar
Weimar
Weimar is a city in Germany famous for its cultural heritage. It is located in the federal state of Thuringia , north of the Thüringer Wald, east of Erfurt, and southwest of Halle and Leipzig. Its current population is approximately 65,000. The oldest record of the city dates from the year 899...

, the city where the constitutional assembly
Constitutional Assembly
The Constitutional Assembly was a body elected in 1955 to draw up a permanent constitution for the Republic of Indonesia. It sat between November 10, 1956 and July 2, 1959...

 took place.
Its official name was Deutsches Reich
Reich
Reich is a German word cognate with the English rich, but also used to designate an empire, realm, or nation. The qualitative connotation from the German is " sovereign state." It is the word traditionally used for a variety of sovereign entities, including Germany in many periods of its history...

(sometimes translated as German Empire, but Reich can also mean "realm
Realm
A realm is a dominion of a monarch or other sovereign ruler.The Old French word reaume, modern French royaume, was the word first adopted in English; the fixed modern spelling does not appear until the beginning of the 17th century...

"), but it was usually just referred to as Germany in English, and as Deutschland in German.

Following World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the republic emerged from the German Revolution in November 1918. In 1919, a national assembly
Weimar National Assembly
The Weimar National Assembly governed Germany from February 6, 1919 to June 6, 1920 and drew up the new constitution which governed Germany from 1919 to 1933, technically remaining in effect even until the end of Nazi rule in 1945...

 convened in Weimar
Weimar
Weimar is a city in Germany famous for its cultural heritage. It is located in the federal state of Thuringia , north of the Thüringer Wald, east of Erfurt, and southwest of Halle and Leipzig. Its current population is approximately 65,000. The oldest record of the city dates from the year 899...

, where a new constitution
Weimar constitution
The Constitution of the German Reich , usually known as the Weimar Constitution was the constitution that governed Germany during the Weimar Republic...

 for the German Reich was written, then adopted on 11 August of that same year. Germany's period of liberal democracy
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

 lapsed in the early 1930s, leading to the ascent of the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 in 1933. Although the constitution of 1919 was never officially repealed, the legal measures taken by the Nazi government in February and March 1933, commonly known as Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung , meaning "coordination", "making the same", "bringing into line", is a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control and tight coordination over all aspects of society. The historian Richard J...

("coordination") meant that the government could legislate contrary to the constitution. The constitution became irrelevant; thus, 1933 is usually seen as the end of the Weimar Republic and the beginning of Hitler's Third Reich
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

.

In its 14 years, the Weimar Republic was faced with numerous problems, including hyperinflation
Inflation in the Weimar Republic
The hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic was a three year period of hyperinflation in Germany between June 1921 and July 1924.- Analysis :...

, political extremists on the left and the right and their paramilitaries, and hostility from the victors of World War I, who tried twice to restructure Germany's reparations payments through the Dawes Plan
Dawes Plan
The Dawes Plan was an attempt in 1924, following World War I for the Triple Entente to collect war reparations debt from Germany...

 and the Young Plan
Young Plan
The Young Plan was a program for settlement of German reparations debts after World War I written in 1929 and formally adopted in 1930. It was presented by the committee headed by American Owen D. Young. After the Dawes Plan was put into operation , it became apparent that Germany could not meet...

. However, it overcame many of the requirements of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, (Germany eventually repaid a reduced amount of the reparations required of the treaty with the last payment being made on October 3, 2010), reformed the currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

, and unified tax politics and the railway system, as well as creating a unique cultural impact with its art, music and cinema.

Name


Despite its political form, the new republic was still known as Deutsches Reich in German. This phrase was commonly translated into English as German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, although the German word Reich
Reich
Reich is a German word cognate with the English rich, but also used to designate an empire, realm, or nation. The qualitative connotation from the German is " sovereign state." It is the word traditionally used for a variety of sovereign entities, including Germany in many periods of its history...

has a broader range of connotations than the English "empire", so the name is most often translated to the German Reich in English. The English word "realm" captures broadly the same meaning. The common short form remained Germany.

Flag and coat of arms


After the introduction of the republic, the flag and coat of arms of Germany were altered to reflect the political changes. The republican tricolour
Tricolour
A tricolour is a flag or banner more-or-less equally divided into three bands of differing colours...

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



The achievements and signs of this movement were mostly done away with after its downfall and the political reaction. Only the tiny German Principality of Waldeck-Pyrmont upheld the tradition and continued to use the German colours
National colours of Germany
The national colors of Germany are officially Black, Red and Gold as seen on the flag of Germany of 1849-1852, 1919–1933, and again since 1949. The colors were used by democratic revolutionaries in the early 19th century, and had been used by the Holy Roman Empire since the Middle Ages...

 called Schwarz-Rot-Gold in German (Black
Sable (heraldry)
In heraldry, sable is the tincture black, and belongs to the class of dark tinctures, called "colours". In engravings and line drawings, it is sometimes depicted as a region of crossed horizontal and vertical lines or else marked with sa. as an abbreviation.The name derives from the black fur of...

-Red
Gules
In heraldry, gules is the tincture with the colour red, and belongs to the class of dark tinctures called "colours". In engraving, it is sometimes depicted as a region of vertical lines or else marked with gu. as an abbreviation....

-Gold
Or (heraldry)
In heraldry, Or is the tincture of gold and, together with argent , belongs to the class of light tinctures called "metals". In engravings and line drawings, it may be represented using a field of evenly spaced dots...

).

These signs had remained symbols of the Paulskirche movement and Weimar Germany wanted to express its view of being also originated in that political movement between 1848 and 1852. However, anti-republicans opposed this flag. While the first German Confederal Navy (Reichsflotte)
Reichsflotte
The Reichsflotte was the first all-German Navy. It was founded on 14 June 1848 during the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states by the Frankfurt Parliament to provide a naval force in the First Schleswig War against Denmark.-History:...

 (1848-1852) had proudly used a naval ensign
Ensign
An ensign is a national flag when used at sea, in vexillology, or a distinguishing token, emblem, or badge, such as a symbol of office in heraldry...

 based on Schwarz-Rot-Gold, the Weimar republic navy, or Reichsmarine
Reichsmarine
The Reichsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Weimar Republic and first two years of Nazi Germany. It was the naval branch of the Reichswehr, existing from 1918 to 1935...

(1918-1935) insisted on using the pre-1918 colours of the previous Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
The Imperial German Navy was the German Navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy and Norddeutsche Bundesmarine, which primarily had the mission of coastal defense. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded...

 (1871-1918), which were Black-White-Red, as did the German merchant marine.
The republican coat of arms took up the idea of the German crest 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. Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany .When Ebert was elected as the leader of the SPD after the death of August Bebel, the party members of the SPD were deeply divided because of the party's support for World War I. Ebert supported the Burgfrieden and...

 initially declared the official German coat of arms to be a design by Emil Doepler
Emil Doepler
Emil Doepler "the Younger" was a German Art Nouveau illustrator, decorative artist, and art teacher...

 (shown in the infobox above) as of 11 November 1919, following a decision of the German government.

However, in 1928 the Reichswappen (Reich's coat of arms) designed by Tobias Schwab (1887–1967) in 1926 [or 1924] replaced it as the official emblem for the German Olympic team. The Reichswehr
Reichswehr
The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was renamed the Wehrmacht ....

 adopted the new Reichswappen in 1927.

Doepler's design then became the Reichsschild (Reich's escutcheon) with restricted use such as pennant
Pennon
A pennon was one of the principal three varieties of flags carried during the Middle Ages . Pennoncells and streamers or pendants are considered as minor varieties of this style of flag. The pennon is a flag resembling the guidon in shape, but only half the size...

 for government vehicles. The 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany)
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 adopted all three signs of Weimar Republic, Reichswappen, Reichsschild and Reichsflagge as Bundeswappen, Bundesschild and Bundesflagge.

November Revolution


In October 1918, the constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 of the German Empire was reformed to introduce a parliamentary system similar to the British, but this soon became obsolete. On 29 October, rebellion
Rebellion
Rebellion, uprising or insurrection, is a refusal of obedience or order. It may, therefore, be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors aimed at destroying or replacing an established authority such as a government or a head of state...

 broke out in Kiel
Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

 among sailors. There, sailors, soldiers and workers began electing worker and soldier councils (Arbeiter- und Soldatenräte) modeled after the soviets
Soviet (council)
Soviet was a name used for several Russian political organizations. Examples include the Czar's Council of Ministers, which was called the “Soviet of Ministers”; a workers' local council in late Imperial Russia; and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union....

 of the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

. The revolution spread throughout Germany, and participants seized military and civil powers in individual cities. The power takeover was achieved everywhere without loss of life and control was firmly in the hands of the largest political party, the social democrats. Nevertheless, the rebellion caused great fear in the establishment and in the middle classes because of the Soviet Russia connotation of the councils. For the supporters of a monarchy, the country seemed to be on the verge of a communist revolution. On 7 November, the revolution had reached Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, causing King Ludwig III of Bavaria
Ludwig III of Bavaria
Ludwig III , was the last King of Bavaria, reigning from 1913 to 1918.-Early life:...

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

At the time, the traditional political representation of the working class, the Social Democratic Party
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 was divided into two major factions: one group, the Independent Social Democrats called for immediate peace negotiations and favoured a socialist system of industrial control. To keep their influence, the remaining Majority Social Democrats (MSPD), who supported the war efforts and a parliamentary system, decided to make use of their support at grass roots and put themselves at the front of the movement, and on 7 November, demanded that Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicate. When he refused, Prince Max of Baden simply announced that he had done so and frantically attempted to establish a regency
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 under another member of the House of Hohenzollern
House of Hohenzollern
The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near...

. On 9 November 1918, the "German Republic" was proclaimed by MSPD member Philipp Scheidemann
Philipp Scheidemann
Philipp Scheidemann was a German Social Democratic politician, who proclaimed the Republic on 9 November 1918, and who became the second Chancellor of the Weimar Republic....

 at the Reichstag building
Reichstag (building)
The Reichstag building is a historical edifice in Berlin, Germany, constructed to house the Reichstag, parliament of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Reichstag until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire. During the Nazi era, the few meetings of members of the...

 in Berlin, to the fury of Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany .When Ebert was elected as the leader of the SPD after the death of August Bebel, the party members of the SPD were deeply divided because of the party's support for World War I. Ebert supported the Burgfrieden and...

 and James Mitchell, the leaders of the MSPD, who thought that the question of monarchy or republic should be answered by a national assembly. Two hours later, a "Free Socialist Republic" was proclaimed, 2 km (1.2 mi) away, at the Berliner Stadtschloss
Berliner Stadtschloss
The Stadtschloss , was a royal palace in the centre of Berlin, capital of Germany. The palace bore features of the Baroque style, and its shape, finalized by the mid 18th century, is attributed to Andreas Schlüter, whose first design is likely to date from 1702, though the palace incorporated...

. The proclamation was issued by Karl Liebknecht
Karl Liebknecht
was a German socialist and a co-founder with Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany. He is best known for his opposition to World War I in the Reichstag and his role in the Spartacist uprising of 1919...

, co-leader (with Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and activist of Polish Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen...

) of the communist Spartakusbund (Spartacist League), a group of a few hundred supporters of the Russian revolution that had allied itself with the USPD in 1917.
On 9 November, in a legally questionable act, Reichskanzler Prince Max of Baden transferred his powers to Friedrich Ebert, who, shattered by the monarchy's fall, reluctantly accepted. In view of the mass support for more radical reforms among the workers's councils a coalition
Coalition
A coalition is a pact or treaty among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self-interest, joining forces together for a common cause. This alliance may be temporary or a matter of convenience. A coalition thus differs from a more formal covenant...

 government called "Council of People's Commissioners" (Rat der Volksbeauftragten) was established, consisting of three MSPD and three USPD members. Led by Ebert for the MSPD and Hugo Haase
Hugo Haase
Hugo Haase was a German politician, jurist and pacifist.-Biography:Haase was born in Allenstein , Province of Prussia, the son of Jewish shoemaker and small businessman, Nathan Haase, and Pauline née Anker. He studied law in Königsberg and established himself as a lawyer...

 for the USPD it sought to act as a provisional cabinet of ministers. But the power question was unanswered. Although the new government was confirmed by the Berlin worker and soldier council, it was opposed by the Spartacist League
Spartacist League
The Spartacus League was a left-wing Marxist revolutionary movement organized in Germany during World War I. The League was named after Spartacus, leader of the largest slave rebellion of the Roman Republic...

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

On 11 November, an armistice was signed at Compiègne
Armistice with Germany (Compiègne)
The armistice between the Allies and Germany was an agreement that ended the fighting in the First World War. It was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not technically a surrender...

 by German representatives. It effectively ended military operations between the Allies and Germany. It amounted to German capitulation, without any concessions by the Allies; the naval blockade would continue until complete peace terms were agreed.

From November 1918 to January 1919, Germany was governed by the Council of People's Commissioners, under the leadership of Ebert and Haase. It issued a large number of decrees that radically shifted German policies. 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 important national health insurance, re-instatement of demobilised 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.

To ensure his fledgling government maintained control over the country, Ebert made an agreement with the OHL
Oberste Heeresleitung
The Oberste Heeresleitung or OHL was Germany's highest echelon of command of the German Army in World War I, while the Navy was led by the Seekriegsleitung or SKL ....

 (supreme army command), now led by Ludendorff's successor General Wilhelm Groener
Wilhelm Groener
Karl Eduard Wilhelm Groener was a German soldier and politician.-Biography:He was born in Ludwigsburg in the Kingdom of Württemberg, the son of a regimental paymaster. He entered the Württemberg Army in 1884, and attended the War Academy from 1893 to 1897, whereupon he was appointed to the General...

. 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. 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. The new Reichswehr armed forces, limited by the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 to 100,000 army soldiers and 15,000 sailors, remained fully under the control of the German Officer
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

 Class despite its nominal re-organisation.

As in other countries, it came to the permanent split in the social democratic movement, into the democratic SPD and the Communists. There was no revolution because the right wing of the socialist movement, led by Ebert and Scheideman, supported the republic they had brought into being. Combined action on the part of the socialists was not possible without action from the millions of workers who stood midway between the parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

arians and the revolutionaries wanted to strengthen the powers of the workers' councils.

The rift between the two socialist parties became final after Ebert called upon the OHL for troops to put down another Berlin army mutiny on 23 November 1918, in which soldiers had captured the city's garrison commander and closed off the Reichskanzlei where the Council of People's Commissioners was situated. The ensuing street fighting left several dead and injured on both sides. 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. Thus, the USPD left the Council of People's Commissioners after only seven weeks. In December, the split deepened when the Communist Party of Germany
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

 (KPD) was formed out of a number of radical left-wing groups, including the left wing of the USPD and the "Spartacist League
Spartacist League
The Spartacus League was a left-wing Marxist revolutionary movement organized in Germany during World War I. The League was named after Spartacus, leader of the largest slave rebellion of the Roman Republic...

" group.

In January, the Spartacist League and others in the streets of Berlin made more armed attempts to establish communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, known as the Spartacist uprising
Spartacist uprising
The Spartacist Uprising , also known as the January uprising , was a general strike in Germany from January 5 to January 15, 1919. Its suppression marked the end of the German Revolution...

. Those attempts were put down by paramilitary Freikorps
Freikorps
Freikorps are German volunteer military or paramilitary units. The term was originally applied to voluntary armies formed in German lands from the middle of the 18th century onwards. Between World War I and World War II the term was also used for the paramilitary organizations that arose during...

units consisting of volunteer soldiers. Bloody street fights culminated in the beating and shooting deaths of Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and activist of Polish Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen...

 and Karl Liebknecht
Karl Liebknecht
was a German socialist and a co-founder with Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany. He is best known for his opposition to World War I in the Reichstag and his role in the Spartacist uprising of 1919...

 after their arrests on 15 January. 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.
The National Assembly elections took place on 19 January 1919. In this time, the radical left-wing parties, including the USPD and KPD, were barely able to get themselves organized, leading to a solid majority of seats for the MSPD moderate forces. To avoid the ongoing fights in Berlin, the National Assembly convened in the city of Weimar, giving the future Republic its unofficial name. The Weimar Constitution
Weimar constitution
The Constitution of the German Reich , usually known as the Weimar Constitution was the constitution that governed Germany during the Weimar Republic...

 created a republic under a parliamentary republic system
Parliamentary republic
A parliamentary republic or parliamentary constitutional republic is a type of republic which operates under a parliamentary system of government - meaning a system with no clear-cut separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. There are a number of variations of...

 with the Reichstag elected by proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

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

During the debates in Weimar, fighting continued. A Soviet republic
Bavarian Soviet Republic
The Bavarian Soviet Republic, also known as the Munich Soviet Republic was, as part of the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the short-lived attempt to establish a socialist state in form of a council republic in the Free State of Bavaria. It sought independence from the also recently proclaimed...

 was declared in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, but was quickly put down by Freikorps and remnants of the regular army. 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 organizations in Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

, including Organisation Consul
Organisation Consul
Organisation Consul was an ultra-nationalist force operating in Germany in 1921 and 1922. It was formed by members of the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt, a Freikorps unit which disbanded after the Kapp Putsch failed to overthrow the German Weimar Republic...

, the NSDAP, and societies of exiled Russian Monarchists. Sporadic fighting continued to flare up around the country. In eastern provinces, forces loyal to Germany's fallen Monarchy fought the republic, while militias of Polish nationalists fought for independence: Great Poland Uprising
Greater Poland Uprising (1918–1919)
The Greater Poland Uprising of 1918–1919, or Wielkopolska Uprising of 1918–1919 or Posnanian War was a military insurrection of Poles in the Greater Poland region against Germany...

 in Provinz Posen and three Silesian Uprisings
Silesian Uprisings
The Silesian Uprisings were a series of three armed uprisings of the Poles and Polish Silesians of Upper Silesia, from 1919–1921, against German rule; the resistance hoped to break away from Germany in order to join the Second Polish Republic, which had been established in the wake of World War I...

 in Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia is the southeastern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia. Since the 9th century, Upper Silesia has been part of Greater Moravia, the Duchy of Bohemia, the Piast Kingdom of Poland, again of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as of...

.

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. The decisive blow came with the entry of the United States into the conflict, which made the vast industrial resources available to the beleaguered allies. Nevertheless, the German armies were still on French and Belgian territory when the war ended on 11 November. In a hearing on the reasons for Germany's defeat in 1920, Hindenburg claimed that it was the defeatism of the civilian population that had made defeat inevitable. The die-hard nationalists then blamed the civilians for betraying the army and the surrender. This was the "Stab-in-the-Back Myth" that was unceasingly propagated by the right in the 1920s and ensured that the monarchists and conservatives would never support the government of the "November criminals".

Treaty of Versailles



The growing postwar economic crisis was a result of lost pre-war industrial exports, the loss of supplies in raw materials and foodstuffs from Alsace-Lorraine
Alsace-Lorraine
The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle region of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east...

, Polish districts and the colonies, along with worsening debt balances, but above all, the result of an exorbitant issue of promissory notes raising money to pay for the war. Military-industrial activity had almost ceased, although controlled demobilisation kept unemployment at around one million. The fact that the Allies continued to blockade Germany until after the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 did not help matters, either.

The allies permitted only low import levels of goods that most Germans could not afford. After four years of war and famine, many German workers were exhausted, physically impaired and discouraged. Millions were disenchanted with capitalism and hoping for a new era. Meanwhile, the currency depreciated. The currency would continue to depreciate following the French invasion of the Ruhr.

The German peace delegation in France signed the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, accepting mass reductions of the German military, the prospect of substantial war reparations payments to the victorious allies, and the controversial "War Guilt Clause". Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 later blamed the republic and its democracy for the oppressive terms of this treaty. The Republic's first Reichspräsident
Reichspräsident
The Reichspräsident was the German head of state under the Weimar constitution, which was officially in force from 1919 to 1945. In English he was usually simply referred to as the President of Germany...

("Reich President"), Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany .When Ebert was elected as the leader of the SPD after the death of August Bebel, the party members of the SPD were deeply divided because of the party's support for World War I. Ebert supported the Burgfrieden and...

 of the SPD, signed the new German constitution into law on 11 August 1919.

The new post-World War I Germany, stripped of all colonies, became 13.3% smaller in its European territory than its imperial predecessor. Of these losses, a large proportion consisted of provinces that were originally Polish and Alsace-Lorraine, seized by Germany in 1870, so the real loss of territory was rather less than the nationalists were to claim.

Years of crisis (1919–1923)



The Republic was soon under attack from both left-
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

 and right-wing
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 sources. The radical left accused the ruling Social Democrats of having betrayed the ideals of the workers' movement by preventing a communist revolution. Various right-wing sources opposed any democratic system, preferring an authoritarian state like the 1871 Empire. To further undermine the Republic's credibility, some right-wingers (especially certain members of the former officer corps) also blamed an alleged conspiracy of Socialists and Jews for Germany's defeat in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

In the next five years, the central government, assured of the support of the Reichswehr dealt severely with the occasional outbreaks of violence in Germany's large cities. The left claimed that the Social Democrats had betrayed the ideals of the revolution, while the army and the government-financed Freikorps committed hundreds of acts of gratuitous violence against striking workers.

The first challenge to the Weimar Republic came when a group of communists and anarchists took over the Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

n government in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 and declared the creation of the Bavarian Soviet Republic
Bavarian Soviet Republic
The Bavarian Soviet Republic, also known as the Munich Soviet Republic was, as part of the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the short-lived attempt to establish a socialist state in form of a council republic in the Free State of Bavaria. It sought independence from the also recently proclaimed...

. The uprising was brutally attacked by Freikorps, which consisted mainly of ex-soldiers dismissed from the army and who were well-paid to kill the most active supporters of a democratic Germany. The Freikorps was an army outside the control of the government, but they were in close contact with their allies in the Reichswehr.

The Kapp-Luttwitz Putsch took place on 13 March 1920: 5000 Freikorps soldiers occupied Berlin and installed Wolfgang Kapp
Wolfgang Kapp
Wolfgang Kapp was a Prussian civil servant and journalist. He was a strict nationalist, and a nominal leader of the so-called Kapp Putsch.-Early life:...

 (a right-wing journalist) as chancellor. The national government fled to Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

 and called for a general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

 against the putsch. The strike meant that no "official" pronouncements could be published and with the civil service out on strike the Kapp government collapsed after only four days on 17 March.

Inspired by the general strikes, a workers' uprising
Ruhr Uprising
The Ruhr uprising was a left-wing workers' revolt in the Ruhr in March 1920. The uprising took place initially on the occasion of the call for a general strike issued by the Social Democrat members of the German government in response to the Kapp Putsch of 13 March 1920:The first demonstrations...

 began in the Ruhr region
Ruhr Area
The Ruhr, by German-speaking geographers and historians more accurately called Ruhr district or Ruhr region , is an urban area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. With 4435 km² and a population of some 5.2 million , it is the largest urban agglomeration in Germany...

 when 50,000 people formed a "Red Army" and took control of the province. The regular army and the Freikorps ended the uprising on their own authority. The rebels were campaigning for an extension of the plans to nationalise major industries and supported the national government, but the S.P.D. leaders did not want to lend support to the growing USPD, who favoured the establishment of a socialist regime. The repression of an uprising of S.P.D. supporters by the reactionary forces in the Freikorps on the instructions of the S.P.D. ministers was to become a major source of conflict within the socialist movement and thus contributed to the weakening of the only movement that could have withstood the Hitler movement. Other rebellions were put down in March 1921 in Saxony
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

 and Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

.

In 1922, Germany signed the Treaty of Rapallo
Treaty of Rapallo, 1922
The Treaty of Rapallo was an agreement signed at the Hotel Imperiale in the Italian town of Rapallo on 16 April, 1922 between Germany and Soviet Russia under which each renounced all territorial and financial claims against the other following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and World War I.The two...

 with the Soviet Union, which allowed Germany to train military personnel in exchange for giving Russia military technology. This was against the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, which limited Germany to 100,000 soldiers and no conscription, naval forces of 15,000 men, twelve destroyers, six battleships, and six cruisers, no submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s or aircraft. However, Russia had pulled out of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 against the Germans as a result of the 1917 Russian Revolution, and was excluded from the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

. Thus, Germany seized the chance to make an ally. Walther Rathenau
Walther Rathenau
Walther Rathenau was a German Jewish industrialist, politician, writer, and statesman who served as Foreign Minister of Germany during the Weimar Republic...

, the Jewish Foreign Minister
Foreign Minister of Germany
The Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs is the head of the Federal Foreign Office and a member of the Cabinet of Germany. The current office holder is Guido Westerwelle...

 who signed the treaty, was assassinated two months later by two ultra-nationalist army officers.

In the early postwar years, inflation was growing at an alarming rate, but the government simply printed more and more banknotes to pay the bills. By 1923, the Republic claimed it could no longer afford the reparations
World War I reparations
World War I reparations refers to the payments and transfers of property and equipment that Germany was forced to make under the Treaty of Versailles following its defeat during World War I...

 payments required by the Versailles Treaty, and the government defaulted on some payments. In response, French and Belgian troops occupied the Ruhr region
Occupation of the Ruhr
The Occupation of the Ruhr between 1923 and 1925, by troops from France and Belgium, was a response to the failure of the German Weimar Republic under Chancellor Cuno to pay reparations in the aftermath of World War I.-Background:...

, Germany's most productive industrial region at the time, taking control of most mining and manufacturing companies in January 1923. Strikes were called, and passive resistance was encouraged. These strikes lasted eight months, further damaging the economy. The strike prevented some goods from being produced, but one industrialist, Hugo Stinnes, was able to create a vast empire out of bankrupt companies. Because the production costs in Germany were falling almost hourly, the prices for German products were unbeatable. 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. By the end of the year, over two hundred factories were working full time to produce paper for the spiralling bank note production. Stinnes' empire collapsed when the government-sponsored inflation was stopped in November 1923.
Since striking workers were paid benefits by the state, much additional currency was printed, fueling a period of hyperinflation
Hyperinflation
In economics, hyperinflation is inflation that is very high or out of control. While the real values of the specific economic items generally stay the same in terms of relatively stable foreign currencies, in hyperinflationary conditions the general price level within a specific economy increases...

. The 1920s German inflation started when Germany had no goods to trade. 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. This also led to pay raises for workers and for businessmen who wanted to profit from it. 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. The value of the Papiermark
German papiermark
The name Papiermark is applied to the German currency from the 4th August 1914 when the link between the Mark and gold was abandoned, due to the outbreak of World War I...

 had declined from 4.2 per U.S. dollar at the outbreak of World War I to 1 million per dollar by August 1923. This led to further criticism of the Republic. On 15 November 1923, a new currency, the Rentenmark
German rentenmark
The Rentenmark was a currency issued on 15 November 1923 to stop the hyperinflation of 1922 and 1923 in Germany. It was subdivided into 100 Rentenpfennig.-History:...

, was introduced at the rate of 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000) Papiermark for one Rentenmark, an action known as a monetary reset. At that time, one U.S. dollar was equal to 4.2 Rentenmark. Reparation payments resumed, and the Ruhr was returned to Germany under the Locarno Pact, which defined a border between Germany, France and Belgium.

Further pressure from the right came in 1923 with the Beer Hall Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power...

, also called the Munich Putsch, staged by the NSDAP under Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

. In 1920, the German Workers' Party
German Workers' Party
The German Workers' Party was the short-lived predecessor of the Nazi Party .-Origins:The DAP was founded in Munich in the hotel "Fürstenfelder Hof" on January 5, 1919 by Anton Drexler, a member of the occultist Thule Society. It developed out of the "Freien Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten...

 had become the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP), or Nazi Party, and would become a driving force in the collapse of Weimar. Hitler named himself chairman of the party in July 1921. On 8 November 1923, the Kampfbund
Kampfbund
The Kampfbund was a league of patriotic fighting societies and the German National Socialist party in Bavaria, Germany, in the 1920s. It included Hitler's NSDAP party and their Sturmabteilung or SA for short, the Oberland League and the Reichskriegsflagge. Its military leader was Hermann Kriebel,...

, in a pact with Erich Ludendorff
Erich Ludendorff
Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg...

, took over a meeting by Bavarian prime minister Gustav von Kahr
Gustav Ritter von Kahr
Gustav Ritter von Kahr was a German right-wing conservative politician, active in the state of Bavaria...

 at a beer hall in Munich. Ludendorff and Hitler declared that the Weimar government was deposed and that they were planning to take control of Munich the following day. The 3,000 rebels were thwarted by 100 policemen. Hitler was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for high treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

, a minimum sentence for the charge. In the event, he served less than eight months in a comfortable cell, receiving a daily stream of visitors before his release on December 20, 1924. While in jail, Hitler dictated Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

, which laid out his ideas and future policies. Hitler now decided to focus on legal methods of gaining power.

Golden Era (1924–1929)


Gustav Stresemann
Gustav Stresemann
was a German politician and statesman who served as Chancellor and Foreign Minister during the Weimar Republic. He was co-laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926.Stresemann's politics defy easy categorization...

 was Reichskanzler for 100 days in 1923, and served as foreign minister from 1923–1929, a period of relative stability for the Weimar Republic, known in Germany as Goldene Zwanziger ("Golden Twenties
Golden Twenties
Golden Twenties or Happy Twenties is a term, mostly used in Europe, to describe the 1920s, in which most of the continent had an economic boom following the First World War and the severe economic downturns that took place between 1919–1923, and before the Wall Street Crash in 1929.It is often...

"). Prominent features of this period were a growing economy and a consequent decrease in civil unrest.

Once civil stability had been restored, Stresemann began stabilising the German currency, which promoted confidence in the German economy and helped the recovery that was so ardently needed for the German nation to keep up with their reparation repayments, while at the same time feeding and supplying the nation.

Once the economic situation had stabilised, Stresemann could begin putting a permanent currency in place, called the Rentenmark (1924), which again contributed to the growing level of international confidence in the German economy.
To help Germany meet reparation obligations, the Dawes Plan
Dawes Plan
The Dawes Plan was an attempt in 1924, following World War I for the Triple Entente to collect war reparations debt from Germany...

 (1924) was created. This was an agreement between American banks and the German government in which the American banks lent money to German banks with German assets as collateral to help it pay reparations. The German railways, the National Bank and many industries were therefore mortgaged as securities for the stable currency and the loans. Shortly after, the French and Germans agreed that the borders between their countries would not be changed by force, which meant that the Treaty of Versailles was being diluted by the signing countries. Other foreign achievements were the evacuation of the Ruhr in 1925 and the 1925 Treaty of Berlin, which reinforced the Treaty of Rapallo in 1922 and improved relations between the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and Germany. In 1926, Germany was admitted to the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 as a permanent member, improving her international standing and giving her the ability to veto
Veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

 League of Nations legislation. However, this progress was funded by overseas loans, increasing the nation's debts, while overall trade increased and unemployment fell. Stresemann's reforms did not relieve the underlying weaknesses of Weimar but gave the appearance of a stable democracy. The major weakness in constitutional terms was the inherent instability of the coalitions. The growing dependence on American finance was to prove dangerous and Germany was one of the worst hit nations in the Wall Street Crash of 1929
Wall Street Crash of 1929
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 , also known as the Great Crash, and the Stock Market Crash of 1929, was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States, taking into consideration the full extent and duration of its fallout...

.
The 1920s saw a remarkable cultural renaissance in Germany. During the worst phase of hyperinflation in 1923, the clubs and bars were full of speculators who spent their daily profits so they wouldn't lose the value the following day. Berlin intellectuals responded by condemning the excesses of capitalism, and demand revolutionary changes on the cultural scenery. Influenced by the brief cultural explosion in the Soviet Union, German literature, cinema, theatre and music worlds entered a phase of great creativity. Innovative street theatre brought plays to the public, the cabaret
Cabaret
Cabaret is a form, or place, of entertainment featuring comedy, song, dance, and theatre, distinguished mainly by the performance venue: a restaurant or nightclub with a stage for performances and the audience sitting at tables watching the performance, as introduced by a master of ceremonies or...

 scene and jazz band became very popular. According to the cliché, modern young women were Americanised, wearing makeup, short hair, smoking and breaking with traditional mores
Mores
Mores, in sociology, are any given society's particular norms, virtues, or values. The word mores is a plurale tantum term borrowed from Latin, which has been used in the English language since the 1890s....

. The euphoria surrounding Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker was an American dancer, singer, and actress who found fame in her adopted homeland of France. She was given such nicknames as the "Bronze Venus", the "Black Pearl", and the "Créole Goddess"....

 in the metropolis Berlin for instance, declared "erotic goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

" and in many ways admired and respected, kindled further "ultramodern" sensations in the minds of the German public. A new type of architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 taught at "Bauhaus
Bauhaus
', commonly known simply as Bauhaus, was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term stood for "School of Building".The Bauhaus school was founded by...

" schools, and Art reflected the new ideas of the time, with artists such as George Grosz
George Grosz
Georg Ehrenfried Groß was a German artist known especially for his savagely caricatural drawings of Berlin life in the 1920s...

 being fined for defaming the military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 and for blasphemy
Blasphemy
Blasphemy is irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things. Some countries have laws to punish blasphemy, while others have laws to give recourse to those who are offended by blasphemy...

.

During this era Berlin was greatly influenced by contemporary progressive movements. Much of the Impressionist and Expressionist painters of Paris, as well as the theatrical departments, had a great many admirers throughout Berlin. Likewise, American Progressive architects were often of interest. Many of the buildings built during this era followed straight-lined geometrical style. The new architecture of this era includes the Bauhaus, Grosses Schauspielhaus, and the Einstein Tower. The twenties brought about artists eager to present their new ideas, with much of their art showing a Cubist influence.

Not everyone, however, was happy with the changes taking place in Weimar culture. Conservatives and reactionaries feared that Germany was betraying her traditional values by adopting popular styles from abroad, particularly the U.S. Hollywood popularised American film, while New York became the global capital of fashion. Germany was more susceptible to Americanisation, because of the close economic links brought about by the Dawes plan.

In 1929, three years after receiving the 1926 Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

, Stresemann died of a heart attack at age 51. When stocks on the New York Stock Exchange crashed in October, the inevitable knock-on effects on the German economy brought the "Golden Twenties" to an abrupt end.

Economic instability




In 1929, the onset of the depression in the United States of America produced a severe shock wave in Germany. The economy was supported by the granting of loans through the Dawes Plan (1924) and the Young Plan. When American banks withdrew their loans to German companies the onset of severe unemployment could not be stopped by conventional economic measures. Unemployment grew rapidly and in September 1930 a political earthquake shook the republic to its foundations. The NSDAP entered the Reichstag with 19% of the popular vote and made the fragile coalition system by which every chancellor had governed, unworkable. The last years of the Weimar Republic were stamped by even more political instability than in the previous years. The administrations of Chancellors Brüning
Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning was Chancellor of Germany from 1930 to 1932, during the Weimar Republic. He was the longest serving Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, and remains a controversial figure in German politics....

, Papen
Franz von Papen
Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

, Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher was a German general and the last Chancellor of Germany during the era of the Weimar Republic. Seventeen months after his resignation, he was assassinated by order of his successor, Adolf Hitler, in the Night of the Long Knives....

 and Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 (from 30 January to 23 March 1933) governed through presidential decree, rather than through consultation with the Reichstag
Reichstag (Weimar Republic)
The Reichstag was the parliament of Weimar Republic .German constitution commentators consider only the Reichstag and now the Bundestag the German parliament. Another organ deals with legislation too: in 1867-1918 the Bundesrat, in 1919–1933 the Reichsrat and from 1949 on the Bundesrat...

(the German parliament).

The finance expert Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning was Chancellor of Germany from 1930 to 1932, during the Weimar Republic. He was the longest serving Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, and remains a controversial figure in German politics....

 was appointed as successor of Chancellor Müller by Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 on 29 March 1930, after months of political lobbying by General Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher was a German general and the last Chancellor of Germany during the era of the Weimar Republic. Seventeen months after his resignation, he was assassinated by order of his successor, Adolf Hitler, in the Night of the Long Knives....

 on behalf of the military. The new government was expected to lead a political shift towards conservatism, based on the emergency powers granted to the Reichspräsident by the constitution, since it had no majority support in the Reichstag.

After a bill to reform the Reich's finances was opposed by the Reichstag, Hindenburg established the bill as an emergency decree based on Article 48
Article 48 (Weimar Constitution)
Article 48 of the constitution of the Weimar Republic of Germany allowed the President, under certain circumstances, to take emergency measures without the prior consent of the Reichstag...

 of the constitution. On 18 July, the bill was again invalidated by a slim majority in the Reichstag with the support of the SPD, KPD
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

, the (then small) NSDAP and DNVP
German National People's Party
The German National People's Party was a national conservative party in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. Before the rise of the NSDAP it was the main nationalist party in Weimar Germany composed of nationalists, reactionary monarchists, völkisch, and antisemitic elements, and...

. Immediately afterwards, Brüning submitted to the Reichstag the president's decree that it would be dissolved.

The Reichstag general elections on 14 September resulted in an enormous political shift: 18.3% of the vote went to the Nazis, five times the percentage compared to 1928. It was no longer possible to form a pro-republican majority in the Reichstag, not even a Grand Coalition of all major parties except the KPD, NSDAP and DNVP. This encouraged the supporters of the Nazis to force their claim to power by increasing organization of public demonstrations and paramilitary violence against rival paramilitary groups.

From 1930-1932, Brüning tried to reform the devastated state without a majority in Parliament, governing with the help of the President's emergency decrees. During that time, the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 reached its low point. In line with conservative economic theory that less government spending would spur economic growth, Brüning drastically cut state expenditures, including in the social sector. He expected and accepted that the economic crisis would, for a while, deteriorate before things would improve. Among others, the Reich completely halted all public grants to the obligatory unemployment insurance (which had been introduced only in 1927), which resulted in higher contributions by the workers and fewer benefits for the unemployed.

The bulk of German capitalists and land-owners originally supported the conservative experiment: not from any personal liking for Brüning, but believing the conservatives would best serve their interests. But as the mass of the working class and middle classes turned against Brüning, more of the great capitalists and landowners declared themselves in favour of his opponents — Hitler and Hugenberg
Alfred Hugenberg
Alfred Ernst Christian Alexander Hugenberg was an influential German businessman and politician. Hugenberg, a leading figure within nationalist politics in Germany for the first few decades of the twentieth century, became the country's leading media proprietor within the inter-war period...

. By late 1931, conservatism as a movement was dead, and the time was coming when Hindenburg and the Reichswehr
Reichswehr
The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was renamed the Wehrmacht ....

would drop Brüning and come to terms with Hugenberg and Hitler. Although Hindenburg disliked Hugenberg and despised Hitler, he was no less a supporter of the sort of anti-democratic counter-revolution represented by the DNVP and NSDAP.

On 30 May 1932, Brüning resigned after no longer having Hindenburg's support. Five weeks earlier, Hindenburg had been re-elected Reichspräsident with Brüning's active support, running against Hitler (the president was directly elected by the people while the Reichskanzler was not).

The Von Papen deal


Hindenburg then appointed Franz von Papen
Franz von Papen
Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

 as new Reichskanzler. Von Papen lifted the ban on the NSDAP's SA
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 paramilitary, imposed after the street riots, in an unsuccessful attempt to secure the backing of Hitler.

Von Papen was closely associated with the industrialist and land-owning classes, and pursued an extreme Conservative policy along Hindenburg's lines. He appointed as Reichswehr Minister Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher was a German general and the last Chancellor of Germany during the era of the Weimar Republic. Seventeen months after his resignation, he was assassinated by order of his successor, Adolf Hitler, in the Night of the Long Knives....

, and all the members of the new cabinet were of the same political opinion as Hindenburg. This government was expected to assure itself of the co-operation of Hitler. 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.

Elections of July 1932


Because most parties opposed the new government, von Papen had the Reichstag
Reichstag (Weimar Republic)
The Reichstag was the parliament of Weimar Republic .German constitution commentators consider only the Reichstag and now the Bundestag the German parliament. Another organ deals with legislation too: in 1867-1918 the Bundesrat, in 1919–1933 the Reichsrat and from 1949 on the Bundesrat...

dissolved and called for new elections. The general elections on 31 July 1932 yielded major gains for the KPD
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

 and the NSDAP (the Nazis), who won 37.2% of the vote, supplanting the Social Democrats
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 as the largest party in the Reichstag.

The new question was what part the now immense Nazi Party would play in the Government of the country. The Nazi party owed its huge increase to growing support from middle-class people, whose traditional parties were swallowed up by the Nazi Party. The millions of radical adherents at first forced the Party towards the Left. They wanted a renewed Germany and a new organisation of German society. The left of the Nazi party strove desperately against any drift into the train of such capitalist and feudal reactionaries. Therefore Hitler refused ministry under Papen, and demanded the chancellorship for himself, but was rejected by Hindenburg on 13 August 1932. 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.

Cabinet Schleicher


The 6 November 1932 elections yielded 33.1% for the Nazis, two million voters fewer than in the previous election. Franz von Papen stepped down and was succeeded by General Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher was a German general and the last Chancellor of Germany during the era of the Weimar Republic. Seventeen months after his resignation, he was assassinated by order of his successor, Adolf Hitler, in the Night of the Long Knives....

 as Reichskanzler on 3 December. Schleicher, a political army officer, had developed in an atmosphere of semi-obscurity and intrigue that encompassed the Republican military policy. He had for years been in the camp of those supporting the Conservative counter-revolution. Schleicher's bold and unsuccessful plan was to build a majority in the Reichstag by uniting the trade unionist left wings in the various parties, including that of the Nazis led by Gregor Strasser
Gregor Strasser
Gregor Strasser was a politician of the National Socialist German Workers Party...

. This did not prove successful either.

In this brief Presidential Dictatorship entr'acte, Schleicher took the role of 'Socialist General', and entered into relations with the Christian Trade Unions, the left-wing members of the Nazi party and even with the Social Democrats. Schleicher planned for a sort of labour government under his Generalship. But the Reichswehr officers were not prepared for this, the working class had a natural distrust of their future allies, and great capitalists and landowners did not like the plans. The SPD and KPD could have achieved success building on a Berlin transport strike.
Hitler learned from von Papen that the general had no authority to abolish the Reichstag parliament, whereas any majority of seats did. The cabinet (under a previous interpretation of Article 48) ruled without a sitting Reichstag, which could vote only for its own dissolution. Hitler also learned that all past crippling Nazi debts were to be relieved by German big business.

On 22 January, Hitler's efforts to persuade Oskar von Hindenburg (the President's son) included threats to bring criminal charges over estate taxation irregularities at the President's Neudeck
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 estate (although 5000 acre (20.2 km²) extra were soon allotted to Hindenburg's property). Out-maneuvered by von Papen and Hitler on plans for the new cabinet, and having lost Hindenburg's confidence, Schleicher asked for new elections. On 28 January, von Papen described Hitler to Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 as only a minority part of an alternative, von Papen-arranged government. The four great political movements, the SPD, KPD, Centre
Centre Party (Germany)
The German Centre Party was a Catholic political party in Germany during the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. Formed in 1870, it battled the Kulturkampf which the Prussian government launched to reduce the power of the Catholic Church...

, and the Nazis were in opposition.

On 29 January, Hitler and von 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 11 Cabinet seats. Later that day, the first cabinet meeting was attended by only two political parties, representing a minority in the Reichstag: The Nazis and the DNVP
German National People's Party
The German National People's Party was a national conservative party in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. Before the rise of the NSDAP it was the main nationalist party in Weimar Germany composed of nationalists, reactionary monarchists, völkisch, and antisemitic elements, and...

 led by Alfred Hugenberg
Alfred Hugenberg
Alfred Ernst Christian Alexander Hugenberg was an influential German businessman and politician. Hugenberg, a leading figure within nationalist politics in Germany for the first few decades of the twentieth century, became the country's leading media proprietor within the inter-war period...

 (196 + 52 seats). Eyeing the Catholic Centre Party
Centre Party (Germany)
The German Centre Party was a Catholic political party in Germany during the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. Formed in 1870, it battled the Kulturkampf which the Prussian government launched to reduce the power of the Catholic Church...

's 70 (+ 20 BVP
Bavarian People's Party
The Bavarian People's Party was the Bavarian branch of the Centre Party, which broke off from the rest of the party in 1919 to pursue a more conservative, more Catholic, more Bavarian particularist course...

) seats, Hitler refused their leader's demands for constitutional "concessions" (amounting to protection) and planned for dissolution of the Reichstag.

Hindenburg, despite his misgivings about the Nazis' goals and about Hitler as a person, reluctantly agreed to Papen's theory that, with Nazi popular support on the wane, Hitler could now be controlled as chancellor. This date, dubbed by the Nazis as the Machtergreifung
Machtergreifung
Machtergreifung is a German word meaning "seizure of power". It is normally used specifically to refer to the Nazi takeover of power in the democratic Weimar Republic on 30 January 1933, the day Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany, turning it into the Nazi German dictatorship.-Term:The...

(seizure of power) by Nazi propaganda, is commonly seen as the beginning of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 but the phase of German history in which the democratic principles of the constitution and personal liberty came to an end with the appointment of Brüning as Chancellor by Hindenburg.

Hitler's chancellorship (1933)


Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor
Chancellor
Chancellor is the title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the Cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the...

 on the morning of 30 January 1933 in what some observers later described as a brief and indifferent ceremony. By early February, a mere week after Hitler's assumption of the chancellorship, the government had begun to clamp down on the opposition. Meetings of the left-wing parties were banned and even some of the moderate parties found their members threatened and assaulted. Measures with an appearance of legality suppressed the Communist Party in mid-February and included the plainly illegal arrests of Reichstag deputies.

The Reichstag Fire
Reichstag fire
The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on 27 February 1933. The event is seen as pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany....

 on 27 February was blamed by Hitler's government on the Communists. Hitler used the ensuing state of emergency to obtain the assent of President von Hindenburg to issue the Reichstag Fire Decree
Reichstag Fire Decree
The Reichstag Fire Decree is the common name of the Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State issued by German President Paul von Hindenburg in direct response to the Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933. The decree nullified many of the key civil liberties of German...

 the following day. The decree invoked Article 48
Article 48 (Weimar Constitution)
Article 48 of the constitution of the Weimar Republic of Germany allowed the President, under certain circumstances, to take emergency measures without the prior consent of the Reichstag...

 of the Weimar Constitution
Weimar constitution
The Constitution of the German Reich , usually known as the Weimar Constitution was the constitution that governed Germany during the Weimar Republic...

 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.

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. At the Reichstag elections, which took place on 5 March, the NSDAP obtained 17 million votes. The Communist, Social Democrat and Catholic Centre votes stood firm. This was the last multi-party election until the end of the Third Reich 12 years later and the last all-German election for 57 years.

Hitler addressed disparate interest groups, stressing the necessity for a definitive solution to the perpetual instability of the Weimar Republic. He now blamed Germany's problems on the Communists, even threatening their lives on 3 March. Former Chancellor Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning was Chancellor of Germany from 1930 to 1932, during the Weimar Republic. He was the longest serving Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, and remains a controversial figure in German politics....

 proclaimed that his Centre Party would resist any constitutional change and appealed to the President for an investigation of the Reichstag fire. 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. The hitherto Presidential Dictatorship hereby was to give itself a new legal form.

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
Alfred Hugenberg
Alfred Ernst Christian Alexander Hugenberg was an influential German businessman and politician. Hugenberg, a leading figure within nationalist politics in Germany for the first few decades of the twentieth century, became the country's leading media proprietor within the inter-war period...

 (196 + 52 seats). According to the Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

, 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 ⅔ parliamentary majority. This Act would, and did, lead Hitler and the NSDAP toward his goal of unfettered dictatorial powers.

Hitler cabinet meeting in mid-March


At the meeting of the new cabinet on 15 March, Hitler introduced the Enabling Act, which would have authorised the cabinet to enact legislation without the approval of the Reichstag. Meanwhile, the only remaining question for the Nazis was whether the Catholic Centre Party
Centre Party (Germany)
The German Centre Party was a Catholic political party in Germany during the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. Formed in 1870, it battled the Kulturkampf which the Prussian government launched to reduce the power of the Catholic Church...

 (Zentrum) would support the Enabling Act in the Reichstag, thereby providing the ⅔ majority required to ratify a law that amended the constitution. Hitler expressed his confidence to win over the Centre's votes. 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. Hitler however assured his coalition partners that arrests would resume after the elections and, in fact, some 26 SPD Social Democrats were physically removed. After meeting with Centre leader Monsignor Ludwig Kaas
Ludwig Kaas
Ludwig Kaas was a German Roman Catholic priest and politician during the Weimar Republic.-Early career:Born in Trier, Kaas was ordained a priest in 1906 and studied history and Canon law in Trier and Rome. 1906 he completed a doctorate in theology and in 1909 he obtained a second doctorate in...

 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.

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 favor of the Enabling Act. This guarantee was not ultimately given. Kaas, the party's chairman since 1928, had strong connections to the Vatican
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

 Secretary of State, later Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

. 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
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

's long desired Reichskonkordat
Reichskonkordat
The Reichskonkordat is a treaty that was agreed between the Holy See and Nazi government, that guarantees the rights of the Catholic Church in Germany. It was signed on July 20, 1933 by Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli and Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen on behalf of Pope Pius XI and President...

with Germany (only possible with the co-operation of the Nazis).

Ludwig Kaas is considered along with von Papen as being one of the two most important political figures in the creation of a National Socialist
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 dictatorship.

Enabling Act negotiations


On 20 March, negotiation began between Hitler and Frick on one side and the Catholic Centre Party
Centre Party (Germany)
The German Centre Party was a Catholic political party in Germany during the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. Formed in 1870, it battled the Kulturkampf which the Prussian government launched to reduce the power of the Catholic Church...

 (Zentrum) leaders — Kaas, Stegerwald and Hackelsburger on the other. The aim was to settle on conditions under which Centre would vote in favor of the Enabling Act
Enabling Act
The Enabling Act was passed by Germany's Reichstag and signed by President Paul von Hindenburg on 23 March 1933. It was the second major step, after the Reichstag Fire Decree, through which Chancellor Adolf Hitler legally obtained plenary powers and established his dictatorship...

. Because of the Nazis' narrow majority in the Reichstag, Centre's support was necessary to receive the required two-thirds majority vote. 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. Hitler also pledged to protect the Catholic confessional schools and to respect the concordats signed between the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 and Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

 (1924), Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 (1929) and Baden
Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

 (1931). Hitler also agreed to mention these promises in his speech to the Reichstag before the vote on the Enabling Act.

The ceremonial opening of the Reichstag on 21 March was held at the Garrison Church
Garrison Church (Potsdam)
The Garrison Church was a Baroque church in Potsdam, eastern Germany. It was built under the second Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I. between 1730 and 1735. During World War II, the church burned down on 14 April 1945. The ruin was demolished on 23 June 1968 by the SED leadership under Walter...

 in Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

, a shrine of Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

nism, in the presence of many Junker
Junker
A Junker was a member of the landed nobility of Prussia and eastern Germany. These families were mostly part of the German Uradel and carried on the colonization and Christianization of the northeastern European territories during the medieval Ostsiedlung. The abbreviation of Junker is Jkr...

 landowners and representatives of the imperial military caste. This impressive and often emotional spectacle — orchestrated by Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

 — aimed to link Hitler's government with Germany's imperial past and portray National Socialism as a guarantor of the nation's future. 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. Such support would publicly signal a return to conservatism to curb the problems affecting the Weimar Republic, and that stability might be at hand. In a cynical and politically adroit move, Hitler bowed in apparently respectful humility before President and Field Marshal von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

.

Passage of the Enabling Act


The Reichstag convened on 23 March 1933, and in the midday opening, Hitler made a historic speech, appearing outwardly calm and conciliatory. 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". He promised to respect their rights and declared his government's "ambition is a peaceful accord between Church and State
Separation of church and state
The concept of the separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state....

" and that he hoped "to improve our friendly relations with the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

." This speech aimed especially at the future recognition by the named Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 and therefore to the votes of the Centre Party addressing many concerns Kaas had voiced during the previous talks. Kaas is considered to have had a hand therefore in the drafting of the speech. Kaas is also reported as voicing the Holy See's desire for Hitler as bulwark against atheistic Russian nihilism
Nihilism
Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value...

 previously as early as May 1932.

Hitler promised that the Act did not threaten the existence of either the Reichstag
Reichstag (Weimar Republic)
The Reichstag was the parliament of Weimar Republic .German constitution commentators consider only the Reichstag and now the Bundestag the German parliament. Another organ deals with legislation too: in 1867-1918 the Bundesrat, in 1919–1933 the Reichsrat and from 1949 on the Bundesrat...

or the Reichsrat
Reichsrat (Germany)
The Reichsrat was one of the two legislative bodies in Germany under the Weimar constitution, the other one being the Reichstag. After the end of German monarchy and the founding of the Weimar Republic in 1919, the Reichsrat replaced the Bundesrat as the representation of the various German...

, that the authority of the President
President
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

 remained untouched and that the Länder
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 would not be abolished. Of course, all the promises would be broken soon enough, but they served their purpose. During an adjournment, the other parties (notably the Centre) met to discuss their intentions.

In the debate prior to the vote on the Enabling Act, Hitler orchestrated the full political menace of his paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 forces like the storm troopers
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 in the streets to intimidate reluctant Reichstag deputies into approving the Enabling Act. 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. Otto Wels
Otto Wels
Otto Wels was the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany from 1919 and a member of parliament from 1920 to 1933....

, 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
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 to dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

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

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'
Otto Wels
Otto Wels was the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany from 1919 and a member of parliament from 1920 to 1933....

 Social Democrats as well. He did not even want their support for the bill. "Germany will become free, but not through you," he shouted. 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. The Act — formally titled the "Act for the Removal of Distress from People and Reich" — was passed by a vote of 441 to 94. Only the SPD had voted against the Act. Every other member of the Reichstag, whether from the largest or the smallest party, voted in favor of the Act. It went into effect the following day, March 24.

Aftermath


The passage of the Enabling Act of 1933 is widely considered to mark the end of the Weimar Republic and the beginning of the Third Reich. It empowered the cabinet to legislate without the approval of Reichstag or the President, and to enact laws that were contrary to the constitution. Before the March 1933 elections Hitler had persuaded Hindenburg to promulgate the Reichstag Fire Decree
Reichstag Fire Decree
The Reichstag Fire Decree is the common name of the Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State issued by German President Paul von Hindenburg in direct response to the Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933. The decree nullified many of the key civil liberties of German...

 using Article 48, which empowered the government to restrict "the rights of habeas corpus [...] freedom of the press, the freedom to organize and assemble, the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications" and legalised search warrants and confiscation "beyond legal limits otherwise prescribed". This was intended to forestall any action against the government by the Communists. 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.

The process of bringing all major organisations into line with Nazi principles and into the service of the state was called Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung , meaning "coordination", "making the same", "bringing into line", is a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control and tight coordination over all aspects of society. The historian Richard J...

. Gleichschaltung is usually translated as "coordination", but sometimes as "forcible coordination". It is a compound word, consisting of gleich, meaning alike, and schaltung, which means switching. The NSDAP meant to imply a particular mechanical meaning of the word: a certain means of wiring an electrical generator and electric motors, so that when the generator is made to turn at a given speed or turned to a certain angle, each motor connected to it will also turn at that speed, or to the same angle — in other words, synchronization. The NSDAP was thought of as the generator, and other civil groups as motors wired to it.

Hitler's cabinet issued many decrees for the purpose of Gleichschaltung in the weeks following the passage of the Act. It removed Jews from the civil service (at Hindenburg's request, an exception was made for Jews who had served at the front during World War I). It banned all trade unions and eventually outlawed all other political parties. After the exiled SPD published its new weekly Neuer Vorwarts in Prague, Hitler banned the party, confiscating its assets and abolishing its parliamentary representation, by decree of 22 June.

However, opposition was frequently not addressed by legislation at all. The process of Gleichschaltung was often voluntary, or in any event not mandated by a formal decree. Most other parties had dissolved before being officially banned: the NSDAP's coalition partner, the DNVP, dissolved on 27 June, one day after Hugenberg's resignation from the cabinet. The Staatspartei (formerly the DDP) dissolved itself on 28 June and the DVP on 29 June. On 4–5 July, the Catholic parties (the BVP and the Centre) also wound up. By the time the formal decree banned the creation of new parties, there were none left except the NSDAP.
... many organizations showed themselves only too willing to anticipate the [Gleichschaltung] process and to "coordinate" themselves in accordance with the expectations of the new era. By the autumn, the Nazi dictatorship ... had been enormously strengthened. What is striking is not how much, but how little, Hitler needed to do to bring this about ... Hitler took remarkably few initiatives. Kershaw p. 469.

Willing Gleichschaltung was termed Selbstgleichschaltung or "self-coordination". There was a rush to join the NSDAP, overrunning the party's ability to process applications: on May 1, the party announced that it was suspending the admission of new members. The party's membership had increased to 2.5 million, from about 900,000 at the end of January. Many prominent intellectuals allied themselves with the new government: the country's most famous philosopher, Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the "question of Being."...

 and its most prominent constitutional scholar, Carl Schmitt
Carl Schmitt
Carl Schmitt was a German jurist, philosopher, political theorist, and professor of law.Schmitt published several essays, influential in the 20th century and beyond, on the mentalities that surround the effective wielding of political power...

, spoke in favour of it, and Heidegger became the sponsor of a manifesto of German professors pledging allegiance to "Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist State." Lists were prepared of writers whose works were unacceptable in the 'New Order', including Freud, Einstein and Brecht. On the evening of 10 May, under the leadership of the German Students' Association and without substantial protest by the university faculties, some 20,000 volumes were burned at Berlin's Opernplatz.

The Reichswehr had, however, remained mostly untouched by Gleichschaltung. It was not until Hindenburg's death in August 1934 that all military personnel swore an oath of loyalty directly to Hitler, instead of to the constitution. Thereafter, the military came under gradually increasing pressure to align itself with NSDAP ideology, but it never entirely capitulated. Likewise, the holdings of industrialists and aristocratic "Junker
Junker
A Junker was a member of the landed nobility of Prussia and eastern Germany. These families were mostly part of the German Uradel and carried on the colonization and Christianization of the northeastern European territories during the medieval Ostsiedlung. The abbreviation of Junker is Jkr...

" landowners remained for the most part untouched, whilst the administrative and judicial machinery was only very slightly tampered with. The Nazi efforts to "co-ordinate" the Christian churches (both Roman Catholic and Protestant) were mostly unsuccessful, and were largely abandoned. However, the churches as a whole did not present any serious opposition to Hitler.

Legacy


The constitution of 1919 was never formally repealed, but the Enabling Act meant that it was a dead letter. The Enabling Act itself was breached by Hitler on three occasions in 1934: Article 2 of the act stated that
'Laws enacted by the government of the Reich may deviate from the constitution as long as they do not affect the institutions of the Reichstag and the Reichsrat. The rights of the President remain undisturbed.'
The powers of the Länder (states) were transferred to the central government, rendering the Reichsrat obsolete. A month later, the Reichsrat itself was dissolved. President von Hindenburg died in August, and Hitler appropriated the president's powers for himself. The Enabling Act did not specify any recourse that could be taken if the chancellor violated Article 2, and no judicial challenge ensued.

After the death of Hindenburg in 1934, the constitution was largely forgotten, with some minor exceptions. In Hitler's 1945 political testament (written shortly before his suicide) he appointed Admiral Karl Doenitz to succeed him, but he named Doenitz as President rather than Fuehrer, thereby re-establishing a constitutional office dormant since Hindenburg's death twelve years earlier. On the 30th of April 1945 Doenitz formed what became known as the Flensburg government
Flensburg government
The Flensburg Government , also known as the Flensburg Cabinet and the Dönitz Government , was the short-lived administration that attempted to rule the Third Reich during most of May 1945 at the end of World War II in Europe...

, which controlled only a tiny area of Germany near the Danish border, including the town of Flensburg
Flensburg
Flensburg is an independent town in the north of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Flensburg is the centre of the region of Southern Schleswig...

. It was dissolved by the Allies on 23 May. On 5 June, the Allied Berlin Declaration
Berlin Declaration (1945)
By way of the Berlin Declaration of June 5th, 1945, , the victors of World War II assumed...

 stated in its preamble that the Allies assumed
supreme authority with respect to Germany, including all the powers possessed by the German Government [...] and any state, municipal, or local government or authority.
It also declared that there was
no central Government or authority in Germany capable of accepting responsibility for the maintenance of order, the administration of the country and compliance with the requirements of the victorious Powers.

Article 13 of the declaration read:
[T]he four Allied Governments will take such steps, including the complete disarmament and demilitarization of Germany, as they deem requisite for future peace and security.

The Allied Representatives will impose on Germany additional political, administrative, economic, financial, military and other requirements arising from the complete defeat of Germany. [...] All German authorities and the German people shall carry out unconditionally the requirements of the Allied Representatives, and shall fully comply with all such proclamations, orders, ordinances and instructions.

These provisions, not legally challenged by either of the subsequent German governments, meant that neither any NSDAP decree nor the 1919 constitution held any legal force over the Allies' administration of Germany.

The 1949 Constitution of the German Democratic Republic contained many passages that were originally part of the 1919 constitution. It was intended to be the constitution of a united Germany, and was thus a compromise between liberal-democratic and Leninist ideologies. It was replaced by a new, explicitly Leninist constitution in 1968, which was substantially amended in 1974. In 1990, the GDR dissolved altogether.

The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is the constitution of Germany. It was formally approved on 8 May 1949, and, with the signature of the Allies of World War II on 12 May, came into effect on 23 May, as the constitution of those states of West Germany that were initially included...

, enacted in 1949, stated that
'The provisions of Articles 136, 137, 138, 139 and 141 of the German Constitution of 11 August 1919 shall be an integral part of this Basic Law.'
These articles of the Weimar constitution (which dealt with the state's relationship to various Christian churches) remain part of the German Basic Law.

Reasons for failure


The reasons for the Weimar Republic's collapse are the subject of continuing debate. It may have been doomed from the beginning since even moderates disliked it and extremists on both the left and right loathed it. Germany had limited democratic traditions and Weimar democracy was widely seen as chaotic. And since Weimar politicians had been blamed for the 'Dolchstosslegende
Dolchstosslegende
The stab-in-the-back legend is the notion, widely believed in right-wing circles in Germany after 1918, that the German Army did not lose World War I but was instead betrayed by the civilians on the home front, especially the republicans who overthrew the monarchy...

 (Stab In The Back legend) — a then widely believed theory that Germany's surrender in World War I had been the unnecessary act of traitors — the popular legitimacy of the government was on shaky ground.

No single reason can explain the failure of the Weimar Republic. The most commonly asserted causes can be grouped into three categories: economic problems, institutional problems and the roles of specific individuals.


The Weimar Republic had some of the most serious economic problems ever experienced by any Western democracy in history. Rampant hyperinflation
Hyperinflation
In economics, hyperinflation is inflation that is very high or out of control. While the real values of the specific economic items generally stay the same in terms of relatively stable foreign currencies, in hyperinflationary conditions the general price level within a specific economy increases...

, massive unemployment, and a large drop in living standards were primary factors. From 1923–1929, there was a short period of economic recovery, but the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 of the 1930s led to a worldwide recession. Germany was particularly affected because it depended heavily on American loans. In 1926, about 2 million Germans were unemployed — this rose to around 6 million in 1932. Many blamed the Weimar Republic. This was made apparent when political parties on both right and left wanting to disband the Republic altogether made any democratic majority in Parliament impossible.

The Weimar Republic was severely affected by the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

. The economic stagnation led to increased demands on Germany to repay the debts owed to the United States. As the Weimar Republic was very fragile in all its existence, the depression was devastating, and played a major role in the NSDAP's takeover.

Most Germans thought the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 was a punishing and degrading document, because it forced them to surrender resource-rich areas and pay massive amounts of compensation. These punitive reparations caused consternation and resentment, although the actual economic damage resulting from the Treaty of Versailles is difficult to determine. While the official reparations were considerable, Germany ended up paying only a fraction of them. However, the reparations did damage Germany's economy by discouraging market loans, which forced the Weimar government to finance its deficit by printing more currency, causing rampant hyperinflation. In addition, the rapid disintegration of Germany in 1919, due to the return of a disillusioned army, the rapid change from possible victory in 1918 to defeat in 1919, and the political chaos may have caused a psychological imprint on Germans that could lead to extreme nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

, later epitomized and exploited by Hitler.

Most historians agree that many industrial leaders identified the Weimar Republic with labour unions and with the Social Democrats, who had established the Versailles concessions of 1918/1919. Although some did see Hitler as a means to abolish the latter, the Republic was already unstable before any industry leaders were supporting Hitler. Even those who supported Hitler's appointment often did not support Nazism in its entirety and considered Hitler a temporary solution in their efforts to abolish the Republic. Industry support alone cannot explain Hitler's enthusiastic support by large segments of the population, including many workers who had turned away from the left.

Princeton
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 historian Harold James
Harold James (historian)
Harold James is a renowned historian, specializing in the history of Germany and European economic history. James is a prolific author, having published dozens of books and articles in his field...

 argues that there was a clear link between economic decline and people turning to extremist politics.

Institutional problems


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 Third Reich. However, the 1949 West German constitution (the Grundgesetz) is generally viewed as a strong response to these flaws.
  • The institution of the Reichspräsident was frequently considered as an Ersatzkaiser ("substitute emperor"), an attempt to replace the Kaiser 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 this 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
    Gleichschaltung
    Gleichschaltung , meaning "coordination", "making the same", "bringing into line", is a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control and tight coordination over all aspects of society. The historian Richard J...

    easier.

  • 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). This 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.

  • The use of proportional representation
    Proportional representation
    Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

     meant any party with a small amount of support could gain entry into the Reichstag
    Reichstag (Weimar Republic)
    The Reichstag was the parliament of Weimar Republic .German constitution commentators consider only the Reichstag and now the Bundestag the German parliament. Another organ deals with legislation too: in 1867-1918 the Bundesrat, in 1919–1933 the Reichsrat and from 1949 on the Bundesrat...

    . This led to many small parties, some extremist, building political bases within the system. Yet, the Reichstag of the monarchy was fractioned to a similar degree, even though elected by majority vote (under a two-round system
    Two-round system
    The two-round system is a voting system used to elect a single winner where the voter casts a single vote for their chosen candidate...

    ). The republic did not fall due to the small parties, but to the strength of the communists, conservatives and national socialists. Nevertheless, the modern German Bundestag has introduced a 5% threshold limit for a party to gain parliamentary representation.

  • The Reichstag could remove the Reichskanzler from office even if it was unable to agree on a successor. This "Motion of No Confidence
    Motion of no confidence
    A motion of no confidence is a parliamentary motion whose passing would demonstrate to the head of state that the elected parliament no longer has confidence in the appointed government.-Overview:Typically, when a parliament passes a vote of no...

    " meant, since 1932, that a government could not be held in office when the parliament came together. As a result, the 1949 Grundgesetz stipulates that a chancellor may only be voted down by Parliament if a successor is elected at the same time (see Constructive Vote of No Confidence
    Constructive vote of no confidence
    The constructive vote of no confidence is a variation on the motion of no confidence which allows a parliament to withdraw confidence from a head of government only if there is a positive majority for a prospective successor...

    ).

  • The political parties started to have a role in creating a government only in October 1918. They had no time to get used to that, under the old system.

Role of individuals


Brüning's economic policy from 1930–1932 has been the subject of much debate. It caused many Germans to identify the Republic with cuts in social spending and extremely liberal economics. Whether there were alternatives to this policy during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 is an open question.

Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 became Reichspräsident in 1925.

Constituent states



Prior to World War I, the constituent states of the German Empire were 22 smaller monarchies, three republican city-states and the Imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine
Alsace-Lorraine
The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle region of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east...

. After the territorial losses of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 and the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the remaining states continued as republics. The former Ernestine duchies
Ernestine duchies
The Ernestine duchies, also called the Saxon duchies , were a changing number of small states largely located in the present German state of Thuringia, governed by dukes of the Ernestine line of the House of Wettin.-Overview:The...

 continued briefly as republics before merging to form the state of Thuringia
Thuringia
The Free State of Thuringia is a state of Germany, located in the central part of the country.It has an area of and 2.29 million inhabitants, making it the sixth smallest by area and the fifth smallest by population of Germany's sixteen states....

 in 1920, except for Saxe-Coburg
Saxe-Coburg
Saxe-Coburg was a duchy held by the Ernestine branch of the Wettin dynasty in today's Bavaria, Germany.After the Division of Erfurt in 1572, Coburg was part of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach, ruled by the Ernestine duke John Casimir jointly with his brother John Ernest. In 1596...

, which became part of Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

.

These states were gradually de facto abolished under the Nazi regime via the Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung , meaning "coordination", "making the same", "bringing into line", is a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control and tight coordination over all aspects of society. The historian Richard J...

 process, as the states were largely re-organised into Gaue. However, the city-state of Lübeck was formally incorporated into Prussia in 1937 following the Greater Hamburg Act — apparently motivated by Hitler's personal dislike for the city. Most of the remaining states were formally dissolved by the Allies at the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and ultimately re-organised into the modern states of Germany
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

.

See also


  • Weimar culture
    Weimar culture
    Weimar culture was a flourishing of the arts and sciences that happened during the Weimar Republic...

  • Inflation in the Weimar Republic
    Inflation in the Weimar Republic
    The hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic was a three year period of hyperinflation in Germany between June 1921 and July 1924.- Analysis :...

  • Gleichschaltung
    Gleichschaltung
    Gleichschaltung , meaning "coordination", "making the same", "bringing into line", is a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control and tight coordination over all aspects of society. The historian Richard J...

  • Centre Party Germany
  • Franz von Papen
    Franz von Papen
    Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

  • Weimar Constitution
    Weimar constitution
    The Constitution of the German Reich , usually known as the Weimar Constitution was the constitution that governed Germany during the Weimar Republic...

  • Württemberg Landtag elections in the Weimar Republic
    Württemberg Landtag elections in the Weimar Republic
    This table shows the historical election results for the Landtag in the Free People's State of Württemberg, a part of the Weimar Republic. This was the successor state of the former Kingdom of Württemberg in southwestern Germany, between the end of the German Empire and start of the Nazi regime in...

  • Timeline of the Weimar Republic
  • The 1920s Berlin Project

Further reading


  • Eschenburg, Theodor (1972) "The Role of the Personality in the Crisis of the Weimar Republic: Hindenburg, Brüning, Groener, Schleicher" pages 3–50 from Republic to Reich The Making Of The Nazi Revolution edited by Hajo Holborn
    Hajo Holborn
    Hajo Holborn was a German-American historian and specialist in modern German history.- Life :...

    , New York: Pantheon Books.


External links