Wikipedia - Weimar Republic

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  • 8/10/2019 Wikipedia - Weimar Republic


    Weimar Republic 1

    Weimar Republic

    The Weimar Republic (Weimarer Republik, IPA: [vama epublik]) is the name given by historians to the

    parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government. It was named

    after Weimar, the city where the constitutional assembly took place. Its official name was Deutsches Reich

    (sometimes translated as German Empire, butReich can also mean realm or federal level of government), however,

    and it was usually known in English simply as Germany. Following World War I, the republic emerged from the

    German Revolution in November 1918. In 1919, a national assembly convened in Weimar, where a new constitution

    for the German Reich was written, then adopted on 11 August of that same year. Germany's period of liberal

    democracy lapsed in the early 1930s, leading to the ascent of the NSDAP and Adolf Hitler 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    constitution of 1919 was never officially repealed, the legal measures taken by the Nazi government in February and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 ("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.

    In its 14 years, the Weimar Republic was faced with numerous problems, including hyperinflation, political

    extremists on the left and the right and their paramilitaries, and hostility from the victors of World War I. However,

    it overcame many discriminatory regulations of the Treaty of Versailles, reformed the currency, and unified tax

    politics and the railway system.


    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, although the German word Reich 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.

    November Revolution

    In October 1918, the constitution of the German Empirewas reformed to introduce a parliamentary system similar to

    the British, but this soonbecame obsolete. On 29 October, rebellion broke out in Kiel among sailors. There, sailors,

    soldiers and workers began electing worker and soldier councils (Arbeiter- und Soldatenrte) modeled after the

    soviets of the Russian Revolution of 1917. The revolution spread throughout Germany, and particip ants seized

    military and civil powers in individual cities. In contrast to Russia one year earlier, the councils were controlled by

    social democrats, not communists. Nevertheless, the rebellion caused great fear in the establishment and in the

    middle classes because of the Soviet Russia connotation of the councils. The country seemed to be on the verge of a

    communist revolution. On 7 November, the revolution had reached Munich, causing King Ludwig III of Bavaria toflee.

    At the time, thetraditional political representation of the working class, the Social Democratic Party was divided: a

    faction that called for immediate peace negotiations and leaned towards a socialist system had founded the

    Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD)in 1917. In order not to lose their influence, the remaining Majority

    Social Democrats (MSPD), who supported the war efforts and a parliamentary system, decided to 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 under another

    member of the House of Hohenzollern. On 9 November 1918, the German Republic was proclaimed by MSPD

    member Philipp Scheidemann at the Reichstag building in Berlin, to the fury of Friedrich Ebert, the leader of the

    MSPD, who thought that the question of monarchy or republic should be answered by a national assembly. Twohours later a Free Socialist Republic was proclaimed, two kilometres away, at the Berliner Stadtschloss. The
  • 8/10/2019 Wikipedia - Weimar Republic


    Weimar Republic 2

    proclamation was issued by Karl Liebknecht, co-leader (with Rosa Luxemburg) of the communist Spartakusbund,

    which had allied itself with the USPD in 1917.

    Philipp Scheidemann talking from a

    window of the Reich Chancellery

    building to the people, November 9,


    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. It was apparent, however, that this act

    would not satisfy Liebknecht and his followers, so a day later, a coalitiongovernment 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 for the USPD it sought to

    act as collective head of state. Although the new government was confirmed by

    the Berlin worker and soldier council, it was opposed by the Spartacist League.

    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 managed to enforce quick elections for a National Assembly to produce a

    constitution for a parliamentary system, marginalizing the movement that c