Back to Smart Guide

[O] History(Elect) Smart Guides

0% Complete
0/0 Steps
  1. Unit 1: The World in Crisis

    1. Impact of World War I in Europe
    14 Topics
  2. 2. Stalin's Soviet Union
    12 Topics
  3. 3. Hitler's Germany
    27 Topics
  4. 4. Outbreak WWII in Europe
    13 Topics
  5. 5. Germany's Defeat in World War II
    21 Topics
  6. 6. Outbreak War in Asia Pacific
    6 Topics
  7. 7. Japan's Defeat
    10 Topics
  8. Unit 2: Bi-Polarity and the Cold War
    8. Reasons for the Cold War in Europe
    21 Topics
  9. 9. The Korean War
    19 Topics
  10. 10. Cuban Missile Crisis
    25 Topics
  11. 11. The End of Cold War
    19 Topics
Chapter 3, Topic 2
In Progress

Weaknesses of the Weimar Government

Chapter Progress
0% Complete

1. Weaknesses of the Weimar Government

a) Constitution and Proportional Representation

  • Democracy was a new experience for the German people. However, there were three serious weaknesses in this democratic system which contributed towards its eventual downfall.
Weakness of systemDetails
• People voted for a party rather than specific candidates.
• Parties gained same percentage of seats in parliament based on the number of votes won in the election.
• Democratic & fair system but resulted in high degree of division in parliament.
• Too many small, competing parties without any party gaining a majority
Coalition Government• All the parties came together to form a coalition government.
• A number of parties had extreme ideas and not willing to compromise.
• Coalition government kept breaking up, leading to frequent changes of government.
• There were 20 different coalition governments from 1919-1933.
• Difficult to pass laws, thus, seen as weak by the German people
Article 48 of Weimar
• Allowed the president to dissolve both houses of parliament & rule by decree for six months in ‘time of emergency’.
• Civil liberties could be suspended.
• What constituted as an emergency was not clearly defined.
• Exploited by Hitler to seize power legally and to remain in power.

b) Weak support

The Weimar government also lacked support from the people, politicians & soldiers. This could be seen in 1920 Kapp Putsch as right-wing extremists attempted to overthrow the government.

  • The civil service, judiciary, military and big businesses were mostly under the influence of advisors who had worked for the Kaiser and longed for his return.
  • It was therefore difficult for the Weimar government to gain their support and loyalty.

Thus, the Weimar government remained weak and struggled to hold on to power and authority.

c) Opposition from the Left and the Right wings

Between 1919 & 1923, both right and left-wing extremists tried to seize power by violent means.

Left-wing oppositionRight-wing opposition
• Wanted more equality in society.
• Influenced by 1917 Russian Bolshevik Revolution
• Opposed to democracy
• In Jan. 1919, Rosa Luxemburg & Karl Liebknecht led the communist Spartacist rebellion in Berlin
• Pres. Ebert made agreement with the army & the Freikorps to put down the rebellion
• Communist Workers’ Councils took control in many parts of Germany; communist ‘People’s Government’ took over Bavaria
• In 1920, the Freikorps, the army and the police ruthlessly crushed the communist Red Army rebellion in the Ruhr
• Felt that Germany should not be solely responsible for WW1
• Disagreed with terms of Versailles Treaty
• Wanted Germany’s army and industry to be strong again, and wanted territorial expansion
• Wanted a dictatorial style of government
• Many were extreme nationalists and called those leaders who ratified the Versailles Treaty as the ‘November Criminals’
• Did not accept Germany’s defeat in the war and blamed politicians for not having the courage to continue the war
Spartacist Rebellion• On 5 January 1918, the Spartacists launched a rebellion by organising a general strike against the Weimar government.
• They formed a revolutionary committee, took over control of public buildings & put up red flags, the symbol of communism, in the streets.
• Pres. Ebert used force to subdue them by deploying the Freikorps and the German Army, bringing the rebellion to an end on 10 January 1918.
• Many Spartacists were killed; the leaders, Luxemburg & Liebknecht, murdered
Kapp Putsch• In 1920, Wolfgang Kapp & General Walther von Luettwitz led soldiers to overthrow the Weimar government.
• Kapp was a right-wing politician who opposed Pres. Ebert and the Weimar Republic due to the humiliation of Germany signing the Versailles Treaty.
• General von Luettwitz led a group of Freikorps soldiers to take over control of Berlin and overthrow the Weimar government.
• On 13 March 1920, these soldiers took over Berlin and formed a right-wing government with Kapp as the PM, or Chancellor.
• However, the putsch did not have support of the people or the German Army, and it was crushed by a general strike organised by the trade unions in Berlin.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
How can we help you to make a better decision?