Weimar Republic

Weimar Republic (Weimarer Republik) is an unofficial, historical designation for the German state between 1919 and 1933. The name derives from the city of Weimar, where its constitutional assembly first took place. The official name of the state was still Deutsches Reich; it had remained unchanged since 1871.
In English the country was usually known simply as Germany. A national assembly was convened in Weimar, where a new constitution for the Deutsches Reich was written, and adopted on 11 August 1919.
In its fourteen years, the Weimar Republic faced numerous problems, including hyperinflation, political extremism (with paramilitaries – both left- and right-wing); and contentious relationships with the victors of the First World War. The people of Germany blamed the Weimar Republic rather than their wartime leaders for the country’s defeat and for the humiliating terms of the Treaty of Versailles. However, the Weimar Republic government successfully reformed the currency, unified tax policies, and organised the railway system.
Weimar Germany eliminated most of the requirements of the Treaty of Versailles; it never completely met its disarmament requirements, and eventually paid only a small portion of the war reparations (by twice restructuring its debt through the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan). Under the Locarno Treaties, Germany accepted the western borders of the republic, but continued to dispute the Eastern border.

From 1930 onwards President Hindenburg used emergency powers to back Chancellors Heinrich Brüning, Franz von Papen and General Kurt von Schleicher. The Great Depression, exacerbated by Brüning’s policy of deflation, led to a surge in unemployment.
In 1933, Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor with the Nazi Party being part of a coalition government. The Nazis held two out of the remaining ten cabinet seats. Von Papen as Vice Chancellor was intended to be the “éminence grise” who would keep Hitler under control, using his close personal connection to Hindenburg.
Within months the Reichstag Fire Decree and the Enabling Act of 1933 had brought about a state of emergency: it wiped out constitutional governance and civil liberties. Hitler’s seizure of power (Machtergreifung) was permissive of government by decree without legislative participation. These events brought the republic to an end: as democracy collapsed, a single-party state founded the Nazi era.


 

The Name

The Weimar Republic is so called because the assembly that adopted its constitution met at Weimar, Germany from 6 February 1919 to 11 August 1919, though this name only became mainstream after 1933. Between 1919 and 1933 there was no single name for the new state that gained widespread acceptance, which is precisely why the old name “Deutsches Reich” continued in existence even though hardly anyone used it during the Weimar period.
To the right of the spectrum the politically engaged rejected the new democratic model and cringed to see the honour of the traditional word “Reich” associated with it. The Catholic Centre party, Zentrum favoured the term “Deutscher Volksstaat” (“German People’s State”) while on the moderate left the Chancellor’s SPD preferred “Deutsche Republik” (“German Republic”).
By 1925 “Deutsche Republik” was used by most Germans, though for the anti-democratic right the word “Republik” was, along with the relocation of the seat of power to Weimar, a painful reminder of a government structure that had been imposed by foreign statesmen, along with the expulsion of Kaiser Wilhelm in the wake of massive national humiliation.
The first recorded mention of the term “Republik von Weimar” (“Republic of Weimar”) came during a speech delivered by Adolf Hitler at a National Socialist German Worker’s Party rally in Munich on 24 February 1929; it was a few weeks later that the term “Weimar Republik” was first used (again by Hitler) in a newspaper article. Only during the 1930s did the term become mainstream, both within and outside Germany.


 

Flag & Coat of Arms

After the introduction of the republic, the flag and coat of arms of Germany were officially altered to reflect the political changes. The Weimar Republic retained the Reichsadler, but without the symbols of the former Monarchy (Crown, Collar, Breast shield with the Prussian Arms). This left the black eagle with one head, facing to the right, with open wings but closed feathers, with a red beak, tongue and claws and white highlighting.

By reason of a decision of the Reich’s Government I hereby announce, that the Imperial coat of arms on a gold-yellow shield shows the one headed black eagle, the head turned to the right, the wings open but with closed feathering, beak, tongue and claws in red color. If the Reich’s Eagle is shown without a frame, the same charge and colors as those of the eagle of the Reich’s coat of arms are to be used, but the tops of the feathers are directed outside. The patterns kept by the Federal Ministry of the Interior are decisive for the heraldic design. The artistic design may be varied for each special purpose.

— — President Ebert; Minister of the Interior, Koch, Announcement concerning the federal coat of arms and the imperial eagle of November 11, 1919, Bekanntmachung betreffend das Reichswappen und den Reichsadler (Announcement concerning the imperial coat of arms and the imperial eagle).
The republican tricolour is based on the flag that the Paulskirche Constitution of 1849 introduced, which was decided upon by the German National Assembly in Frankfurt am 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 called Schwarz-Rot-Gold in German (English: Black-Red-Gold).

These signs had remained symbols of the Paulskirche movement. Weimar wanted to express its origins in that political movement between 1849 and 1858; while anti-republicans opposed this flag. The first German Confederal Navy (Reichsflotte) (1848–1852) had proudly deployed a naval ensign based on Schwarz-Rot-Gold, the Weimar republic navy, or Reichsmarine (1918–1933) insisted on using the pre-1918 colours of the previous Kaiserliche Marine (1871–1918), which were Black-White-Red, as did the German merchant marine.

The republicans took up the idea of the German Coat of Arms established by the Paulskirche movement, using the same charge animal, an eagle, in the same colours (black, red and gold), though modernising its form, including a reduction of the heads from two to one. Friedrich Ebert initially declared the official German coat of arms to be a design by Emil Doepler (shown in the infobox above) as of 12 November 1919, following a decision of the German government.

In 1928, however, the Reichswappen (Reich coat of arms) designed by Tobias Schwab (1887–1967) in 1926 [or 1924[11]] replaced it as the official emblem for the German Olympic team.
The Reichswehr adopted the new Reichswappen in 1927. Doepler’s design then became the Reichsschild (Reich’s escutcheon) with restricted use such as pennant for government vehicles. In 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) adopted all three signs of Weimar Republic, Reichswappen, Reichsschild and Reichsflagge as Bundeswappen, Bundesschild and Bundesflagge.


 

Armed Forces

After the dissolution of the Imperial army, the Reichswehr, in 1918, Germany’s military forces consisted of irregular paramilitaries, namely the various right-wing Freikorps groups composed of veterans from the war. The Freikorps units were formally disbanded in 1920 (although continued to exist in underground groups), and on 1 January 1921, a new Reichswehr (figuratively; Defence of the realm) was created.

The Treaty of Versailles limited the size of the Reichswehr to 100,000 soldiers (consisting of seven infantry divisions and three cavalry divisions), 10 armoured cars and a navy (the Reichsmarine) restricted to 36 ships in active service. No aircraft of any kind was allowed. The main advantage of this limitation, however, was that the Reichswehr could afford to pick the best recruits for service. However, with inefficient armour and no air support, the Reichswehr would have had limited combat abilities. Privates were mainly recruited from the countryside, as it was believed that young men from cities were prone to socialist behaviour, which would fray the loyalty of the privates to their conservative officers.

Although technically in service of the republic, the army was predominantly officered by conservative reactionaries who were sympathetic to right-wing organisations. Hans von Seeckt, the head of the Reichswehr, declared that the army was not loyal to the democratic republic, and would only defend it if it were in their interests.
During the Kapp Putsch for example, the army refused to fire upon the rebels. However, as right wing as the army was, it hesitated to assist the Nazis, whom they mostly viewed as thugs.
The SA was the Reichswehr’s main opponent throughout its existence, as they saw them as a threat to their existence, and the army fired at them during the Beerhall Putsch.
Upon the establishment of the SS, the Reichswehr took a softer look upon the Nazis since the SS seemed more respectable, and openly favoured order over anarchy. In 1935, two years after Hitler came to power, the Reichswehr was renamed the Wehrmacht.


 

History of the Weimar Republic

November Revolution (1918–1919)

In October 1918, the constitution of the German Empire was reformed to give more powers to the elected parliament. On 29 October, rebellion broke out in Kiel among sailors. There, sailors, soldiers, and workers began electing workers’ and soldiers’ councils (Arbeiter und Soldatenräte) modeled after the Soviets of the Russian Revolution of 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.

At the time, the Socialist movement which represented mostly laborers was split among two major left-wing parties: the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), which called for immediate peace negotiations and favored a soviet-style command economy, and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) also known as “Majority” Social Democratic Party of Germany (MSPD), which supported the war effort and favoured a parliamentary system. The rebellion caused great fear in the establishment and in the middle classes because of the Soviet Russia aspirations of the councils. To centrist and conservative citizens, the country looked to be on the verge of a communist revolution.

By 7 November the revolution had reached Munich, resulting in King Ludwig III of Bavaria fleeing. The MSPD decided to make use of their support at the grassroots and put themselves at the front of the movement, demanding 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. Gustav Noske, 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 him as an experienced politician and allowed him to negotiate a settlement, thus defusing the initial anger of the revolutionaries in uniform.

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. Two hours later, a “Free Socialist Republic” was proclaimed, 2 km (1.2 mi) away, at the Berliner Stadtschloss. The proclamation was issued by Karl Liebknecht, co-leader (with Rosa Luxemburg) 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. 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’ councils, a coalition government called “Council of the People’s Deputies” (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 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.

The Executive Council of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils, a coalition that included Majority Socialists, Independent Socialists, workers, and soldiers, implemented a programme of progressive social change, introducing reforms such as the eight-hour workday, the releasing of political prisoners, the abolition of press censorship, increases in workers’ old-age, sick and unemployment benefits, and the bestowing upon labour the unrestricted right to organise into unions.[15]

A number of other reforms were carried out in Germany during the revolutionary period. It was made harder for estates to sack workers and prevent them from leaving when they wanted to; under the Provisional Act for Agricultural Labour of 23 November 1918 the normal period of notice for management, and for most resident labourers, was set at six weeks. In addition, a supplementary directive of December 1918 specified that female (and child) workers were entitled to a fifteen-minute break if they worked between four and six hours, thirty minutes for workdays lasting six to eight hours, and one hour for longer days.[16] A decree on 23 December 1918 established committees (composed of workers’ representatives “in their relation to the employer”) to safeguard the rights of workers. The right to bargain collectively was also established, while it was made obligatory “to elect workers’ committees on estates and establish conciliation committees.” A decree on 3 February 1919 removed the right of employers to acquire exemption for domestic servants and agricultural workers.[17]

With the Verordnung of 3 February 1919, the Ebert government reintroduced the original structure of the health insurance boards according to an 1883 law, with one-third employers and two-thirds members (i.e. workers).[18] From 28 June 1919 health insurance committees became elected by workers themselves.[19] The Provisional Order of January 1919 concerning agricultural labour conditions fixed 2,900 hours as a maximum per year, distributed as eight, ten, and eleven hours per day in four-monthly periods.[20] A code of January 1919 bestowed upon land-labourers the same legal rights that industrial workers enjoyed, while a bill ratified that same year obliged the States to set up agricultural settlement associations which, as noted by Volker Berghahn, “were endowed with the priority right of purchase of farms beyond a specified size.”[21] In addition, undemocratic public institutions were abolished, involving, as noted by one writer, the disappearance “of the Prussian Upper House, the former Prussian Lower House that had been elected in accordance with the three-class suffrage, and the municipal councils that were also elected on the class vote.”

On 11 November an armistice was signed at Compiègne 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.

A rift developed between the MSPD and USPD after Ebert called upon the OHL (supreme army command) for troops to put down a mutiny by a leftist military unit on 23/24 December 1918, in which members of the Volksmarinedivision had captured the city’s garrison commander Otto Wels and occupied the Reichskanzlei where the “Council of the People’s Deputies” 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 the People’s Deputies” after only seven weeks. On 30 December, the split deepened when the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) was formed out of a number of radical left-wing groups, including the left wing of the USPD and the “Spartacist League” group.

From November 1918 to January 1919, Germany was governed by the “Council of the People’s Deputies”, under the leadership of Ebert and Haase. The Council 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. Ebert called for a “National Congress of Councils” (Reichsrätekongress), which took place from 16 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.

To ensure his fledgling government maintained control over the country, Ebert made an agreement with the OHL, now led by Ludendorff’s successor General Wilhelm Groener. 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 to 100,000 army soldiers and 15,000 sailors, remained fully under the control of the German officer class, despite their nominal re-organisation.

In January, the Spartacist League and others in the streets of Berlin made more armed attempts to establish communism, known as the Spartacist uprising. Those attempts were put down by paramilitary Freikorps units consisting of volunteer soldiers. Bloody street fights culminated in the beating and shooting deaths of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht 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 organised, 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 created a republic under a parliamentary republic system with the Reichstag elected by proportional representation. The democratic parties obtained a solid 80% of the vote.

During the debates in Weimar, fighting continued. A Soviet republic was declared in Munich, 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 organisations in Bavaria, including Organisation Consul, the Nazi Party, 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 in Provinz Posen and three Silesian Uprisings in Upper Silesia.

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 its vast industrial resources available to the beleaguered Allies.
By late summer 1918 the German reserves were exhausted while fresh American troops arrived in France at the rate of 10,000 a day. Retreat and defeat were at hand, and the Army told the Kaiser to abdicate for it could no longer support him. Although in retreat, the German armies were still on French and Belgian territory when the war ended on 11 November.
Ludendorf and Hindenburg soon proclaimed 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 many monarchists and conservatives would refuse to support the government of what they called the “November criminals”.

Years of crisis (1919–1923) & the Treaty of Versailles

The growing post-war economic crisis was a result of lost pre-war industrial exports, the loss of supplies in raw materials and foodstuffs due to the continental blocus, and the loss of 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. In part, the economic losses can also be attributed to the Allied blockade of Germany until the Treaty of Versailles.

The Allies permitted only low import levels of goods that most Germans could not afford.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

The German peace delegation in France signed the Treaty of Versailles, accepting mass reductions of the German military, the prospect of substantial war reparations payments to the victorious allies, and the controversial “War Guilt Clause”. Explaining the rise of extreme nationalist movements in Germany shortly after the war, British historian Ian Kershaw points to the “national disgrace” that was “felt throughout Germany at the humiliating terms imposed by the victorious Allies and reflected in the Versailles Treaty…with its confiscation of territory on the eastern border and even more so its ‘guilt clause.'”[25]Adolf Hitler repeatedly blamed the republic and its democracy for accepting the oppressive terms of this treaty. The Republic’s first Reichspräsident (“Reich President”), Friedrich Ebert 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, where Germans constituted only part or a minority of local populations despite nationalist outrage at the fragmentation of Germany.

Allied Rhineland occupation

The occupation of the Rhineland took place following the Armistice with Germany of 11 November 1918. The occupying armies consisted of American, Belgian, British and French forces.

In 1920, under massive French pressure, the Saar was separated from the Rhine Province and administered by the League of Nations until a plebiscite in 1935, when the region was returned to the Deutsches Reich. At the same time, in 1920, the districts of Eupen and Malmedy were transferred to Belgium (see German-Speaking Community of Belgium). Shortly after, France completely occupied the Rhineland, strictly controlling all important industrial areas.

Reparations

The actual amount of reparations that Germany was obliged to pay out was not the 132 billion marks decided in the London Schedule of 1921 but rather the 50 billion marks stipulated in the A and B Bonds. Historian Sally Marks says the 112 billion marks in “C bonds” were entirely chimerical—a device to fool the public into thinking Germany would pay much more. The actual total payout from 1920 to 1931 (when payments were suspended indefinitely) was 20 billion German gold marks, worth about $5 billion US dollars or £1 billion British pounds. 12.5 billion was cash that came mostly from loans from New York bankers. The rest was goods such as coal and chemicals, or from assets like railway equipment. The reparations bill was fixed in 1921 on the basis of a German capacity to pay, not on the basis of Allied claims. The highly publicised rhetoric of 1919 about paying for all the damages and all the veterans’ benefits was irrelevant for the total, but it did determine how the recipients spent their share. Germany owed reparations chiefly to France, Britain, Italy and Belgium; the US Treasury received $100 million.[26]

Hyperinflation

In the early post-war years, inflation was growing at an alarming rate, but the government simply printed more currency to pay debts. By 1923, the Republic claimed it could no longer afford the reparations payments required by the Versailles Treaty, and the government defaulted on some payments. In response, French and Belgian troops occupied the Ruhr region, 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 and the social life.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

In 1919, one loaf of bread cost 1 mark; by 1923, the same loaf of bread cost 100 billion marks.

Since striking workers were paid benefits by the state, much additional currency was printed, fuelling a period of hyperinflation. 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; many banks & industrial firms did the same.[citation needed]

The value of the Papiermark had declined from 4.2 Marks per U.S. dollar in 1914 to one million per dollar by August 1923. This led to further criticism of the Republic. On 15 November 1923, a new currency, the Rentenmark, was introduced at the rate of one trillion (1,000,000,000,000) Papiermark for one Rentenmark, an action known as redenomination. At that time, one U.S. dollar was equal to 4.2 Rentenmark. Reparation payments were resumed, and the Ruhr was returned to Germany under the Locarno Treaties, which defined the borders between Germany, France, and Belgium.

Political turmoil

The Republic was soon under attack from both left- and right-wing sources. The radical left accused the ruling Social Democrats of having betrayed the ideals of the workers’ movement by preventing a communist revolution and sought to overthrow the Republic and do so themselves. Various right-wing sources opposed any democratic system, preferring an authoritarian, autocratic 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.

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 Bavarian government in Munich and declared the creation of the Bavarian Soviet Republic. The uprising was brutally attacked by Freikorps, which consisted mainly of ex-soldiers dismissed from the army and who were well-paid to put down forces of the Far Left. The Freikorps was an army outside the control of the government, but they were in close contact with their allies in the Reichswehr.

On 13 March 1920, 12,000 Freikorps soldiers occupied Berlin and installed Wolfgang Kapp (a right-wing journalist) as chancellor (Kapp Putsch). The national government fled to Stuttgart and called for a general strike 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 began in the Ruhr region 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 SPD 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 SPD supporters by the reactionary forces in the Freikorps on the instructions of the SPD ministers was to become a major source of conflict within the socialist movement and thus contributed to the weakening of the only group that could have withstood the National Socialist movement. Other rebellions were put down in March 1921 in Saxony and Hamburg.

In 1922, Germany signed the Treaty of Rapallo 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, which limited Germany to 100,000 soldiers and no conscription, naval forces of 15,000 men, twelve destroyers, six battleships, and six cruisers, no submarines or aircraft. However, Russia had pulled out of World War I against the Germans as a result of the 1917 Russian Revolution, and was excluded from the League of Nations. Thus, Germany seized the chance to make an ally. Walther Rathenau, the Jewish Foreign Minister who signed the treaty, was assassinated two months later by two ultra-nationalist army officers.

Further pressure from the political right came in 1923 with the Beer Hall Putsch, also called the Munich Putsch, staged by the Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler in Munich. In 1920, the German Workers’ Party 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 as chairman of the party in July 1921. On 8 November 1923, the Kampfbund, in a pact with Erich Ludendorff, took over a meeting by Bavarian prime minister Gustav von Kahr 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 the Bavarian authorities. Hitler was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for high treason, a minimum sentence for the charge. Hitler served less than eight months in a comfortable cell, receiving a daily stream of visitors before his release on 20 December 1924. While in jail, Hitler dictated Mein Kampf, which laid out his ideas and future policies. Hitler now decided to focus on legal methods of gaining power.

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