A look on the cultural climate in Germany between the wars; the National Socialist regime, many think we are approaching the same scene in political history today in the Western World.
Known also as the Weimar period, the Republic was named after the city of Weimar, were a national assembly convened to produce a new constitution after the German Empire was abolished following the Nation's defeat in World War 1.
The "Deutches Reich" name was used by the German monarchy before 1919. "Weimar Republic" is an invention of historians. "Reich" used to mean Empire.
During a time of civil conflict, this was an attempt to establish liberal democracy into Germany, but failed with the advent of Adolph Hitler's Nazi Party in 1933.
Although technically the 1919 constitution was not invalidated until after World War 2, the legal measures taken by the Nazi government in 1933 (Gleichschanltun) destroyed the mechanisms of a typical democratic system, so 1933 is cited as the end of the Weimar Republic.
Controlled revolution: the establishment of the Repbulic (1918-1919)
A civil government was installed after it was clear that Germany had lost the first world war. In 1918 the 1871 constitution was amended to make the Reich a parliamentary democracy, which the government had refused for half a century,the Chancellor was now responsible to Parliament,and no longer to the Kaiser.
Obsolete was the idea to transform Germany into a constitutional monarch such as Britain as the country slid into a state of near-total chaos. Violence was rampant with psychologically wounded soldiers from the front and the forces of the political right and left fought not only each other, but among themsleves.
Without consultation the military command ordered the German High Seas Fleet to sortie: a useless military move and certain to bring peace negotiations to a halt. Ships crews mutinied,were arrested, which bought about a rebellion that swept aver most of Germany. Seamen, soldiers and worker, in solidarity with the arrested, began electing worker and soldier councils modelled after the soviets of the Russian Revolution of 1917; and seized military and civil powers in cities. The Revolution reached Munich casuing King Ludwig 3 to flee.
In contrast to Russia, the councils were not controlled by a communist party. Still, with the emergence of the Soviet Union, the rebellion caused great fear in the establishment down to the middle classes. The country seemed to be on the verge of a communist revolution.
At the time the political representation of the working clas was divide a faction had separated from the Social Democratic Party, the traditional working-clas party, calling themselves "Independent Social Democrats"(USPD) and leaning towards a socialist system. The "majority Social Democrats" (MSPD) tried to establish a regency by demanding the abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II . He refused, so Prince Max of Baden announced he had abdicated anyway. In a dubiously illegal move, Baden switched his powers to Friedrich Ebert, the leader of the MSPD, who shattered by the monarchy's fall, reluctantly accepted. Two communists, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, (the Spartacist League) opposed the the new government confirmed by the Berlin worker and soldier council, the "Council of Poeple's Commissioners".
From November 1918 to January 1919, Germany was governed dicatatorially by the Council of People's Commissioners. In those three months, the government was extraordinarily active and issued a large amount of decrees. Athe same time, it's main activities were confined to certain spheres: the eight-hour day, labour reform,agricultural labour reform, right of civil-service associations, local municipality 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 Sozialdemokratische Republik" (The German Social- Democratic Republic) appeared in leaflets and on posters from this era, although this was never the official name of the country.
The Reichswehr and the Revolution
Ebert made an unesy pact with the OHL,(Supreme Army command) to ensure fledgling control over the country. The government would not attempt to reform the Army as long as the army swore to protect the state. This was considered a betrayal of workers' interests by the radical left wing. The new model Reichswehr armed forces, limited by the Treaty of Versailles to 100,000 army soldiers and 15,000 seamen, remained fully under the control of the German officer class despite its nominal re-organisation. The Army had a large amont of influence over the fate of the republic.
This also marked one of several steps that caused the permanent split in the working class' political representation in the SPD and Communists. The eventual fate of the Weimar Republic derived significantly from the general political incapacity of the German labour movement. The several strands within the central mass of the socialist movement adhered more to sentimental loyalty to alliances arising from chance than to any recognition of political necessity. Combined action on the part of the socialists was impossible without action from the millions of workers who stood midway between the parliamentarians and the ultra-leftists who supported the workers councils. Confusioadsa made acute the danger of extreme right and extreme left engaging in virulent conflict.
The split became final after Ebert called upon the OHL for troops to put down another Berlin army mutiny on November 23,1918 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 was brutal with several dead and injured on both sides. This causedthe left wing to call for a split with the MSPD which, in their view, had joined with the Anti-Communist military to suppress the Revolution. The USPD thus left the council of People's Commissioners after only seven weeks. In December, the split deepened when the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands(KPD) was formed out of a number of radical left-wing groups, including the radical left wng of the USPD and the Spartacist League group.
to be continued.