The Weimar Republic: Years of Crisis, 1919-1923

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This period represents the first phase of three marking the years of crisis, 1919-1923.

Dr Matthews gives a brief outline of the strengths and weaknesses of the Constitution and a response to three key questions about this period (Why was there a revolution in 1918? Why was the Republic under threat 1919-23? Why did it survive these years of crisis?):

The Weimar Constitution and Three Key Questions 1919-23 (ppt)
Mr Allsop gives a decent five minute summary of the impact of World War I on Germany.


The German Revolution and the Weimar Republic

This is a very helpful, very clear explanation of the German defeat of WWI, the German Revolution and the ‘Stab in the back myth’.

This is the second part of the documentary, covering the Versailles agreement, the Communist Government set up in Bavaria in 1919, the Kapp Putsch of 1920 and the reparations payments.


Make Germany Pay

The following video – old and a bit jumpy towards the end – provides an excellent account of the aftermath of WWI, the Treaty of Versailles and its impact upon Germany and is highly recommended for getting an overview of the period.


The Spartacist Uprising, 1919

The following video contains original footage of the Spartacist uprising of 1919,
set to the tune of the socialist anthem ‘Internationale’ sung by the class-conscious Billy Brag.

Listen to the ‘In Our Time’ podcast about Rosa Luxemburg

Munich or Bavarian Soviet Republic, 1919

The next video is concerned with the ‘Munich Soviet Republic’ created for a brief time in Bavaria, but put down by the remnants of the army and the Freikorps in May 1919. Nazi propagandists would later use the creation of the socialist state of Bavaria to blame the whole German Jewish community for communist influences.


The Kapp Putsch, 1920

Of all the groups within Germany unhappy with the Treaty of Versailles, the army represented the most dangerous and least willing to comply. Demobbed soldiers began to form ‘free companies’ or Freikorps. When the government tried to disband these privateers, Freikorps units led by Wolfgang Kapp marched into Berlin and declared a new national government. Two important things happened next – 1. the army did not stop the putsch, demonstrating its unwillingness to support the democratic Weimar republic; 2. the government then appealed to the working class whose general strike brought the putsch to an end within days – demonstrating the power of an organised and united left.


Hyperinflation, 1923


The Beer Hall Putsch

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