Was the Weimar Republic Doomed from its beginnings?

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Was the Weimar Republic Doomed from its beginnings? Slide 2 The Second Reich Hereditary Kaiser (emperor) appoint/dismiss ministers at will Could dissolve Reichstag at will Head of the armed forces Especially revered in Prussian culture Responsible for Foreign Policy Weak Reichstag could not remove chancellor or government ministers Agree or reject laws proposed by Kaiser or his government Socialist SPD largest Socialist parliamentary group in Europe Reichsrat 26 state state governments Control over local affairs Could veto Reichstag legislation Slide 3 First World War Muddled start to war Pre-emptive strike due to Russian Mobilisation Wave of nationalistic fervour All parties pledge support for the war (including SPD) Civic Truce Socialist conference about war in Switzerland Pro-war versus anti-war Communists surprised at socialist support for armies Class war versus nationalism SPD expect political concessions from establishment in return for support Although prepared to wait until victory is achieved Slide 4 War of Attrition Sclieffen Plan fails in 1914 Consumer goods sacrificed for Total War Black Market profiteers could provide goods (at a price) Royal Navy Blockade starts immediately Food supply problems Food riots Strikes Lawlessness Disease 1916 Hindenburg and Ludendorff take supreme command of war effort Above Reichstag, Chancellor and even Kaiser Popular move whilst German armed forces are doing well Conditioned Germans to expect victory through sacrifices being made Slide 5 The War Drags On German response to Blockade Unlimited Submarine Warfare Not as effective as blockade Brings US into war Russian Revolution provides hope to the Germans Potentially frees up millions of German soldiers Turn down peace overtures from allies Confident of victory through their own efforts Negotiations with Bolsheviks drawn out Had to restart Eastern Front campaign in 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk punitive towards Russia Required vast manpower just to garrison newly acquired territory Slide 6 Slide 7 1918 Clutching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory Ludendorff Summer Offensive New tactics Storm-troopers infiltrating enemy lines Initially successful, massive advances Outskirts of Paris Amazed to find allies have significant supplies whilst their own rations / conditions were so poor US Allied counter-attacks easily recover German gains German forces out of emplacements Poor Morale Exhausted meagre supply chains Slide 8 Slide 9 Staring Defeat in the Face! German Army in full retreat 2 million dead 6 million wounded Blockade starving civilians and military alike Defeatism and collapse of morale Turks, Bulgarians, Austro-Hungarians all negotiating surrenders German High Command realise that defeat is imminent! Slide 10 Deflecting Blame! September 29 th Generals suggest a new Civilian Government to negotiate an armistice with Allies Why? Slide 11 Deflecting Blame! Generals suggest a new Civilian Government to negotiate an armistice with Allies Why? They knew that continuing the war was hopeless They could avoid some of the blame for losing the war German High Command was basically running Germany They felt that the Allies would be more sympathetic negotiating with Civilians rather than with Military Wilson! Slide 12 Chancellor von Baden October 3 rd New Civilian Government Led by Prince Max of Baden Full Reichstag Support Including liberals and socialists First Job To negotiate the armistice/surrender! Amenable to Wilsons 14 points Slide 13 I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view. II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants. III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance. IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety. V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined. VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy. VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired. VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all. IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality. X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development. XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into. XII. The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees. XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant. XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike. Slide 14 Wilsons 14 Points US President Wilson seemed to offer more favourable terms with his 14 Points Compared to the vindictive French! Wilson refused to negotiate with Kaiser or with military autocrats Belief in Democracy and Democratic Governments ButFrance and Britain not keen on handing over negotiating rights to this Johnny come lately Slide 15 The Deteriorating Situation: The Kiel Mutiny German Navy had been starved of resources In port since Battle of Jutland, 1916 Bored sailors Poor morale High command order fleet to sea for one final desperate bid to unblock blockade Sailors refuse to follow orders October 28 th Mutiny Red flags prevalent Influence of Russian revolution Soldiers hear of sailors mutiny German soldiers begin to mutiny, desert, surrender Discipline collapses across Western Front Government realise that defeat is imminent! Need to act to forestall a full scale Communist Revolution! Slide 16 Speeding up of negotiations 5 th November Wilson agrees to use 14 points But adds that Germany liable for all damage caused Baden government prevaricates French and British furious to find US negotiating without them November 9 th Allies revise demands Rhine to be occupied German Fleet to be handed over East Africa to be handed over All munitions to be handed over All Allied POWs to be freed immediately Slide 17 Bare-Face Outrageous Treason and 2 Republics in One Day! November 9 th Baden Government reeling from new demands Communists feel that conditions are ripe for a revolution Spartacist Revolution USPD (Independent Socialists) Karl Leibknecht and Rosa Luxembourg Support from Lenin Bavaria declared a Socialist Republic Soviet Republic of Germany declared! General Strike announced Slide 18 Bare-Face Outrageous Treason and 2 Republics in One Day! November 9 th Majority Socialists (SPD) oppose Spartacist Revolution Afraid of model of October Revolution! Would prefer a February Revolution! Call for Kaiser to abdicate to remove wind from Spartacist demands Kaiser dithers cannot make up his mind Chancellor Baden decides for him! Announces Kaisers abdication Est