Weimar Republic

Coat of arms
The Weimar Republic (German: Weimarer Republik  (About this sound listen)) is an unofficial, historical designation for the German state as it existed 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 remained Deutsches Reich, 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) as well as 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. Weimar Germany fulfilled most of the requirements of the Treaty of Versailles although 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 borders.

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, the founding of a single-party state began the Nazi era.

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, but 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, but 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 Weimarer 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.

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.

This page was last edited on 20 March 2018, at 22:44.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimar_Republic under CC BY-SA license.

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