Weimar Republic

The Weimar Republic, often referred to as the first “real” democracy on German soil (in the Kaiserreich, the parliament decided over the budget but the chief of government was appointed by the Kaiser – who, apart from that, did not have any executive power), was ill-fated: its “conception” on November 9, 1918, when the socialist leader Philipp Scheidemann highhandedly proclaimed the Republic, and its birth, when the constitution was voted on August 11, 1919,  where both the result of a series of betrayals and of violent external pressure.

Philipp Scheidemann

Philipp Scheidemann

The German Empire had been ahead of the other European nations not only with regard to education, research, technical innovation, and productivity but also concerning its welfare system (the first social insurance worldwide had been introduced under Bismarck). Thus, its citizens were enjoying a high standard of living (which does not exclude the fact that, judged from our contemporary point of view, many things could have been improved). However, due to the hardships of war and the violent opposition to the Reich by the socialists and the mass media (freedom of speech was higher than today in the Federal Republic of Germany, where it is impossible to express fundamental critique of the government system and its historical genesis in the mass media), discontent among the population was growing. Yet, the abrupt end of the Reich and the proclamation of the Republic where not making the nation’s situation better; they led to a series of new internal and external conflicts which were fundamental for the raise of the National Socialist Workers’ Party and the outbreak of the Second World War.

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Germany after WWII

  • On Mai 7 (General Major Jodl/the Western Allies) and 8 (General Field Marshall Keitel/the Soviets), 1945, the German army accepts unconditional surrender. Until today, a peace treaty between Germany and her enemies in the Second World War has not been signed. Thus, the legal status of the Federal Republic of Germany is dubious. Especially because of privileges which the three western main enemies of Germany still enjoy and because occupation forces actually still remain on German soil, some people hold the opinion that Germany still is an occupied/non autonomous country. The legal details are not known to the wast majority of Germans; they are not taught in school and never discussed publicly.
  • After surrender of the army, the German government under Karl von Dönitz was imprisoned (violating international law) and the country was occupied in the following way: Eastern Germany was assigned to Polish, Lithuanian, Czech and Soviet administration. Central Germany (Thuringia, Saxony, parts of Silesia, Western Brandenburg, Western Pomerania and Mecklenburg)  was occupied by the Soviet Union. The USA, England and France divided Western Germany in three zones of occupation. Austria was separated from Germany. Berlin was divided into four zones (Soviet, US, English, French).

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