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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