Tag Archives: Germany

The Big Four at the Paris Peace Conference

The Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles

This is a short revision podcast which presents an overview of the Paris Peace Conference the Treaty of Versailles.

For more detailed revision podcasts, you should instead see the specific podcasts on The Big Three at the Paris Peace Conference and The Treaty of Versailles.

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Scapa Flow

What happened when the German fleet was scuttled at Scapa Flow?

On the 21st June 1919, Admiral Ludwig von Reuter ordered the scuttling of the German High Seas naval fleet in Scapa Flow, a large natural harbor in the Orkney Islands in Scotland. The ships had been confined there under the terms of the Armistice that ended fighting in the First World War.

America had suggested that the fleet be interned in a neutral country but, as neither Norway nor Sweden agreed, Britain volunteered instead. The majority of the 74 German ships were in Scapa Flow by the 27th November, where they were guarded by British Battle Cruiser Force. The fleet was manned by a skeleton crew of less than 5,000 men that gradually reduced over the next few months as they were repatriated back to Germany.

Negotiations over the fate of the ships took place at the Paris Peace Conference, where the various representatives were struggling to agree on a resolution. While Britain wanted to destroy the ships in order to maintain their naval superiority, France and Italy each wanted to take a quarter each. Concerned that the entire fleet might be shared out between the victors, Admiral von Reuter, the German officer in charge of the interned fleet, began planning to scuttle or purposely sink the ships.

Shortly before 11.30 on the morning of the 21st June the order went out to scuttle the ships. By 5pm 52 of them had sunk. The sailors escaped on lifeboats, and were captured as British prisoners-of-war. Nine sailors were shot and killed, making them the last German casualties of the war.

Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany

Germany 1918-1945 Depth Study revision – quick links

Podcast LinkContent description

Weimar Germany 1919-1929

The situation in Germany after the First World War including early extremist uprisings (the Spartacist Revolt and the Kapp Putsch), the invasion of the Ruhr, and the causes and effects of hyperinflation. The appointment of Gustav Stresemann, the end of the occupation of the Ruhr, negotiation of the Dawes Plan, and the terms of Locarno Treaties.

The rise of Adolf Hitler,
1919-1929

Hitler’s early attitudes, control of the National Socialist German Workers Party, the actions of the SA/Stormtroopers and the Munich (Beer Hall) Putsch. Hitler's imprisonment and Mein Kampf, and how the ‘Stresemann period’ of German history led Hitler to use legal means in an attempt to gain political power.

The rise of Adolf Hitler, 1929-34

The effects of the Great Depression on Germany; the Presidential election campaign of 1932; the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor in 1933; the Reichstag Fire and the Enabling Act; the Night of the Long Knives; the death of President Hindenburg.

Nazi control of Germany, 1933-1945

Repression: Nazi control of the police and courts, the SS and the use of concentration camps, and the Gestapo.
Nazi achievements: assistance to farming communities, employment and improved working conditions. Middle-class and upper-class support.
Propaganda: role of the Reich Chamber of Culture; the effect of the radio; use of films; the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Life in Nazi Germany 1933-1945

Nazi systems for young people; the role of women and families within Nazi society; the experiences of minority groups under the Nazis.
Weimar Germany coat of arms

Establishment of the Weimar Republic: overview video

This short video provides an overview of the reasons for the establishment of the Weimar Republic.

Weimar Constitution

The signing of the Weimar Republic’s constitution

The Weimar Republic was officially established on 11th August 1919, when Friedrich Ebert signed the new constitution into law.

The National Assembly that created the constitution had convened in the city of Weimar, which is why the state of Germany from the inauguration of the new constitution until Hitler became Fuhrer is generally referred to as the Weimar Republic. However, its official name continued to be Deutsches Reich which had first been adopted in 1871.

The Weimar Republic was born amid civil strife and open revolt that engulfed cities across Germany in the closing weeks of the First World War. The November Revolution actually began at the end of October 1918, but quickly spread from the port of Kiel to reach as far as the southern city of Munich by the 7th November.

The “German Republic” was declared on the 9th November, shortly after Kaiser Wilhelm II’s abdication was announced. Power was swiftly transferred to Friedrich Ebert, who reluctantly accepted it and formed a coalition government known as the “Council of the People’s Deputies”. It was this government that therefore signed the armistice on the 11th November, and which authorised the brutal suppression of the Spartacist Uprising in January 1919. Just four days after the deaths of Spartacist leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht elections for the National Assembly took place, which convened in Weimar in order to avoid the unrest in Berlin.

It took the best of part of seven months for the delegates to agree on the terms of the constitution, and Ebert signed it into law while on holiday in Schwarzburg.

Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg

The killing of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg

On the 15th January 1919, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were killed by members of the Freikorps. The two German socialists were joint-founders of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany, and were captured following the Spartacist uprising that began on the 4th January.

Luxemburg and Liebknecht were members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany when Germany declared war in 1914. Frustrated by the wider SPD’s support for Germany’s declaration of war, they and other leftists created a separate organisation known as the Spartakusbund or Spartacus League. Named after the leader of the Roman Republic’s largest slave rebellion, the Spartacus League actively opposed the ongoing war. In 1916, both Luxemburg and Liebknecht were found guilty of high treason and imprisoned after they organised an anti-war demonstration.

They were released in 1918, and in December renamed the Spartacist League the Communist Party of Germany. By this point, following the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Germany was experiencing a post-war revolution. Friedrich Ebert, a centrist member of the SPD, had assumed the position of Chancellor but struggled to maintain control of the country. His government had begun to side with conservatives, while the left sought the establishment of a government based on workers’ councils.

On the 5th January thousands of people swarmed into the Berlin streets and began to occupy government and press officers. Two days later around half a million people began a general strike. By this point, however, Ebert had hired Freikorps to crush the revolt. They did so quickly, and violently. On the 15th January Luxemburg and Liebknecht were arrested, tortured, interrogated and executed.

Make Germany Pay

‘Make Germany Pay’ – the Treaty of Versailles

An overview of the background to the Paris Peace Conference in 1918, and an explanation of the aims of the ‘Big Three’.  It goes on to describe the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and Germany’s reaction to them.

Weimar Hyperinflation

Weimar Germany 1919-1929 podcast

This revision podcast is relevant to both GCSE and IGCSE History students.  The aim is to present an overview of events in Weimar Germany from 1919-1929. You could use the Q&A sheet while you listen, and then test yourself on the content later. After listening, you may wish to also use the Weimar Germany Revision PowerPoint.

The episode focus on two key periods: 1919-23 and 1924-29.

The first section begins with an outline of the situation in Germany after the First World War.  Particular attention is paid to the early extremist uprisings (the Spartacist Revolt and the Kapp Putsch), the invasion of the Ruhr, and the causes and effects of hyperinflation.  The second section of the podcast begins with the appointment of Gustav Stresemann.  It explains the end of the occupation of the Ruhr, negotiation of the Dawes Plan, and the terms of Locarno Treaties.

The podcast ends with tips on how to answer a question about ‘how successful’ Weimar Germany was.  Examples are given of signs of recovery, as well evidence that Weimar Germany was still unstable.

     

Occupation of the Ruhr

The French and Belgian occupation of the Ruhr, 11th January 1923

On the 11th January 1923, French and Belgian troops marched into Germany and occupied the industrial Ruhr area. The two countries had grown increasingly frustrated by Germany frequently defaulting on its reparations that had been agreed in the Treaty of Versailles. The occupation was met with passive resistance, which was only called off on the 26th September as rampant hyperinflation crippled the German economy.

 

Although the French leader Raymond Poincaré was initially reluctant to occupy the Ruhr, he had grown increasingly exasperated by Germany’s regular defaults and the lack of international support for sanctions as a way to persuade her to pay. He argued strongly that the reparations themselves were not the key issue, but rather that allowing Germany to defy this part of the Treaty of Versailles could lead to further attempts to undermine the Treaty at a later date.

Despite these arguments it was Germany’s failure to provide the full quota of coal and timber in December 1922 that provided France and Belgium with the excuse to occupy the Ruhr on the 11th January 1923. They established the Inter-Allied Mission for Control of Factories and Mines to ensure that goods payments were made, but the Germans responded with a campaign of passive resistance. Tensions were high between the occupiers and Ruhr locals, and by the time Gustav Stresemann’s new government called off the strikes in September approximately 130 German civilians had been killed by the occupying army.

The occupation enabled France and Belgium to extract reparations, but it was Germany that won international sympathy. The last French troops finally left the Ruhr on the 25th August 1925.

The end of Germany’s strike in the Ruhr

On the 26th September 1923, German Chancellor Gustav Stresemann ended passive resistance in the Ruhr and resumed the payment of First World War reparations.

By doing so he was able to slow down the economic crisis that was enveloping the country and show that he accepted the international realities of the new era. Although greeted with anger from both Left and Right Wing parties, Stresemann’s actions laid the foundation for the economic recovery that Germany experienced up until the onset of the Great Depression.

The 1921 London Schedule of Payments set out both the reparations amount, and the timetable over which Germany was expected to pay for its defeat in the First World War. However, from the very start of the payments Germany missed some its targets. Failure to provide the full quota of coal and timber in December 1922, provided the excuse for France and Belgium to occupy the Ruhr on the 11th January 1923.

Occupation was met with passive resistance, and the striking workers were paid with money printed by the government. This contributed to the rampant hyperinflation that had begun to cripple the economy from before the occupation even began. Aware that the situation was unsustainable, Stresemann – who had only been Chancellor for six weeks – called off passive resistance after nine months and started to pay reparations again. This marked the start of Germany’s international rehabilitation, although within Germany it was met with opposition from both Left and Right extremists. For that reason, Stresemann asked President Ebert to announce a state of emergency under Article 48 of the constitution on the same day.