Weimar Republic

German Reich

Deutsches Reich
Motto: "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit"
"Unity and Justice and Freedom"
Das Lied der Deutschen
(English: "Song of the Germans")
Germany in 1930
Germany in 1930
German states in 1920s (Free State of Prussia with its provinces shown in blue)
German states in 1920s (Free State of Prussia with its provinces shown in blue)
CapitalWeimar, later Berlin (de facto)
Common languagesOfficial:
1925 census[1]
64.1% Protestant (Lutheran, Reformed, United)
32.4% Roman Catholic
0.9% Jewish
2.6% Other
Government1919–30 Federal
constitutional republic
1930–33 De facto authoritarian
presidential republic
• 1919–25
Friedrich Ebert
• 1925–33
Paul von Hindenburg
• 1919 (first)
Philipp Scheidemann
• 1933 (last)
Adolf Hitler
• State Council
Historical eraInterwar period
• Established
9 November 1918
• Government by decree begins
29 March 1930[2]
• Hitler appointed Chancellor
30 January 1933
27 February 1933
24 March 1933
1925[3]468,787 km2 (181,000 sq mi)
• 1925[3]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
German Empire
Nazi Germany

The Weimar Republic (German: Weimarer Republik [ˈvaɪmaʁɐ ʁepuˈbliːk] (About this soundlisten)) is an unofficial historical designation for the German state from 1918 to 1933. The name derives from the city of Weimar, where its constitutional assembly first took place. The official name of the republic remained Deutsches Reich unchanged from 1871, because of the German tradition of substates. Although commonly translated as "German Empire", the word Reich here better translates as "realm", in that the term does not have monarchical connotations in itself. The Reich was changed from a constitutional monarchy into a republic. In English, the country was usually known simply as Germany.

Germany became a de facto republic on 9 November 1918 when Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated the German and Prussian thrones with no agreement made on a succession by his son Crown Prince Wilhelm, and became a de jure republic in February 1919 when the position of President of Germany was created. A national assembly was convened in Weimar, where a new constitution for Germany 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. Resentment in Germany towards the Treaty of Versailles was strong especially on the political right where there was great anger towards those who had signed the Treaty and submitted to fulfill the terms of it. The Weimar Republic 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).[4] Under the Locarno Treaties, Germany accepted the western borders of the country by abandoning irredentist claims on France and Belgium, but continued to dispute the eastern borders and sought to persuade German-speaking Austria to join Germany as one of Germany's states.

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.[5] 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 dictatorship of 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,[6] 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 remained even though hardly anyone used it during the Weimar period.[7] 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.[8] 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").[8] 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.[8] 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.[7] Only during the 1930s did the term become mainstream, both within and outside Germany.

According to historian Richard J. Evans:

The continued use of the term 'German Empire', Deutsches Reich, by the Weimar Republic....conjured up an image among educated Germans that resonated far beyond the institutional structures Bismarck created: the successor to the Roman Empire; the vision of God's Empire here on earth; the universality of its claim to suzerainty; and a more prosaic but no less powerful sense, the concept of a German state that would include all German speakers in central Europe--'one People, one Reich, one Leader', as the Nazi slogan was to put it.[9]
Other Languages
Alemannisch: Weimarer Republik
azərbaycanca: Veymar Respublikası
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Ваймарская рэспубліка
brezhoneg: Republik Weimar
dolnoserbski: Weimarska republika
Gàidhlig: Poblachd Weimar
hornjoserbsce: Weimarska republika
Bahasa Indonesia: Republik Weimar
interlingua: Republica de Weimar
Lëtzebuergesch: Weimarer Republik
Bahasa Melayu: Republik Weimar
Nederlands: Weimarrepubliek
Nordfriisk: Weimar Republiik
norsk nynorsk: Weimarrepublikken
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Veymar Respublikasi
Simple English: Weimar Republic
slovenščina: Weimarska republika
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Weimarska Republika
Tiếng Việt: Cộng hòa Weimar