1919-33: The Weimar Constitution | GCSE History Revision | Weimar & Nazi Germany

1919-33: The Weimar Constitution | GCSE History Revision | Weimar & Nazi Germany


It’s the 31st of July in 1919! A National Assembly in Germany has agreed a new constitution, by 262 votes to 75 votes. A constitution which becomes known as the Weimar Republic. The electorate (the people allowed to vote under the Weimar Constitution)… …consists of all men and women aged over 21. These people vote for a president every 7 years. The president plays no part in day-to-day politics. However, he does have some political powers. One of these powers is the power to choose the Chancellor. The Chancellor is the head of the German government and chooses all government ministers. Ministers are the people whose job it is to oversee a specific area of running the country… …such as finances or foreign affairs. The most important of these ministers make up the cabinet… …who are the most important decision-making body of the government. The Weimar Parliament was made up of two houses… …who the electorate vote for every four years. The Reichstag and Reichsrat. The Reichstag is the more powerful of these two houses. For instance, it controls taxation and is directly elected by the people. The Reichsrat, however, is made to represent the regions of Germany. And each region sends a different number of representatives, dependent upon its size. The bigger the region, the more people they send! The Weimar Constitution has many strengths. For instance, it is democratic. More so than both Germany under the Kaiser – and Britain at the time. The voting age had been reduced from 25 to 21, meaning even more people were able to vote. Furthermore, the Reichstag is elected using a system known as proportional representation (PR). This means a party gets one representative for every certain number of votes it gets. In the case of the Reichstag, every 60,000 votes elects 1 representative. The Constitution also has many checks and balances… …to stop any one person from gaining too much power over the republic. Under normal circumstances, the Chancellor, the head of the government… …can only pass laws if both the Reichstag and Reichsrat vote for them. The Reichsrat, the least powerful of the two houses… …can delay any new laws passed by the Reichstag. Unless the Reichstag overalls the Reichsrat by a two-thirds majority. Central government also has more power than it did under the Kaiser. However, local government still keeps some of its power… …giving each of the 18 regions of German some of their own independence. However, there are also weaknesses to the Constitution. Proportional representation means that smaller parties find it easier to gain seats in the Reichstag. Throughout the 1920s, 29 different parties held seats in the Reichstag at some stage. This causes weakness as it means there are often no majority governments. (where one party would hold more than half of the seats in the Reichstag) So coalitions have to be formed. These are governments where different parties team up. Until between them, they have more than half of the seats in the Reichstag. In order to do this, parties often have to compromise… …meaning there is often a lack of clear strong policies. Moreover, coalitions frequently fall apart. Between 1919 and 1923, there are nine different coalition governments! Also, the new constitution is weak in times of crisis. The compromise needed to form coalitions means it is hard for them… …to give swift clear decisions during a crisis. However, the Constitution does have a way to get around this problem – known as Article 48. Article 48 allows the Chancellor to bypass the Reichstag in times of crisis. He can pass laws straight through the President [, ignoring Parliament]. This article becomes open to exploitation, as it allows the Chancellor to bypass democracy. By 1930, the Chancellor is regularly relying on article 48. Not only is this undemocratic, but it makes the Constitution seem weak… …and encourages people to think that a single, all powerful leader, is better than an elected parliament. A fourth problem for the Constitution comes from the way it came about. During the German revolution of 1918-19… The government had used force, relying on the army to subdue riots in Berlin. This contributes to the sense that the Weimar Republic isn’t really the choice of the people. Furthermore, some parties elected to the Reichstag are openly opposed to democracy, such as the Nationalists. Together with the Communists, they openly despised the new constitution. The Weimar Republic has been created out of violence, without any real public enthusiasm. It is opposed by radicals, and considered flawed by moderates. Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to like, subscribe, and tell all your friends. I feel like this video would be a good opportunity to get some meaty debate about democracy in the comments. What do you think of the Weimar Constitution? How would you amend it? Or, do you think it was a terrible idea that was always doomed to fail? Write what you think down in the comments and go critique other people’s ideas! Also, don’t forget about the link to the Quizlet flashcards and practice questions that you can find in the description. And I haven’t shouted out my Twitter in a while, so if you want some strange insights into my mind… …and updates on when videos are coming out, which generally takes a long time. I mean someone literally, between my last video and this one, commented asking if I was still making videos. Yes. I am still making videos! I was just busy doing sixth form [college in the UK]. But yeah, go follow me on Twitter – @alongtimeago_yt! Wesað ġē hāle! [subtitles by BYRON LEWIS]

16 comments

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  2. The voting age during the Weimar era was age 20, not 21. That fact is stated quite clearly not only in the Weimar Constitution, but in William Shirer's wonderful book on the Nazis, The Rise And Fall In The Third Reich(1960; Shirer's masterpiece).

  3. Good god, that's not how you pronounce Reichstag, you're butchering it. but otherwise a nice video about Weimar republic.
    Weimar republic could not remain in that international climate. By 1930 world was changing and the only way large nation could survive was to become and empire of some sort.. Japan attacked Manchuria etc.. so it was doomed

    P.S. Wiki has a lot of right pronunciations on historic stuff
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f5/De-Reichstag.ogg

  4. Just found you via your collab with UsefulCharts. Great channel, although I think there could never be enough history channels here on youtube for my satisfaction. Subbed! Greetings from Germany! 🙂

  5. Amazing how fun it is to revisit your GCSEs when you're an adult. Congrats on having the common sense and intellect to see what a sensible idea it is to turn revision into videos, and having the initiative and skills to execute on it.

    I'm probably not as wise as you, but since you're so young and pure of heart, I'd like to share with you three secrets I've been using to improve my information diet, that lead me to your channel in the first place.

    First, General Factor of Personality — this is the trait of pro-social people who end up successful and raising others up, and as a kind of amalgam of tendency to feel positive emotion, niceness, hard work, organisation, open-mindedness (to ideas and experience) and stability (not getting triggered out of what you're doing and staying in the game). I've been seeking high-GFP YouTubers to follow, so that I can get some of their 'positive energy', so to speak, that they may direct my soul heavenwards.

    Second, an idea I got from Bertrand Russell's The Conquest of Happiness, to search only for things that really, genuinely interest you. Sticking to real interests I can sink my teeth into, and consistently, reliably, avoiding superficial interests in the kind of topics people make vacuous speculations about according their cognitive biases. This relates to Thomas Carlyle's notion of the 'divine silence' of peasantry that he wished the literate classes to recapture some of — that we may be informed only by the signal, the divine Light, of experience, Nature, and Heroic Intellects. Calibrated to reality, in other words — low signal to noise ratio.

    I've been using ChannelCrawler.com and YouTube channel search to find better content in line with these two goals of high-GFP and developing proper interests, and as a result, my mood has improved, my thoughts are brighter, braver and more intelligent, and I've started going to my local Buddhist sangha. Now I've found your channel, which should add more good stuff to the mix.

    Keep being high-GFP, pure of heart and full of initiative — you're lighting the world!

  6. Video covers alot will try to revise the whole all the topic😁
    Proportinal Representation what a word🙌
    Have you got any vids of Crime and Punishment?

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