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What problems were faced by the Weimar Republic from 1919 and how did it cope with them? Free essay! Download now

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What problems were faced by the Weimar Republic from 1919 and how did it cope with them?

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 8300 | Submitted: 02-Feb-2005
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What problems were faced by the Weimar Republic from 1919 and how did it cope with them?

GCSE History essay. Marked A* - received special school commendation.


The emergency constitution was based upon on the imperial constitution, with a president elected by the assembly in place of the emperor. The president nominated ministers, who were responsible to the assembly. He did not have power to dissolve the assembly, which was sovereign except for the rights of the states. The federal principle was expressed in an upper house, whose assent was required for legislation. In case of disagreement between the two chambers, the issue was to be decided by referendum. For the constitution the assembly alone was responsible, but territorial boundaries could be changed only with the consent of the states concerned.
The assembly set about its constitution-making with speed. Indeed, a draft of a constitution was ready for its consideration as soon as it met. This had been designed by Hugo Preuss, a left-of-center liberal interested with the ideas of Stein, Weber, and Naumann.
His solution to the new problem of democratic leadership and his solution to the old problem of German unity were two chracteristics that stand out. Preuss believed that the obstacle to a single, as opposed to a federal, state had disappeared with the removal of the princes, especially since the revolutionary government had had no connection with the states. He therefore proposed to reduce the states to merely administrative autonomy and to give the central government much wider powers. In particular, he was anxious that Prussia should lose her independence and be divided up into provinces.
But this proposal was unacceptable to many of the state governments, to which Preuss's draft was submitted for consideration. Many politicians in Prussia objected and the middle states objected even more strongly. A more general consideration was the desirability of keeping the door open for a subsequent accession of Austria, which would be far easier if Germany remained federal. With Ebert's support, therefore, Preuss's draft was amended, even before it went to the constituent assembly, to retain from the imperial constitution the federal principle and some of the specific reservations in favour of the states.
The assembly itself took most of the latter out again, but kept the federal principle. Prussia was preserved intact, but half of her representatives in the new Federal Council (Reichsrat) were to be elected by provinces. Federal legislation was extended to certain areas formerly reserved to the states. Amendments to the constitution could be made by federal legislation or by a referendum.
Certain restrictions were imposed on the constitutions to be adopted by the states (now called Länder). In the Reichsrat each Land had votes proportionate to its population, with the exception of Prussia which was allowed a maximum of two fifths of the total. The members of the delegations from each state, unlike those in the old Bundesrat, were not required to vote as a unit.

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