The Weimar Constitution Essay

1915 words - 8 pages

The Weimar Constitution

In January 1919 Hugo Preuss, whom was a left wing liberal set out to
make a constitution, which was drawn up and submitted to the national
assembly in Weimar. Historian William Carr says, “Preuss set out to
combine democracy and parliamentary government with a high degree of
centralisation for the left wing” which meant he was trying to give
power to the left. Following extensive debates the constitution was
eventually declared on 11 August 1919. This constitution contained 181
articles which was divided up into different groups called ‘ Rights
and Duties of the German people’ and also ‘Structures and Functions of
the Reich. The German people over 20 years of age now had the power to
vote for a president who would be elected for 7 years (Article 41),
the president had all the power being able to appoint and dismiss
all-important officials, civilians military and also the chancellor.
He also had total command of the army and was able to dissolve the
Reichstag and if there was an emergency he could issue laws by decree
and override constitutional rights of the German people this was
Article 48 of the constitution. Historian Stephen J Lee said that the
constitution was regarded as the most advanced in its time. Also
another historian called A. Nicholls, says, “The Weimar Republic was
not attributable to the democratic nature of the constitution”. This
historian is saying that the constitution was very democratic but
Germany was not ready for this as it was new to them.

In January 1919 elections of the constituent assembly took place. The
SPD emerged as the largest single party with a 38% share of the vote
receiving 163 of the 400+ seats. It was however outnumbered by
anti-socialist parties largely representing the middle and upper
class. The combined strength of these parties the DVP DNVP and also
DDP had a total of 249 seats, just over half of the total. Germany’s
socialists no longer had a lot of political power, as they would not
work together this is when the threat came from the right wing as they
were more organized. Ernst Troeltsch wrote in an article in 1919
said, “Overnight we have become the most radical democracy in Europe”.
What he meant by this is that Germany has changed so quickly without
planning ahead.

The assembly-started work on 6 February 1919 but not in the capital
Berlin as it was still tense and disrupted, but at the small town of
Weimar. The Weimar was guarded by 7000 Freikorps troops so it would be
safe from any type of rebellion. By 10 February an agreement had been
reached on an interim constitution, the purpose of which was to allow
Ebert’s government to be replaced by one whose authority was based on
the democratic vote of 19 January. The agreement provided for a
government, headed by a chancellor, which would be...

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