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Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II

1918 – 1939

Advanced Higher



utumn 2000



Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II

1918 – 1939

Advanced Higher

Support Materials


Course Requirements

Using this Unit

Chronological Study



Theme 1

The Creation of the Weimar Republic

Theme 2

A Period of Relative Stability

Theme 3

The Collapse of Weimar

Theme 4

The Transformation of Post-Weimar Society



Section One


Section Two

Historiography of the Weimar Republic: 1970-2000

Section Three

Historiography of the Third Reich: 1970-2000


the weimar republic: SOURCES

Section One

The Foundations of the Republic: 1918-1923

Section Two

Foreign Policy: 1918-1933

Section Three

Republican Stability: 1924-1929

Section Four

The Collapse of the Republic: 1930-1933

Section Five

Nazism in the Weimar Republic: 1918-1933

contents (continued)



Section One

Politics and Economics: 1933-1939

Section Two

The Nazi Social and Racial Revolution: 1933-1939

Section Three

Hitler’s Foreign Policy: 1933-1939


General Aims

This Advanced Higher context has to fulfil the overall aims for this level of historical study i.e.:

  • to acquire depth in the knowledge and understanding of historical themes.

  • to develop skills of analysing issues, developments and events, drawing conclusions and evaluating sources.

Course Content

The content to be covered is described in the following terms:

Germany: Versailles to the Outbreak of World War II

A study of the changing nature of political authority, the reasons for changes and the consequences of the changing character of political authority, focusing on the themes of ideology, authority and revolution.
The creation of the Weimar Republic, including: military defeat, the November Revolution and the Treaty of Versailles; social and political instability; economic crisis and hyper-inflation.
A period of relative stability, including: currency reform and the Dawes plan; social welfare provision; the Stressemann era in foreign affairs.
The collapse of Weimar, including: economic depression and mass unemployment; the weakening of democracy, Bruning to Schleicher; the rise of Nazism; Hitler and the Nazi takeover of power.
The transformation of post-Weimar society, including: Nazi consolidation of power in Germany; Nazi economic policy; Nazi social and racial policies; the impact of foreign policy on domestic circumstances.


Course requirements describe the criteria that students are expected to meet as consisting of the ability to:

  • handle detailed information in order to analyse events and their relationship thoroughly

  • use this analysis to address complex historical issues including consideration of alternative interpretations

  • draw a series of judgements together by structured, reasoned argument reaching well-supported conclusions.

Learning Experiences

The kinds of activities expected of a student who is taking an Advanced History course are outlined as follows:

Students should:

  • engage in wide-ranging, independent reading relevant to their historical studies

  • interpret and evaluate historical source material, relating it precisely to its context in order to show awareness of the complexity and elusiveness of historical truth

  • become aware of different interpretations of history by different historians and the reasons for these

  • record systematically information derived from a variety of sources, such as books, notes, lectures, audio-visual materials

  • make use of historical terms and concepts encountered in the study of complex primary and secondary evidence

  • take part in formal and informal discussion and debate based on and informed by historical evidence and knowledge

  • develop the skills of extended communication for a variety of purposes including descriptive and analytical essays or oral responses, responses to source-based questions and a Dissertation; opportunities should be provided for revision and redrafting of extended writing following critical review

  • develop individual and independent learning skills, especially those relating to the preparation and production of a Dissertation.

It is important that the students should understand the historical themes that run through the chosen topic and not simply learn about a series of discrete historical issues.


The material in this unit is intended to support students’ work on this course by:

  • expanding the course content to provide a more detailed framework for student study

  • providing stimulus material to encourage debate and discussion

  • providing source handling exercises appropriate to the course requirements

  • making reference to suitable texts.

Teachers may wish to:

  • provide an introductory lecture for an aspect of the course, this introduction to be followed by purposeful note-taking by students investigating the relevant aspect more fully

  • raise a question/problem/issue to be discussed, followed by note-taking, and concluded with further discussion

  • raise an issue for students to explore, given an assigned case to argue, to be followed by formal debate

  • provide stimulus materials in any appropriate form, to be followed by detailed research of the issue through student note-making

  • select essay titles for collaborative planning of an essay outline

  • use sources for collaborative work on handling sources effectively.


It is essential that sources are used regularly and are drawn from all parts of the course.

Sources should include extracts from the works of historians. Where appropriate, differing interpretations by historians should be used and the reasons for these differences carefully considered.
Students’ study of historians’ works should include identifying and describing historians’ viewpoints.
The student material which follows is structured to:

  • provide a framework for the course which students can use to develop more detailed notes

  • raise issues to form the basis for student research and to use for discussion, debate and essay/practice

  • provide a selection of primary sources

  • provide appropriate activities.



18 January

William I becomes Emperor of the German Empire



Germany at war with Russia, France and Britain.


29 August

Hindenburg and Ludendorff form new Supreme Army Command (OHL).


7 April

William II promises reform of voting system.

19 July

Peace Resolution passed by the Reichstag (SPD Centre and left liberals).


3 March

Germany and USSR sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

27 September

Army High Command calls for an armistice.

3 October

Request for an armistice sent to President Wilson.

4 October

Prince Max of Baden becomes Chancellor at the head of a majority government including Socialists (SPD), and Centre and liberal politicians.

26 October

Germany becomes a constitutional monarchy by an Act of Parliament.

3-9 November

Revolution spreads throughout Germany.

9 November

Abdication of William II. Republic proclaimed.

Ebert becomes Chancellor in SPD-USPD Coalition.

10 November

Ebert and Groener agreement.

11 November

Armistice signed with the Allies.


5-11 January

Spartacist Rising in Berlin.

19 January

Election of National Assembly.

11 February

Ebert elected National (Reich) President.

28 June

The Treaty of Versailles signed.

11 August

Weimar Constitution comes into force.


24 February

The Nazi (NSDAP) Party founded in Munich.

13-16 June

Right-wing Kapp Putsch fails.

6 June

First elections to the Reichstag.


24-29 January

French proposal that Germany pay reparations for the sum of 269,000,000,000 gold marks.

(In May 1921 the figure was set at 132,000,000,000 gold marks, and for Germany to pay 26% of her export earnings and the costs of the Allied occupation.)

26 August

Erzberger murdered by right-wing extremists.


16 April

Germany and USSR sign the Treaty of Rapallo during Genoa Conference on reparations and reconstruction.

24 June

Rathenau murdered by right-wing extremists.

22 November

Cuno becomes Chancellor.


11 January

French and Belgian troops enter the Ruhr.

13 January

German government under Cuno proclaims passive resistance in the Ruhr.

July – November

Hyperinflation at its peak.

13 August

Stressemann becomes Chancellor.

26 September

Stressemann’s government abandons passive resistance unconditionally in the Ruhr.

8-9 November

Hitler Putsch in Munich.

15 November

Rentenmark introduced to stabilise the currency.


29 August

Reichstag accepts Dawes Plan on reparations.


28 February

Death of Ebert. Hindenburg elected President in April.

5-16 October

Locarno Conference.


Germany becomes a member of the League of Nations.


16 July

Law on Labour Exchanges and Unemployment Insurance provides progressive welfare legislation.


20 May

Reichstag Elections: Nazis win 12 seats.

29 June

Grand Coalition formed. SPD re-enter government.

27 August

Kellogg-Brand Pact outlaws war.


3 October

Death of Stressemann.

29 October

Crash on Wall Street Stock Exchange.


12 March

Reichstag accepts Young Plan on reparations.

29 March

Bruning appointed Chancellor following the resignation of Muller as head of Weimar’s last majority government.

14 September

Reichstag Elections: significant Nazi gains. They become the second largest party with 107 seats.


6 July

Moratorium (suspension) on reparations.


10 April

Hindenburg re-elected President after a second ballot. Hitler takes second place.

30 May

Von Papen appointed Chancellor.

27 July

Von Papen suspends Prussian government and introduces direct rule in Germany’s largest state.

31 July

Reichstag Elections: Nazis become the largest party with 230 deputies.

6 Nov

Reichstag Elections: significant Nazi losses. They remain the largest party with 196 deputies.

3 Dec

Schleicher succeeds von Papen as Chancellor.

30 Dec.

Official unemployment figure of 4,380,000.


30 January

Hitler appointed Chancellor in a coalition cabinet.

27 February

Reichstag fire.

28 February

Presidential decree suspends civil liberties.

5 March

Last Reichstag Elections. The Nazis win 288 seats out of 647 seats.

13 March

Goebbels becomes Minister for Propaganda.

23 March

Enabling Act passed which effectively ended parliamentary government in Germany.

1 April

National boycott of Jewish shops.


2 May

Free trade unions dissolved.

10 May

Burning of books throughout Germany.

14 July

Nazi Party becomes the only ‘legal’ political party.

14 October

Germany leaves the League of Nations.


26 January

German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact signed.

30 June

SA Chief of Staff Ernst Rohm arrested and killed along with other colleagues in ‘Night of the Long Knives’.


After the death of Hindenburg, Hitler becomes President as well as Chancellor of Germany.


15 January

Plebiscite in Saar votes for reunion with Germany.

16 March

Reintroduction of conscription.

18 June

Anglo-German Naval agreement signed.

15 September

Nuremberg Race Laws passed.


7 March

German troops enter the Rhineland.


Four Year Plan announced to make German economy ‘capable of war’.

1 November

Rome-Berlin Axis announced by Mussolini.


5 November

Hossbach Memorandum records Hitler’s plans for territorial expansion.

26 November

Schacht resigns as Minister of Economics.


4 February

Resignation of leading German generals announced.

12 March

Anschluss with Austria.

30 September

Munich Agreement cedes Sudetenland to Germany.

9 November

Kristallnacht. Organised pogroms against the Jews.


15 March

Hitler seizes Prague. This is followed by a Franco British guarantee to Poland on 31 March.

23 August

Nazi-Soviet Pact signed.

1 September

Germany invades Poland.

3 September

Britain and France declare war on Germany.


22 June

France signs an armistice with Germany.


22 June

Germany invades the Soviet Union.


20 January

Wansee Conference in Berlin on the ‘Final Solution’.


30 January

German Sixth Army capitulates at Stalingrad.


6 June

Allied invasion of Normandy.

20 July

Stauffenberg Bomb Plot to assassinate Hitler.


4-11 February

‘Big Three’ conference at Yalta.

30 April

Adolf Hitler commits suicide in Berlin.

8 May

Unconditional surrender of Germany to the Allies.

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