August 1919

1 August

The seventy-second session of the National Assembly, from 9:27am to 1:55pm
Government representatives answer various questions: return home of German prisoners of war, improvement in the food situation, coal supplies, and civil servants’ benefits. Interior Minister David (SPD) reports on measures to restructure the titling system and disciplinary rules for civil servants as well as the terms of their salaries and pensions, followed by debate on the standing of the civil service in a parliamentary democracy (right to strike). [DNV, Vol. 5, pp. 456-475]

7 August

The seventy-third session of the National Assembly, from 2:20 to 7:02pm
Deliberations on the “Bill concerning an extraordinary war levy for the war year 1919” and the “Bill concerning a war levy on capital appreciation” with debate on fair differential tax rates and siphoning off war profits. [DNV, Vol. 5, pp. 476-498]

8 August

The seventy-fourth session of the National Assembly, from 2:03 to 6:05pm
Government representatives answer various questions: Improvement in supplies situation, financial reporting by workers’ and soldiers’ councils on their operating costs i.a.
Deliberations and adoption of the 6th amendment of the Civil Servant Remuneration Act (of 15 July 1909), “Bill concerning supplementary measures to prevent capital outflow” is referred to a committee.
Deliberations on the “Bill concerning the socialization of the electricity industry” with a report by Minister of the Treasury Wilhelm Mayer (Center) on the plan for a state takeover of the electricity grid (exclusively high-voltage power lines) with compensation granted. [DNV, Vol. 5, pp. 499-521]

9 August

The seventy-fifth session of the National Assembly, from 1:21 to 6:26pm
Deliberations on the electricity bill continue; this is then referred to a committee. [DNV, Vol. 5, pp. 522-529]

11 August

The seventy-sixth session of the National Assembly, from 10:20am to 2:00pm and 4:17pm to 8:19pm
Deliberations on the Grundwechselsteuergesetz tax bill with extensive debate on the feared rises in property prices and rents, dispute with Finance Minister Erzberger (Center) on the fundamental principles of a new taxation policy and tax administration by the Reich.  
After a break, deliberations on the Tobacco Duty Act with debate on whether the tobacco industry should be nationalized, the tax rate on tobacco, labelling substitute ingredients in cigarettes, and much more. Session adjourned due to the absence of a quorum. [DNV, Vol. 5, pp. 530-555]

Reichspräsident Friedrich Ebert (SPD) signs the constitution at his holiday destination Schwarzburg (near Rudolstadt) in the Weißer Hirsch (White Deer) hotel. [ThHB]

12 August

The seventy-seventh session of the National Assembly, from 1:20 to 7:28pm
Report by Foreign Minister Hermann Müller (SPD) on the state of negotiations for the release of German prisoners of war. He rebuffs the inflammatory propaganda from the right.  
Deliberations on the act concerning taxation of matches and other ignition devices with debate on establishing a monopoly and discontinuation of quotas. Deliberations on the act concerning taxation of playing-cards, the “Gesetz über das Reichsnotopfer” (law on a tax on wealth as a “sacrifice for the Reich in its hour of need”), the Sales Tax Act and a Reich Tax Code. Comprehensive report by Finance Minister Erzberger (Center) on the current financial crisis with impending state bankruptcy if 24 billion marks in taxes are not raised; proposals for increasing postal charges, mineral oil tax, imposing a “sacrifice for the Reich in its hour of need” as a one-off capital levy, and new sales taxes. Erzberger also presents his plan for a comprehensive financial reform of the Reich including the establishment of tax offices. [DNV, Vol. 5, pp. 556-606]

13 August

The seventy-eighth session of the National Assembly from 2:22 to 8:07pm
Deliberations continue on the tax laws with a debate on the principles of taxation and hardship provisions; statement by Finance Minister Erzberger (Center) on the acute shortage of funds. Deliberations on the act concerning taxation of matches and other ignition devices with debate on establishing a monopoly and discontinuing quotas. Deliberations on the act concerning taxation of playing-cards, the “Gesetz über das Reichsnotopfer” (a tax on wealth - a “sacrifice for the Reich in its hour of need”), the Sales Tax Act, and a Reich Tax Code. Finance Minister Erzberger (Center) responds to criticism of the legislation with detailed statements on ways out of the financial crisis. [DNV, Vol. 5, pp. 607-628]

14 August

The seventy-ninth session of the National Assembly, from 2:20 to 7:46pm Deliberations continue on the tax laws in the form of a broad political debate. Finance Minister Erzberger (Center) defends himself against harsh attacks from the right ad hominem as well as on his former peace negotiations and his current fiscal policy (frequent heckling and great unrest). Tax laws are referred to the committees. Deliberations on the bills concerning postal charges, changing the postal check and the telegraph and telephone charges with report by Postal Minister Giesberts (Center) on the need to raise tariffs by as much as 100% to fund the required reorganization of the postal administration and modernize telephone technology. Postal laws are referred to the budget committee. [DNV, Vol. 5, pp. 629-661]

The new constitution enters into force. This is announced in the Imperial Law Gazette. [ThHB]

15 August

The eightieth session of the National Assembly, from 3:24 to 9:32pm
Report by the competent committee on the “Rayon” (District) Act with the recommendation to retract this in favor of a law to discourage land speculation (adopted).
At the request of the DNVP and the DVP, Minister of Economic Affairs Robert Schmidt (SPD) reports on the war-related reasons for the ongoing coal shortage and his measures to counteract this; debate and adoption of the “Bill concerning the bill to amend the regulation of the coal industry of 23 March 1919”.
Joint resolution by the right-wing parties is adopted. It contains a public call for an increase in mining, the improvement of the transport system, and for the most economical use of fuel possible. [DNV, Vol. 5, pp. 662-681]

16 August

The eighty-first session of the National Assembly, from 3:25 to 6:08pm
Deliberations and adoption of the following tax legislation after a short debate on each: “Bill concerning supplementary measures to prevent capital outflow”, “Bill concerning an extraordinary war levy for the financial year 1919”, “Bill concerning a war levy on capital appreciation”, the Land Transfer Tax Act, the act concerning taxation of matches and other ignition devices and the act concerning taxation of playing-cards. [DNV, Vol. 5, pp. 682-704]

18 August

The eighty-second session of the National Assembly, from 10:27am to 1:42pm and 2:30pm to 8:25pm
Deliberations on the “Bill concerning a loan for the year 1919” with criticism from the DNVP and the USPD on the recent “unprecedented haste” for bills and the little time devoted to thorough deliberations on these; their motion to adjourn is rejected and the bill is referred to the budget committee despite the absence of a quorum.
Deliberations on the Officers’ Compensation Law with a report by Defense Minister Noske (SPD): Rejection of financially unjustifiable requests and the snobbery and threats of violence from groups of discharged officers against the National Assembly. The bill is adopted after extensive debate on differentiated compensation entitlements and hardship arrangements during integration back into civilian life. Deliberations and adoption of the Law on Compensation for Reenlistees (i.e. sergeants and soldiers who voluntarily served longer) and amendment of the Mannschaftsversorgungsgesetz (crew benefits law) and the Militärhinterbliebenengesetzes (military survivors law).
Deliberation and adoption of the Bill on Pensions for Civil Servants over the age of 65 and the Bill concerning the retirement of civil servants as a result of the restructuring of the state system. [DNV, Vol. 6, pp. 5-53]

19 August

The eighty-third session of the National Assembly, from 10:05am to 1:12pm and 4:20pm to 9:09 pm
Government representatives answer a great number of questions on the release of German prisoners of war, potato and coal supplies i.a.
Following a statement by Foreign Minister Hermann Müller (SPD), the Bill on expropriation and compensation due to the peace treaty and the Bill implementing the peace treaty are referred to the budget committee. 
Deliberations and adoption after short debate of the Bills on postal charges, changing postal checks and telegraph and telephone charges.
Deliberations and adoption of the “Bill on maternity benefits and maternity welfare” to support families and unmarried women with children. Statement by Reichsministerpräsident Bauer (SPD) on an uprising by Polish nationalists in Upper Silesia.
Deliberations and adoption of the Tobacco Duty Act, the implementing law on regulating the potash industry, as well as individual motions on rationing in certain sectors.
Deliberations and adoption of the Bill concerning the Reich financial administration (Reich Tax Code) following a statement by Finance Minister Erzberger (Center) on setting up a Reich tax administration in coordination with the individual states, which are to establish Länder tax offices. In-depth debate follows on the share of taxation for the federal states (especially Prussia) and municipalities and on the apparent need to amend the constitution to this end. [DNV, Vol. 6, pp. 54-107]

20 August

The eighty-fourth session of the National Assembly, from 9:25am to 1:00pm and 1:31pm to 10:15pm
Deliberations and adoption of the inheritance tax law and the “Bill concerning a loan for the year 1919”.
Fundamental debate, in particular between Finance Minister Erzberger (Center) and Alfred Hugenberg (DNVP), on war reparations, measures to combat the Polish uprising in Upper Silesia, and the ongoing precarious supply situation. Following that, deliberations and adoption of the implementing law in conjunction with the law on expropriation and compensation as part of the peace treaty.
Deliberations and adoption of a bill with the aim of establishing a parliamentary inquiry committee and a state court to clarify the war-guilt question, Germany’s acts of war in violation of international law, lost opportunities for peace, and the reasons for defeat.
Interpellation concerning the increasing number of women being pushed out of the labor market because of more and more demobilized men. Motion is unanimously adopted to send an appeal from the National Assembly via radio message to the Entente parliaments asking for the German prisoners of war to be released.
The motion proposed by the DDP, DVP and Center Party “to transfer the German National Theater a sum of 300,000 marks as a token of thanks to the city of Weimar” is adopted. [DNV, Vol. 6, pp. 108-160]

21 August

The eighty-fifth session of the National Assembly, from 8:23am to 12:47pm
Resolution supported by all parties on granting aid to dependents in need who have survived those fallen in the war.
Deliberations on the “Bill on works councils”: after report by Labor Minister Schlicke (SPD), a fundamental debate ensues on the notion of councils, employees’ participation rights for reconciling the interests of labor and capital; bill is referred to the Social Policy Committee. [DNV, Vol. 6, pp. 161-178]
The eighty-sixth session of the National Assembly, from 5:00pm to 5:31pm
Friedrich Ebert (SPD) is sworn in as Reichspräsident of the German Republic before the gathered representative body:
“Mr. President. I swear that I will devote all my strength to the well-being of the German people, promote their welfare, protect them from harm, uphold the constitution and laws of the Reich, conscientiously fulfil my duties, and be just to all.”
Ebert then gives a short speech of thanks, followed by words of gratitude addressed to Weimar by the President of the National Assembly Fehrenbach (Center):
“More than half a year ago, we decided to steer clear of the big city and its dangers and selected Weimar as the place to carry out our work, a small city yet one that has grown dear to every German’s heart. We chose it as a place where peaceful achievements have always thrived, where revelations of high intellectual culture were born. [...]. Weimar gave us what we had hoped it would and our farewell will not be without a certain melancholy.”
The Members then thank the President of the National Assembly and the session is concluded with three cheers for the fatherland and its people.
The National Assembly joins the people gathered in Theaterplatz, where a festival takes place.
[DNV, Vol. 6, pp. 179-184]

Show glossary

Glossar

Abkürzungs- und Siglenverzeichnis der verwendeten Literatur:

ADGBFederation of German General Trade Unions
AEGGeneral Electricity Company
AfA-BundGeneral Free Federation of Employees
AGCorporation
AVUSAutomobile Traffic and Training Road
BMWBavarian Motor Works
BRTgross register tons
BVPBavarian People’s Party
CenterCenter Party
DAPGerman Workers’ Party
DDPGerman Democratic Party
DNTGerman National Theater
DNVPGerman National People’s Party
DVPGerman People’s Party
GmbHLimited (form of company)
KominternCommunist International
KPDCommunist Party of Germany
KVPConservative People’s Party
LKWtrucks
MSPDMajority Social Democratic Party of Germany; the Majority Socialists
NSnational socialism (Nazi)
NSDAPNational Socialist German Workers’ Party; Nazi party
NVNational Assembly
O.C.Organization Consul
OHLArmy High Command
RMReichsmark
SASturmabteilung; Brownshirts
SPDSocial Democratic Party of Germany
SSSchutzstaffel
StGBPenal Code
UfAUniversum Film Aktiengesellschaft
USPDIndependent Social Democratic Party of Germany
VKPDUnited Communist Party of Germany
ZentrumCenter Party
[AB]August Baudert: Sachsen-Weimars Ende. Historische Tatsachen aus sturmbewegter Zeit, Weimar 1923.
[AS]Axel Schildt: Die Republik von Weimar. Deutschland zwischen Kaiserreich und „Drittem Reich“ (1918-1933), hrsg. von der Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Thüringen, Erfurt 2009.
[BauerBauer, Kurt, Nationalsozialismus. Ursprünge, Anfänge, Aufstieg und Fall, u.a. Wien 2008.
[BihlBihl, Wolfdieter, Der Erste Weltkrieg 1914 - 1918. Chronik - Daten - Fakten, Wien 2010.
[BüttnerBüttner, Ursula, Weimar. Die überforderte Republik 1918-1933, Stuttgart 2008.
[DNV]Die Deutsche Nationalversammlung im Jahre 1919 in ihrer Arbeit für den Aufbau des neuen deutschen Volksstaates, hrsg. v. Ed.[uard] Heilfron, Bd. 1 bis 6, Berlin [1919].
[Ebert/Wienecke-JanzEbert, Johannes/Wienecke-Janz, Detlef, Die Chronik. Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts bis heute, Gütersloh/München 2006.
[EK]Eberhard Kolb: Die Weimarer Republik, 3. überarb. u. erw. Aufl., München 1993.
[EtzoldEtzold, Hans-Rüdiger, Der Käfer II. Die Käfer-Entwicklung von 1934 bis 1982 vom Urmodell zum Weltmeister, Stuttgart 1989.
[GG]Gitta Günther: Weimar-Chronik. Stadtgeschichte in Daten. Dritte Folge: März 1850 bis April 1945 (Weimarer Schriften, Heft 33), Weimar 1987.
[GrüttnerGrüttner, Michael, Das Dritte Reich 1933-1945 (= Bd. 19, Gebhardt. Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte), Stuttgart 2014.
[HildebrandHildebrand, Klaus, Das Dritte Reich, 7. Aufl., München 2010.
[Kessler Tgbb]Harry Graf Kessler. Tagebücher 1918-1937, hrsg. von Wolfgang Pfeiffer-Belli, Frankfurt a. M und Leipzig 1996.
[KittelKittel, Erich, Novembersturz 1918. Bemerkungen zu einer vergleichenden Revolutionsgeschichte der deutschen Länder, in: Blätter für deutsche Landesgeschichte 104 (1968), S. 42-108.
[KolbKolb, Eberhard, Die Weimarer Republik, 7. durchges. und erw. Aufl., München 2010.
[NiedhartNiedhart, Gottfried, Die Außenpolitik der Weimarer Republik, 2. aktualisierte Aufl., München 2010.
[O/S]Manfred Overesch/ Friedrich Wilhelm Saal: Die Weimarer Republik. Eine Tageschronik der Politik, Wirtschaft, Kultur, Düsseldorf 1992.
[Overesch/SaalOveresch, Manfred/Saal, Friedrich Wilhelm, Die Weimarer Republik, Eine Tageschronik der Politik, Wissenschaft Kultur, Augsburg 1992.
[PeukertPeukert, Detlef, Die Weimarer Republik. Krisenjahre der Klassischen Moderne, Frankfurt a.M. 1987.
[PK]Paul Kaiser: Die Nationalversammlung 1919 und die Stadt Weimar (Weimarer Schriften, Heft 16), Weimar 1969.
[PM]Paul Messner: Das Deutsche Nationaltheater Weimar. Ein Abriß seiner Geschichte. Von den Anfängen bis Februar 1945 (Weimarer Schriften, Heft 17), Weimar 1985.
[ThHB]Thüringen-Handbuch. Territorium, Verfassung, Parlament, Regierung und Verwaltung in Thüringen 1920 bis 1995, hrsg. von Bernhard Post und Volker Wahl, Redaktion Dieter Marek (Veröffentlichungen aus Thüringischen Staatsarchiven, Bd. 1), Weimar 1999.
[TofahrnTofahrn, Klaus W., Chronologie des Dritten Reiches. Ereignisse, Personen, Begriffe, Darmstadt 2003.
[UB]Ursula Büttner: Weimar. Die überforderte Republik 1918-1933. Leistungen und Versagen in Staat, Gesellschaft, Wirtschaft und Kultur, Stuttgart 2008.
[VU]Volker Ullrich: Die Revolution von 1918/19, München 2009.
[WinklerWinkler, Heinrich-August, Weimar 1918-1933. Die Geschichte der Ersten deutschen Demokratie, München 1993.
[WirschingWirsching, Andreas, Die Weimarer Republik. Politik und Gesellschaft, 2. erw. Aufl., München 2010.

(zusammengestellt von Dr. Jens Riederer und Christine Rost, bearbeitet von Stephan Zänker)

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