The Weimar Republic - Germany’s first democracy


March 1919

1 March

The eighteenth session of the National Assembly, from 10:20am to 1:00pm and 3:45pm to 6:15pm
The cross-party joint motion of all female members to ask the Allies to end the hunger blockade and to release the 800,000 German prisoners of war is unanimously approved. Motion to reinstate German colonies, referring to the promise made by President Wilson.
Deliberations and adoption of the “Bill concerning the ban of premium trade with German bank notes and loan-bureau notes” and the “Bill concerning the sealing of scripts, printed materials, securities and legal tender when crossing the border into another country”.
Unanimous adoption of the “Bill concerning the implementation of the terms of armistice” without debate. Deliberations and unanimous adoption of the “Bill to protect against the effects of traffic complications” and the “Bill concerning the reimbursement of services for the enemy armies in occupied Reich territory and concerning the simplified assessment of war efforts for the German army”. Deliberation and adoption of the Transition Act. [DNV, Vol. 2, pp. 149-180]

2 – 6 March

Founding Congress of the III International (Comintern) in Moscow. [EK]

3 – 8 March

General strike and armed conflicts in Berlin. [PK]

3 March

The nineteenth session of the National Assembly, from 10:21am to 12:54pm and 4:22pm to 7:15pm
The Members stand to symbolically greet the colonial troops returning home to Berlin from East Africa.
Deliberations continue on the draft constitution with Minister of the Interior Preuß (DDP) defending himself against criticism mainly concerning the role of the Reichspräsident and the strengthening of Reich power compared to that of the individual states, debate follows on the preponderance of Prussia, the role of German federalism, proportional representation i.a. [DNV, Vol. 2, pp. 181-213]

4 March

The twentieth session of the National Assembly, from 3:18 to 6:06pm
Deliberations continue on the draft constitution with Gustav Stresemann (DVP) and Reichsminister David (SPD) defending the parliamentary system against the USPD’s focus on the soviet republic system and its criticism of capitalism. Remittal of the draft to the constitutional committee chaired by Conrad Haußmann (DDP) for revision. [DNV, Vol. 2, pp. 214-230]

5 March

The twenty-first session of the National Assembly, from 3:32 to 8:29pm
At the request of the DNVP, Reichsminister Erzberger (Center) makes a statement on the efforts of the German Armistice Committee at the Inter-Allied Commission to restore peace at the former front line in Poland (Ostmark), where there was still a war-like situation. Debate ensues on the “Polish question”, i.e. Polish territorial claims, expulsion of German civilians, food shortages, the withdrawal of German troops, the “threat of Bolshevism”, and the Kaiserreich’s failed policy with regard to Poland. [DNV, Vol. 2, pp. 231-256]

7 March

The twenty-second session of the National Assembly, from 3:36 to 7:32 pm.
Deliberations on a draft socialization law for the nationalization of natural resources for the “social economy” and the analogous “Bill concerning the regulation of the coal industry”. Explanation by Minister of Economic Affairs Wissel (SPD) on “socialization”, understood as a centralized “self-government” carried out by a “Reichskohlerat” (National Coal Council) in the interest of society - not for private purposes; debate ensues on the “socialization issue”. [DNV, Vol. 2, pp. 257-282]

8 March

The twenty-third session of the National Assembly, from 10:18am to 1:35pm and 3:45pm to 8:07pm
Deliberations continue on the bills on socialization and on regulating the coal industry in the form of a debate on the fundamental principles involved, focusing on the form and purpose of “socialization”. The debate is provoked by the allegation made by Alfred Hugenberg (DNVP) that the government plans involved a “controlled economy”. Remittal of both draft bills to the Budget Committee. [DNV, Vol. 2, pp. 283-323]

9 March

Reichswehrminister Gustav Noske gives order to shoot; “March Massacre” in
Berlin [VU]

10 March

The twenty-fourth session of the National Assembly, from 2:25 to 8:36pm
The DDP and DNVP call for an end to food rationing. Statement by Reichsernährungsminister (Minister for Food) Robert Schmidt (SPD) on the acute supply crisis (esp. meat), but compromise in the form of an at least partial price liberalization, but not for staple foods. Report by the Economic Committee on the state of affairs on the labor market and in agriculture. Debate on the right to strike in light of the “Brotnot” (severe bread shortage) [DNV, Vol. 2, pp. 324-364]

11. March

The twenty-fifth session of the National Assembly, from 10:18am to 1:40pm and 3:20 to 5:30pm
Commemoration of Chief Lieutenant von Klüber who was murdered in Halle (Saale). He was commissioned to ensure military protection for the National Assembly in Weimar.
Inquiry from the DNVP about religious studies being phased out in the school curriculum in individual states triggers a fundamental debate on the separation of church and school, although this is actually a matter for the individual states. [DNV, Vol. 2, pp. 365-383]

12 March

The twenty-sixth session of the National Assembly, from 2:32 to 8:35pm
Deliberations on the socialization law with a report by the Budget Committee on the consequences of socialization for issues such as personal freedom. Debate on “appropriate compensation payments”, “nationalization” in agriculture, with the DVNP accusing the government of “communism” and “collectivism”. [DNV, Vol. 2, pp. 384-412]

13 March

The twenty-seventh session of the National Assembly, from 10:21am to 1:05pm and 2:19pm to 5:28pm
Before agenda items are addressed, Reichswehrminister Noske (SPD) reports - amid the applause of the right wing and hissing from the left - on the military suppression of the trade union strike and workers’ uprising in Berlin.
Deliberation and adoption of the “Bill concerning transactions with Russian legal tender”, which bars the rouble (in an attempt to push revolutionary Russia away) as a means of payment, with the sole exception of the Reichsbank. Deliberation and adoption of the socialization law and the “law concerning the regulation of the coal industry” after a long debate about state supervision, the composition of the Reichskohlerat and the supporting expert council.
Government statement by Reichsministerpräsident Scheidemann (SPD) against the vigorous propaganda of France in favor of “parts of the Rhineland region seceding from the German Reich” is met with general support.
[DNV, Vol. 2, pp. 413-457]

25 March

The twenty-eighth session of the National Assembly [n/s] - 6:36pm
Various questions are answered by government representatives (selection): formal complaint to be lodged with the Inter-Allied Commission against the anti-German propaganda in the Palatinate region occupied by the French; pre-censoring of the press carried out by the workers’ and soldiers’ council in Augsburg is declared invalid; the government is not responsible for inadequate provisions of basic needs for people in the occupied Rhineland region; possible rioting by the Landjägerkorps under major general Maerker in Halle is being investigated; order to shoot all armed persons without warning during the uprising in Berlin is lifted as well as the ban on the left-wing newspapers “Freiheit” and “Republik”; the decision of the central council of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils on elections for the second councils’ meeting does not contradict the election of farmers’ and rural workers’ councils in accordance with the electoral regulations of the Reichsernährungsministerium (Food Ministry); the Leipzig soldiers’ council agrees to return the arms distributed for the general strike; the government supports the rebuilding of medium and small-sized businesses that were weakened or shut down during the war by means of a “fund for business undertakings”. [DNV, Vol. 2, pp. 458-492]

26 March

The twenty-ninth session of the National Assembly, from 3:18 to 5:53pm
Speech by Reichsministerpräsident Scheidemann (SPD) on the Entente’s emerging harsh peace conditions and the demand that the war-guilt question be determined by an international court.
Continuation and conclusion of the debate on measures to rebuilt small and medium-sized businesses that were shut down or weakened during the war. Deliberation and unanimous adoption of the “Bill concerning the taxation of the Reichsbank for the year 1918” and the “Bill concerning the accession of the Free State of Württemberg to the Beer Tax Community”. [DNV, Vol. 2, pp. 493-512]

27 March

The thirtieth session of the National Assembly, from 3:21 to 8:19pm
Joint deliberation on the “Bill concerning the adoption of a fourth budget addendum” 1918 and the “Bill concerning the provisional settlement of the budget and the budget of the Schutzgebiete (Germany’s overseas possessions) for the financial year 1919”. The budgetary debate, in particular with regard to the budget of the Reichspräsident of 100,000 marks per month, turns into a political dispute about combating the civil unrest in Berlin and Halle (Saale) - similar to civil war conditions - when the USPD is described as the “intellectual instigator” of this situation. The dispute also focuses on the role of General Ludendorff in the war and as an opponent of the republic. Both bills are referred to the Budget Committee. [DNV, Vol. 3, pp. 5-44]

28 March

The thirty-first session of the National Assembly, from 3:21 to 6:19pm
Six Members are elected to the Reich’s Debt Committee. Deliberation and adoption of the “Bill concerning the formation of a provisional Reichsmarine (Navy)” after brief debate about recruitment of volunteers and conscription.
Budget Committee report on the “Ordinance securing land and garden cultivation", which is adopted after in-depth discussion about the necessary extent of coercive measures. [DNV, Vol. 3, pp. 45-73]

29 March

The thirty-second session of the National Assembly, from 10:21am to 1:05pm
Budget Committee report on the “Bill concerning the adoption of a fourth budgetary addendum” 1918 and adoption of the bill after a debate focusing particularly on the remuneration of the Reichspräsident and the Reichsministers. Deliberations on the budget for the new Labor Ministry and the Treasury. Budget Committee report on the “Bill concerning the provisional settlement of the budget” 1919 and adoption of the bill after debate on continued payments to demobilized armed forces, new civil servant positions in the Postal Services Ministry, and the granting of a “Kriegsteuerungszulage” (form of maintenance supplement based on war-related inflation rates) for state pensioners and benefit recipients. [DNV, Vol. 3, pp. 75-104]

31 March – 28 April

General strike by miners in the Ruhr Valley [PK]

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Abkürzungs- und Siglenverzeichnis der verwendeten Literatur:

ADGBFederation of German General Trade Unions
AEGGeneral Electricity Company
AfA-BundGeneral Free Federation of Employees
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
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
SASturmabteilung; Brownshirts
SPDSocial Democratic Party of Germany
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)