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I listened to a podcast recently called Dictators by Parcast Network. In a particular episode about Hitler, the speaker said The Weimar Republic was created so that it could take the blame of Germany's defeat in World War I. But how can that be if the Republic was founded a couple days before the end of WW1?

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    Welcome to History:SE. Perhaps you could edit your question to explain what it is that you think is missing from, or unclear about, the Wikipedia article on the Weimar Republic? – sempaiscuba May 31 at 13:12
  • @sempaiscuba Hi, yes I added in the description the specific reason I asked the question. – Harveen Bhatia May 31 at 13:15
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    The History section of the Wikipedia article explains fairly clearly how, and the reasons why, the Weimar Republic was founded. – sempaiscuba May 31 at 13:34
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    What were they going to do with it if they didn't create a government for it? And what form of government would they have created? To say they create the republic to blame it for the war is to assume they would have done something else had they decided to not blame it. – Mary May 31 at 14:20
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    @MarkC.Wallace tbh, I'd be even more interested to know who actually wrote the script. Are Leonard or Rossner fronting the show in the capacity of experts, or simply as 'talking heads'? If the latter, who were the historical advisers & scriptwriters for that episode? Some history programs & podcasts are very good indeed, while others are Ancient Aliens & Hunting Hitler. I have no idea where 'Dictators by Parcast Network' falls on that spectrum. – sempaiscuba May 31 at 16:40
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We seem to look at two questions quite different from another: "why was the Weimar Republic founded" and "what does the author of that podcast mean with his statement"?

This answer assumes that the second of those is in this context the more important question, the first being for this purpose 'adequately' addressed by Wikipedia: Weimar_Republic#History.

The podcast author seems to allude to events prior to the actual 'founding' of the Republic. Namely the end of the monarchy which had degenerated into a military dictatorship of the third OHL under Hindenburg and Ludendorff – after the disaster of the German army on August 8, 1918. When Ludendorff had a nervous breakdown and realised for himself that the war was lost, he gave some kind of a last order in September: to 'parliamentarise' the government of Germany.

To that end a small revolution 'from above' was carried out: the October reforms. These were indeed thought of by Ludendorff to make the democratic politicians demanding democracy and peace look bad: then they would be 'responsible' for signing an armistice and eventual peace treaty. Meaning that those really responsible for the defeat, the military and aristocracy, as well as their politicians serving them, could claim only to have lost the war because the home front started to grow defeatist, while 'they' remained unconquered and undefeated 'in the field'. This was the start of the 'stab in the back' myth.

This whole podcast seems to allude solely to this 'plan' by the military and ignores several other facts:

The military conceding defeat was only a small factor and at the time not widely publicised, to the contrary (see the stab-myth again). The democratic politicians that already were pro forma and quasi official part of Reich-leadership since 1917 imagined better peace conditions from the western allies if parliamentarian and constitutional monarchy was indeed formal part of the renewed constitution of the empire.

'Parliamentarisation' of the monarchy was the real, and temporary, goal for the military. After re-grouping the old powers within Germany intended to take back what they saw as their divine rights, and in any case not to give away anything more than strictly needed to hold on to power and property.

The German Revolution of 1918, started by mutinying sailors wanted to topple the entire state system, Bolshevik-style.

As such, 'Weimar' was indeed a republican compromise, one which left much of the old power structures relatively intact (military, civil servants etc). This turned out to be the option favoured by most of the newly coming to real power politicians (except for the left, the extreme right, monarchists and fascists). This majority founded the republic, jut because they wanted 'a republic'.

This means the podcast uses one indeed important detail of the priors for the events and then runs with it into hyperbole, if not conspiracy thinking. Those who really did 'the founding' were quite unhappy to be blamed for the lost war that the old powers had caused (not entirely untrue either, despite most of them agreeing enthusiastically to go to war in 1914).

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Question:
What was the purpose of creating the Weimar Republic? (Podcat) speaker said The Weimar Republic was created so that it could take the blame of Germany's defeat in World War I. But how can that be if the Republic was founded a couple days before the end of WW1?

Short Answer:
Without knowing exactly what this podcast is proposing, one can make the point that Germany's liberal pro democratic politicians were set up to take the blame for WWI. Whether intentionally or merely convenient after the fact is a topic for debate; but that is what happened.

A myth which aided the Nazi's coming to power was that civilian politicians, Liberal Democrats sabotaged and betrayed the German army in WWI.

That WWI could have been won if not for this betrayal by Democratic Politicians. This is absurd, although it was a common belief sold to the German people starting almost immediately after Germany's surrender and before the Nazi party was formed. Rather than blame the yet to be formed Weimar republic, the offender in this tail was Germany's liberal democratic parties after the forced abdication of the Kaiser perpetrated this "crime". In reality liberal politicians were advanced to leadership by the German Military with the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm, in part to both gain better terms from the allies, but ultimately to escape blame themselves. The German military wanted Peace, they were openly calling for peace, they also stated Germany would get better terms if liberal democratic politicians negotiated them. This was probable their primary reasoning for promoting democratic politicians to power, but just as clearly they would have understood what shortly became reality; that anyone associated with the November 1918 peace would be branded traitor and treasonist. Almost immediately those most closely associated with the surrender in Nov of 1918 were scapegoated for Germany's defeat. Members of the German General staff are on record shortly after the surrender for placing blame on the same democratic politicians who they had advanced to power and implored to surrender.

Detailed Answer
I always believed such statements were cynical, liberal democratic politicians betrayed the fatherland. After all the Weimar Republic was a Constitutional Parliamentary Democracy, and thus their policies and actions were dictated by the consensus of the most popular policies in Germany at the time. More importantly their actions were conducted at the behest of the German Military which both beared more responsibility for the war, and who were among the most persistant advocates for surrender in late 1918. This is however not an isolated opinion, and was used to great effect against the Weimar republic in the 1920's and 30's by the Nazis. I always classified such statements as coming from people seeking to obfuscate the facts, dismiss the majority, and promote dictatorial government. Because that's basically what the Nazi's did in discrediting the Weimar Republic, blame them for the defeat in WWI. The facts were Germany in Nov of 1918 was exhausted. It was defeated, industrially, militarily, and philosophically. They could not continue the war on any of these fronts. The Military and People were in revolt and the Industrial base had been destroyed. Surrender was Germany's only choice, even though the surrender they got was harsh. This was not a controversial decision at the end of 1918, it was the recommended steps to take by the German General staff. Supported by the majority of Germans in the 1919 popular elections. A more reasonable accountability would take note that the war was unwinnable for Germany at the end of 1918.

The act of surrender did shift blame to democratic politicians in the eyes of some for Germany's defeat. Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff, who had claimed the German front was in imminent threat of collapse in Sept 1918, called for power to be turned over to democratic politicians at the expense of the military stated in Oct 1919, "They now must lie on the bed that they've made for us." Side stepping his own culpability in recommending surrender and imminent collapse of the German military.

Turning over of the German government to democratic politicians by the German military were the terms of President Wilson's 14 step statement of principles for peace. The German General Staff had been in negotiations with President Wilson since Oct 1918 and proposed the transfer of power as a way to gain better terms for peace. Thus it was democratic politicians who formally surrendered, not the Kaiser, nor the German General Staff.

Why World War I Ended With an Armistice Instead of a Surrender “Whoever proposed a laying-down of arms would be hated by militaristic Germans for the rest of his life.” Indeed, Matthias Erzberger, the politician who reluctantly agreed to lead the German (peace) delegation(Nov 1918), would be murdered not quite three years later by German ultra-nationalist extremists.

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Matthias Erzberger
This, despite the fact that the military was actively pressuring him to sign as soon as possible, was pointed out for decades afterwards as evidence for the Dolchstoßlegende (stab-in-the-back myth), which portrayed the surrender as betrayal by the civilians on the home front, especially Socialist politicians for personal gain, undermining the German Army's will to fight. Later the stab-in-the-back legend helped propel to power Adolf Hitler, who made it an integral part of Nazi propaganda. For his role, Erzberger was branded as one of the Novemberverbrecher ("November Criminals")

The purpose of Creating the Weimar Republic was literally to fill the void left by the forced abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Forced by civil unrest and several mutiny's in Germany's armed forces and to gain the most favorable terms from the allies. The Republic was not founded before the end of WWI. It( a Republic) could only be said to have been formed after a German Constitution was drafted and after a majority coalition of elected legislators using that constitution had been formed. The Term Weimar referring to the town where the first coalition government met Feb 1919, 4 months after the cease-fire which ended WWI.

The Weimar Republic was founded(Feb 1919) 4 month after Germany formally surrendered in Nov 1918.

Timeline:

  • Sept 29th 1918, the German Supreme Army Command at Imperial Army Headquarters informs Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Imperial Chancellor, Count Georg von Hertling, that the military situation facing Germany was hopeless.
  • Oct 1918, Germany begins to negotiate an armistice primarily with the United States President Wilson, because they believe he will give them better terms. Negotiations are unsuccessful as Wilson does not have the authority to speak for France and Britain.
  • Nov 9th, 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II is forced to abdicate
  • Nov 11th 1918, Per terms laid out by President Wilson, power is turned over to Germany's pro democratic politicians.
  • Nov 11th 1918, Germany surrenders in WWI.
  • Nov 11th 1918, Germany releases it's POW's and begins to disarm. One clause of the 11 November 1918 Armistice dealt with the matter of prisoner-of-war repatriation: "The immediate repatriation without reciprocity".
  • Dec 1918, elections are held for a National Assembly tasked with creating a new parliamentary constitution.
  • Sept 29th 1918, Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff, states that he could not guarantee that the front would hold for another two hours and demanded a request be given for an immediate ceasefire.
  • Feb 6, 1919, the National Assembly met in the town of Weimar and formed the Weimar Coalition.
  • June 28, 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

Sources:

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    Wars are not ended by cease fires or armistices, they are ended by peace treaties. The "Weimar Republic" was created during the war and ended the war in basically the only way left to it by accepting the terms of the peace treaty. Theoretically the government of the "Weimar Republic" could possibly have rejected the Treaty of Versailles, although in Germany's situation there was little to gain and much to lose by resisting it any longer I think that a hundred thousand German civilians starved to death during futile resistance by the "Weimar Republic" to the treaty. Continued. – MAGolding May 31 at 18:18
  • Continued. So all that it takes to blame the "Weimar Republic" for inflicting the Treaty of Versailles upon Germany, instead of for wasting German lives in a futile resistance to the treaty, is the usual amount of ignoring reality in politics. – MAGolding May 31 at 18:21
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    @MAGolding, I think you are mistaken, Wars end when one side surrenders and the other side accepts that surrender. Germany Surrendered Nov 11 1918, to the Allied Supreme Commander, Marshal Ferdinand Foch. All the fighting was over, weapons were turned over, prisoners of war had been repatriated, and the occupation was underway by the time the Treaty of Versailles was signed 8 months later. – user27618 May 31 at 18:52
  • On the end of wars: While the shooting ended with the Armistice, the naval blockade and other measures of war did not. While the Armistice was a de-facto surrender, it was not one de-jure. If Germany had not accepted the Versailles Treaty, the war would have become an active one again, which would have led to a total military defeat since Germany withdrew forces and was in no shape to continue the fighting. There was no alternative for Germany than to accept, and the Reichswehr was all too happy to blame the politicians. – Dohn Joe Jun 2 at 7:50
  • @DohnJoe, FIRST, In theory if you don't have any appreciation for the facts on the ground. Yes, if Germany had not accepted "Treaty of Versailles " they could have continued the war, Only without weapons, a navy, airplanes, artillery, nor allies; All those were surrendered, Without an army since that was already demobilized, and with a very large heavily armed occupying army inside their boarders.. Germany surrendered and the terms of the surrender were not something Germany could have come back from. – user27618 Jun 2 at 17:13

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