This Weimar Republic glossary contains definitions for English and German words and concepts, relevant to events in Germany between 1918 and 1933. Words from E to M.
The Ebert-Groener Pact was an informal agreement between the government and military, made in November 1918. Under the terms of this agreement the army promised to support the government, provided the government made no attempt to reform or interfere with the army.
Emergency powers are constitutional powers available to a president or government, to be used in a time of emergency or crisis. Emergency powers in the Weimar Republic allowed the suspension of certain rights or processes and the bypassing of the Reichstag, entitling the president to rule by decree.
Expressionism was an artistic movement where reality was altered or distorted, in order to stimulate certain emotions or moods. The German Expressionist movement started before World War I and reached its peak during the Weimar Republic, where it was present in art, literature and film-making.
Fascism is a political ideology that emerged in Europe after World War I. It was based on authoritarian leadership, state power, militarism and anti-socialism. The first fascist government emerged in Italy in 1922.
Femegerichte or Feme killings
Femegerichte refers to a series of political murders carried out in early 1920s Germany by right wing nationalists. The targets were left wing political figures, whistle-blowers or individuals considered to have betrayed the state.
The Freikorps were right-wing paramilitary brigades, comprised mainly of ex-soldiers. The first Freikorps units were formed in December 1918 to suppress communists in Berlin and other German cities. Many Freikorps later joined right-wing political parties like the NSDAP.
German National People’s Party (German, Deutschnationale Volkspartei or DNVP)
The DNVP was a right-wing nationalist party, formed in 1918 and later led by newspaper mogul Alfred Hugenberg. It later aligned with the NSDAP.
The German Revolution usually refers to events between November 1918 to January 1919, when communist revolutionaries attempted to seize control of Berlin and the national government before they were defeated by Freikorps brigades.
Golden Age of Weimar (or Golden Years of Weimar).
The ‘Golden Age of Weimar’ was a period of economic recovery and comparative prosperity between 1924 and 1929. During this time Germany was bolstered by foreign aid and loans and both the economy and living conditions improved significantly.
The Great Coalition was a 1923 coalition of the four largest political parties (SPD, Centre, DVP and DDP) in the Weimar Republic. It was formed by Gustav Stresemann to improve political stability and suppress political extremism.
The Great Depression was a period of economic stagnation between 1929 and the mid-1930s. It was marked by stockmarket collapses, overproduction, falling prices, corporate bankruptcies and downsizing, high unemployment and considerable human suffering.
Hyperinflation is rapid and uncontrolled inflation, leading to paper currency that is almost worthless. Hyperinflation in Germany in 1923 was caused by excessive printing of banknotes and had a dire impact on economic confidence and personal savings.
Inflation is a decrease in the value of money, particularly paper money, that brings about rising prices. Inflation is sometimes caused by excess printing of paper currency or a shortage of consumer goods.
The Junkers were a powerful class of Prussian aristocrats and land owners. Many Junkers, such as Paul von Hindenburg, held high ranks in the military and governments of both Prussia and Germany.
The Kapp putsch was an attempt to displace and remove the Weimar government in March 1920. It began when Freikorps units seized control of Berlin and demanded the appointment of Wolfgang Kapp, a civil servant, as chancellor. The putsch was defeated in four days.
The Kellog-Briand Pact was an international agreement to end war and declare armed conflict illegal. It was signed by numerous countries, including Germany, in August 1928.
Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands or KPD
The KPD was Germany’s largest communist party, formed as a breakaway group from the Social Democratic Party in December 1918. The KPD was initially a revolutionary party and its members were involved in the failed German Revolution of January 1919. After this the KPD became a parliamentary party and during the 1920s became an important force in the Weimar Reichstag.
The Landtags were German state parliaments. They possessed limited local legislative power and their membership reflected both national and local political trends.
The Lausanne Agreement was an international agreement signed in 1932 that suspended Germany’s reparations obligations, on account of the Great Depression.
League of Nations
The League of Nations was a multi-national dispute-resolution body formed by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Germany received full membership of the League of Nations in 1926. It was the precursor to the modern United Nations.
The Locarno treaties were a series of treaties and agreements, signed in Switzerland in October 1925. Among other things these treaties confirmed European borders and restored normal diplomatic relations between Germany and other European nations.
German for ‘seizure of power’. The Machtergreifung is often used to refer to the process by which Hitler was appointed chancellor in January 1933, followed by his acquisition of dictatorial powers.
A minority government is a government that does not have a majority in the legislature (Reichstag). Minority governments must govern by forming voting coalitions and/or negotiating legislation with other parties. All Weimar Republic governments were minority governments.