It is important to understand the main elements of the democratic constitution in Germany and also to understand its weaknesses

Establishment of the ConstitutionEdit

This was formulated in Weimar, mainly by Hugo Preuss, and was adopted 262-75 by an assembly. The constitution declared Germany to be a republic, and political authority would be derived from the people.

The Rights of PeopleEdit

  • Equality for women
  • Equality before the law
  • Freedom of speech, the press, association, religion
  • Freedom from unjust arrest
  • Right to work
  • Right to own private property


  • One problem was that the German people were not used to having these freedoms, they were used to being ruled by the Kaiser.

The PresidentEdit

  • Head of state, figure-head of the republic, Commander and Chief of the armed forces.
  • To be elected every 7 years- there were only 2 presidents in the Weimar period.
  • Clause 48 of the constitution gave the president special powers in times of national emergancy including use of the armed forces and suspension of normal laws
  • Appointed and dismissed the Chancellor.


  • For many Germans the President was just a "Ersatz Kaiser" - fake Kaiser.
  • Clause 48 could be misused by presidents - for example in the 1930s

The ChancellorEdit

  • Appointed by the President
  • Needed Reichstag's confidence to remain in power
  • Involved in clause 48

The ReichstagEdit

  • Elected at least every 4 years by universal suffrage
  • All citizens over 20 could vote
  • Proportional Representation used
  • Passed laws


  • Encouraged small extreme parties, giving them power
  • PR led to coalitions

The JudicaryEdit

  • Judges appointed for life


  • Tended to be Right wing

The Civil Service and Army (Reichswehr)Edit


  • Tended to be right wing

The Constitution in generalEdit

  • Democratic, but
    • Germans not used to full democratic rights
  • MAny people continued to oppose the WG
  • Associated with Treaty of Versailles

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