Hitler's seizure of power Machtergreifung was permissive of government by decree without legislative participation. These events brought the republic to an end — as democracy collapsed, the founding of a single-party state began the dictatorship of the Nazi era. The Weimar Republic is so called because the assembly that adopted its constitution met at Weimar, Germany, from 6 February to 11 August ,  but this name only became mainstream after Between and there was no single name for the new state that gained widespread acceptance, which is precisely why the old name Deutsches Reich remained even though hardly anyone used it during the Weimar period.
According to historian Richard J. Evans :. After the introduction of the republic, the flag and coat of arms of Germany were officially altered to reflect the political changes. This left the black eagle with one head, facing to the right, with open wings but closed feathers, with a red beak, tongue and claws and white highlighting. By reason of a decision of the Reich's Government I hereby announce, that the Imperial coat of arms on a gold-yellow shield shows the one headed black eagle, the head turned to the right, the wings open but with closed feathering, beak, tongue and claws in red color.
If the Reich's Eagle is shown without a frame, the same charge and colors as those of the eagle of the Reich's coat of arms are to be used, but the tops of the feathers are directed outside. The patterns kept by the Federal Ministry of the Interior are decisive for the heraldic design. The artistic design may be varied for each special purpose. The republican tricolour is based on the flag that the Paulskirche Constitution of introduced, which was decided upon by the German National Assembly in Frankfurt am Main, at the peak of the German civic movement that demanded parliamentary participation and unification of the German states.
The achievements and signs of this movement were mostly done away with after its downfall and the political reaction.
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These signs had remained symbols of the Paulskirche movement. Weimar wanted to express its origins in that political movement between and ; while anti-republicans opposed this flag. While the first German Confederal Navy Reichsflotte , — had proudly deployed a naval ensign based on Schwarz-Rot-Gold , the Weimar republic navy, or Reichsmarine — insisted on using the pre colours of the former Kaiserliche Marine — , which were Black-White-Red, as did the German merchant marine.
The republicans took up the idea of the German Coat of Arms established by the Paulskirche movement, using the same charge animal , an eagle, in the same colours black, red and gold , but modernising its form, including a reduction of the heads from two to one. Friedrich Ebert initially declared the official German coat of arms to be a design by Emil Doepler shown in the first infobox above as of 12 November , following a decision of the German government. In , however, the Reichswappen Reich coat of arms designed by Tobias Schwab — in or  replaced it as the official emblem for the German Olympic team.
After the dissolution of the army of the former German Empire, known as the Deutsches Heer simply "German Army" or the Reichsheer Army of the Realm in ; Germany's military forces consisted of irregular paramilitaries, namely the various right-wing Freikorps "Free Corps" groups composed of veterans from the war. The Freikorps units were formally disbanded in although continued to exist in underground groups , and on 1 January , a new Reichswehr figuratively; Defence of the realm was created.
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The Treaty of Versailles limited the size of the Reichswehr to , soldiers consisting of seven infantry divisions and three cavalry divisions , 10 armoured cars and a navy the Reichsmarine restricted to 36 ships in active service. No aircraft of any kind was allowed. The main advantage of this limitation, however, was that the Reichswehr could afford to pick the best recruits for service.
However, with inefficient armour and no air support, the Reichswehr would have had limited combat abilities. Privates were mainly recruited from the countryside, as it was believed that young men from cities were prone to socialist behaviour, which would fray the loyalty of the privates to their conservative officers. Although technically in service of the republic, the army was predominantly officered by conservative reactionaries who were sympathetic to right-wing organisations. Hans von Seeckt , the head of the Reichswehr , declared that the army was not loyal to the democratic republic, and would only defend it if it were in their interests.
During the Kapp Putsch for example, the army refused to fire upon the rebels. The SA was the Reichswehr's main opponent throughout its existence, as they saw them as a threat to their existence, [ dubious — discuss ] and the army fired at them during the Beerhall Putsch. Upon the establishment [ dubious — discuss ] of the SS , the Reichswehr took a softer line about the Nazis, since the SS seemed more respectable, and openly favoured order over anarchy. In , two years after Hitler came to power, the Reichswehr was renamed the Wehrmacht.
In October , the constitution of the German Empire was reformed to give more powers to the elected parliament. On 29 October, rebellion broke out in Kiel among sailors. The revolution spread throughout Germany, and participants seized military and civil powers in individual cities. The power takeover was achieved everywhere without loss of life. The rebellion caused great fear in the establishment and in the middle classes because of the Soviet -style aspirations of the councils.
To centrist and conservative citizens, the country looked to be on the verge of a communist revolution.
The MSPD decided to make use of their support at the grassroots and put themselves at the front of the movement, demanding that Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicate. When he refused, Prince Max of Baden simply announced that he had done so and frantically attempted to establish a regency under another member of the House of Hohenzollern. Gustav Noske , a self-appointed military expert in the MSPD, was sent to Kiel to prevent any further unrest and took on the task of controlling the mutinous sailors and their supporters in the Kiel barracks.
The sailors and soldiers, inexperienced in matters of revolutionary combat, welcomed him as an experienced politician and allowed him to negotiate a settlement, thus defusing the initial anger of the revolutionaries in uniform. The proclamation was issued by Karl Liebknecht , co-leader with Rosa Luxemburg of the communist Spartakusbund Spartacist League , a group of a few hundred supporters of the Russian revolution that had allied itself with the USPD in In a legally questionable act, Imperial Chancellor Reichskanzler Prince Max of Baden transferred his powers to Friedrich Ebert, who, shattered by the monarchy's fall, reluctantly accepted.
In view of the mass support for more radical reforms among the workers' councils, a coalition government called " Council of the People's Deputies " Rat der Volksbeauftragten was established, consisting of three MSPD and three USPD members. But the power question was unanswered. Although the new government was confirmed by the Berlin worker and soldier council, it was opposed by the Spartacist League. It effectively ended military operations between the Allies and Germany. It amounted to German capitulation, without any concessions by the Allies; the naval blockade would continue until complete peace terms were agreed.
The Council issued a large number of decrees that radically shifted German policies.
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It introduced the eight-hour workday , domestic labour reform, works councils, agricultural labour reform, right of civil-service associations, local municipality social welfare relief split between Reich and States and important national health insurance, re-instatement of demobilised workers, protection from arbitrary dismissal with appeal as a right, regulated wage agreement, and universal suffrage from 20 years of age in all types of elections—local and national. Thus, Ebert was able to institute elections for a provisional National Assembly that would be given the task of writing a democratic constitution for parliamentary government, marginalizing the movement that called for a socialist republic.
To ensure his fledgling government maintained control over the country, Ebert made an agreement with the OHL, now led by Ludendorff's successor General Wilhelm Groener. The ' Ebert—Groener pact ' stipulated that the government would not attempt to reform the army so long as the army swore to protect the state.
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On the one hand, this agreement symbolised the acceptance of the new government by the military, assuaging concern among the middle classes; on the other hand, it was thought contrary to working-class interests by left wing social democrats and communists, and was also opposed by the far right who believed democracy would make Germany weaker. The new Reichswehr armed forces, limited by the Treaty of Versailles to , army soldiers and 15, sailors, remained fully under the control of the German officer class, despite their nominal re-organisation.
A number of other reforms were carried out in Germany during the revolutionary period. It was made harder for estates to sack workers and prevent them from leaving when they wanted to; under the Provisional Act for Agricultural Labour of 23 November the normal period of notice for management, and for most resident labourers, was set at six weeks.
In addition, a supplementary directive of December specified that female and child workers were entitled to a fifteen-minute break if they worked between four and six hours, thirty minutes for workdays lasting six to eight hours, and one hour for longer days. A decree on 3 February removed the right of employers to acquire exemption for domestic servants and agricultural workers. With the Verordnung of 3 February , the Ebert government reintroduced the original structure of the health insurance boards according to an law, with one-third employers and two-thirds members i.
The ensuing street fighting left several dead and injured on both sides. The USPD leaders were outraged by what they believed was treachery by the MSPD, which, in their view, had joined with the anti-communist military to suppress the revolution. In January, the Spartacist League and others in the streets of Berlin made more armed attempts to establish communism, known as the Spartacist uprising. Those attempts were put down by paramilitary Freikorps units consisting of volunteer soldiers.
Bloody street fights culminated in the beating and shooting deaths of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht after their arrests on 15 January. The National Assembly elections took place on 19 January To avoid the ongoing fights in Berlin, the National Assembly convened in the city of Weimar , giving the future Republic its unofficial name.
The Weimar Constitution created a republic under a parliamentary republic system with the Reichstag elected by proportional representation. During the debates in Weimar, fighting continued. A Soviet republic was declared in Munich , but was quickly put down by Freikorps and remnants of the regular army.
The fall of the Munich Soviet Republic to these units, many of which were situated on the extreme right, resulted in the growth of far-right movements and organisations in Bavaria , including Organisation Consul , the Nazi Party , and societies of exiled Russian Monarchists. Sporadic fighting continued to flare up around the country. In eastern provinces, forces loyal to Germany's fallen Monarchy fought the republic, while militias of Polish nationalists fought for independence: Great Poland Uprising in Provinz Posen and three Silesian uprisings in Upper Silesia.