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Joint Crisis

Commi ee:
Weimar Republic

Yale Model United Na ons XLV

Le er from the Dais

Dear Delegates:

Welcome to YMUN XLV,


I’m Josh, a junior in Trumbull College studying military history. I grew up in a small town
just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. Two years ago, I was a vice chair for the World Health
Organization committee here at YMUN. This past year, Hank and I co-chaired the Irish
Resistance of 1919, one of YMUN’s first crisis committees in which we stole the Imperial
German Navy, terrorized England, assassinated the Pope, and secured independence for the
glorious nation of Ireland. We are incredibly excited to be back this year chairing the
Weimar Republic in 1922, a part of a joint crisis committee with the British Parliament. At
Yale I am also a fraternity brother in Chi Psi, a midshipman in our Naval Reserve Officers
Training Corps battalion, a Buckley Fellow, a club baseball phenom, and an executive board
member of the Yale Military History Society. Hank and I are excited for all of you to come to
Yale this January and dive into an era and a region that proved so consequential in the
shaping of our modern world. Please feel free to email Hank and myself regarding any
questions about this committee or the conference in general. Happy researching!

----

Delegates:

It is my pleasure to welcome you to YMUN XLV,

My name is Hank, and I’m a senior in Branford College. I’m double majoring economics
with East Asian studies (focusing on modern Japan). I grew up in military family and moved
around from Japan to Bahrain, but usually call upstate New York my home. Two years ago I
chaired a special committee for YMUN where we exonerated Emperor Hirohito of war crime
charges, thwarted an attempted communist revolution, and forced Hideki Tojo to take his
own life with a plastic spoon–an eventful weekend to say the least. Last year, Josh and I
cooked up some of the greatest IRA political memes in history. Along with Josh I’m a Naval
ROTC midshipman and Buckley Fellow, but also play on Yale’s club rugby team, sing in the
Yale Russian Chorus, and write for our sometimes prolific/always inflammatory tabloid, The
Rumpus. Josh and I had an excellent time helping inaugurate YMUN’s crisis committees last
year, and we are very much looking forward to again exchanging our Navy uniforms for
western business attire this January. I can’t wait to meet you all and get working toward the
Weimar Republic’s survival/demise (up to you)–it’s going to be a great time! Don’t be afraid
to reach out to either Josh or myself via email as you prepare for the committee:

henry.loughlin@yale.edu (mailto:henry.loughlin@yale.edu) joshua.hano@yale.edu


(mailto:joshua.hano@yale.edu)
Commi ee History

Although we find ourselves at the helm of the Weimar Republic in this most tumultuous
time of April, 1922, with a style of government hoisted upon us through military defeat in
the Great War, this was a relatively new development. The outcomes on the battlefield were
favorable to Imperial Germany as recently as the summer of 1918. The end of 1917 brought
with it the climax of the success of unrestricted submarine warfare against the British Isles
along with victory on the Eastern Front with the October Revolution in Russia. The
formalization of this was found in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March of 1918. General
Ludendorff’s Spring Offensive on the Western Front in 1918 gave Germany one last chance
at total victory, a chance that evaporated with the arrival of American forces in significant
numbers that summer. The mutiny by sailors of the Kaiserliche Marine in October of 1918
was a preface of the political turmoil that was to come. Although political radicalism,
sometimes manifested in violence, continued after the November Revolution of 1918-1919,
the foundation of this government was very much influenced by the outcomes of political
tribalism on both the left and the right following the capitulation of our forces in November
of 1918.

On the left side of the political spectrum, it was the soldiers, sailors, and workers at Kiel in
October of 1918 who formed councils in an attempt to imitate the Soviet revolution of the
preceding fall. Although this movement was put down by the small remaining military
following the surrender in November, the leftist movement had gained political prominence
elsewhere. It was the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) and the so
called “Majority” Social Democratic Party of Germany (MSPD or SPD) that began forming a
government in Berlin. However, a divide between the two factions caused the USPD’s
relevance to wane and the MSPD’s power to grow. Although both parties had the support of
many soldiers and working class people, the USPD’s identification with more radical
political elements, such as the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and the later defeated-
Spartacist League, and its support for a Soviet-style command economy alienated it from
the masses and led to its subsequently limited success in the national assembly elections of
January, 1919. The MSPD advocated for a more moderate parliamentary form of government
with corporatist policies aimed at satisfying both the union elements and pro-business
forces of the economy. Despite the fact that the MSPD was beginning to govern and create
policy, with relative success, the damage the far-left had inflicted was done. The Spartacist
Uprising uprising in Berlin in January of 1919, right before elections were held, had to be put
down by the new right-wing Freikorps and the remnants of the formal military.

The Freikorps, a paramilitary group of veterans, had their power further expanded when
they forcefully put down the revolutionary Munich Soviet Republic later in the spring of
1919. Although they were disbanded in 1920 due to the fact that they were generally against
the republic, they had aligned itself with the government on these occasions to prevent
communism from disrupting the success of the MSPD-led government.

However, the Freikorps would serve as a model for future, more radical right-wing
paramilitary groups like the Sturmabteilung (also known as the
Freikorps paramilitary troops patrolling the street, 1919.

SA/stormtroopers/brownshirts) which promoted the rise of the newly created National


Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP or Nazi Party).1 The rise of right-wing parties and
paramilitary groups following the creation of the Weimar government was a result of the
reaction of their rapid loss of power in 1918. That fall, the members of the monarchy fled
the country and/or abdicated their power to the new government. The Oberste
Heeresleitung, or OHL, was the Supreme Army Command that had basically run the
government and empire in their entirety during the latter stages of the war, personally led
by Ludendorff and Paul von Hindenburg. Their fall from power in November of 1918 led to
the minority share of government following the elections the next January to be held by the
Catholic Center Party and the German Democratic Party (DDP), occupying the center-right
and center of politics, respectively, and advocating for the religiously conservative, the
middle class, and the educated people, including many Jews, and the German National
People’s Party and the German People’s Party, both representing the right wing of business
and military elements of the polity, as well as nationalist and monarchist groups. Thus the
German right had lost the prominence of their monarchy, military, and industry in politics,
but they were not completely shut out.

Topic 1:
Renego a ng the
Treaty of Versailles

Topic History

The military context for the Armistice of November 11, 1918 is important for understanding
the subsequent political events between the Weimar Republic and the other European
powers, and within the republic itself. Although Allied forces occupied the Rhineland first,
and later Germany in general by the end of 1918, the German army still occupied large tracts
of France, Luxembourg, and Belgium, in addition to other major military operations taking
place concurrently in Southeastern Europe and Africa. Furthermore, the young republic had
its security weakness exposed immediately due to the successful Polish uprising in which
rebellious Polish forces captured several territories of Eastern Germany between December
of 1918 and February of 1919. These lands were confirmed to be under Polish sovereignty at
Versailles.2

The negotiations themselves, the Paris Peace Conference, included delegates from 27
nations. There were notable exclusions and several primary participants at the conference.
The fledgling Soviet Republic was not there due to their early exit from the war and their
separate peace treaty with Germany in the spring of 1918. Germany was also excluded so
they could not interfere in negotiations.  The “Council of Five” met regularly to discuss
minor matters and comprised of the ministers of foreign affairs of the U.S., U.K., France,
Italy, and the Japan. A “Plenary Conference” met weekly where remaining minor powers
discussed more general issues and formed commissions to study specific topics. The major
decisions were made by the “Big Four” which included the heads of government of Italy, the
U.S., U.K., and France, with the latter three holding the most power at the table.

To understand the resulting treaty and how our government should operate moving forward
with respect to the interests of the Allied powers, we must understand the post-war aims of
these three primary powers. Although the French wanted reparations, territory, and a
German neighbor that would be weaker militarily and economically in the future, they were
willing to accept laxer reparations payments than American interests. That is because the
Americans held significant British and French debt, and they wanted that repaid to help
fight off a post-war recession. However, as much of French territory was physically
devastated, they were interested in annexing the German Saar Valley which had a profitable
sector in addition to an Allied occupation and German demilitarization of the industrial
German Rhineland. Of course the French and the British were against the Americans on the
issue of German colonial possessions, preferring direct annexation to a League of Nations
mandate. Furthermore, France was concerned about an aggressive Germany in the future,
and fought to obtain a security guarantee from the U.S. and Britain in the case of German
intrusion into French territory instead of greater French control over Western German lands.
The British aims were roughly a compromise between the more punishing French view and
the Fourteen Points of the Wilson-led American crusade of liberal internationalism.
Leadership in London prefered a rehabilitated Germany that could balance against French
continental hegemony and the terrifying growth of Soviet Russian Bolshevism. However,
they still sought naval and imperial supremacy through the dismemberment of the Imperial
German Navy and the Kaiser’s overseas territories. Domestic pressures that favored large
sums of reparations to pay for the enormous cost of the war balanced against the ideals of
many British liberals who support Wilson’s view of the future of world affairs. For the U.S.,
although there was significant political controversy at home regarding the role of the U.S. in
world moving forward, Wilson and the American position at Paris largely echoed the
Fourteen Points in spirit. They favored the decolonization of many imperial possessions and
fought against European takeover of lost German territories abroad.
This was not a treaty that our country had input on, nor was our attempt at compromise
accepted. In June of 1919, when the treaty was completed, the Allied powers threatened
military invasion against us if we failed to sign it and follow the terms. After our head of
government changed due to our initial rejection of the treaty and offer of compromise, our
government finally relented on the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz
Ferdinand on June 28. There were significant territorial losses, to include 25,000 square
miles and over seven million citizens. We were stripped of the gains that we had made in our
military victory over the Russian Empire in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and forced to give
territory to and recognize independent Poland and “Czechoslovakia.” Our territory in East
Prussia was separated from us due to these losses, and now exists as an enclave. The League
of Nations became administrators of the Saar to the west and the Free City of Danzig to the
East. In the west, France, Belgium, and Denmark all took land from us, including valuable
mining districts taken by the French as reparations due to their destroyed coal mines.
Additionally, German imperial possessions were stolen, and given to Belgium, France, South
Africa, the U.K., Portugal, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Our inability to compete with
the other European powers has been set in stone now that our empire is gone and their
empires have expanded.

The Treaty of Versailles devastated our military and has greatly impeded our ability to
defend ourselves against foreign aggression and intimidation.3 By March 31, 1920, our army
was to be shrunk to 100,000 men in a maximum of seven infantry and three cavalry
divisions. The General Staff was dissolved and our military support units were limited by the
treaty. Conscription was abolished and officer training schools were limited to three. Of
great importance was the regulations placed on careers in the military, with enlisted soldiers
being retained for at least twelve years and officers for at least 25 years. The vengeful Allies
were concerned that we might build up a large force of trained military men who would
quickly exit the armed forces to comply with the total limits on force size. The police force
was limited to pre-war staffing sizes with increases only allowed in proportion to population
increases. Paramilitaries were also outlawed to further weaken our state security. The
Rhineland was completely demilitarized with fortifications on and east of the river to be
destroyed and construction of any military facilities was forbidden. Not only does this leave
us open to invasion from the French, but all military facilities on the islands of Heligoland
and Düne were demolished to leave the north of our country defenseless. We are forbidden
from participating in the global arms trade and the production of weapons of all kinds
domestically was to be heavily regulated and monitored, including outright bans on
chemical weapons, armoured cars, tanks, and military aircraft. This meant that our country
was to have no air force and was subsequently forced to give all military aviation-related
assets to the Allies. Possibly the most restrictive and devastating to our national security
was the limitations placed on our navy. We have been allowed six pre-dreadnought
battleships, six light cruisers, twelve destroyers, and twelve torpedo boats. Even if combined
in one fleet, it would stand no chance against modern submarines and dreadnought
battleships. Modern naval aviation and battlecruisers would likely defeat our forces as well.
Furthermore, we have been prohibited from developing and using submarines, the mainstay
of our naval operations in the Great War. Our navy, if it can even be called one, has been
limited to 15,000 sailors and officers in total, including all shore activities associated with
fleet activities. German heroism was displayed at Scapa Flow days before the treaty was
signed; German sailors scuttled most of the High Seas Fleet that the British had taken into
possession at the end of the war, including dozens of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers.
With no air force, and a pathetic army and navy, there is little hope of defending our nation
should the challenge arise. The Allies have also militarily occupied the Rhineland and
various bridgeheads to the east of there in order to guarantee treaty compliance on our part.
In the treaty, there are staged withdrawals of these forces over fifteen years if we follow the
provisions of the treaty. However, these areas would be immediately reoccupied if they
suspect noncompliance on our part during the duration of the treaty in general. As
previously outlined, we do not have the military power to deter these forces.

There has been a change in the size of the reparations that we have been charged with. In
May of 1921, the London Schedule of Payments were established, which demanded that the
Central Powers pay a liability of 132 billion gold marks. However, with our comrades having
little if any ability to pay, the brunt of the charge has fallen on us. Luckily, this cost has been
divided into A, B, and C bonds. The total cost to us of the A and B bonds is 50 billion gold
marks,4 less than we originally said we could pay. The C bond is essentially a political
manifestation of the Allied powers, with no real cost to us, in order to appease their
populations who demand outrageous reparations from us. Furthermore, we have already
paid 9 billion gold marks of this figure, lowering the overall cost to 41 billion gold marks. We
have been given the ability to pay in cash and/or commodities. Regardless of the fact that
overall reparations payment proposals have dropped their values significantly, our economy
is dealing with record high inflation, unemployment, and increased social welfare
obligations as a result of the reforms made in the constitutional compromise in 1919.

Current Situa on
The Treaty of Versailles, for our nation, can be simplified down to three main parts:
limitations on our military, reparations payments, and territorial changes. With this in
mind, our government must create an approach to renegotiate and circumvent these harsh
regulations. I will break up these three issues to give this cabinet a sense of the general
options moving forward and to guide debate amongst government officials.

Rebuilding the Military: The treaty places severe restrictions on our military capabilities and
operations. However, there are several programs in place that can improve our war-making
strength to prevent against further incursions from the east and west. The recently signed
Treaty of Rapallo between our country and the Soviet Union. While on paper this agreement
set up diplomatic relations between our nations, while clearing up post war logistical issues,
there were secret unwritten provisions that allows our army to train and test new weapons
in Soviet territory, while overall promoting further military cooperation between us.8 Our
army has confidence that it can conduct these operations in secrecy, away from the Allied
forces occupying our homeland. Specifically, there are designated sites for training soldiers
in aviation combat, tank operations, and chemical warfare in Soviet territory. The treaty also
set restrictions on our domestic arms industry, but put no regulations on German arms
companies manufacturing weapons outside of Germany. Therefore, much of the military-
industrial complex has transferred operations to neighboring countries like the Netherlands,
Sweden, and Switzerland. Specifically, the German arms manufacturer Krupp, one of the
largest corporations in Europe, purchased Bofors, a Swedish defense company.9 There are
now German soldiers in Sweden testing weapons there. Furthermore, these German
business can continue to profit off selling arms to foreign nations while also producing
weapons abroad, with the profits being returned to Germany. Additionally, in past years the
government has maintained an “X-budget” that supplements defense spending with a
hidden budget of 10% of its disclosed yearly expenses. Of course there is risks that an
intervention and investigation by the Allied powers into our armed forces could lead to this
program being uncovered. Similarly, there are set levels of police staffing and an outright
ban on irregular forces and militias. Attempting to circumvent these rules is possible and
would lead to enhanced military readiness to deter future aggression, but carries its own set
of risks. This government has already utilized the services, as we have already discussed, to
quell communist uprisings in a variety of German cities. All of these policy tools are in
action to some extent and it is up to the decision of this government to weigh the risks and
rewards of carrying out each within the context of the direction of this republic. Refusing to
comply, rejecting inspectors and diplomats, and openly disregarding treaty stipulations are
also options, but these actions risk international condemnation, political/economic
repercussions, and even a military response by the Allies. To make such a decision, this
cabinet would have to analyze Allied military and political readiness, as well as our own
standing in order to guarantee success. As this paper already mentions, currently we do not
have the ability to deter the Allies, as we are too weak militarily and they remain too
interested in enforcing the treaty rules.

As the strength of the military underlies state security and power projection, it is the most
pressing matter at this time. It is also the only Versailles-related issue this government can
covertly work on; it is impossible to decrease reparations payments or take back rightfully
German territory without overt discussions with the Allies regarding changing the treaty.
The diplomatic option should be pushed forward as well, as engaging in such an effort
entails few risks and drawbacks. However, such engagement should only take place from a
position on greater strength on behalf of the Weimar Republic. Political unity in the form of
a governing coalition, a solid defense capability, and a functioning economy form the basis
of the solid ground required to be taken seriously at the negotiating table.

Topic 2: Rise of
Poli cal Extremism
Topic History

Dreams of Revolution:

The flames of revolution were stoked before the war had even ended. In a last ditch effort to
preserve the dignity of the nation, the Naval Command ordered the Imperial Navy, with its
battleships restricted to harbor since losing the Battle of Jutland, to prepare for a glorious
but futile battle with the British Fleet. German sailors, knowing that the war was already
lost, mutinied against all officers committed to the plan broke into open revolt in the ports
of Wilhelmshaven and Kiel in late October and the 1st of November, respectively. Tensions
escalated as sailor’s and shipyard union workers banded together under the rally cry “Peace
and Bread.” The military eventually fired upon the demonstrators, and many demonstrators
retaliated with equal force: these were the first shots of revolution. Infantry regiments were
moved in to quell the rebellion, but many soon either abandoned their posts or joined the
mutineers themselves. A revolutionary council, formed in the style of the Soviet Councils of
the Russian Revolution one year prior, were organized by demonstrators to present demands
to military authority. Councils like this began to spring about all over Germany and in no
time the country was plunged in a full fledged revolution, but was put down by
paramilitaries at the urging of the Majority SDP (as explained previously in this guide).

Splintering of the Majority:

The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP) had long been the dominant force of labor
politics in the Keiser’s Reichstag (with 35% of the national vote in the 1912 election, and
massive support from the German Empire’s 2,500,000 trade unionists). Based in marxist
tradition, the party was originally committed to an international effort by Europeans
socialists to resist Imperial wars waged by their governments, and after the assassination of
Archduke Ferdinand in 1914, the SDP did just that. A prominent member of the SDP’s
leftmost faction, Rosa Luxemburg, called for outright resistance to the war effort by party
members. This elicited a forceful response by the government, which planned to arrest all
SDP members. More conservative, establishment party forces worked to tone down the
party’s SDP’s pacifist rhetoric, and ultimately the SDP towed the line of nationalist fervor
and martial enthusiasm when the Great War broke out later that year. Luxemburg and other
like-minded left wing radicals, disgusted with the party’s abandonment of proletariat
interests, splintered from the party to form the Gruppe Internationale that August, which
morphed into a Marxist group called the Spartacus League by 1916.5

As the war dragged on and the morale of the people began to wane, a large wing of pacifists
that had remained loyal to the SDP too began to falter. In 1917, they split off under Hugo
Haase to form a more left leaning Independent Socialist Democratic Party (USPD), leaving
the SDP as the relatively weakened “majority” SDP (which we refer to in this post split
context as the MSDP). 6 The two former partners attempted reconciliation the next year, but
this effort was stunted by USDP anger with the violent suppression of leftist insurgents by
the MSDP during the revolution. The strength of the USDP has dwindled since, as it too
experienced an exodus of its leftmost wing during the formation of the Spartacus League. As
differences between the USDP and MSDP again begin to subside, the two are again toying
with reunion, much to the chagrin of the USDP’s remaining far left wing.

Continuous offshoots from the once hegemonic SDP are becoming increasingly radical and
orthodoxically marxist with each iteration. The two largest nominally socialist parties may
be finding common ground and room for moderation, but the smaller breakaway elements
are becoming more extreme, and far more mobilized toward social and economic revolution.
Even in the face of extremist movements from the opposite end of the political spectrum, it
is unlikely that more extreme left wing idealists would be able to swallow alliance with the
SDP.

Return to the Old Order and the Old Chaos:

The transition to democracy is not always smooth, and for many who benefited from life
under the German Empire and its many monarchies, that transition has been rather
unwelcome. Many, particularly from the military, clamored for stronger, more autocratic
rule than what the chaotic young republic had been providing. The Freikorps had been
effective in quelling marxist uprisings on the government’s behalf during the revolution,
and after the treaty of Versailles military restrictions came into effect in January 1920, the
number of active Freikorps more than doubled the size of the government’s own forces at
over 200,000 strong. This made the Freikorps, whose members were no great fans of the
ruling socialist power, an existential threat to the stability of the democratic government.
To curb this threat, the government ordered the dissolution of the elite Freikorps brigade,
the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt. A coup of the Weimar government had already been planned by
a far-right DNVP member, Wolfgang Kapp. Once the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt was threatened
with dissolution, this planned coup was provided with a powerful military force that had
motive to occupy Berlin in defiance of the Weimar government. Soldiers stationed in Berlin,
tied to the Freikorps as brothers in arms from the war, and also lukewarm on the socialists
government themselves, did not fire on the occupying force. The sitting Weimar
government was forced to flee and wait in exile. Nationally, the result was the same: the
Reichswehr had no interest in combating the coup. In Bavaria, German army forces went as
far as to violently overthrow a Communist regime on behalf of the Kapp government.

The Kapp government soon fell, however, at the hands of socialist strikes. The SDP-
controlled cabinet issued a proclamation for a general strike, met simultaneously with
supporting action by the USPD and KPD in a rare bout of cooperative effort amongst
Germany’s left. 12 million workers ceased working, and the country was put to a grinding
halt and Berlin was without any utilities. Conditions were struck by the conspirators with
SDP leadership, and the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt was allowed to peacefully march out of
Berlin. The result was far from peaceful, as the soldiers fired on a mob of angry hecklers,
killing at least 12 and injuring tens more. The strikes incited to topple the Kapp government
did not all stay peaceful. In Thuringia and Saxony, the strikes turned violent and were
brutally put town by Kapp-sympathetic local military forces. In the Ruhr, these violent
uprisings lasted beyond the lifespan of the coup, and the SDP was left to deal with the
lawlessness. When the Weimar government couldn’t negotiate an end to the insurgency, a
familiar tactic was used: the Freikorps and Reichswehr were mobilized in tandem to put
down a far-left rebellion.

In the aftermath, the most of the perpetrators of the putsch were granted amnesty by the
government, and, though they were ultimately disbanded, members of the Marinebrigade
Ehrhardt were allowed to take up careers in the Reichswehr. Conversely, the communist
rebels of Ruhr were not treated with such leniency. Many were cut down in the suppression
of the rebellion, and of those who surrendered many were given stiff prison sentences. This
incongruous response again alienated the SDP from the entire left wing, as they were
labeled enemies of the working class. They were seen as, despite their socialist platform,
enablers of the extreme right wing for the sake of keeping order. The SDP lost a considerable
amount of support from both left and right leaning constituents, and would soon lose its
sheer majority in the Reichstag. In place of a large, powerful SDP, more extreme and
polarized political elements began to gain support in the Reichstag.7
Current Situa on

Fringe Elements:

In July 1919 a young war veteran named Adolf Hitler, still enlisted in the Reichswehr, was
appointed by the army as an intelligence officer and instructed to infiltrate the German
Workers’ Party (DAP) and monitor the party’s political activities. While he may have joined
the party under orders, Hitler took eagerly to the party’s anti-semitic and fiercely anti-
communist rhetoric, and soon endeared himself the small party’s members with passionate
orations. The soon changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party
(NSDAP) to broaden appeal, and Hitler began working for the NSDAP full time, eventually
rising to the helm of the party with near unanimous support in July of last year.

Adolf Hitler
Under Hitler’s leadership and by his charisma, NSDAP ranks have been swelling with relative
speed, particularly with unemployed young men and those weary with the disorder and
frailty of the ruling liberal regime. After the government ceased to pay Freikorps militia in
April 1920, many of those former strongmen have been out of the job. Many of these men
were desperate for a paycheck, as well as the chance to savagely suppress communists as the
government sanctioned them to do the year before. Young NSDAP members, ex-soldiers and
drunken brawlers alike, have formed a de-facto militia for the party, and collectively serve to
protect their rallies from socialist democrat and communist intervention. This force, known
amidst the party as the Sturmabteilung, or SA (meaning “storm detachment”) has proven
both violent and capable in its dealings with political enemies. Hitler and a few of his thugs
recently stormed a speech being given a rival politician and beat the man badly.10 Hitler has
been tried for this violent crime, and is currently awaiting incarceration; however, given his
rapidly growing popularity and the continued instability of the Weimar Cabinet, it is likely
not the last this country is to see of him.

Leftist Division:

As touched upon earlier, in the face of a rising element of nationalist populism, as well as a
bold attempted coup by extreme members of the DVNP, the socialist contingent of German
politics is continuing to splinter and self-sabotage. After splitting away from the SDP over
socialist orthodoxy and the suppression of communist revolution, the USDP was to find its
own internal strife. A large wing of the party left for the KPD after USDP leadership refused
to join the Communist International and the cause of global revolution. Currently, KPD
membership itself is still ununified on its stance toward relations with the Soviets, which
threatens further fractionalization. Recently, the German Workers’ Communist Party
(KADP) was formed by more radical and dissatisfied members of the KPD, but this party
itself has already experienced further subdivision and is declining in influence.

Popular sentiment among much of Germany, particularly within the Weimar government,
has been wary of the far left since the bloody chaos of the German Revolution. As more
radical leftist groups begin to split from mainstream bodies, this trend of distrust is not
likely to change. The government has recently been seeking warmer relations with the
Soviet Union over shared fears of the newly independent Second Polish Republic, but these
ties are not likely to include political conversion but rather just back-channel military
coordination.11

Across the Alps:


Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini began a career in politics as a well paid employee of British M15,
espousing pro-war propaganda and suppressing Italian pacifist demonstrations. Mussolini’s
own service in the war came to an early end after serious injuries from a mortar round. Many
came back from the war changed men, and Mussolini is no exception. Although once a
dedicated socialist, by 1918 he was been making strong calls for a strong Italian state, and
has built up a political fascio in Milan around himself. He has fashioned a romantic image of
the Roman Empire and placed modern Italy as its rightful successor, calling for conquest of
North Africa, the Baltics, and other lands once under Rome’s powerful command. Dedicated
to the ideals of service to the state and heavy militarization for its aims and ability to
conquer foreign lands, Mussolini’s strongman delivery appealed to many. Like Hitler’s SA,
Mussolini has at his command tens of thousands of former soldiers (his milizia, known as
Blackshirts for their uniformed appearance), eager to intimidate and violently oppose leftist
opponents of their party. Mussolini’s forces are reaching astonishing numbers, and it is only
a matter of time before his extremist views are a serious challenge to the sitting Italian
government. 12

Mainstream Extremes:
In a separate vein from the splintering radical left, a large portion of the German hard right
has consolidated power in the wake of the revolution. The German National People’s Party
(DNVP) was formed in November 1918 by a consortium of right-wing groups like the
Conservative Party and the National Liberals seeking to ensure a unified Conservative voice
remained to counter leftist-radicals.While there certainly tensions between the populists
and more traditionally conservative elements of the party, they still hold the advantage of
nominal political unity.

The party may have wide support, but that does not make it any less radical or any less
threatening to the existence of the Weimar Cabinet. Conservative ideas do not mean anti-
socialism in terms of the DNVP: this party is largely monarchist and seeks a destruction of
the postwar democratic system in favor of Keiser-era aristocracy. The DNVP party is also
noted for its inflammatory racial rhetoric and vocal defamations of its enemies as “traitors”
to the German people for prior sabotage of the war effort. DNVP members frequently call for
the assassination of their political enemies, and these antics have only heated up since the
appointment of Soviet-sympathetic Walther Rathenau to the office of Foreign Minister (who
is claimed by the DNVP to be responsible for the assassination of the German ambassador to
the Soviet union in 1918). On the more immature side, party antics include the mailing of
human feces to SDP members antagonistic to the right amongst other vile pranks.13

Duty of Commi ee

The basic duty of this committee is to ensure state survival, the simplest duty of any
government. However, the pressing political and economic challenges, not to mention
foreign threats and influences on national sovereignty, all put the future of the republic into
doubt. Therefore, a more specific duty would be to protect the long-term stability of this
government, adherence to the constitution, improving foreign relations, and promoting the
general welfare of the populace. The members of this committee have significant leeway
with which to exercise the authority of their roles in the Weimar government.

This committee’s real limitations are those of the laws of nature. With that being said, it is
most in your interest to have a solid grasp of German history, much of which we have
provided in this background guide, and world history, especially in terms of what is going on
around the globe after the turn of the century. Be creative and exploit the boundaries of
history. However, having a knowledge of history is not enough. Come prepared with ideas
regarding how to shape history. Your chairs and vice chairs will smile upon innovative uses
of history and government power to all degrees of specificity.

It is April of 1922. Our committee, to start, has the same resources available to the fledgling
Weimar Republic of the time. This will be true, in relative terms, for financial, military,
governmental, personnel, political, and social resources. However, this is nothing more than
a starting point. We hope that you will finds ways to use your roles in this cabinet to
enhance the position of Germany.

Role Descrip ons

President of the German Reich Friedrich Ebert

A member of the Social Democratic Party, Ebert was the first head of state for Germany
following the end of the Great War and the end of the reign of Emperor Wilhelm II. Leading
the nation through the tumultuous times during the implementation of the new
constitution, the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, and continuing economic and political
chaos, he has been a moderate voice in government. Ebert has put down communist
rebellions and right wing uprisings, while he filled the political vacuum left by the
monarchist conservatives. His focus has been on enforcing political stability through the use
of government sponsored militias and the military/police forces, while simultaneously
sponsoring economic and labor reform to combat inequality, unemployment, and inflation.
The President’s power comes through his control of the military, his stature in the party and
in the government at large, and his ability to use Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution to, in
times of emergency, take extraordinary measures without consent from the Reichstag. Ebert
has already utilized this power on numerous occasions to keep the fledgling republic
together. Overall, it is the President’s duty to ensure the survival of the republic and lead
the government against foreign and domestic aggressors.

Chancellor Joseph Wirth

Wirth, a member of the Catholic Center Party, or Zentrum, has had a long career in
government service. As head of government, Chancellor Wirth is in charge of the cabinet of
ministers as well as overseeing all legislative activity in the Reichstag. Thus it is his ability
to appoint new cabinet ministers whenever he sees fit, ensuring that each government
ministry is running to his liking. Additionally, much of Wirth’s focus during his time as
Chancellor has been on foreign affairs. He signed the Treaty of Rapallo with the Soviet
Union and has been in charge of working with the Allies on reparations issues. Accordingly,
Wirth will be this government’s main representative to foreign nations and entities. This
includes signing treaties, making alliances, or conducting any other diplomatic operations.

Minister of Finance Andreas Hermes


With a strong background in agricultural and economic policy, Hermes will be charged with
limiting inflation, promoting economic growth, and enhancing the country’s agricultural
and industrial output. A part of the Catholic Center Party, he will have to find unity amongst
a variety of political actors from the labor and business communities to find common
ground on potential policy solutions to the aforementioned goals. Along with these
objectives, he will be tasked with creating tax policy to fund government operations.
However, most importantly, Hermes will have to work with Chancellor Wirth to deal with
the cost of reparations. This position within the government was elevated to its current
level in the cabinet to deal with the economic crisis at hand and the onset of reparations.

Minister of Defense Otto Gessler


As the civilian in charge of the nation’s armed forces, Gessler has significant autonomy over
the operations of the military. In a state of emergency, it is possible for the president to give
executive power to Gessler, enabling him to utilize the military to achieve his desires, of
course at the behest of the president. He works closely with uniformed leadership in their
attempt to rebuild and modernize the German army under the existing treaty constraints.
Attempts to expand the military and test treaty limits can come from his office. Gessler also
wields significant political power as a member of the Reichstag and as a founder of the
centrist German Democratic Party. He will work closely with the president and the
chancellor to ensure state security and a cohesive military that can deter internal and
external threats.

Minister of Interior Adolf Köster

Köster, a member of the ruling Social Democratic Party and a former minister of foreign
affairs, is an experienced bureaucrat with strong connections in government. His personal
power, however, is what seriously elevates his position to rival that of the ministries of
finance and defense. As Minister of Interior, Köster controls the federal police force, all
internal security and intelligence gathering services, the civil service at-large, and the
logistics of the criminal-justice system, including the prisons and court staff, but excluding
the judiciary. Köster has much autonomy to run these parts of government as he sees fit; the
day to day operations of the ministry are up to his discretion, only reporting to the president
and chancellor for issues of great importance.

Reichstag Member and Party Chairman Hermann Müller


As a former chancellor himself and the leader of the largest party in the Reichstag, the
Social Democratic Party, Müller is tasked with perhaps the toughest challenge of all:
forming a governing coalition that can pass legislation. His vast political network will be key
in collaborating with other parties and making compromises and agreements on matters of
policy to create political success. Müller will also have to oversee campaigning efforts to
broaden support for his party and its proposed policies, in preparation for future elections
and to persuade other parties in government to side with the SDP plurality. Domestically, he
has championed higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, while simultaneously
increasing social spending. On foreign affairs, Müller has tried to steer the nation closer to
the West, with an emphasis on renegotiating the Treaty of Versailles with the aim to reduce
reparations especially important to him. Müller, as the leader of the main leftist party in
government, must contend with more radical, less popular parties to his left, and with the
right-wing groups that are equally disliked by his supporters. There is no obvious answer to
his quest for parties to make a ruling majority.

Reichstag Member and Party Co-Chairman Arthur Crispien

Crispien, as co-chairman of the second largest party in the Reichstag, the Independent
Social Democratic Party, he leads the party that is ideologically closest to that of the largest
party, the SPD. Although he has significant ties to international socialist organizations and
was a USPD delegate to the 2nd World Congress of the Communist International
(Comintern), Crispien is more of a moderate than many of his purist Marxist comrades in
the USPD. He maintains good relations with many in the SPD and would greatly favor
moving his party into a coalition with them, along with his preference for less of the
militant aspects of the left, supported by many in the USPD and KPD. His party is in a
strange place between the SPD on the center-left and the KPD on the far-left, forcing him to
strike a difficult balance between the two in order to grow his party into the main party of
the left. This may be impossible, however, as the SPD has much greater popularity, electoral
success, and institutional support. Directly integrating the USPD into the SPD would likely
make his leftist agenda more likely to have the political power to succeed, but such a move
would surely divide his party and cause many to shift support to the KPD.

Reichstag Member and Party Co-Chairman Georg Ledebour

As co-chairman of the USPD, Ledebour is different from his comrade Crispien insofar as that
Ledebour is overtly against the SPD. In his view the SPD government, following the end of
the war, tried to limit to extent to which the revolution of 1919 affected the country as a
whole, Ledebour believed that the revolution should have continued. He was against the
SPD government’s usage of right-wing militias to suppress leftist and communist uprising,
believing that the anti-democratic forces should have been the ones who were suppressed
through the use of force. Interestingly, Ledebour was heavily involved in the January, 1919
attempted overthrow of the Ebert-led government. This implies that he would find it
unacceptable to align with the SPD politically. Ledebour and Crispien symbolize the split in
the leftist camp in general, as both have very loyal supporters within the USPD, but very
different views and strategies regarding the future of the party. Reconciling this difference
will have serious political implications, as Ledebour and his followers would refuse to side
with the SPD, but it is uncertain if he could keep the USPD afloat in the midst of a potential
rush of support to the KPD in the wake of the potential alignment between the Crispien-
wing of the party and the SPD. Although none of this is a given, it is up to these leaders, a
coalition led by the SPD will at least try to form, with parts of the USPD being the most
likely allies.

Reichstag Member and Party Co-Chairman Oskar Hergt

Although Hergt is the co-chairman of the German National People’s Party, a group know for
its often far-right attitudes and hostility towards the republic overall, he is a moderating
voice within the party. He was formerly a member of a Prussian conservative political party
before the Great War. As the leader of the primary opposition to the two larger leftist
parties, Hergt is in charge of leading the fight in the Reichstag against the Treaty of
Versailles. Politically, he will support a more nationalist version of Germany, with no
reparations and limitations on military strength. On the same note, he has the task of
expanding the electoral success of the DNVP and the German right-wing in general.
However, he has no ties to the reactionary far-right of the polity and no interest in
overthrowing the government, despite his and his party’s obvious dislike of the republican
government. As the moderate leader of the DNVP, Hergt will try to lead the party as the
standard-bearer of the nationalist and monarchist right, while respecting the democratic
processes in the process.

Reichstag Member and Party Co-Chairman Count Kuno von Westarp

As the other co-chairman of the German National People’s Party, Westarp represents the
far-right wing of the party. With experience as a soldier, a jurist, and politician in other
conservative and monarchist parties, he was an unabashed militarist during the Great War
and continues to be an admirer of the old nationalist Imperial Germany. Due to the recent
influx of support for the DNVP during and after the 1920 election, Westarp and Hergt have
been empowered to fight the Treaty of Versailles, with this being their primary political
objective. Secondary objectives, including increasing executive authority, reducing social
spending and labor influence, increasing military power, and reinstating the monarchy, are
in their sights simultaneously. Although their political aims by be the same, Westarp and
Hergt have different means to attain these goals. Westarp was involved in the Kapp Putsch,
proving his interest in militant revolts as a potential solution to the problem of removing
this allegedly weak and unpatriotic government. This position, as well of the position of his
party, although vastly different from that of the leadership of the government, is a position
held by many Germans, a fact highlighted by their growing support.   

Reichstag Member and Party Chairman Gustav Stresemann

Stresemann’s long history in the business and conservative political community suits him
well as leader of the right-wing German People’s Party. However, Stresemann is one of the
most complicated figures in politics at this time. As the leader of one of the fastest growing
parties in the republic, he holds increasing political clout. On one hand, he was a supporter
of the monarchy and of an expansionary and imperialist German. On the other hand, he has
supported many of the social and political reforms made in the postwar era. Although parts
of the DVP are hostile to the Weimar Republic entirely, the party is mostly motivated by the
reactionary attitudes towards the Treaty of Versailles. The DVP will stand for pro-agrarian
and pro-business policies, but its focus will be on increasing German military and economic
power through fighting the treaty’s limitations. Their general uneasiness towards
democracy and socialism are secondary compared to these goals. Stresemann will also have
on his hands the issue of potentially being involved in a coalition government with SPD, if
they decide to distance themselves from the far-left USPD and KPD. Any mention of this will
challenge the core of the party, possibly splitting it if action is taken. Another option would
be to try to scrape together a right wing coalition that although unlikely to have a majority
before next election, would position itself well to take power in the future.
Reichstag Member and former Vice Chancellor Rudolf Heinze

Although Heinze is simply a member of the Reichstag with the German People’s Party at this
point, his prior history in higher positions of government demonstrates the breadth of
political connections and power that he holds. He is also even more of a moderate than
Stresemann, largely due to the fact that he worked with his fellow opposition leaders to pass
the Treaty of Versailles with the SPD-led coalition. Although Heinze is an avowed
nationalist at heart and despises the treaty, he likely favor a coalition with the SPD in order
to have a hand in governing the Weimar Republic. He is also a former Minister of Justice,
meaning that in this committee, he will be the judicial expert with strong ties to current
judges and the court system as a whole.

Reichstag Member and Party Chairman Karl Trimborn

Although Trimborn himself does not have a storied history in government, nor does he have
any particularly distinguishing powers, he is the chairman of one of the historically
dominant parties in German politics. The Catholic Center Party, or Zentrum, has been in the
top three of the most powerful parties in government since 1867 until this last election.
Furthermore, for most of the elections dating back before this most recent one in 1920, it
either had the most or second most representation. As the name implies, it is the lone true
centrist party in the Reichstag, with a particular aim at the influential Catholic vote.
Although party support dropped significantly in the last election, it still remains a
consistent power in the legislative branch. Its centrist nature, and support of the republic,
make it a prime target for forming a governing coalition with the SPD. Additionally, its
relatively loyal voter base, lacking a radical ideology, would almost certainly stick with the
party in almost any case. These factors should make Trimborn, if he can play his hand
correctly, a sought after individual in politics.

Reichstag Member and Party Chairman Carl Wilhelm Peterson

Peterson, one of the wealthiest members of government, is the leader of the centrist
German Democratic Party. Although the DDP is a relatively new political party, its early
electoral success was not replicated in the last election, as the party lost many seats. Despite
the fact that his party has been seriously weakened, its pro-republican nature suits it well
for a potential coalition with the SPD government. Peterson must balance the possibility of
being in government with the SPD and others, with the risk of this continuing the rapid
decline in party support. The shrinking of the political center, with decreases in voting for
DDP and the Catholic Center Party, is of great concern to Peterson, with political
polarization on the left and right becoming the new norm.

Reichstag Member and Party Chairman Karl Friedrich Speck

Although formerly a member of the Catholic Center Party, Speck is now the chairman of the
new regional Bavarian People’s Party. Despite the fact that its support is limited to Bavaria,
it had tremendous success in the region during the last election. However, its ideology is
now defined by that of those living solely in Bavaria. Therefore it is more conservative than
the Catholic Center Party which Speck and many BVP supporters came from. It is also more
sympathetic to the monarchist days of Germany, and therefore is most likely to caucus with
like-minded right wing groups. Speck’s goal should be to expand party control of Bavaria
and seek power in government alongside the main conservative parties.

Reichstag Member and Party Chairman Paul Levi


As chairman of the new Communist Party of Germany, Levi inherents international power as
the growth of communist and socialist political parties throughout Europe in the wake of
the Great War have become mutually beneficial. Although his party is the weakest one
represented in this cabinet, the divisions within the SPD and USPD signify an opportunity
for the KPD to gain a larger share of the leftist vote in the future. Levi is also a moderating
force within the KPD, as he has previously criticized more radical elements of the party and
the movement in other nations. Furthermore, he has spoken out against the parts of the far-
left in Germany that have tried to stage revolutionary takeovers. Due to the fact that the
KPD is so much larger than all other far-left parties, it is unlikely that Levi would lose
support over his “moderate communism”. If anything, this opens his party up to grabbing
SPD and USPD supporters. However, he must be careful of the more radical part of his party
because communist uprisings have already been violently put down by government military
and militia forces. Keeping the KPD unified and not perennially rebelling, while growing
should be Levi’s priorities.

Sugges ons for Further Research
Topics that us chairs would recommend doing basic background research, beyond your
specific role in the cabinet, include: The First World War, specifically the last two years with
Russia surrendering and their immediate revolution, American entrance into the war, the
German Spring Offensive of 1918, and the Western Front in general during the last two years
of the conflict, the political upheaval surrounding the new republic and constitution, the
1920 election, the Treaty of Versailles and the Weimar’s relationship with the western
powers, hyperinflation and its economic consequences, and an overview of the political
parties at the time. Knowing the context in which this committee takes place in is just as
important as understanding the policy and political options available to your role.

I thought that the The Weimar Republic: The Crisis of Classical Modernity by Detlev Peukert
and Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy by Eric Weitz were great starter books for the
history of the Weimar Republic specifically. Check out your school/local libraries for general
overviews of this era, books on World War One, or any of the aforementioned topics.
Remember when reading book and online sources the starting point for this committee,
April 1922 immediately after the Treaty of Rapallo was signed. Looking at the history after
this date is useful for understanding the future live expression of current trends, but it is by
no means destined to happen in this committee. These links are good starting points for
research, however it is largely up to you how you want to focus your preparation for the
conference. My best advice is to dive deeper into these background themes, explore your
role and their respective party and position in government, and consider the topics of and
potential solutions for the Treaty of Versailles and political extremism.

Bibliography

1 https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/meet-freikorps-vanguard-terror-1918-
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1918-1923)

2 http://polishcenter.net/?p=561 (http://polishcenter.net/?p=561)

3 http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/versailles_menu.asp
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8 Mueller, Gordon H. "Rapallo Reexamined: a new look at Germany's secret military


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9 Manchester, William (2003) [1968], The Arms of Krupp: 1587–1968


(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Arms_of_Krupp) (Paperback ed.), Boston, MA, US: Little,
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10 https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/239637?journalCode=jmh
(https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/239637?journalCode=jmh)

11 Lee, Stephen J. The Weimar Republic. Routledge, 2013. 60-85.

12 Rossi, A. The Rise of Italian Fascism. Routledge, 1938.. 40-76.

13 Walker, D. P. “The German Nationalist People's Party: The Conservative Dilemma in the
Weimar Republic.” Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 14, no. 4, 1979, pp. 627–647.
JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/260179.

Resources
https://www.facinghistory.org/weimar-republic-fragility-democracy/readings/weimar-
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democracy/readings/weimar-political-parties)

https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/guides/z8vt9qt/revision/1
(https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/guides/z8vt9qt/revision/1)

https://www.bundestag.de/blob/189772/8b9e17bd8d64e64c8e3a95fc2305e132/november_re
volution-data.pdf
(https://www.bundestag.de/blob/189772/8b9e17bd8d64e64c8e3a95fc2305e132/november_re
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https://www.loc.gov/law/help/us-treaties/bevans/m-ust000002-0043.pdf
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http://www.zum.de/psm/weimar/weimar_vve.php
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