Threats to the Weimar Republic


Karl Liebknecht addressing the Communists
Karl Liebknecht addressing the communists
  • The German communist party, the Spartacist League (KPD),  were inspired by the success of the communist revolution in Russia
  • They were led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht
  • They wanted to bring down the Weimar Republic which was being led by Ebert, a Social Democrat, and set up a communist government in its place
  • They seized the headquarters of a government newspaper = ultimately unsuccessful
  • The Weimar Republic created the Freikorps (volunteer ex-servicemen who hated communists) to stop them
  • The uprising was finished by 15th January
  • The Freikorps shot the two leaders for “resisting arrest”


Though unsuccessful the uprising highlighted the instability of Weimar Republic, they were a left wing socialist government being attacked by an even more left wing group (communists). Plus is showed that the Republic was dependent on the support of the army. They therefore promised not to change the way the army was set-up.

KAPP PUTSCH March 1920

Wolfgan Kapp
Wolfgang Kapp
  • The Weimar Republic was unable to keep its promise to the army and Friekorps – the structure and size of the army had to change as a result of signing the Treaty of Versailles
  • The Treaty came into effect in 1920 so the army had to be reduced to 100,000 and the Friekorps disbanded
  • The Freikorps were furious!
  • Kapp Putsch was an attempt by the Freikorps to overthrow Weimar Republic
  • It was led by Wolfgang Kapp and he gathered 5000 followers
  • They managed to seize Berlin and the government was forced to flee to another German town, Dresden
  • The official German army refused to go against Kapp partly because they had a kinship with other military men, but also because the army-proper was also angry with the government for cuts to its numbers
  • The Putsch was defeated because workers in Berlin supported the Weimar Republic and so went on strike,
  • This paralysed the city by cutting off the gas supply, electricity, food and coal supplies
  • Kapp fled to Sweden after 6 days


The Putsch showed that the Weimar Republic had gained support from workers but not from the army this time.