Reich President | tutor2u History
Study notes

Reich President

  • Levels: AS, A Level
  • Exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, OCR

The Reich President often known as the President of German was an office that was created in the Weimar Republic, but was abolished in 1934 after the death of President Hindenburg. There were officially two presidents with two others who worked as acting presidents. 

Propaganda at the 1932 Presidential Election | Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-13355 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The President was elected by a national popular vote for a seven year term. Unlike the United States, there was no term limits. Elections are very much like the modern French system with two rounds. If a candidate did not receive a majority of votes then a second round occurred in which the candidate with the most votes won. When taking office the Reich President must take an oath of office. Due to the short time that the office was in existence there were only ever two elections one in 1925 and one in 1932, both with Hindenburg being elected.

The President appointed the Chancellor and the government of the Republic, but the President could only dismiss the Chancellor rather than ordinary government ministers. In addition to this power, the President could summon and dismiss the Reichstag. Like most modern heads of state, the President signed laws passed by the Reichstag into law and he was also commander in chief of the German Armed Forces.

Emergency Powers

The Constitution of the Republic provided Emergency Powers under Article 48. Under this power the President could suspend civil liberties and could assume all legislative power that the Reichstag had. Any decree issued by the President would have had the same legislative standing as any law passed by the Reichstag.

Presidents of the Weimar Republic:

1. Friedrich Ebert (1919-1925)
Ebert died in office and was a Social Democrat. He has been chosen as President by the National Assembly when the Weimar Constitution was created.

2. Paul Von Hindenburg (1925-1934)
Hindenburg was a former World War One general and was elected by the support of the right wing of the German electorate who had hoped that he would destroy the Weimar Republic, however, he never did that or made any attempt to do so.

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