How the Weimar Republic Got Its Name

Despite its name, the Weimar Republic (1919–33), Germany’s first dalliance with democracy, was never actually governed from Weimar. The town on the Ilm River was merely the place where, in 1919, the National Assembly drafted and passed the country’s first constitution.

Assembly delegates felt that the volatile and explosive political climate rocking post-WWI Berlin would threaten the democratic process if it took place there, and looked for an alternative location. Weimar had several factors in its favour: a central location, a suitable venue (the Deutsches Nationaltheater) and a humanist tradition entirely antithetical to the militaristic Prussian spirit that had led to war.

Weimar’s spot in the democratic limelight, however, lasted only briefly. With the situation in Berlin calming down, the delegates returned to the capital just one week after passing the constitution on 31 July.