29

Parliament of the Weimar Republic

I know that in the Weimar republic the chancellor and other ministers of government sit in front of the members of parliament on the right side of the speaker but was the role of the people who sit to the left of the speaker?

Are they some sort of opposition/shadow cabinet?

51

Very good question and I am surprised that I as German needed to dig deeper into the stuff than anticipated. I tried to consult the German Wikipedia and the normal Google results, but got essentially nothing at first. I suppose it was self-evident schoolboy knowledge at their time and they did not bother to remark the function for following generations.

Finally I found it: enter image description here Reichstag 1903, Public Domain

Translation:

Der große Sitzungssaal im Reichstagsgebäude (The big assembly hall of the Reichstag building).

  1. Tisch des Hauses (House table).
  2. Sitz des Reichskanzlers (Seat of Reich Chancellor)
  3. Sitz der Mitglieder des Bundesrates (Seats of the Bundesrat members)
  4. Sitz des Präsidenten (Seat of the President (of the Reichstag!))
  5. Sitz der Schriftführer (Seat of the Secretaries)
  6. Rednertribüne (Speakers platform)
  7. Sitz des amtlichen Stenographen (Seat of the stenographer)
  8. Journalistentribüne (Journalist lounge)
  9. Nein-Thüre ("No" door, "Thüre" is old German for "Tür").

It was the seats of the Bundesrat (1871-1918) / Reichsrat (1919-1933, just name change) which were members of the states of the Deutsches Reich.

More about the responsibilites of the Reichsrat here. While the Reichsrat itself resided in another building, its emissaries were present in the Reichstag on both sides of the central stage.

The seating order of the parties generally was mirroring their classification of left and right. At the most left the communists/SPD, at the most right the Centrum (conservatives)/NSDAP. enter image description here Seating order in Baden-Württemberg (not Reichstag!), Public Domain

Just to explain the description 9: The Reichstag had a special voting scheme where members of the Reichstag entered the hall through two doors, the "Yes" / "No" door. The procedure was called Hammelsprung (wether’s leap) and the architect Paul Wallot depicted Polyphemus stroking the sheeps back for "Yes" and the old German mountain fairie Rübezahl for "No".

Interestingly the seating order has not much changed for the current Bundestag. The only difference is that the state representatives are exclusively sitting on the left together with the Wehrbeauftragten, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces.

  • Just for curiosity for the people who upvoted: What did you like or find interesting on the question/answer? I am really surprised that the answer seems to gather much interest. – Thorsten S. Mar 10 '18 at 0:08
  • Your answer received lots of upvotes because 1) it's a good answer, and 2) this question hit Hot network Questions. ;) Enjoy the windfall. – jpmc26 Mar 10 '18 at 0:29
  • @ThorstenS. it is well-stated answer that covers the question, and providing relevant additional supporting information without going out on a tangent. What more could one ask for ? – Criggie Mar 10 '18 at 2:13
  • The seating order of the parties generally was mirroring their classification of left and right. Or did their seating order influence the names of the classification left and right? – JAD Mar 10 '18 at 11:45
  • 2
    @JAD the left/right designation for parties came from the seating order in the first french national convention a hundred years earlier. I think from there it spread to other countries. – Paŭlo Ebermann Mar 10 '18 at 19:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.