In spite of an offer to negotiate, he ordered his Freikorps units to invade the city.
Approximately people were killed in the ensuing fights. This caused an eruption of mass strikes in the Ruhr District, the Rhineland and in Saxony. Against the will of the strike leadership, the strikes escalated into street fighting in Berlin. The Prussian state government, which in the meantime had declared a state of siege, called the imperial government for help. By the end of the fighting on 16 March, they had killed approximately 1, people, many of them unarmed and uninvolved. Among others, 29 members of the Peoples Navy Division, who had surrendered, were summarily executed, since Noske had ordered that anybody found armed should be shot on the spot.
The situation in Hamburg and Thuringia also was very much like a civil war. The council government to hold out the longest was the Munich Soviet Republic. According to the predominant opinion of modern historians,  the establishment of a Bolshevik-style council government in Germany on 9—10 November was impossible. Yet the Ebert government felt threatened by a coup from the left, and was certainly undermined by the Spartakus movement; thus it co-operated with the Supreme Command and the Freikorps. The brutal actions of the Freikorps during the various revolts estranged many left democrats from the SPD.
They regarded the behavior of Ebert, Noske and the other SPD leaders during the revolution as an outright betrayal of their own followers.
With The USPD received only 7. On the one hand, the Weimar Constitution offered more possibilities for a direct democracy than the present Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, for example by setting up a mechanism for referenda. On the other hand, Article 48 granted the president the authority to rule against the majority in the Reichstag, with the help of the army if need be.
In —33, Article 48 was instrumental in destroying German democracy. From to , nationalist forces continued fighting against the Weimar Republic and left-wing political opponents. In , the German government was briefly overthrown in a coup organized by Wolfgang Kapp the Kapp Putsch , and a nationalist government was briefly in power. Mass public demonstrations soon forced this regime out of power. In and , Matthias Erzberger and Walter Rathenau were shot by members of the ultra-nationalist Organisation Consul.
The newly formed Nazi Party, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler and supported by former German army chief Erich Ludendorff, engaged in political violence against the government and left-wing political forces as well. In , in what is now known as the Beer Hall Putsch, the Nazis took control of parts of Munich, arrested the president of Bavaria, the chief of police, and others and forced them to sign an agreement in which they endorsed the Nazi takeover and its objective to overthrow the German government.
The putsch came to an end when the German army and police were called in to put it down, resulting in an armed confrontation in which a number of Nazis and some police were killed. The Weimar Republic was always under great pressure from both left-wing and right-wing extremists.
Right-wing extremists were opposed to any democratic system, preferring instead an authoritarian state similar to the Empire founded in Both sides were determined to bring down the Weimar Republic. In the end, the right-wing extremists were successful, and the Weimar Republic came to an end with the ascent of Hitler and the National Socialist Party. The failure of the Weimar Republic that this revolution brought into being and the Nazi era that followed it obstructed the view of these events for a long time. To this very day, the interpretation of these events has been determined more by legends than by facts.
Both the radical right and the radical left — under different circumstances — nurtured the idea that a Communist uprising was aiming to establish a Soviet Republic following the Russian example. The democratic centre parties, especially the SPD, were also barely interested in assessing the events which turned Germany into a Republic fairly. At closer look, these events turned out to be a revolution supported by the Social Democrats and stopped by their party leadership. These processes helped to weaken the Weimar Republic from its very beginning. After the imperial government and the Supreme Command shirked their responsibilities for the war and the defeat at an early stage, the majority parties of the Reichstag were left to cope with the resulting burdens.
It was mainly Ludendorff who contributed to the spread of this falsification of history to conceal his own role in the defeat. In nationalistic and national minded circles, the myth fell on fertile ground. From its very beginning, the Weimar Republic was afflicted with the stigma of the military defeat. A large part of the bourgeoisie and the old elites from big industry, landowners, military, judiciary and administration never accepted the democratic republic and hoped to get rid of it at the first opportunity. On the left, the actions of the SPD Leadership during the revolution drove many of its former adherents to the Communists.
Depending on their political standpoint of view, contemporaries had greatly differing opinions about the revolution. Ernst Troeltsch, a Protestant theologian and philosopher, rather calmly remarked how the majority of Berlin citizens perceived 10 November:. On Sunday morning after a frightful night the morning newspapers gave a clear picture: the Kaiser in Holland, the revolution victorious in most urban centres, the royals in the states abdicating.
No man dead for Kaiser and Empire! The continuation of duties ensured and no run on the banks! On all faces it could be read: Wages will continue to be paid. The liberal publicist Theodor Wolff wrote on the very day of 10 November in the newspaper Berliner Tageblatt, lending himself to far too optimistic illusions, which the SPD leadership also might have had:.
Like a sudden storm, the biggest of all revolutions has toppled the imperial regime including everything that belonged to it. It can be called the greatest of all revolutions because never has a more firmly built … fortress been taken in this manner at the first attempt. Only one week ago, there was still a military and civil administration so deeply rooted that it seemed to have secured its dominion beyond the change of times.
Yesterday afternoon it was all gone. The extreme right had a completely opposite perception. On 10 November, conservative journalist Paul Baecker wrote an article in Deutsche Tageszeitung which already contained essential elements of the Stab-in-the-back myth :. The work fought for by our fathers with their precious blood — dismissed by betrayal in the ranks of our own people!
Germany, yesterday still undefeated, left to the mercy of our enemies by men carrying the German name, by felony out of our own ranks broken down in guilt and shame. The German Socialists knew that peace was at hand anyway and that it was only about holding out against the enemy for a few days or weeks in order to wrest bearable conditions from them. In this situation they raised the white flag. This is a sin that can never be forgiven and never will be forgiven.
This is treason not only against the monarchy and the army but also against the German people themselves who will have to bear the consequences in centuries of decline and of misery. In an article on the 10th anniversary of the revolution the publicist Kurt Tucholsky remarked that neither Wolff nor Baecker were right.
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Nevertheless, Tucholsky accused Ebert and Noske of betrayal, not of the monarchy but of the revolution. The things taking place were not a revolution. There was no spiritual preparation, no leaders ready in the dark; no revolutionary goals. And weariness, disgust and weariness. The possibilities that nevertheless were lying in the streets were betrayed by Ebert and his like. A republican constitution in which every sentence rescinds the next one, a revolution talking about well acquired rights of the old regime can be only laughed at.
The German Revolution is still to take place. Walter Rathenau was of a similar opinion. Not a chain was broken by the swelling of spirit and will, but a lock merely rusted through. The chain fell off and the freed stood amazed, helpless, embarrassed and needed to arm against their will. The ones sensing their advantage were the quickest.
The historian and publicist Sebastian Haffner in turn came out against Tucholsky and Rathenau. He lived through the revolution in Berlin as a child and wrote 50 years later in his book about one of the myths related to the events of November that had taken root especially in the bourgeoisie:. It is often said that a true revolution in Germany in never took place. All that really happened was a breakdown. It was only the temporary weakness of the police and army in the moment of military defeat which let a mutiny of sailors appear as a revolution.
At first sight, one can see how wrong and blind this is comparing with In there really was a breakdown. Certainly a mutiny of sailors started the revolution in but it was only a start. This revolt was not just a mutiny anymore, it was a true revolution…. As in any revolution, the old order was replaced by the beginnings of a new one. It was not only destructive but also creative…. As a revolutionary achievement of masses the German November does not need to take second place to either the French July or the Russian March During the Nazi regime, works on the Weimar Republic and the German Revolution published abroad and by exiles in the s and s could not be read in Germany.
Around , that affected the first published history of the Weimar Republic by Arthur Rosenberg. In his view the political situation at the beginning of the revolution was open: the moderate socialist and democratic-oriented work force indeed had a chance to become the actual social foundation of the republic and to drive back the conservative forces.
It failed because of the wrong decisions of the SPD leadership and because of the revolutionary tactics employed by the extreme left wing of the work force. After West German historical research on the Weimar Republic concentrated most of all on its decline. In , Theodor Eschenburg mostly ignored the revolutionary beginning of the republic. In , Karl Dietrich Bracher also dealt with the German Revolution from the perspective of the failed republic. Erich Eyck shows how little the revolution after was regarded as part of German history.
His two-volume History of the Weimar Republic gave barely 20 pages to these events.
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This interpretation at the height of the Cold War was based on the assumption that the extreme left was comparably strong and a real threat to the democratic development. In this point, West German researchers ironically found themselves in line with Marxist historiography in the German Democratic Republic GDR , which attributed considerable revolutionary potential most of all to the Spartacists.
Contrary to the official party line, Rudolf Lindau supported the theory that the German Revolution had a Socialist tendency. Consistently, the founding of the KPD Communist Party of Germany was declared to be the decisive turning point in German history, but in spite of ideological bias, historical research in the GDR expanded detailed knowledge of the German Revolution.
During the s, West German historians focused their research on the final stages of the Weimar Republic. In the s, they shifted to its revolutionary beginnings, realising that the decisions and developments during the revolution were central to the failure of the first German Republic. The result was the resignation and radicalisation of the council movement. Increasingly, the history of the German Revolution appeared as the history of its gradual reversal.
This new interpretation of the German Revolution gained acceptance in research rather quickly even though older perceptions remained alive. Peter von Oertzen went particularly far in this respect describing a social democracy based on councils as a positive alternative to the bourgeois republic. In comparison, Wolfgang J. Mommsen did not regard the councils as a homogeneous focused movement for democracy but as a heterogeneous group with a multitude of different motivations and goals.
With all the differences concerning details, historical researchers agree that in the German Revolution, the chances to put the republic on a firm footing were considerably better than the dangers coming from the extreme left. Instead, the alliance of the SPD with the old elites constituted a considerable structural problem for the Weimar Republic. Random preview. German Revolution of — This article is about the revolutions in — For the revolutions in , see German revolutions of — For the revolution in East Germany, see Die Wende.
For other uses, see German revolution disambiguation. Further information: Russian Revolution. Crowds outside the Reichstag on 9 November as the creation of the republic was announced. Proclamation of the Bremen revolutionary republic, outside the town hall, on 15 November Main article: Skirmish of the Berlin Schloss. The occupation of the Silesian railway station in Berlin by government troops, Spartacist militia in Berlin.
March Revolutionaries after summary execution. Main article: Weimar National Assembly. Germany portal. Germany — , p. Deutschland — p. Baden: Erinnerungen und Dokumente p. Deutschland — S. Wien, English language literature: Mark Jones: Founding Weimar. The German Revolution — Chicago: Haymarket Books. Coper, Rudolf Failure of a Revolution Germany in — Cambridge University Press. Lutz, Ralph Haswell. The German Revolution, pp online free Richard M. Geschichte der Entstehung und ersten Arbeitsperiode der deutschen Republik.
Die Deutschen zwischen Weltkrieg und Revolution. Berlin: Dietz Verlag, Mark Jones: Am Anfang war Gewalt. Legende und Wirklichkeit. Gottfried Niedhart Hg.
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