- Oct 15, 2006
These notes have been obtained from the Resource Section, and I have posted them in this thread so that they (hopefully) will receive greater exposure. Kudos to the individual who constructed these notes.
Emergence of the Democratic Republic:
- On 2 October 1918, the Reichstag was told that Germany could not win the war. This was a shock to the German people who were led to believe that they would win.
- The Allies demanded that the defeated Germans have a democracy before peace could be discussed, and that meant that the Kaiser had to abdicate. He refused to.
- The German revolution started at Kiel, where there was a mutiny in the navy. Workers and soldiers soon followed their example and the revolution spread. The Independent Socialist (USPD) set up a republic in Bavaria and Saxony.
- On 9 November, the revolution came to Berlin and Kaiser Wilhelm finally agreed to abdicate after being told the army was longer at his command.
- Power was now handed over to the Majority Socialists (SPD) and their leader, Friedrich Ebert became chancellor.
- Ebert wanted now to maintain law and order, but the extreme left wing socialists, the Spartacists wanted a revolution on the Russian Model.
- Philip Scheidemann, a prominent Majority Socialist was in the Reichstag when he heard that a Spartacist leader, Karl Liebknecht, was going to call for a Russian-style Soviet republic. Scheidemann then quickly ran to the Reichstag balcony and proclaimed a new republic, with Ebert as chancellor, and said that the army agreed with this.
- Ebert was furious at this because he wanted a constitutional monarchy but it was too late. The Weimer Republic was now formed, almost by accident.
- On the evening of 9 November, Ebert received a phone call from General Groener, the commander of the army. Groener wanted support for the officer corps and in return, the army would support the republic in resisting left-wing extremists. Ebert agreed.
- To enforce law and order, irregular volunteer companies known as Friekorps were established to defend Germany against communism. They killed thousands of suspected communists.
- On 19 January 1919, elections took place and produced the first elected government of the Republic.
- The more moderate parties of the Reichstag won the most votes, showing that the majority of the people wanted a democracy. The extreme wings did not get as many votes, they wanted to restore the old Germany. The SPD got the most with 165 seats. The National assembly then voted Ebert as their first president who in turn appointed Scheidemann as the first chancellor. He made a coalition government with the SPD, the centre party and the German Democratic Party.