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The Left and Right at the Birth of Weimar Germany

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Introduction

Alfie Stroud 12 Gore The Left and Right at the Birth of Weimar Germany From the general chaos and unrest that followed the Kiel Mutiny in late 1918, the centre-left emerged to lead Germany into a new era of democracy. Philipp Scheidemann, a key figure in the moderate SDP, declared a Democratic Socialist Republic from a balcony in Berlin on 9th November 1918. However, the whole of Germany was not behind him, since simultaneously, and from a different Berlin balcony, Karl Liebknecht, leader of the communist Spartacists (KPD), declared a Soviet Republic. Furthermore, the right-wing German autocrats, beaurocrats and elites slowly grew in their opposition to the left-wing moderates they dubbed the "November Criminals". The moderate Socialist SDP was the largest German party with approximately 1 million members. ...read more.

Middle

Ebert clearly recognised the threat of the right wing when he came into power. They formed the vast majority of the German establishment, whose acquiescence at the very least he would need to set up his democratic republic. They controlled the press, the civil service, the financial and education systems, and most crucially, the armed forces. They wished to retain German autocracy, but were terrified of the threat of revolution from the extreme left. There was also a small but growing fascist movement on the extreme right. In 1917 Russia had undergone a bloody Bolshevik Revolution, in which the old autocracy had been entirely replaced by a Soviet Republic. As the new Chancellor of Germany, Ebert began to guide Germany towards electing its first new democratic Government in early 1919, the extreme left of the country, largely united under the KPD or breakaway factions of the USPD, began to push for the revolution they so badly wanted. ...read more.

Conclusion

Groener agreed, and a deal was made, bringing the moderate left and broad right together, however grudgingly, in support of each other. The radical and extreme left was now entirely cut-off from any chances of gaining mainstream power, isolated by Ebert's SDP. And although in the short term Ebert ensured he was able to establish his Socialist democratic Republic, which met for the first time in Weimar in February 1919, he sacrificed a great deal of power to the right-wing elite, who were still ultimately hostile to his cause. He would later be plagued by the legacy of this deal, the extreme left and right on occasion uniting in their opposition to him, isolated as they were from mainstream politics, while the pre-1918 elite harboured their distaste for Weimar politics. In attempting to seek greater support, Ebert had in fact isolated himself yet further. ...read more.

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