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Was there a revolution in Germany in 1918?

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Introduction

WAS THERE A REVOLUTION IN GERMANY IN 1918? Q. (1) Why can it be argued that the 'revolution from above' was not so revolutionary? Ans. The so-called revolution in Germany which toppled The Second Reich and Kaiser Wilhelm II and brought about a change in the structure of the regime in Germany in the form of the Weimar Republic was an important event in the history of the country. The revolution was lead primarily by Ebert, the SPD member. But the historians find it exceedingly difficult to place Ebert precisely in the picture amidst the confusion and rapid sequence of events that was taking place in Germany at that time. This is predominantly because of Ebert's dual role during the movement in toppling the existing regimes where at one instance he is seen supporting the interests of the workers (i.e., supporting the revolution from below) and on another instance he is seen helping to keep the interests and powers of the elite Junkers intact (i.e., supporting the revolution from above). However, we must keep in mind that Ebert was not the only character who brought about these events to happen in Germany during the time. The 'revolution from above' was first carried out in October 1918 when Prince Max was appointed as the head of the government which was for the first time an accountable to the Reichstag. Thus the liberalised constitution of the Second Reich was established. But it has also been argued that the revolution in Germany was initiated in September 1918 by Ludendorff and the Army High Command. ...read more.

Middle

changing sequence of events because his role in the revolution is not at all well defined because he supports the Junkers as well as the mass population. We may start our analysis of Ebert's character by emphasising on the fact that he was a person that believed in taking he middle path without going too far on any side of the road. He did believe in changes but also believed that radical changes through out the government were not at all necessary. He was also panicky and was terribly scared of a communist element dominating the revolution in Germany. He over-estimated the soviet style communist threat and made secret deals with General Groener to use the army to suppress them. He used the army and the Freikrops to crush the Soviet republic in Bavaria and the Spartacist revolt in Berlin which was named 'Bloody Week'. It was persuaded by the communists who criticised Ebert for his failure (or may we put it as incompatibility or unwillingness?) to bring about radical changes in the structure of the government. He also put restrictions on the Workers' Council. But we must also keep in mind that Ebert under estimated the threat from the right-wingers to the revolution. This action of Ebert outrages the Marxist historians like Arnold Brecht who claim that he was the slave of the bourgeoisie and a person who protected capitalism. The Western historians, however, claim that Ebert's suppressing of the communists was vital for the survival of the democratic government approaching in the form of the Weimar Republic. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Republican Government never tried to interfere within the army attempts to revive itself. The military limited to 10,000 volunteers, became an extremely professional unit based very much on the ethos of the Second Reich. The decision of not republicanising the army was mainly the outcome of the telephonic conversation between Ebert and General Groener on 9th November. We may conclude by quoting Heiber who says that the entire structure of the army remains the same and it does what it desires without any hindrance at all from the government. Q.(5) Write a paragraph summing up your opinion on whether we can call the events of 1918-19 Germany a revolution? Ans. The Second Reich in Germany was faced with stiff opposition from almost all the social classes of Germany and finally the masses did manage to topple the existing regime by pressurising the changes to occur at the helm of the government and the political structure. In the meantime Ebert, a leader of the Socialist Party (SPD) managed to win over massive amount of support by cleverly disguising his role on every occasion. It is not very clear that on which side he was but all the historians could figure out is that he was often changing ends but doing this very cunningly so that he kept in with the elites as well as with the workers community. Out of the smokes of confusion and chaos in Germany there developed a so-called revolution which acted rapidly to remove the existing regime and declare the birth of a new democratic state with the name of Weimar Republic which, according to some, was a democratic robe covering various features of the Second Reich. ARUNI MUKHERJEE 1 ...read more.

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