November Revolution: The embattled revolution

November Revolution: The embattled revolution

The euphoria does not last long. But in the beginning she is there. who the
      Morning edition of the
Berliner Tageblatt
of November 10, 1918 can from
      read a triumph of the revolution, of "first joy rallies" and the "rejoicing"
      a people who had "become self-sufficient". The French Revolution with her
      Bastille storm serves as a comparison for this new, arrived in the heart of Berlin "largest of all
      Revolutions. "This is how exuberantly describes the prominent liberal journalist Theodor Wolff
      the coup from the day before. It is not only the force of events that compels him respect, but also
      the astonishing amount of temperance, order, and consideration that this revolution has for the first time
      really big.

The praise is above all Friedrich Ebert, who took over the helm on November 9, after the proclamation of the republic and the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II, as the new Chancellor. Ebert knew how much "a revolution that wants to stand spotless, the defeated opponent with protection and humanity to meet" has. Although the exciting days are not a "spectacle for the weak," Wolff believes in an orderly, peaceful transition. The symbols of the ancien régime are to be removed, not to be smashed: "A mature, understanding people succeeds, without breaking anything."

Thus, for the bourgeois time diagnostician social-political progress can be driven forward. Not by a revolution in the sense of an all-decaying historic locomotive as in Marxist imagination, but along a carefully planned route, with responsible turnouts and a cautious engine driver who is ready to pull the brakes sometimes. In this way, the supporters of liberal-bourgeois politics in conjunction with Ebert and the moderate Social Democrats want to shape the new Germany.

It happens differently. The bourgeois-social democratic "Weimar coalition" breaks down as early as June 1920, at a time when euphoria has long since passed and no one is celebrating the revolution any longer. The parties that carried them can no longer draw strength from her. The revolution finds no entry into the national myth budget, it does not become a positive place of remembrance. Instead, it divides politics and society. How can this be explained?

That there was no consensus from the beginning
in the review, has with the
      mixed balance to do this revolution. Her greatest achievement was undoubtedly the successful one
      System change from constitutional monarchy to parliamentary democracy: First time
      in German history the principle of popular sovereignty applied, became democratic
      established constitution of the state. This democracy-historical extraordinary process
      gives the November Revolution historic rank. On the credit side are also the
      Introduction of the freedom of expression and assembly, the abolition of censorship and the
      Community and universal suffrage for men and for the first time also for women from
      20th year of life. The political upheavals were followed by social reforms: trade union and
      Industry representatives agreed the eight-hour day and wrote the thought of the
      Social partnership.

However, there was no socialist transformation of the economic and social order. This caused quarrels and disappointment in parts of the labor movement. Fierce conflicts also ensued within the political left: advocates of continuity and expansion of the minority-held council model competed with those who, led by the Social Democrats under Ebert's presidency, favored the formation of a democratically elected National Assembly.

This text is from the magazine ZEIT history no. 6/2018. The current issue can be purchased at the kiosk or here.

The decision for the parliamentary way on the Reichsrätekongress in the middle of December in Berlin was controversial, but peaceful. Even otherwise, the revolution in the first weeks remained largely non-violent. But especially during the Christmas holidays and from January 1919 street fighting started. The violence resulted from different expectations of the state, society and economy that the revolution should bring. The verbal radicalism to which the social-democratic
Forward
as well as the communist tended
Red flag,
promoted the violence.

The murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht became a bloody fan. The use of government troops and free corps by the People's Representative responsible for military service and first Reichswehr Minister Gustav Noske made the majority Social Democrats appear as "workers traitors". A good living with the old forces, so the accusation from the left, was more important to them than their own followers.

Indeed, abandoning a military reform that would have created a republican folk army is a major failure of the revolution. So the government remained difficult to control military Although they assured loyalty through their new supreme representative, First Quartermaster General Wilhelm Groener, they worked against the Republic at the latest after the Kapp Putsch in March 1920. Other functional elites of the empire, who remained in office after the revolution, whether in the administration or the judiciary, at first expressed their loyalty to the new employer, but never really became friends with democracy. In retrospect, it proved to be a mistake of the new government, not to have swept with a grosser broom and brought about a more extensive personnel change.

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