Impact of War

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  • Impact of War
    • The Abdication of The Kaiser
      • At 1:30pm on 9th November 1918 in Belgium Kaiser Wilhelm was told that the news of his abdication had been announced in Germany.He was forced to accept what happened. The Kaiser and his wife left for Denmark.
      • In 1918 it had been clear to General Ludendorff that Germany was on the brink of defeat
        • Thanks to President Wilson's 14 points - they thought that they could ask for an armistice
    • October Reforms
      • Kaiser began a set of changes which would end his autocratic rule.
        • Prince Max of Baden was appointed the new Chancellor - responsible for the Reichstag, created a new government based off of the majority political parties (eg. SPD)
      • Armed forces put under control of the civil government. This was known as a ‘revolution from above’
    • Peace Note
      • On October 3rd, Prince Max wrote to President Wilson asking for an armistice. Wilson replied after 3 weeks demanding that Germany evacuated all occupied territory, to call an end to submarine warfare, Ludendorff resigned and fled to Sweden
      • Impact on the people: Asking for an armistice was a shattering blow for the German people. Undermined the respect for the Kaiser + political leaders. Strike on the 22nd of October in Friedrichshafen workers shouted ‘The kaiser is a scoundrel’
    • The November Revolution of 1918
      • 3rd November 1918 sailors mutinied against their officers and took control of the base
        • 4th November the revolt spread to the city and the workers
          • By 6th November there were revolts everywhere. Soldiers and workers councils were established
            • 8th November a republic was proclaimed in Bavaria + the bavarian monarchy was deposed
              • 9th November SPD called on workers in Berlin to join a general strike to force the Kaiser’s abdication + the SPD threatened to withdraw from Prince max’s government.  Prince Max releases a press statement claiming the Kaiser had abdicated (when he hadn’t)
                • Prince Max resigns as Chancellor and passed it on to Friedrich Ebert (leader of the SPD). General Groener told the Kaiser that the army would no longer fight for him. The Kaiser signed his abdication + fled the country
    • Main Parties
      • Spartacist league (KPD)
        • Founded 1916 by a more revolutionary minority group from the SPD.January 1919 became the German Communist party (KPD).Led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg
        • Wanted Republican government controlled by workers’ councils, disbanding of the army + creation of local workers’ militias. Supported by workers on rallies + demonstrations.
      • USPD
        • Founded 1917 by a minority group from the left of the SPD. Led by Hugo Hasse. Wanted a republic with a national Reichstag + nationalisation of industry + reform of the army + creation of national militia. Support grew in strength in 1918 due to war-weariness
      • Social Democratic Party (SPD)
        • Founded 1875 as a socialist party for revolution. Led by Friedrich Ebert and Philipp Scheidemann . Wanted a socialist republic + democratic party + gradual nationalisation of industry + supported WW1
        • Supported by working class voters. In 1912 was the largest party in the reichstag
      • Z (Centre Party)
        • Formed in 1870 to protect Catholic interests. Wanted political reform and defend the Weimar republic until 1930. Most support came from Catholic workers and middle class.
      • NSDAP (Nazis)
        • Formed in 1919 as the German Workers’ party. Extremely nationalist and racist - opposed the Weimar Republic
        • Support came from upper middle class and employers. Led by Gustav Stresemann who became Chancellor and Foreign Minister.
      • DNVP (German National People’s Party)
        • Nationalist party formed in 1918. Protect the interests of the land-owning class.
        • Rejected the Republic, Treaty of Versailles and democracy. Support came form landed nobility and urban lower middle class
      • DDP (German Democratic Party)
        • Left wing liberal party formed in 1918. Supported the Weimar constitution but lost electoral support after 1919.
        • Most support came from liberal intellectuals and businessman
    • Pressure on Ebert
      • Pressure for radical change from the left
      • On 22nd November an agreement was made between the new government and the Berlin workers’ and soldiers’ councils - government accepted that they only exercised power in the name of these councils
      • Many of these left organisations believed that autocratic rule could only be ended when the autocratic states were broken up (eg. army, civil service and judiciary were democratised).
        • Many of the army officers were aristocratic and had supported the Kaiser, they didn’t want a republic. Many believed Germany faced a Bolshevik revolution which would lead to civil war.
      • Groener told Ebert the army would support the new government
        • Ebert-Groener Pact: Groener demanded that Ebert resist the soldiers’ demands to democratise the army and defend Germany against a Communist Revolution. Ebert agreed to this
          • For the left this pact was a betrayal of the revolution
            • On 6th december a Communist Revolution was fired on by soldiers (16 killed)
            • 23rd-24rd December sailors revolt against the government was put down by the army
            • January Revolution - Spartacists launched an armed revolt against the government, the revolt was crushed


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