The abdication of the Kaiser
In 1918, conditions in Germany were poor, there was mass starvation and the army had become demoralised.
In November 1918, the navy mutineed refusing to leave the port to battle with the British navy. The Kaiser failed to send the army to crush this mutiny.
The result was that it spread - to other sailors, soldiers and workers who went on strike.
Within days there were strikes all over Germany and the country fell into chaos.
The Kaiser found himself without any support.
On 9 November he abdicated and fled to Holland. On 11 November he signed the armistace with the Allies.
However the Kaiser departed so suddenly that a new government had not been appointed. The lead was taken by Friedrich Ebert (head of the Social Democrats the largest German party). Ebert declared a new Republic with an elected parliament.
The Spartacist Uprising - Causes
The Spartacus League was led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht
It was made up of communists who opposed everything that Ebert did.
They wanted Germany to be ruled by the Soviets that had been created in the November revolution.
On the last day of 1918 they renamed themselves the German Communist Pary and made plans to seize power.
Many Germans - escpecially the middle and upper class - feared a communist takeover in which they would lose property land and business.
The Spartacist Uprising - Events
On 5 January 1919 the Spartacus League staged a revolt in a bid for power
A strike was organised and a revolutionary commitee was formed to take control
Ebert did a deal with the army commanders that allowed the army to put down the Spartacists.
In return the Social Democrats agreed not to set up a new army that was sympathetic to the Republic
The old army remained in place
Thousands of the Sparticist were killed and Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were both shot.
The Spartacist Uprising - Results
Ebert's government had been saved but at a cost.
The army which never fully supported the republic remained unchanged.
The communists never forgot the Spartacist Uprising and throughout the history of the Republic they saw the Social Democrats as their deadliest enemies.
This would later be of vital importance.
The creation of the Weimar Republic
On 19 January 1919 a general election was held for a new parliament.
The Social Democrats were elected as the largest part and Ebert was appointed the first President of the German Republic.
It was felt that it was too unsafe to meet in Berlin so the Government moved to the safer town of Weimar.
Revolts in Berlin and Bavaria
Any hopes that the newly elected government would be accepted by all Germans were quickly ended.
In March 1919 the communists organised riots and strikes in Berlin - again the Free Corps destroyed this opposition.
A further threat to the Weimar Republic was the setting up of a Socialist Republic in Bavaria.
On 7 April 1919 it was made a Soviet Republic with Munich as its capital.
Food, money and houses were taken from the rich and given to the workers.
The government sent soldiers to beseige Munich.
In may the soldiers - helped by the Free Corps - broke into the city. The revolt was crushed and it leaders were massacred.
The Weimar Government had estabilished its control of Germany by defeating the opposition with the help of the free corps