Edexcel IGCSE History – Development of dictatorship: Germany, 1918-45
Ø Causes of the German Revolution:
· One reason was failure in the First World War. The Germans had been confident of victory when they went to war in September 1914, but the Allies remained undefeated by 1918 and now had the combined might of Britain, France, Russia, and the USA. A final, desperate German offensive was launched in March 1918. But, in July, the Allies counter-attacked and drove the Germans back. Two million German troops had died since 1914, yet defeat seemed near, and morale amongst troops was therefore very low.
· Another reason for the German Revolution was the hardship caused by the war. Allied navies were blockading the German coast, preventing imports of basic supplies. Food shortages, along with military failure, created a sense of hopelessness. Hardship was exacerbated by a deadly influenza infection which spread through Europe in 1918.
· The Russian Revolution also helped to cause discontent in Germany. In November 1917, the Russians had overthrown the Tsar, and replaced him with a government of the people under Lenin. By November 1918, the Germans were demanding similar changes in their own country. They wanted to replace the undemocratic rule of the Kaiser with councils of workers and soldiers.
Ø Events of the German Revolution:
· On 29 October 1918, German sailors at the naval base of Wilhelmshaven refused to set sail. The mutiny spread to the naval base at Kiel where, on 4 November, 40,000 sailors joined dockers and took over the dockyard having formed a workers’ and soldiers’ council. This sparked similar revolts all across Germany in towns such as Hamburg and Bremen. In Hanover, soldiers refused to control the rioters. The Government was beginning to lose control.
· On 7 November, in Bavaria, thousands of workers, led by Kurt Eisner, marched on the state capital of Munich. The local ruler, King Ludwig III, fled the country. On the next day, Eisner set up a workers’ and peasants’ council and declared Bavaria a people’s state. Leaders in other parts of Germany feared similar revolts and fled.
· In Berlin, even the Kaiser’s own ministers deserted him. As defeat in the war came closer, the Allies said that they would only negotiate with “representatives of the people”. Ministers therefore told the Kaiser that he had to go. On 9 November, he agreed to abdicate, and he fled to Holland the next day. Germany’s biggest political party, the Social Democrat Party (SPD), formed a new government, led by Friedrich Ebert.
Ø Effects of the German Revolution:
· The new government was able to agree an armistice, under Friedrich Ebert, the new Chancellor, on 11 November. Germany had to withdraw from all land won in the war, pull its troops back 30 miles inside its border with France, surrender its munitions, and place its navy under allied control.
· The second effect, a new government, took…