❶Impact of war, political crises and establishment of the Weimar Constitution

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1918

 

Impact of war, political crises and establishment of the Weimar Constitution

 

End of war

  • Sep 1918 clear to Ludendorff that Ger on brink of defeat, retreating along western front

  • Elsewhere in EU Ger allies negotiating peace terms

  • Ludendorff- only way to avoid surrender was to ask for armistice

  • Woodrow’s 14 points possible basis for peace settlement but Ludendorff knew that autocratic system was an obstacle

  • Ludendorff advocated partial democratisation of the system as a way to get better peace terms

October reforms

  • Oct, after Ludendorff’s advice Kaiser began a set of reforms that effectively ended his autocratic rule

  • Appointed prince Max as chancellor- responsible of the Reichstag

  • Established new gov based on majority parties including SDP

  • Armed forces put under the control of gov

  • Major constitutional transformation- designed to save Germany from humiliation

The peace note

  • 3rd Oct max wrote to pres Wilson asking for armistice, took 3 weeks to reply- suspicious they were using armistice as a means of buying time to regroup

  • Wilson demanded Ger evacuate all occupied territory, end submarine warfare and become fully democratic.

  • His terms basically demanded German surrender and the Kaisers abdication- too much for Ludendorff to accept

  • He tried last ditch military effort but resigned and fled to Sweden- reforms failed to meet his objectives.

  • Big blow to ger morale + armed forces- basically an admission that they had lost the war, was the first they knew that they were losing.

  • Lost respect for Kaiser + military and political leaders.

  • Soldiers lost respect for officers

  • Kaiser obstacle of peace- refused to abdicate

November revolution

  • Unrest in navy led to this

  • 3rd Nov- naval base at Kiel, sailors mutinied against officers and took control

  • Day after, spread to city- workers and soldiers councils established similar to soviets in Russia

  • Gov tried to meet their demands but revolt spread to other ports and cities

  • Seemed like ger was on verge of revolution like Russia’s (from the outside) but not radical socialists leading the revolt  

  •  most were patriotic Germans who wanted Kaiser gone and a democratic republic

  • Once authority challenged- collapse quick

  • 8th Nov Bavarian monarchy deposed- William Carr ‘decisive moment in the German revolution’

  • Let Max know that he had no control, most important developments happening in Berlin.

  • 9th Nov SPD asked workers in Berlin to do general strike to get Kaiser to abdicate. – Also threatened to stop supporting Max’s new gov

  • Max knew he couldn’t continue w/out SPD so did things himself – released press saying that KW had abdicated

  • Desperate move, resigned as chancellor + gave to Freidrich Ebert- leader of SDP

  • Phillip Scheidemann announced on Reichstag balcony that the German republic now existed.

  • Groener told KW that the army wouldn’t fight for him- no choice but to abdicate.

Abdication of the Kaiser

  • 9th Nov 1918, house near German army headquarters KW told his abdication had been announced in Berlin

  • By 5.00pm forced to accept

  • Advised only that only safety was

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