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Can The Phrase "Incomplete Revolution" Be Usefully Applied To The Events Of November 1918 In Germany?

2049 words - 8 pages

The German Revolution - Incomplete?November and December 1918 in Germany was a time of political turmoil as the masses took to the streets during the chaotic break up of war. Germany went from being a dictatorial Kaiser-Reich to a painfully democratic country in three months. However, it has been said that Germany had an incomplete revolution in 1918 as although there were political changes, economic and social factors were mostly left alone. Therefore the question is - can the phrase "Incomplete revolution" be usefully applied to the events of November 1918 in Germany.All revolutions are created by mass discontent. The Russian revolution was caused by High Command's incompetence at directing their country through a war. Poor results on the battlefield and lack of food and resources on the home front led to mass discontent and rioting in the streets. The war had a similar effect on Germany due to the on going trudge of a war that was supposed to have been over by Christmas 1914 and by the depressing shortage of food and fuel that led to things like "turnip winter". The war also had an effect on the German politicians who had been united at the start of the war. The SPD was the largest party in the Reichstag before the outbreak of war, and despite being a Socialist party they supported the war on the grounds of defence. However, cracks began to appear as the party split over opinion on the war. Many of the SPD began to believe that the war was a war of annexation, not of defence and that fought against the Socialist ideology that dictates the spread of international communism, not of invasion.These splits became important when Germany's Empire fell apart and Ebert, the leader of the SPD and Imperial Chancellor tried to keep the balance of power. During the last few months of the war, power was given back to the Riechstag by the Army Generals in an attempt to shift the blame of the war to the politicians. This would mean that the army, which had been on of the pillars of German culture, would remain largely intact. Germany had been run during the war by army Generals such as Ludendorff and Hindenburg who had turned the country basically into a military dictatorship. However the October Reforms changed this. These reforms meant that the Kaiser now only had as much power as the British monarch had and was now more of a figure head than a ruler and that his power of passing legislation was now in the hands of the elected body, the Riechstag.These reforms are often called "The Revolution from Above" as they did not come from the streets, from mass discontent like the Russian and French revolution, or even the small, unsuccessful revolution that took place in Germany in 1848. Instead they came from above, from High Command, Ludendorff in particular. His aims were simple: he realised the was lost and wanted to present a democratic image to the allies, hand power back to the politicians would mean that the new Government led by Ebert and would be blamed...

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