Why the Communists Failed to Seize Power in 1918
The failure of the communists to seize power originates from the First
World War. Initially, all parties, including the Left, supported
Germany going to war. As the war prolonged however and Germany was
running short of essential supplies such as food as a result of the
blockade by the allies. More Germans started questioning the rational
of continuing with the war. The Parliament also changed its attitude.
Left wing parties like the SPD that had initially supported Germany
going to war began to have doubts. Internal conflicts let to the
formation of the Independent German Social Democratic Party, USPD.
Another far-extreme party, the Spartacist party was later formed.
Ludendorff's insistence that they continue with a war that they were
obviously loosing contributed to the revolution uprisings.
The revolt in Kriel was not so much because the workers wanted
revolution. The sailor’s morale was already low because of the
anti-war propaganda and they therefore refused to take orders from
This let to an unrest which later spread to other cities, including
Munich and Berlin. However none of the uprisings or demonstrations
were well planned hence they did not have much impact. After Kiel,
Munich demonstrations followed. Supporters took over main public
buildings. These were more of defiance of orders than a revolution.
There was nation-wide chaos, with some people taking it upon
themselves to declare Germany a republic. For instance, Eisner
declared himself Prime Minister of Socialist Republic of Germany.
Encouraged by the success of the Russian revolution, they also wanted
to bring an end to Germany's imperial and capitalist government and
replace it with a communist government. They organized antiwar
demonstrations and strikes. Still, those in power did not think the
government was under any threat.
The country was not ready for a revolution even though the morale was
low as a result of the defeat in the First World War and there was
shortage of essential supplies including food and medicine as a result
of the blockade by the allies. The nation was generally in a state of
There was a general feeling especially within the left wing that time
was ripe for a break from the capitalist government. The monarchy was
overthrown and a provisional government set up. A network of soldiers
and workers councils was established nationwide. However, the SDP
being the government of the day controlled the councils. In the
councils there were more delegates who were SDP than workers
delegates. This meant that the SDP controlled both the government
ant the councils. They also had the support of the masses. The
councils were also weakly coordinated.
The main factors that contributed to this failure were the...