Eyewitness to the German Revolution

realclearbooks.com - 01-16

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It was slightly more than a century ago, in November 1918, that revolution swept through Germany, bringing chaos to a country that, in the final days of World War I, was already in desperate straits and verging on collapse. Although it was obvious to nearly everyone that the war was lost, the fighting staggered on, even as a growing pacifist movement issued the cry for “Peace, Freedom, Bread!” In Kiel on the Baltic Sea, sailors at the docks refused the order for a last battle and went into open mutiny, while soldiers and revolutionary workers in Berlin called for a general strike. Kaiser Wilhelm II, an absurd and incompetent militarist, at last faced the truth that his time was up and abdicated the throne, leaving confusion in his wake. On November 9, Philipp Scheidemann, a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP), seized the moment to declare the founding of a new republic.