Ebert, Friedrich

(1871-1925)
   politician; served as interim Chancellor, cochairman of the Council of People's Representatives,* and Reich President. Born in Heidelberg, he apprenticed as a saddlemaker. His father's stepbrother, a tailor named Strotz, introduced him in 1889 to the SPD. He soon became secretary of Hanover's saddlemakers' union and engaged for several years in union work in Braunschweig and Bremen. An adept organizer, he was rarely inspired by theoretical discussion. In 1894 he rented a tavern in Bremen that was a center for political and union activity. Highly esteemed, he became sec-retary of the SPD's Parteivorstand in 1905, a duty that took him to Berlin.* Always seeking balance and agreement, he earned considerable trust for his constancy and reliability. His skills expedited negotiations between the SPD and the trade unions* and brought adjustment to several conflicts with state and local Party organizations. Elected to the Reichstag* in 1912, he became one of the SPD's two chairmen in September 1913. During World War I he struggled unsuccessfully to balance differences between the SPD's increasingly antago-nistic wings. He was an advocate of the 1917 Peace Resolution and engaged in efforts to settle Berlin's munitions strike in January 1918.
   As the SPD's Reichstag faction leader (since 1916), Ebert was his Party's leading voice in October 1918 when Germany assumed the burden of parleying with the enemy. With Prinz Max* von Baden, he struggled to salvage a parlia-mentary monarchy and was furious when Philipp Scheidemann* proclaimed a republic on 9 November. Nevertheless, determined to defend the new regime, he became provisional Chancellor and convened an interim cabinet (the Council of People's Representatives). Fearing radical revolution, he negotiated a compact with the Imperial Army aimed at securing the cabinet's position; the resultant Ebert-Groener pact is often chastised as a first step in reestablishing Germany's conservative cliques. In February 1919 the newly formed National Assembly* elected him Reich President. Helping thwart radical efforts at social and eco-nomic reform, he relied upon the emergency powers granted by Article 48 of the Constitution* (especially in 1923) to ensure the Republic's survival.
   As President, Ebert was the leading representative of Germany's new order. Never widely popular, he served as a focal point for much of the Right's anti-republican venom and was rebuked by the extreme Left for his counterrevolu-tionary policies of 1918-1919. In December 1924 a rash Magdeburg court ruled that Ebert, who had lost two sons in the war, had committed the equivalent of high treason through his role in the January 1918 munitions strike. The judgment was a cruel blow. A broken man, Ebert died two months later of acute appen-dicitis.
   REFERENCES:Buse, "Ebert"; Eyck, History of the Weimar Republic, vol. 1; Heuss et al. Friedrich Ebert; Maser, Friedrich Ebert; NDB, vol. 4.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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  • Ebert, Friedrich —   Am 4. Februar 1871 als Sohn eines Schneidermeisters in Heidelberg geboren, lernte Ebert als Sattlergeselle in Mannheim früh das soziale Elend des Proletariats kennen. Er ging in die Gewerkschaftsarbeit und wurde 1889 Mitglied der SPD, 1893… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Ebert, Friedrich — born Feb. 4, 1871, Heidelberg, Ger. died Feb. 28, 1925, Berlin German politician. A journeyman saddler and trade unionist, he became chairman of the German Social Democratic Party in 1913. Under his leadership, the Social Democratic movement… …   Universalium

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