- the upheaval that swept the Hohenzollern dynasty (and every other German royal house) from power. The revolution was actually sparked on 29 September 1918 when the country s military leadership acknowledged imminent defeat and implored Kaiser Wilhelm to seek an armi-stice.* This set in motion not simply the exchange of notes ending the war but broad October reforms under Prinz Max* von Baden that virtually transformed Germany into a parliamentary democracy. Both milestones, part of a "revolution from above, were deemed essential to preservation of the monarchy—albeit, a monarchy responsible to the Reichstag.* But while issues of central concern to the population were addressed—peace negotiations had been opened, the SPD had joined a coalition government, Prussia s* restrictive voting franchise had been abolished, and the new constitution of 28 October had removed the Kai-ser s arbitrary powers—further revolution was not averted.The Kaiser s abdication on 9 November resulted largely from Prinz Max s failure to convince a restive populace that real change had occurred. With a prince as Chancellor and a general as War Minister, and with censorship still extant, it was hard to comprehend what had happened. Moreover, while the government deliberated for an armistice, the navy gave orders on 28 October for an operation against British ships. Deeming this a suicide mission, the sailors in Wilhelmshaven mutinied.By 4 November events in Wilhelmshaven had sparked full-scale revolt; within hours Workers and Soldiers Councils* seized control in almost every major German city. Doubting its right to govern, imperial authority crumbled as quickly as the councils (Rate) assembled; the transition was largely bloodless. The first royal house collapsed on 7 November when Kurt Eisner* expelled Bavaria s* Wittelsbachs. At noon on 9 November Max transferred power to Friedrich Ebert,* a Social Democrat. Two hours later, against Ebert s wishes, Party colleague Philipp Scheidemann* proclaimed a republic. The Kaiser, resid-ing with his army in Spa, fled to Holland.The Kaiser s forced abdication (he had hoped to retain the Prussian throne) formally ended the revolution. While the councils retained important power for several weeks, it was soon clear that their overriding goal was peace; they largely accepted the constitutional reforms of October. Although the specter of a Bolshevik-style revolution persisted into 1919, the SPD managed to regulate events when its leaders fabricated a Council of People s Representatives* on 10 November and thus assumed responsibility (temporarily with the USPD) for an interim German Socialist Republic. The SPD conspired with the Imperial Army, moreover, to thwart the revolution s further progress, an action that was prob-ably unnecessary since, as a spontaneous event, the revolution lacked any transcending motivation. In December the Congress* of Workers ' and Soldiers ' Councils helped reestablish the order required to elect a National Assembly.*REFERENCES:Angress, Stillborn Revolution; Bassler, "Communist Movement' ' ; Klaus Epstein, "Wrong Man ' ' ; Haffner, Failure of a Revolution; Morgan, Socialist Left; Wald-man, Spartacist Uprising.
A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. C. Paul Vincent.
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