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Study Notes

Creating the Weimar Republic

AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Last updated 19 Jan 2019

Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated on November 9th 1918 after it became clear that he could no longer command any authority in Germany. Politicians in Germany realised that, in order to keep order and prevent revolution, a new government had to be formed quickly.

As the largest party in the Reichstag, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) formed a government. Friedrich Ebert became leader of Germany and the following day agreed with the Army to work together to keep communists from taking power. To create change quickly, Ebert suspended the Reichstag and created a Council of People’s Representatives. This Council would govern until the new government was up and running and was filled with “moderate” politicians who did not hold extreme political ideas such as the communists.

An early act of the new government was to sign the Armistice with the Allied Powers to end the fighting of the First World War. Whilst for Germany this was the right thing to do, it quickly became clear that a peace treaty would prove problematic for Germany and encourage bad feeling to spread among the German people.

The Council and Ebert could not set up the new government on their own so required help. Ebert ensured the key parts of the German state were kept together. Civil servants were encouraged to stay in post, which meant that public services continued and, crucially, taxes were still collected. Ebert won the support of the Army, who would in return for no reforms, ensured that the government was protected, and that revolutions and rebellions were suppressed. Together with reassurances to industry this brought some control and stability to Germany after the abdication of the Kaiser, albeit that Ebert had only achieved a fragile control


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