Berlin: November-December 1918

Revolution 1918 
(intro cards)

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                   Deutsche Revolutions-Tage 1918

Looks like thunder

Freiheit, Einigkeit, Recht

The old collapses, the new arises

9 November 1918

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10 November 1918

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10 November 1918: Foundation of the 'Rat der Volksbeauftragten'

Rat der Volksbeauftragten

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Friedrich Ebert

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         Phillipp Scheidemann

20 November 1918

Funeral of the revolution victims of November 1918

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22 November 1918 foundation of the 'DNVP'

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10. Dezember 1918

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Christmas crisis

After 9 November the government had ordered the newly created People's Navy Division (Volksmarinedivision) from Kiel to Berlin for its protection and stationed it in the Royal Stables (Marstall) of the Berlin Stadtschloss (Imperial City Residence). The Division was considered absolutely loyal and had indeed refused to participate in the coup attempt of 6 December. The sailors even deposed their commander because they saw him involved in the affair. It was this loyalty that now gave them the reputation of being in favour of the Spartacists. Ebert demanded their disbanding and withdrawal from the Residence and Otto Wels, as of 9 November commander of Berlin and in line with Ebert, refused the sailors' pay.
The dispute escalated on 23 December. After having been put off for days the sailors occupied the Imperial Chancellery, cut the phone lines, put the Council of People's Representatives under house arrest and captured Otto Wels. The sailors did not exploit the situation to eliminate the Ebert government, as could have been expected from Spartakist revolutionaries. Instead, they still insisted on only their pay. Nevertheless, Ebert, who via secret phone line was in touch with the Supreme Command in Kassel, gave orders to attack the Residence with troops loyal to the government on the morning of 24 December. The sailors repelled the attack under their commander Heinrich Dorrenbach, losing about 30 men and civilians in the fight. The government troops had to withdraw from the centre of Berlin. They themselves were now disbanded and integrated into the newly formed Freikorps. To make up for the loss of face they temporarily occupied the editor's offices of the "Red Flag". But military power in Berlin once more was in the hands of the People's Navy Division. Again, the sailors did not take advantage of the situation.
On one side this shows that the sailors were not Spartacists, on the other that the revolution had no guidance. Even if Liebknecht had been the revolutionary leader like Lenin, to which legend later made him, the sailors as well as the Councils would not have accepted him as such. So the only result of the Christmas Crisis, which the Spartacists named "Ebert's Bloody Christmas", was that the Revolutionary Stewards called for a demonstration on Christmas Day and that the USPD left the government in protest on 29 December. They could not have done Ebert a bigger favour since he had let them participate only under the pressure of the revolutionary events. Within a few days the military defeat of the Ebert government had turned into a political victory.


24-25 December 1918

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