German president defends alliance against November 1918 Revolution between Social Democrats and right-wing reaction
14 November 2018
November 9, 1918 was a “milestone in the history of German democracy,” declared President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at a specially scheduled memorial meeting of the German Bundestag (parliament). The November Revolution, he claimed, had paved the way for parliamentary democracy and laid the foundations of the modern welfare state.
The president expressly acknowledged the role played by Friedrich Ebert, the chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the party to which Steinmeier belongs today. Ebert “wanted first of all to prevent chaos, civil war and military intervention by the victorious powers,” and was driven by the desire “to give people work and bread,” he claimed.
In fact, Ebert was driven by the desire to crush the revolution of workers and soldiers, which had spread like wildfire all over the country, and thereby save as much of the old order as possible.
Already on October 3, when the German defeat in the First World War had become apparent and discontent in the factories and the military reached the boiling point, the SPD entered the imperial government for the first time in its history. Ebert explicitly justified this move with the need to avert impending revolution.
“If we do not want an agreement with the bourgeois parties and the government, then we have to let things run their course… then we leave the fate of the party to the revolution,” he declared on September 23 to the parliamentary faction and executive of the SPD. He added that anyone who had experienced what happened in Russia, where the October Revolution succeeded a year before, could “not wish such a development for us.” The…