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The German Revolution (Die Roten Marschieren Auf)

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The German Revolution
Die Roten Marschieren Auf
German revolution 1919
German cavalry clash with Spartacist revolutionaries.
Date 3 November 1918 – 29 June 1919
Location Germany
Result
  • First phase: Collapse of the German Empire, German monarchy is forced to abdicate, Wiemar Republic is established.
  • Second phase: Defeat of the Wiemar government, disbanding of the Freikorps, establishment of the German Socialist Republic.
Belligerents
Flag of the German Empire German Empire (1918)
  • Imperial German Army
Flag of Germany Weimar Republic
  • Reichswehr
  • Freikorps
Communist jack Socialist revolutionaries
  • Spartacus League
  • Bavarian Soviet Republic
  • Communist party of Germany
  • Volksmarinedivision
  • Other leftist revolutionaries.

Supported by

  • Flag of the Soviet Union The Russian SFSR
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the German Empire Wilhelm II

Flag of the German Empire Ludwig III

Flag of Germany Gustav Noske

Flag of Germany Friedrich Ebert

Communist jack Karl Liebknecht

Communist jack Rosa Luxemburg

Communist jack Clara Zetkin

Strength
15,000 local garrisons. 70,000 Reichswehr troops

50,000 Freikorps para-militants

200,000

The German revolution was a series of internal conflicts that took place in Germany between 1918 to 1919. The initial conflicts were between the German Empire and Republican revolutionaries, but later in the conflict the fighting was solely between the Weimar republic (a government founded by the republican revolutionaries) and Socialist revolutionaries.

Initial phase

Background

In 1918 Germany was in disarray. The country was suffering from huge war exhaustion and massive supply shortages as all available resources were used to the war effort, which had recently failed in a last ditch offensive to capture Paris. It became clear to the Germans that the war was lost, but still the imperial government refused to sign a peace treaty. Tensions were rising in Germany, and all that was needed was a single spark to start a revolution.

Kiel mutiny

By September Germany's military situation was hopeless. Supply shortages were becoming ever more severe both to the civilian population and the military. In a desperate attempt to defeat the British Royal Navy, Admiral Franz von Hipper ordered the naval order of 24 October 1918. However this triggered a mutiny as sailors refused to take part in such a hopeless action. Soon they (alongside civilian revolutionaries) overwhelm military Garrisons across northern Germany, and by the 7th of November all German coastal cities were under revolutionary control.

The revolution spreads

It didn't take long for the revolution to spread across all of Germany, forcing many nobles and royals to flee in fear of being killed by the revolutionaries. Within a few days of the mutiny revolutionaries were in control of most German cities.

Weimar Victory

On the 9th of November, revolutionaries had overthrown the Imperial government and established the Weimar republic. The government quickly signed the Armistice of 11 November 1918, bring the First world war to a close. However the new government quickly becomes fractured between its internal factions and fails to perform any substantial reforms. This lead to many Germans joining leftist movements ,such as the Spartacus League, in hopes of creating a socialist republic like that in the Russian SFSR. As Germany once again became unstable the Weimar government made an agreement with the Freikorps, a far-right paramilitary group made up of WW1 veterans, to help maintain order in Germany.

Second phase

Skirmish of the Berlin Schloss

On the 11th of November 1918, sailors of the revolution reorganised themselves into the Volksmarinedivision, but had quickly found itself at odds with the new Weimar government as the government attempted to dissolve the division despite its actions during the German Revolution.

So on the 24th of December after Volksmarines had protested against their lack of pay and poor living conditions, they clashed with Reichswehr troops around the Berlin Schloss, the results of which lead to 67 dead (11 Volksmarines and 56 regular troops). These clashes lead to the Volksmarines becoming more radical and enraged by the Weimar government, believing that the current government was just as incompetent as the Imperial government they fought against and aligned themselves with the Spartacus League and plotted with them to start a socialist revolution.

Spartacist uprising

On the 4th of January 1919 a General strike organised by the Spartacus league and German Communist party clashed with local police and turned violent, soon the strikers began to arm themselves and the strike became a revolution, By the 6th of January the Leftist revolutionaries were in complete control of Berlin. Soon they were joined by the Volksmarines, who provided an elite force for the revolution, as well as local military regiments.

On the 10th of January the Freikorps entered Berlin by the Order of the Weimar government, which had fled to Hamburg, they quickly engaged Leftist forces and fought for control of the city until the 12 January. However, they were eventually forced out of the city after heavy casualties. This victory allowed the Socialist revolutionaries enough time to create their own central government, so on the 20th of January the German Socialist Republic was founded.

Spread of the revolution

The revolution quickly spread across eastern Germany as most military units in the region joined the revolution. However by the 30th of March fighting had become much more intense as Weimar forces had been able to create a defensive line in central Germany.

But this defence would prove short lived as on the 7th of April Bavarian Socialists declared the Bavarian soviet republic and quickly overwhelmed local garrisons, forcing Weimar forces back into central Germany before joining the German Socialist Republic. Despite this the Weimar government was still able to sign the treaty of Versailles, however this only lead to further rises in communist revolutions as many people felt betrayed by the new government.

Collapse of the Weimar government

By the 13th of July socialist forces had captured Hamburg and forced the Weimar and Freikorps into a full retreat, but ultimately surrendered following a socialist revolution in the Ruhr. However the Freikorps fought on and attempted to establish a government of their own in Düsseldorf. But are defeated following a crushing victory by Socialist forces in Munster. and by the 27th of August all of Germany was under socialist control.

International reactions

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