The World at War

GERMANY 1918 - 1919

GERMANY Timeline

October 1918 – December 1919
The Old Order Shattered “ is not only the bloody war which leaves such devastating traces in those who took part in it. Rather, it is also the difficult conflict in which the individual finds himself in his fight against a world transformed by the war. It is a fight in which the victim of war neurosis succumbs in silent, often unrecognized, torment.” - Ernst Simmel, Kriegs-Neurosen und Psychisches Trauma, 1918
1918October 3 Prince Max von Baden is appointed chancellor and forms Germany’s first parliamentary cabinet. Matthias Erzberger leader of the Zentrum (Catholic Center Party) is named Secretary of State without portfolio.
October 4 Prince Max writes President Wilson to request conditions for an honorable peace based on the Fourteen Points.
October 5 Prince Max presents his Government to the Reichstag. The Cabinet includes Social Democrats Philipp Scheidemann and Otto Bauer, Progressives Raoul Haussmann and von Payer and Centerists Erzberger, Groeber and Trimborn.
October 14 President Wilson demands formation of a democratically elected German Government as a precondition to peace negotiations.
October 21 Germany suspends submarine warfare.
October 24 Karl Liebknecht leader of the radical Spartacus Movement is freed from prison.
October 25 President Wilson demands unconditional surrender from Germany.
October 28 The Reichstag amends the Constitution to establish a parliamentary regime.
The Admiralty refuses to surrender without undertaking a final “honorable” action against the British Royal Navy. The High Seas Fleet receives orders to put to sea. Sailors in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven refuse to obey the command.
October 29 Kaiser Wilhelm II leaves Berlin for the General Staff Headquarters in Spa, Belgium without informing the Government.
The High Seas Fleet remains anchored at Kiel and Wilhelmshaven. Arrests of mutinous sailor begin.
October 30 The Admiralty reiterates the order to put to sea. Crews refuse again. The order is rescinded but 250 sailors are arrested.
November 1 The Government sends an emissary to Spa to request the Kaiser’s abdication. Chief of Staff Field Marshal General Paul von Hindenburg opposes abdication, fearing disruption of the army.
November 3 Demonstrators in Kiel march on the prison and disarm the officers. A council is form and the Red flag hoisted. The Council demands improved living conditions for sailors. The Government dispatches Raoul Haussmann and Social Democratic deputy Gustav Noske to negotiate. Noske takes control of the Kiel Workers’ Council to block a take over by the radical Independent Social Democrat Hugo Haase.
November 4 News of Austria’s surrender prompts Independent Social Democrat Kurt Eisner to call a party meeting in Munich. The assembly passes a resolution demanding an end to the war and the installation of a “Peoples’ Government”. A rebellion against the Government of Wurttemberg erupts in Stuttgart.
November 5 The sailors’ mutiny spreads to Lübeck and Hamburg.
November 6 A council of workers, soldiers and sailors is formed at Bremen.
Chancellor Max von Baden learns that Marshal Ferdinand Foch will dictate the terms of armistice. General Wilhelm Groener advises him to appoint Matthais Erzberger, who is known as an early supporter of peace negotiations, as head of the German delegation.
The leaders of the Social Democratic Party call for a constitutional and democratic monarchy without Kaiser Wilhelm II; an immediate armistice and an amnesty for the mutineers.
Germany breaks off diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia.
November 7 The German delegation presents itself before the French lines at La Capelle.
Delegates of the Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Councils of Wurttemberg form a government at Stuttgart. Rebellion and formation of councils spreads to Hannover, Cologne and Magdeburg.
Social Democratic leader Friedrich Ebert demands the abdication of the Crown Prince.
November 7 Riots erupt in Munich. King Ludwig III and the royal family flee. The Wittelsbach dynasty’s 783 year reign as rulers of Bavaria ends.
Independent Social Democrat Kurt Eisener proclaims the Free State of Bavaria and assumes the presidency of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council.
November 8 Marshal Foch receives the German delegation to the armistice talks in his railcar at the Rethondes clearing near Compiégne.
The Provisional National Council of Bavaria is formed with Kurt Eisner as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
The Prussian Government resigns.
Saxony is in the hands of the councils.
Rosa Luxemburg is freed from prison.
Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt deposed.
Prince Ernst August of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg abdicates.
November 9 Revolution in Berlin:
Demonstrators converge on the Reichstag and other centers of power during the morning. Soldiers rally to the cause. Max von Baden in an attempt to appease the mob, renews a call for the Kaiser’s abdication. No response is forthcoming. The Chancellor resigns and transfers his authority to Friedrich Ebert, leader of the Social Democrats. The Kaiser accepts the counsel of General Wilhelm Groener and Field Marshal von Hindenburg to seek refuge in the Netherlands rather than mount a march on Berlin. The capital is in the hands of the councils. The Social Democrats try to form a government, as do the Spartacists. At 2 p.m. the SDP’s Philipp Scheidemann proclaims the German Republic from a window of the Reichstag. Towards 6 o’clock , Liebknecht’s Spartacists invade the royal palace and proclaim the Free Socialist Republic of Germany. The revolutionary delegates announce plans to hold elections in the work places and the barracks the next morning. Those elected will establish a government. The authority of the Social Democrats is menaced. “In Berlin on November 9, I witnessed the beginnings of revolution. Alas, she did not come, the shape of a radiant goddess, her hair flowing in the wind, and shod with sandals of iron. She was like an old hag, toothless and bald, her great feet slipshod and down at the heel. The German revolution was drearily philistine, lacking in all fire or inspiration.” – former Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow A Council of Workers and Soldiers is installed in Bremen.
Mutinous Alsatian sailors arrive in Strasbourg from Kiel. The insurgents take control of the city following a short skirmish with loyalist troops on the Kehl. The president of the brewery workers union takes charge of a Council of Workers. The Council adopts the motto, "We have nothing in common with capitalist states, our motto is: neither German nor French nor neutral. The red flag won." The red flag flies from the spire of the cathedral.
Albert Ballin, managing director of HAPAG (Hamburg – America Steamship Lines) commits suicide. The Spartacists begin publication of Die Rote Fahne (The Red Flag).
Grand Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach is driven from the throne.
November 10 In the morning, a government is formed under the name of the Council of People’s Commissioners by Ebert, Scheidmann and Landsberg of the Social Democrats; and Haase, Dittman and Barth of the Independent Social Democrats. The Social Democrats make up the majority in the afternoon meeting. Liebknecht and the Spartacists cry, “Treason!” The delegates listen to a unity speech by Ebert and ratify the Council. An Executive Committee of Councils composed of 6 Social Democrats, 6 Independent Social Democrats and 12 soldiers aligned with the SDP is created to control the commissioners. General Groener phones Ebert on behalf of Field Marshal von Hindenberg to assure the new government of the High Command’s loyalty and urges it to restore order. Duke Bernard III of Saxe-Meiningen abdicates.
November 11 The German delegation concludes an armistice with the Allies at 5:35 a.m.. Matthias Erzberger signs at the urging of the General Staff. A ceasefire ends World War I at 11 o’clock. German forces will be withdrawn the east bank of the Rhine and the bridgeheads before Cologne, Mayence and Coblenz. The High Seas fleet will be anchored off Scotland. The blockade of German ports will continue. The fighting ends with 1,773,700 Germans dead, 4,216,058 wounded and 1,152,800 missing or taken prisoner.
Grand Duke Friedrich August of Oldenburg abdicates.
November 12 The Council of Peoples’ Commissioners makes its program public. Freedom of assembly, of opinion and of the press is established. The Council promises formation of a democratic German State, universal suffrage for men and women at age 20 and reform of Prussia’s archaic institutions.
A Richthofen Squadron formation under Lieutenant Herman Goering returns to Mannheim to avoid surrendering to the Americans. The base commander places the errant pilots under arrest. Goering threatens to bomb the city unless his men are released.
Duke Joachim Ernst of Anhalt abdicates.
Prince Leopold IV of Lippe-Detmond abdicates.
Prince Heinrich of Reuss abdicates.
November 13 Soviet Russia rescinds ratification of the Treaty of Brest Litovsk.
King Friedrich Augustus III of Saxony abdicates.
November 14 Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin abdicates.
Duke Carl Eduard of Saxe-Coburg abdicates.
The Prince of Waldeck-Pyrmont abdicates.
November 15 Secretary of State Hugo Preuss, assisted Max Weber, Friedrich Naumann and Raoul Haussman begins drafting a republican constitution at the request of Friedrich Ebert.
Industrialists Hugo Stinnes, Albert Vögler and Ernst von Börsig sign an agreement (Arbeitsgemeinschaft) with the Socialist, Catholic and Hirsch-Duncker trade unions insuring their freedom to organize and bargain collectively.
November 16 The Peoples’ Commissioners decide against a resumption of diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia. Ebert opposes the Executive Committee’s call for organization of a Red Guard. Social Democrat Otto Wels, Commander of Berlin, organizes a Republican Guard of 10,000 men. Wels clashes with the Prefect of Police, the Independent Social Democrat Eichhorn. King Ludwig III of Bavaria formally abdicates.
November 17 German forces withdraw from Brussels.
November 21 Kurt Eisner permits publication of abbreviated reports that support Allied claims of Germany’s sole responsibility for starting the war. Eisener is accused of treason and threatened by conservative circles although he criticizes the harsh terms of the armistice at the same time. November 22
Grand Duke Friedrich II of Baden abdicates.
The Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils proclaim the union of Hamburg, Bremen, Östfriesland and Schleswig-Holstein in the North Sea Republic with Hamburg as the capital.
November 23 - 25 Formation of capitalist parties: Deutsche Demokratische Partei (German Democratic Party - DDP) and the Deutschnationale Volkspartei (German National People’s Party -DNVP).
November 25 Ebert meets with the heads of the state governments. He tells them that the need for experienced technicians requires retention of the old regime’s bureaucrats for the moment. Max von Baden’s secretaries; Hugo Pueuss of Interior Affairs, Schiffer of Finance and Solf of Foreign Affairs remain at their posts. Each is assigned a Social Democratic deputy. The Independent Social Democratic Prime Minister of Bavaria, Kurt Eisner, incurs Ebert’s wrath by demanding that the former rulers be held responsible for starting the war. November 26
Die Rote Fahne (The Red Flag) publishes Richtlinen für die Arbeiter und Soldatenräte Deutschlands (The Spartacus Manifesto):“PROLETARIANS! MEN AND WOMEN OF LABOR! COMRADES! The revolution has made its entry into Germany. The masses of soldiers, who for four years were driven to the slaughterhouse for the sake of capitalistic profits, and the masses of workers, who for four years were exploited, and starved, have revolted. ... The imperialism of all countries knows no ‘understanding’; it knows only one right – capital’s profits; it knows only one language – the sword; it knows only one method – violence. ... Proletarians of all countries! This must be the last war! We owe that to the twelve million murdered victims; we owe that to our children; we owe that to humanity. ... Socialism alone is in a position to complete the great work of permanent peace, to heal the thousand wounds from which humanity is bleeding... Not David Lloyd George and Poincaré, not Sonnino, Wilson, and Erzberger or Schiedemann; these must not be allowed to make peace. Peace is to be concluded under the waving banner of socialist world revolution. Proletarians of all countries! We call upon you to complete the work of socialist liberation, to give a human aspect to the disfigured world, and to make true those words with which we often greeted each other in the old days and which we sang as we parted, ‘And the International shall be the human race.”
November 28 Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates as Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia from his exile in the Netherlands.
Friedrich Ebert asks President Wilson to supply Germany with food.
A law providing for election of a National Constituent Assembly is enacted.
November 29 The last reigning monarch in the German Empire, Wurttemberg’s King Wilhelm II von Nassau-Weilberg abdicates. December 1
A Reich Commission of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils formed under the presidency of Independent Social Democrat Däumig. December 5
The Mine & Metalworkers Councils demand nationalization of their industries. A commission on socialization meets but no action is taken.
December 6 Soldiers of the Guard invade the Reichstag, seat of the Executive Committee, following the Allied occupation of Cologne. The attempted counter-revolution is crushed by the naval division and workers of Berlin. Fourteen are killed in the uprising.
Offices of Die Rote Fahne (The Red Flag), the Spartacists’ newspaper are occupied and an attempt is made to seize Karl Liebknecht.
December 8 Social Democrats join Independent Social Democrats in a mass demonstration in Berlin. Philipp Scheidemann denounces the Spartacists. Friedrich Ebert calls for order but the demonstrators demand action against the counter-revolutionary Army.
Field Marshal von Hindenburg writes Ebert demanding dissolution of the soldiers’ councils and immediate convocation of a constituent assembly.
December 9 German forces withdraw from the west bank of the Rhine. French troops under General Fayolle occupy Mayence.
December 10 Nineteen Divisions of frontline troops under the command of General Lequis arrive in Berlin. Ebert greets them at the Brandenburg Gate and proclaims them unconquered regardless of the interpretation of the Army chiefs.
University of Berlin professor Max Hermann Planck is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, "in recognition of the services he rendered to the advancement of Physics by his discovery of energy quanta".
Fritz Haber, director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute of Berlin-Dahlem, is awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for, "for the synthesis of ammonia from its elements".
December 11 The Council of People’s Commissioners delivers an appeal for German unity and condemns separatism in the Rhineland. The Thuringian Council of Workers and Soldiers passes a resolution in favor of a unitary republic.
December 16 - 21 The National Congress of Workers and Soldiers’ Councils meets in Berlin. The 489 delegates include 289 Social Democrats and 90 Independent Social Democrats of whom 6 are Spartacists though neither Karl Liebknecht nor Rosa Luxemburg attends. The Congress, taking its lead from the commissioners, rejects a proposal to establish a socialist republic based in the councils. The date for election of a constituent assembly is moved up from February 16 to January 19.
December 18 The Deutsche Volkspartei (German Peoples’ Party - DVP) is formed.
December 20 The ambassador to Denmark Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau becomes Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
December 21 The Council of Peoples’ Commissioners denounces tentative formation of a separatist Republic of Oldenburg.
December 23 - 24 Three thousand mutinous sailors arrive from Kiel to, “defend the revolution”, they occupy the royal palace, seize Otto Wels, Commander of Berlin, enter the chancellery and invade the office of Friedrich Ebert.
December 24 The Spartacists meet with the Communists of Bremen.
December 25 General Lequis attacks the revolutionary sailors holding the royal palace on orders from Ebert. Fifty six government troops and eleven rebels are killed before demonstrations force Lequis to withdraw. Negotiations bring the release of Otto Wels. The sailors abandon the palace and are incorporated in the ranks of the republican army. The incident ruptures the fragile coalition between the Social Democrats and the Independent Social Democrats. The latter withdraw from the Governments of the Reich, of Prussia and of Saxony.
Spartacist demonstrators occupy the offices of the Social Democratic newspaper Vorwärts which briefly becomes the Roter Vorwärts.
The Stahlhelm Bund (Steel Helmet Federation of Front Soldiers) founded by Franz Seldte in Magdeburg.
December 26 Spartacists withdraw from the offices of Vorwärts.
December 27 Crisis in the Council of Peoples’ Commissars; the Spartacists envisage formation of a Government by Liebknecht, Ledebour and Eichhorn. The Central Committee of Councils demands dismissal of General Lequis and the dissolution of his command. Hindenburg protests.
Poland occupies Posen.
December 29 “Democracy has been suppressed in Prussia since 1848 by the constitution and the military system, but it struggled constantly and powerfully for supremacy against both... It fell solely to the terrible world war to deliver democracy to victory, which moreover introduced the danger that the development will not stop at democracy because the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ will assume the form of the terrorist domination by a minority.” - Ernest Troeltsch, Die deutsche Demokratie
December 30 Spartacist National Conference opens with a decision to form the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (Communist Party of Germany - KDP) based on the program proposed by Rosa Luxemburg who rejects the theory of Lenin on the avant-garde: the KPD is not a guide and not the future power. The Party calls for a boycott of elections for the Constituent Assembly.
1919January 3 The Council of Peoples’ Commissioners debates the proposed constitution drafted by Hugo Preuss. They criticize its failure to enunciate fundamental rights and tendency towards centralization. The Spartacist Berlin Congress of Soviets demands; the immediate disarming of officers, removal of all marks of distinction between ranks, transfer of local command to the workers’ and soldiers’ councils, election of officers by the men, disbanding of the army, disbanding of reactionary bodies, creation of the peoples’ army and; prompt action against the war ministry and supreme army command for ignoring the Soviet’s previous resolutions. January 4 - 5
The Government of Prussia fires Eichhorn, the Independent Social Democratic prefect of the Berlin police. A revolutionary committee dismisses the Government. Rejecting insurrection, Rosa Luxemburg and the Independent Social Democrats reject calls for insurrection and attempt to negotiate.
January 6 The workers of Berlin declare a General Strike to protest Eichhorn’s dismissal.
January 10 “Berlin, once the capital of the nation, seat of war associations and encampment of war-making governments, has become a symbol. Once a symbol of power and splendor, it is now one of decay. Everything is topsy-turvy there; guns go off on their own, wolves have been turned into deer. A small minority in Berlin keeps the German people in suspense. What do they want? At bottom, nothing other than what the pacifists and the cosmopolitans want; the worldwide brotherhood of peoples. The Savior was their refined brother. He sought brotherhood through love. But they seek it through violence, through revolution, through murder and homicide; and that is why they are as distant from the Savior as the fallen angel Satan is from heaven. ...
To the spirit of Berlin another must be opposed, the spirit of Germany.” - Ludwig Finckh, Der Geist von Berlin, Schwäbischer Merkur
The Workers and Soldiers Council of Bremen establish an independent socialist republic.
January 11 Hesitation in the ranks of the radicals gives Gustav Noske, the self-described “bloodthirsty dog” time to act on behalf of the Government. Noske crushes the strikers with the aid of the Freikorps under Maercker and von Lüttwitz. January 12
Elections in Bavaria: the capitalist parties carry 65% of the vote. The Catholic Party and the Bayerische Volkspartei (Bavarian Peoples’ Party) take the lion’s share. The Social Democrats (SPD) of Erhardt Auer win 33% thanks to support from Protestant voters in the cities of Franconia. Kurt Eisner’s Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) wins a scant 2.5% of the vote and only 3 deputies.
January 14 Spartacist insurgents control Düsseldorf and make headway in other parts of Rhineland-Westphalia as well as Dresden, Bremen and Stettin.
Government forces seize the offices of Die Roht Fahne, the Spartacist newspaper.
January 15 The Government declares the Spartacist uprising suppressed. Casualties number 12 dead, 30 wounded and 450 taken prisoner.
Spartacists and Communist Party founders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg are arrested and murdered by officers of the Guards Cavalry Division. Luxemburg’s body is thrown into a Berlin canal.
January 18 The Paris Peace Conference opens in the Palace of Versailles.
January 19 Election of the National Constituent Assembly: Social Democrats (SDP) win 37.9% of the vote and 165 seats, Catholic Center Party (Zentrum) 19.7% - 91 seats, German Democrtic Party (DDP) 18.5% - 75 seats, German National Peoples’ Party (DNVP) 10.3% - 44 seats, Independent Social Democrats (USPD) 4.4% - 19 seats and others 1.6% - 7 seats. 83% of eligible voters cast ballots.
January 25 The state heads of government protest the centralized character of the proposed constitution drafted by Hugo Preuss.
January 28 Colonel Gerstenberg retakes Bremen for the Government. The city had been in the hands of a workers’ and soldiers’ council for three months.
January The High Command entrusts planning for an international crusade against Soviet Russia to Commander Stülpnagel. The project is later abandoned due to dissension in the Allied camp
Anton Drexler, a railway worker, and journalist Karl Herrer found the populist and anti-Semitic German Workers Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – DAP).
February Gustav Noske continues to suppress the revolution in Bremen leaving another 100 dead.
February 1 The mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer, proposes formation of a German Republic of the West.
February 3 Secretary of State for the Interior Hugo Preuss makes the proposed new Reich Constitution public.
February 5 Deutsche Luftreederei begins regularly scheduled air service between Berlin and Weimar.
Spartacist uprisings in Bremerhaven,Cuxhaven and Wilhelmshaven are crushed by government troops.
February 8 Law enacted to outline the provisional powers of the Reich and delineate the precise constitutional and legislative role of the National Assembly.
February 9 The National Assembly convenes at the National Theatre of Weimar. Ebert declares that he would choose to favor the cultural traditions of Germany to the detriment of the militarism with which Berlin was associated.
The Allies announce their intention to continue the blockade of German ports.
February 11 The Social Democratic chancellor Friedrich Ebert attempts to convince Prince Max of Baden to accept the title of Regent. Ebert is elected President of the Republic by the National Assembly a short time later.
February 13 Philipp Scheidemann (SPD) is named chancellor by President Ebert. The Government consists of 14 Ministers including six from the Social Democratic ranks. Matthais Erzberger is one of three from the Catholic Center. Foreign Affairs Minister von Brockdorff-Rantzau and Interior Minister Hugo Preuss retain their posts.
February 20 Kurt Eisner (USPD) yields to pressure from SPD leader Erhard Auer and resigns as Prime Minister of Bavaria.
February 21 Kurt Eisner the former Independent Social Democratic Prime Minister of Bavaria is shot and mortally wounded by Count Anton von Arco-Valley. The assassin then surrenders to the first meeting of the Bavarian Landtag (legislature). Social Democratic leader Erhard Auer is grievously wounded along with two other deputies during the same meeting by member of the Workers’ Council. These events serve to push the Landtag to the side leaving the field open to the councils. A state of emergency is declared in Bavaria.
February 23 The Republic of Councils is established in Bavaria.
Kurt Eisner’s funeral is attended by 100,000 mourners. February 25
André Tardieu, head of the French delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference, outlines French demands and proposes establishment of the Franco-German border at the Rhine.
March 3 Berlin Communists call for an uprising and General Strike against Friedrich Ebert whom they label "the mass executioner of the German proletariat." The week long revolt claims 1200 victims including Communist Party leader Leo Jogishes.
The Polish government requests restoration of its 1772 borders with Germany.
March 6 The Government establishes a provisional army (Reichswehr) of 350,000 men.
March 10 The Allied Powers approve annexation of Eupen, Malmédy and Moresnet by Belgium.
March 13 “If revolution means merely collapse, then it was one; but no one should expect the ruins to look any different from the old building. We have suffered failure and hunger, and those responsible just walked away. And the people remain; they had their old flags torn down, but had no new ones.” - Kurt Tocholsky, Wir Negativen, Die Weltbühne
March 17 The Allies agree to supply Germany with 300,000 tons of grain and 50,000 tons of fats per month. Germany agrees to deposit £18,000,000 in the National Bank of Belgium as guarantee of payment.
Social Democrats form a government in Bavaria head by Adolf Hoffman and supported by the Landtag.
March 21 Germany begins delivery of its merchant fleet to the Allies.
March 22 Chancellor Scheidemann grants full powers to the German delegation to the Versailles Conference.
April 7 A Räterepublik (Soviet Republic) is proclaimed in Munich and most large cities of Bavaria but without Communist participation. KDP leader Levine believes the undertaking will fail.
April 8 Social Democrat Adolf Hoffman’s Bavarian government regroups at Bamberg from there it attempt to suppress the power of the Munich councils.
April 12 Otto Newvig, a leading political figure in Saxony, is killed by his opposition.
April 13 Levine’s Communists take action in Bavaria. The KDP forms a militia, decrees a partial socialization of the economy and attempts to win the peasantry over to their cause. The Freikorps, led by Ritter von Epp and Ernst Röhm, marches on Munich to crush the Räterepublik.
April 25 Architect Walter Gropius organizes the Staatliches Bauhaus through a merger of the Grand-Ducal Saxon Academy of Art with the Grand-Ducal School of Arts and Crafts in conjunction with a new department of architecture.
April 27 Lenin addresses a letter to the leaders of the Münchner Räterepublik requesting that they inform him as to the measures they are taking against Ebert’s "bourgeois hangmen". The Freikorps surrounds Munich and prepares to launch an offensive against the Räterepublik.
April 29 The Red Army of Bavaria executes twenty of Munich’s most prominent citizens including the Prince of Thurn and Taxis and the Countess Westarp. Anarcho-pacifist writer Ernst Toller takes charge of the Räterepublik. Toller manages to save the remaining Red Army hostages and orders the organization dissolved. Spartacist rebels execute ten members of the Thule Society a group devoted to Teutonic spiritualism and the occult. The Thule Society had formed a militia opposed to the councils.
May 1 Rudolf Hess is wounded in the leg during an attack on Socialist demonstrators.
May 1 – 4 Münchner Räterepublik in Bavaria is crushed by the Federal Army. The Freikorps of Colonel Franz von Epp enters Munich despite resistance from Levine and Toller’s troops. In the days that follow, the victors organize a bloody repression led by Captain Ernst Röhm. Hoffmann’s Social Democratic administration returns to power in Bavaria.May 4
Students and Chinese nationalist demonstrate in Peking against transfer of German concessions in Shantung to Japan.
May 7 The German delegation to the Versailles Conference led by Foreign Minister von Brockdorff-Rantzau receives the text of peace terms and is given 15 days to reply.
“We are under no illusions as to the extent of our defeat and the degree of our powerlessness. We know that the strength of German arms is broken. We know the intensity of the hatred which meets us, and we have heard the victims’ passionate demand that as the vanquished we shall be made to pay, and as the guilty we shall be punished. The demand is made that we shall acknowledge that we alone are guilty of having caused the war. Such a confession in my mouth would be a lie. We are far from seeking to escape any responsibility for this world war, and for its having been waged as it has. The attitude of the former German actions and its omissions...may have contributed to the catastrophe, but we emphatically deny that the people of Germany, who were convinced that they were waging a war of defense, should be burdened with the sole guilt of that war.” -Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau, Versailles, May 7, 1919
May 12 Chancellor Scheidemann, under pressure from the DDP, declares the Allies’ conditions for peace unacceptable in a speech to the National Assembly.
May 14 The Berlin trial of eight defendants charged in the murders of Communist Party founders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg ends in two convictions and six acquittals.
May The German High Command considers an accord with the White Russian armies (Awalow-Bermondt) to destroy the power of the Bolsheviks and refuse the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
May 24 Alfred Rosenberg, future Nazi racial theorist, publishes Die russisch-jüdische Revolution in which he declares the Bolschevik revolution in Russia a Jewish controlled plot. Rosenberg goes on says that, “the Jews had become the leading enemies of the Germanic ideal.”
May 28 Eupen, Malmédy and Moresnet are officially annexed by Belgium.
May 29 Germany proposes a counter offer to Allied peace terms.
May The German Freikorps under General von der Goltz acting in concert with the White Russian armies takes Riga and marches on Petrograd and Moscow. The Allies fear a reconstitution of German military power but take wait and see attitude for the moment.
Adolf Hitler becomes a political officer responsible for the Bavarian Government’s anti-Communist propaganda.
June 1 The Rhine Republic is proclaimed by Hans Dorten at Wiesbaden at the instigation of the Allied High Commissioner Paul Tirard of France. Dortens’ government resigns in the face of public hostility a short time later. The body of Communist leader Rosa Luxemburg is recovered from the Landwehr Canal in Berlin.
Herman Goering crash lands his airplane on the Swedish estate of Baron Fock. Invited to dinner, Goering fascinates his hosts with war stories and falls in love with the young baroness Karin von Fock-Kantzow.
Joachim von Ribbentrop becomes representative of the Pommery Champagne Company.
June 7 Painter Max Beckmann opens his first exhibition at Frankfurt.
June 12 Adolf Hitler is hired by Army Chief of Staff in Munich and assigned to the Political Department’s press and information service to fight against, “Marxist indoctrination”.
June 13 The Allies reject all but one of the German counter proposals. They agree to organize a plebiscite in Upper Silesia.
Communist Party founder Rosa Luxemburg is buried in Friedreichfeld Cemetery at Berlin.
June 16 The Allies transmit the final text of the Peace Treaty to the German delegation and allow them seven days to reply.
June 18 The Cabinet deadlocks in a 7 to 7 tie while considering the Allied terms. The German Democratic Party (DDP) opposes the Treaty in the National Assembly. The heads of government in the northern states also oppose ratification.
June 20 Chancellor Philipp Scheidemann resigns rather than sign the Treaty of Versailles.
June 21 Social Democrat Gustav Bauer is named Chancellor and forms a coalition government with the Center Party. Matthias Erzberger becomes Vice-chancellor and Minister of Finance.
Admiral von Reuter scuttles the German fleet off Scapa Flow, Scotland. Six squadron cruisers, six battle cruisers, 84 light cruisers and 50 destroyers are sunk.
June 22 The National Assembly ratifies the Treaty of Versailles by a vote of 237 to 130. The Assembly takes exception to article 231 which declares Germany solely responsibility for starting the war and refuses to approve extradition of individuals held responsible by the Allies.
June 28 The Treaty of Versailles is signed ending the war between the Allies and Germany. Foreign Minister Hermann Müller and Transport Minister Johannes Bell sign for Germany. Under terms of the Treaty;
“The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies.” “The Allied and Associated Governments ..., require, and Germany undertakes, that she will make compensation for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allied and Associated Powers and to their property during the period of the belligerency... “ Germany cedes 13% of its territory and 5,500,000 inhabitants: Eupen, Malmedy and Moresnet to Belgium; Upper Silesia, Poznan and portions of West Prussia to Poland; and Alsace–Lorraine to France. Memel and Danzig are declared Free Cities under League of Nations supervision. The Saar is placed under League of Nations administration for 15 years. Plebiscites will be organized to determine the future of Schleswig and Silesia. German colonies are ceded to various Allied powers to be administered as League of Nations mandates; East Africa to Britain; the Caroline, Marshall and Mariana Islands to Japan; Togo and Cameroon to Britain and France; South West Africa to the Union of South Africa; Ruanda-Urundi to Belgium; New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago to Australia; Western Samoa to New Zealand. German concessions in China are transferred to Great Britain and Japan. German treaty rights in Morocco are terminated.
The Allied blockade of German ports is lifted.
The Allied Powers demand dismissal of General von der Goltz and cessation of hostilities in the East.
July 3 The National Assembly adopts the black, red and gold colors of the 1848 revolution as the national flag.
July 7 Field Marshal General Paul von Hindenburg retires and the General Staff is dissolved.
July 12 Britain and France reestablish trade relations with Germany.
July 13 The First Congress of the German National Peoples’ Party (DNVP) passes a closing resolution rejecting the Treaty of Versailles.
July 14 The U.S. State Department authorizes resumption of trade with Germany.
July 19 Following dissolution of the High Command, General Wilhelm Groener urges the officer corps to abstain from intervention in politics.
July 31 The National Assembly ratifies the Weimar Constitution by a vote of 262 to 75. The Social Democrats, German Democrats and Center Party support ratification. The Independent Social Democrats, German Peoples’ and German National Peoples’ Parties are opposed.
August 11 President Friedrich Ebert signs the Weimar Constitution.
August 14 The Weimar Constitution enters in force. The Weimar Republic is a democracy headed by a president elected for a seven year term by universal suffrage with power to dissolve parliament and appoint and dismiss ministers, a chancellor who is head of government and a parliament of deputies elected to four year terms who enact federal laws and a budget. The seed of the Weimar Republic’s eventual demise is planted in: “ Article 48. If any state does not fulfill the duties imposed upon it by the constitution or the laws of the Reich, the Reich president may impose such duties with the aid of the armed forces. In the event that public order and security are seriously disturbed or endangered, the Reich president may take the necessary measures for their restoration, intervening, if necessary, with the aid of the armed forces. For this purpose he may temporarily abrogate, wholly or in part, the fundamental principles laid down in articles 114 [right of an accused person to be charged and arraigned within a day of arrest], 115 [right to be secure in ones house], 117 [inviolability of post, telephone and telegraphic communications], 118 [freedom of expression], 123 [right of assembly], 124 [right of free association] and 153 [right of private property ownership]. ....”
August 16 Poles in Silesian town of Rybnik rise up. Eight days of clashes with German troops end with the arrival of an Interallied garrison.
August 21 Friedrich Ebert sworn in as Reich president.
“At five o’clock this afternoon Ebert’s swearing in at the National Assembly. The stage was festively decorated with the new German colors and plants; gladioli and chrysanthemums place on a floor covering which in its day has obviously been the mossy turf of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The organ played and everyone in their black jackets crowded between the plants like guests at a better class wedding. The house was crowded except for the seats belonging to the Nationalists and the Independents, which remained intentionally empty. ... After an organ prelude, Ebert appeared on stage in a frock-coat, small, broad shouldered, with gold-rimmed spectacles. He was followed by Bauer, the hobbling Chancellor, and the whole government, all of them in solemn black too. Ullstein’s Berliner Illustrierte saw fit to publish today a photograph of Ebert and Noske in bathing trunks. The memory of the picture haunted the ceremony. ... Ebert spoke the words of the oath in quite a pleasing, clear voice. Fehernbach pronounced the official welcome. Ebert made a speech. All very decorous but lacking go, like a confirmation in a decent middle class home. The republic should avoid ceremonies; they are not suited to this type of government. It is like a governess dancing a ballet. All the same, the whole occasion had something touching and, above all, tragic about it. This petty drama as conclusion to the tremendous events of war and the revolution! Pondering the significance of it can bring tears very close.” - Harry Kessler, diary for August 21, 1919
August 25 The United States demands reparations for damages to its citizens arising from the sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine on May 7, 1915 and cession of the island of Yap.
August 28 German troops crush a revolt by Poles in Upper Silesia.
August 30 The Reichstag enacts agrarian reform. Two million hectares in uncultivated large estates will be broken up.
September 11 General Erich Ludendorff’s war memoires are published in Great Britain and the United States. The author is paid £10,000 for the English language rights to his book. September 12
Adolf Hitler attends a meeting of the German Workers’ Party (DAP) at the Sternecker Beerhall in Munich. The military is suspicious of the movement because the word “Workers” appears in the party name. Hitler’s interruptions to castigate the Treaty of Versailles and the Republic impress party president Drexler who asks him to join the movement which numbers fifty members at the time.
September 15 The state of war between China and Germany ends.
September 16 Adolf Hitler receives a postcard informing him to his great surprise that he has been elected to membership in the German Workers’ Party (DAP).
September 18 Madame du Barry a film by Ernst Lubitsch premiers in Berlin.
September 19 Finance Minister Erzberger tells the National Assembly that there are 59 known counterfeit imitations of the Reichsbank 50 mark note in circulation. All 50 mark notes are withdrawn from circulation and cease to be legal tender except for exchange at the Reichsbank.
September 22 The Allied Powers demand a German guarantee to respect Austrian independence.
September 30 The National Assembly moves from Weimar to Berlin.
September The Independent Social Democrats (USPD) agree to talks with Comintern at the Congress of Leipzig.
October 7 First photo-finish horserace takes place in Berlin. The pictures are snapped at a distance of 1½ meters from the finish line.
October 8 Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) deputy Hugo Haase is assassinated.
October The Congress of the Independent Social Democrats at Halle votes in favor of union with the Communist Party of Germany despite of opposition from Rudolf Hilferding.
Wolfgang Kapp supported by Berlin industrialists and bankers establishes Germano-Russian Union to finance the White Russian armies of colonels Awalow and Bermondt who are fighting along side the German freikorps of General von der Goltz in the Baltic. Kapp hopes to overthrow the Bolscheviks in Russia and then the Weimar Republic.
November 4 The Communist controlled industrial councils of Berlin declare a General Strike and achieve partial success.
November 15 Weekly ration allotment per person: Bread 4½ lbs. - American rye flour ½ lb. Potatoes 7lbs. - Butter .10 lbs. - Margarine .20 lbs. - domestic Sugar .33 lb. – imported Sugar ½ lb – Syrup ¼ lb. – Corned Beef .33 lbs – Sausage .10 lbs. – canned Horsemeat 2 lbs. – Milk and Eggs available in limited quantities for children and sick adults only. November 18
Field Marshal Hindenburg testifies before a commission of inquiry into the responsibility for German defeat in World War I.
“An English general said with justice: ‘The German Army was stabbed in the back.’ No guilt applies to the good core of the army. Its achievements are just as admirable as those of the officer corps. Where the guilt lies has been clearly demonstrated. If it needed more proof, then it would be found in the quoted statement of the English general and in the boundless astonishment of our enemies at their victory.” - Paul von Hindenburg, November 18, 1919
“A stab in the back from a rebellious homeland caused the army to collapse – no the preponderance of enemy forces and severe mistakes on the part of the leadership were to blame.” - Willi Wolfradt, Dolchstoß-Legende? June 15, 1922
November 19 The United States Senate rejects the Treaty of Versailles.
November 28 Latvia confiscates German land and property and declares war on Germany.
November 30 Estonia and Latvia defeat the White Russian armies after a six month campaign. The German Baltic Freikorps returns to East Prussia where it strengthens the ranks of the extreme right.
December 10 The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded to Professor Johannes Stark, "for his discovery of the Doppler effect in canal rays and the splitting of spectral lines in electric fields".
December 16 German troops withdraw from Latvia and Lithuania.
December 18 The National Assembly decides to nationalize the electricity grid.
December Unity Congress of the Independent Social Democratic and Communist parties held in Berlin.
Adolf Hitler announces his ambition to reorganize the German Workers’ Party and oust Harrer who exhibits hostility to the mass meetings organized by him. During the Year
The German National Fair at Leipzig attracts 10,500 exhibitors and 7,000 foreign buyers. Attendance increases by 20% over the previous record.
The declining value of the mark versus the pound and the dollar gives Germany an advantage in the export trade. German coal and coke delivered to England costs half as much as the domestically produced product. Frankfurter Zeitung comments, “encouraged by the low exchange, neutral countries are pouring in orders. The German fear that foreign agitation would do us harm has not been justified; indeed, Britain was one of the first enemy States to import large quantities of steel goods from Solingen.” Value of British exports to Germany totals: £23,180,000
Value of British imports from Germany totals: £993,415
Value of American exports to Germany totals: $92,761,314
Value of American imports from Germany totals: $10,608,141
Value of French exports to Germany totals: 1,283,968,000 francs
Value of French imports from Germany totals: 590,696,000 francs

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