Problems in Germany 1918-1920

9th November 1918 – Germany is in a terrible condition. There are riots, strikes and uprisings by the workers and soldiers. The Kaiser abdicates and flees to Holland. This is known as the German Revolution.

10th November 1918 – Ebert the socialist leader forms a government at the German town of Weimar. Germany is now a Republic.

11th November 1918 – Ebert signs the armistice with the allies and Germany surrenders.

January 1919 – Germany has free elections for the first time in its history. Ebert is elected. He becomes President of the Weimar Republic.

Problems for Ebert and the socialists

Political party Leader What they believed/wanted




The workers should be looked after (given food, jobs etc) but there was to be no revolution.

German Communists

Karl Liebknecht &

Rosa Luxemburg

The workers to have a revolution. The workers would then run the country – government, factories, business etc.

The Freikorps

ex soldiers and sailors


Dr Wolfgang Kapp

Hated the communists and fought them in the streets.   Believed in a strong army and a strong Germany.
Right Wing Parties

(eg the German Workers’ Party)



A strong and powerful Germany, with a large empire and a very strong army. They had liked the Kaiser’s system of one-man rule.


Early 1919-1920:

  • The Spartacists (communists) try to overthrow the government and seize control of towns all over Germany. Ebert asks the army and the Freikorps to defeat the communists. They do this successfully and many spartacists are killed including Liebknecht and Luxemburg.
  • Despite this defeat the communists remain a powerful anti-government force in the 1920s.

May 1919: the terms of the Treaty of Versailles announced. Ebert’s opponents turn their anger on him and the socialists. They believe that the German army had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by the socialist and liberal politicians who had signed the armistice. Ebert and the Weimar Republic are blamed for the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, and his opponents use this as a rallying point.

March 1920: The Kapp Putsch (putsch = rebellion)

5000 Freikorps try to take over Berlin and overthrow the socialist government. It fails. The workers of Berlin declared a general strike, and Kapp realised he had no support.


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