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The Beginnings Of Weimar Notes

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The Collapse of the Kaiserreich and the Establishment of the Weimar Republic: 1918-1919 Germany at the End of World War One

Germany's 'Spring Offensive' collapsed on 8th August after allied troops, with the aid of American support, broke German lines.

Conditions in Germany:
- Agriculture had been disrupted by conscription and the redistribution of resources to the war effort, while the British blockade of ports caused food supplies to dwindle.
- Compared to 1914 milk supplies were down 50% and butter and meat 40%. Necessities were in short supply and most had to live off 1,000 calories a day.
- 750,000 died of starvation and malnutrition, while Spanish flu killed a further million.
- Power cuts were frequent and public transport failed to operate reliably. The ill could not be attended to.


General Ludendorff and Admiral Paul von Hintze hoped to approach America for a peace based on Wilson's Fourteen Points set out in January 1918. It was agreed government reform was necessary as the Americans would not negotiate with 'warlords' like Hindenburg and Ludendorff under the Kaiser. Handing power back to the Reichstag meant that responsibility for accepting the peace terms could be passed on to a representative socialist government.

The Revolution from Above:
- On 2nd October the Reichstag received news that the Germany was seeking an armistice and a new government was to be formed.
- On 3rd October, the Kaiser appointed Max von Baden as chancellor, allowing him to form a cabinet representative of Reichstag control, including SPD members, for the first time.
- Max then carried out key reforms including the abolishment of the Prussian three-class franchise and the introduction of Reichstag control of the military. The government was also to be answerable to the Reichstag.

The sudden reforms made it clear that Germany was seeking an armistice. Riots broke out as suffering appeared to have been endured for nothing.
 Calls for the Kaiser's abdication intensified after, on 24 th October, President Wilson said that given Germany was an 'autocratic dictatorship' only total surrender would be acceptable to the allies.
 Towards the end of October a series of strikes broke out again in what came to be known as the 'revolution from below'. The Revolution from Below:

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