What did the government shutdown do?

Weimar Republic

Reinhard Sturm

To person

born 1950, studied history, political science and English from 1971 to 1978 at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. In 1973/74 he worked for a year as a German Assistant at a school in England. After his preparatory service in Salzgitter from 1978 to 1980, he worked as a high school teacher in Göttingen until 1990, and since then in Hildesheim. Since 1990, he has been training prospective history teachers for teaching at grammar schools as the director of studies and subject manager for history at the Hildesheim study seminar. He has published academic and didactic articles on the history of the labor movement, the Weimar Republic, National Socialism and German post-war history as well as history didactics.

Contact: »[email protected]«

The defeat of Germany in the First World War also marked the end of the German Empire: Wilhelm II abdicated, in the turmoil of the ensuing revolution the republic was proclaimed. First of all, the question of the future system - parliamentary democracy or the council system - is up for discussion. In August 1919 the Weimar Constitution came into force.

Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the republic on November 9, 1918 from the window of the Reichstag building. (& copy DHM, Berlin)


The beginning of the end of the German Empire can be dated to September 29, 1918. Because on this day the "Kronrat" met in Berlin, which, in addition to Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Chief of the Supreme Army Command (OHL), Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, his right-hand man, General Erich Ludendorff, Reich Chancellor Count von Hertling and the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs , Admiral Paul von Hintze. This body deliberated on the consequences of the fact that the world war was finally lost because of the human and material superiority of the opponents, and decided on drastic measures.

Revolution from above

A quick "revolution from above" - ​​as Hintze reports - should prevent a "chaos" and a "revolution from below" (as in Russia). This meant that for the first time an imperial government supported by the Reichstag (the parliament elected according to the universal male suffrage) was envisaged. It was also decided that the new government would "immediately" forward an offer of an armistice to the allied opponents of the war.

Ludendorff told his staff officers on October 1, 1918, what ulterior motives the OHL in particular had in this regard: "But I have asked His Majesty to bring those circles to the government to whom we owe it mainly for us have come so far. [...] They should now make the peace that must now be made. They should now eat the soup that they brought us to. "

What were meant - after the split of the Social Democrats into the left "Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany" (USPD) and the moderate "Majority Social Democratic Party of Germany" (MSPD) in 1916 - the MSPD, the left-wing liberal "Progressive People's Party" and the Catholic "Center Party", the formed an opposition majority in the Reichstag ("majority parties"). For many years they had called for a democratization of the authoritarian empire; They had supported the war, but since 1917 they had jointly spoken out in favor of an honorable "peace of understanding" without loss of territory and compensation.