Contents page 1 — “It obeys no man more” page 2 — workers and soldiers arising page 3 — The military system breaks down page 4 — The government’s problems are huge-page 5 — “company to company disappears in the human throng” On a page
read faces in a Revolution “violence the violence”, as Hannah Arendt knew, “has proved to be still in the power of the state as the winner”. To make it at least as long as the police and the army were ready to use their weapons. “No longer is the case, the Situation changes suddenly. […] Is where obeys commands, Violence is futile.”
Since the end of October 1918 is no longer obeyed in Germany. Of the rebellious Sailors ends started in Wilhelmshaven and Kiel, the roll-over movement is irresistible to the South. In the historiography there is no shortage of metaphors: As a “running fire” or “Prairie fire” had swept the Revolution over the Empire. Such images meet the breathtaking dynamics of the events. But at the same time, you are fundamentally wrong, because no zones of devastation between Kiel, Munich, and Berlin remained, on the contrary, This Revolution was in its first weeks of relatively “good-natured”, the publicist Sebastian Haffner in 1969 stressed. They did not Lynch justice and tribunals.
is a historian and teaches history at the Technical University of Braunschweig.
Actually, the mass movement is primarily an anti-war movement. It follows no Plan, has no any signs of collusive and conducting, certainly not a Bolshevik centre, as the elites of the Empire suspect. Out of nowhere, of course, the Revolution comes too. The war has worsened the living conditions considerably, and the social tensions exacerbated; material Hardship, food shortages and lack of fuel make up the day. The mass slaughter on the fronts, more and more husbands, brothers or fathers has been taken away from their families. Not only in the workforce but far into the bourgeois camp, the mental and physical exhaustion makes the desire for peace more urgent.
The dynamics of the insurgency in the Emperor’s spreading Empire, surprised even the Revolutionaries themselves. The emissaries of the coup, the Kiel Sailors. The first of them land on 4. November with a mining ship in Cuxhaven, the base of the Imperial Navy at the mouth of the Elbe. What is happening there, will happen in the next few days, or a similar one anywhere. The Sailors confirm the well-known newspaper reports and rumors about the Wilhelmshaven and Kiel events. Then the confidence of the people of the naval station to meet with shipyard workers and prepare for a public meeting, to the workers and red army deputies is elected. Then a Demonstration for the commandant’s office, the Council accepts the command. After a few days, the military and a part of the political Power are in his hands.
As in Cuxhaven are involved Sailors in many other cities in Northern and Western Germany on the roll – over, either as a Bearer of information, or, together with the garrison soldiers and workers, as the carrier of the uprising, sometimes even as its initiators. The roll-over motion, achieved at the 5. November in Lübeck, in the following night in Hamburg, the Baltic sea coast Wismar, Schwerin, Warnemünde and Rostock, but also of Bremen and Bremerhaven.
This Text comes from the magazine of history no 6/2018. The current issue you can buy on newsstands or here.
Soon, the message penetrate beyond the collapsing military force to Berlin. Under your impression of Siegfried Graf von Roedern looks at the 6. Forced to November a startling proposal: With military means, the state Secretary in the Reich before the Treasury to the war Cabinet, one could no longer stop the roll-over movement. Would it not be better, the Marine is easy to dissolve and to dismiss the teams? The government rejects. Of realistic Alternatives, it is missing, of course: Roederns proposal is symptomatic of the perplexity, which engages in the Empire line. Already the new Chancellor Max speaks of Baden of a military “Northern front”, this would have to be defended within the country and the capital city of Berlin.
But also this desire to remain ideas. In the night of the 7. November, Hannover is in the hands of the insurgents, on the day of Braunschweig and Celle. Completely independent of the “storm birds of the Revolution,” as the Sailors after a fight song of Russian workers soon to be called, wins the roll-over motion at 7. November in Munich and king Ludwig III. was declared deposed. By the end of November, the rest of the twenty German kings and princes will take their farewell from the story. On 8. November triumph of the Revolutionaries in Cologne and Frankfurt am Main, Dortmund and Essen, Nürnberg and Würzburg, Halle and Magdeburg, Cottbus and Stendal, in Gotha and in Weimar, Leipzig and Dresden, in Brzeg and Gandau and many other cities.