Using faith in the workers’ councils (Layton

Using the sources and your own knowledge explain the differences between sources A and B over the German revolutionary period 1918-19 Sources A and B differ in their accounts of the German revolutionary period 1918-19, as they are both from different political perspectives. Source A is from Rosa Luxemburg who, along with Karl Liebknecht led the extreme left wing, Spartacus league. The Spartacists had been formed in 1905 as a splint of the SPD party and by 1918 it had a national membership of around 5000 (Layton 2005). On the 1st January 1919 the Spartacists formally founded the KPD party – German Communist Party.

They believed that Germany should follow the same route as Communist Russia. The main aim of the Spartacists was to create a soviet republic through workers’ and soldiers’ councils. This supported power to the poor people, refusing to take part in parliamentary elections, preferring instead to place its faith in the workers’ councils (Layton 2005). Historian Lee (1998:9), affirms this by stating that, “The Spartacists wanted close association between Germany and Soviet Russia, together with a transfer of all political powers to the workers’ and soldiers’ councils…

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” Although Luxemburg had plans to ‘undermine Ebert’s government’ with a great revolution, Lee (1998) states, the Spartacists didn’t have a great deal of control over the workers’ and soldiers’ councils. Source A shows us that Luxemburg was not ready for the ‘November revolution’ as it “had many difficult tasks to perform. ” Luxemburg feels that the revolution is just the beginning as Ebert is only a moderate, therefore he will co-operate with the elite. To the Communists this was a betrayal of the socialist movement and a revolution had not actually taken place.

Luxemburg’s leaflet was trying to goad the worker’s to carry on the revolution. Source B however, is from the army general, General Groener (Hindenburg’s successor). General Groener is politically right wing and, opposite to Luxemburg is in the interest of the elite. Along with Ebert (who on the 9th November 1918 created a provisional coalition), they were becoming increasingly worried that the extreme left would gain the upper hand. Ebert was a moderate and was frightened of the political situation.

Ebert recognised the growing number of workers’ councils and feared they might jeopardize his policy of gradual change (Layton 2005). On November 10th the day after the declaration of the Republic, as Source B suggests General Groener telephoned Chancellor Ebert. Their discussion was very important. General Groener informed Ebert that the “army put itself at the disposal of the government. ” Groener used this as an opportunity to share his views and compromise that Ebert would leave the structure of the army alone and trounce the revolutionaries. Lee (1998:9) states,

“The SPD leadership were prepared to take a pragmatic course by making a deal with Groener and the Freikorps. ” This affirms that the government were acting to prevent a revolution in December 1918 and January 1919. Lee argues that the SPD exaggerated the danger, therefore swung too readily into a counter-revolutionary position (Lee 1998). General Groener was cooperating with Ebert to save the position of the military elite and stop a Communist revolt. Groener did not fully support Ebert but was prepared to negotiate with him as he was a moderate socialist.

Using your own knowledge and sources A and B explain the significances that the broad range of beliefs had on the New Republic from 1919-1924 As we can see from sources A and B the different political perspectives had a great impact on the New Republic. Source A shows the political threat to Weimar republic and government from the left wing (KPD) Spartacist uprisings, who continued with revolutionary disturbances. The left wing was divided between the moderate socialists and the Communists. Therefore the wide range of political beliefs undermined one Republic (Lee 1998).

There were many strengths and weaknesses in the constitution of the New Republic, some of the strengths of the constitution were that it formed a coalition where laws could be passed. It also became more democratic, where all peoples had a say which meant the voting system was fair. However, the coalition was very weak; every time they wanted a law passed other parties could vote against it. No single party received more seats than the others, and the introduction of proportional representation allowed small extremist splinter parties to get into government, like the Communists and the Nazis (Layton 2005).

Source B, however, shows the uprising from the political right and the interests of the elite. The New Republic gained further political division when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. Germany was expecting the treaty would follow the liberal American president, Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points. Yet it was different. The Treaty of Versailles had an important impact on the Weimar Republic (Lee 1998). Lee (1998:27) states, “The Treaty of Versailles created a deep and widespread resentment throughout the entire population. ” Germany was forced to take the blame and pay for the war which they started and lost.

This was a huge embarrassment. The right-wing was embarrassed and livid; first ‘they stab the army in the back’ and now they ruin Germany’s reputation as a nation. The ‘stab in the back myth,’ “acted as a powerful stick with which to beat the new leaders of the Republic” (Layton, 2002:114). The left wing were also furious, like the right wing they were also passionate for their country, but more so as a lot of worker’s were affected by the loss of the Iron and Coal mines and other industry due to Germany’s territory losses (White 1997).