The Revolution

  • E. J. Feuchtwanger


The German revolution of 1918 remains unique in the twentieth century as a major upheaval in a large and highly-developed country. It is still a matter of dispute whether this upheaval deserves the label ‘revolution’ or if it was only an aborted revolution. Judgments on its complex course are coloured by the knowledge that the regime for which it laid the foundations ended catastrophically with Hitler’s Third Reich. The question is bound to loom large whether different decisions could have been taken and a different outcome been achieved by the revolution’s leading figures, but this is judging with hindsight. Taking a long perspective the German revolution looks less like a violent break and is seen more in the continuity of German developments. The tensions released in 1918 had been building up in Germany for many years. Had it not been for war and defeat, gradual solutions to some of the problems might well have emerged. The outbreak of war in August 1914 had temporarily transcended the deep divisions in German society. The key event was the decision of the SPD to vote for war credits in the Reichstag on 4 August 1914 and thereby to give their support to the war.1 From the point of view of German nationalism it was an unforgettable moment of unity and enthusiasm. From the perspective of the international socialist movement it was a moment of great disenchantment. The class solidarity of the proletariat across the frontiers turned out to be an illusion.


Soviet Republic Radical Left Centre Party General Strike General Staff 
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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© E. J. Feuchtwanger 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. J. Feuchtwanger
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SouthamptonUK

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