The Weimar Republic - Germany’s first democracy


November 1918

2 November

The Revolutionary Stewards, the left wing of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), plan a general strike for 11 November.
[Overesch/Saal, p. 9]

3 November

Matrosenaufstand in Kiel

Armistice between Austria-Hungary and the Allies. [EK]

The November Revolution starts with the sailors’ mutiny in Kiel protesting the looming punishment of the mutineers of 28 October. [UB]

4 November

Shipyard workers join the sailors’ revolt. The first workers’ and soldiers’ council is founded in Kiel on 4 November. Sent by the government, Gustav Noske is elected Chairman of the workers’ and soldiers’ council.  The soldiers then spread the revolution to major German cities.
[Kittel, p. 50]

5 November

The German Empire breaks off diplomatic relations with the Soviets and expels the Russian diplomats.
[Overesch/Saal, p. 9]

6 November

The Bremische Bürgerschaft (parliament of Bremen) adopts universal, equal, direct and secret male suffrage. Accordingly, women are not granted the right to vote.
[Overesch/Saal, p. 9]

7 November

Revolution in Bayern

Revolution in Munich, fall of the monarchy, and declaration of the Free State of Bavaria with a revolutionary government called the “Council of Workers, Soldiers, and Farmers” headed by the acting Minister-President Kurt Eisner (USPD). [UB]

A workers’ and soldiers’ council is founded on 7 November in Brunswick. The Duke of Brunswick steps down under the pressure of this council - the first German ruler to do so because of a delegation of this kind. [Kittel, p. 52]

8 November

With the mandate of the German government and as head of the armistice committee, Matthias Erzberger starts negotiating the armistice in the French town of Compiègne.
[Overesch/Saal, p. 9]

Workers’ and soldiers’ councils are founded in Dresden and Leipzig.
[Kittel, p. 53]

9 November

Ausrufung der Republik

Prince Max von Baden, Chancellor of the Empire, announces the abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II and appoints Friedrich Ebert, the head of the SPD, as Chancellor. Scheidemann proclaims the German Republic from the Reichstag in Berlin; shortly thereafter, Karl Liebknecht (USPD / Spartacus League) proclaims the “Free Socialist Republic” from the Berlin Schloss. [UB, AS]

The workers’ and soldiers’ council declares that the Duke of Saxony-Coburg and Gotha, who left for Coburg, has been deposed. It claims the right to govern. [Kittel, p. 52]

Under pressure from protests and the declaration of the Republic of Württemberg, the king flees to Bebenhausen and releases his officials from their oath of office on 16 November. On 30 November, he is the last German ruler to officially announce that he is stepping down. [Kittel, p. 53]

After extensive negotiations with the workers’ and soldiers’ council, the Grand Duke of Saxony-Weimar and Eisenach signs the agreement stipulating his abdication. [Kittel, p. 53]

10 November

Volksbeauftragte, November 1918

The Council of People’s Representatives is formed as the new government, with Friedrich Ebert, Philipp Scheidemann, and Otto Landsberg (SPD) as well as Hugo Haase, Wilhelm Dittmann, and Emil Barth (USPD). [VU, UB]

Agreement between Friedrich Ebert and Wilhelm Groener [EK]

The Republic of Saxony is proclaimed in Dresden. The King of Saxony had already left Dresden the day before the proclamation. [Kittel, p. 53]

Heinrich XXVII, Prince Reuß Younger Line abdicates, bowing to the demand of the workers’ and soldiers’ council. Despite this abdication, the USPD demonstrates in Greiz with the support of military security troops from Gera against the Reuß dynasty, forcing its government to step down on 11 November. [Kittel, p. 53]

Duke Bernhard III of Saxony-Meiningen abdicates under pressure from the workers’ and soldiers’ council. However, his son Prince Ernst initially refuses to abdicate. He does not abdicate until 12 November. [Kittel, p. 53]

The Twenty-one Council proclaims the Republic of Oldenburg-East Frisia from Wilhelmshaven, which was not part of the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg. The Grand Duke formally abdicates on 11 November. [Kittel, p. 53-54]

The workers’ and soldiers’ council under SPD leadership takes Duke Ernst II of Saxony-Altenburg under its protection on 9 November. The workers’ and soldiers’ council claims on 10 November its right to govern. [Kittel, p. 54]

11 November

Matthias Erzberger

Matthias Erzberger (Center Party) signs a provisional armistice with the Entente in Compiègne after three days of negotiations. [UB]

Wilhelm II goes into exile in the Netherlands. He stays there until his death in 1941. [Overesch/Saal, p. 10]

At a people’s assembly, the SPD announces that the workers’ and soldiers’ council in Coburg has taken control of the administration and demands that the duke abdicate.  He then flees to the castle of Callenberg. At the last joint sitting of the local parliament on 14 November, the state minister announces that the duke has abdicated. The duke is never to officially acknowledge his loss of power. [Kittel, p. 53]

The workers’ and soldiers’ council declares the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt deposed. The duke does not release his officials from their oath of office until 18 March 1919. Yet he is never to formally acknowledge his loss of power. [Kittel, p. 54]

12 November

The Council of People’s Representatives announces its socialist government program, with which it enacts measures including political amnesty, elections for a constituent national assembly, the eight-hour day, and freedom of opinion and assembly. [Overesch/Saal, p. 10]

German-Austria proclaims its accession to the German Reich. [EK]

The Prince Regent of the Duchy of Anhalt signs a declaration announcing that he is abdicating. The so-called “State Council for Anhalt” takes power on 14 November. It enacts a new electoral law on 15 November. [Kittel, p. 54]

Facing an ultimatum from the peoples’ and soldiers’ council, the Prince zur Lippe abdicates. [Kittel, p. 54]

13 November

Saxony’s minister announces to the workers’ and soldiers’ council in Dresden on 13 November that the king has abdicated. However, the abdication is never formalized. [Kittel, p. 53]

The Prince of Waldeck-Pyrmont is deposed. He did not want to sign a declaration of his abdication until after a referendum had been held. [Kittel, p. 54]

After negotiations between the workers’ and soldiers’ council and Duke Ernst II of Saxony-Altenburg, still in power de facto, the duke installs a new government and abdicates on 13 November. The abdication is officially announced on 14 November. [Kittel, p. 54]

14 November

Partial restaffing in the Reich. SPD, USPD, and Center Party representatives join the government as under-secretaries. Eduard David (SPD) and Karl Kautsky (USPD) are appointed to the Foreign Ministry, Eduard Bernstein (USPD) to the Treasury of the Reich, Paul Göhre (SPD) and Ernst Däumig (USPD) to the Ministry of War, and Gustav Noske (SPD) to the Navy Ministry. [Overesch/Saal, p. 11]

As a first step towards abdicating, the Grand Duke of Baden gives up his power to govern.  The workers’ and soldiers’ council had already demanded that a socialistic republic of Baden be founded. The duke formally abdicates on 22 November. [Kittel, p. 54]

On 14 November, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin abdicates. He had already installed a new government on 9 November with the approval of the workers’ and soldiers’ council. On 16 November, the ministry announces that this change also entails the end of the vicegerent’s administrative authority over Mecklenburg-Strelitz. [Kittel, p. 54]

The workers’ and soldiers’ council founded on 9 November in the Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe was made up of members of the middle class and representatives of the Bückeburg Jägers battalion, who did not join the revolution. Still, the prince stepped down voluntarily on 14 November, under the threat of an external attack by the SPD in nearby Bielfeld. [Kittel, p. 54]

15 November

Professor Hugo Preuß is appointed as state secretary of the interior. [Overesch/Saal, p. 11]

The “Zentralarbeitsgemeinschaft”, a joint institution bringing together unions and employers, is founded. [VU]

17 November

Das Theater in Weimar

The “Grand Ducal Court Theater of Weimar” is renamed as the “Regional Theater of Weimar (Landestheater)”.

20 November


The German Democratic Party (DDP) is founded. [AS]

Hindenburg sends a telegram to the Reich’s government informing them that German army would not able to keep fighting if no agreement were to be reached with the Western powers. [Overesch/Saal, p. 12]

21 November

The Center Party renames itself to Christian People’s Party (CVP) and publishes a new platform that shifts the party’s politics towards the fight against all forms of class domination.
[Overesch/Saal, p. 13]

23 November

Gustav Stresemann helps found the national liberal German People’s Party (DVP). [Overesch/Saal, p. 14]

The workers’ and soldiers’ council in Rudolstadt claims power on 10 November and demands the abdication of Prince Günther von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. After negotiations between the two parties, a change to the constitution is discussed and adopted that transforms the constitutional monarchy into a free state with a parliament.  The prince announces this change - and his abdication - on 23 November. [Kittel, p. 54]

24 November


The German National People’s Party (DNVP) is founded.

25 November

At the Reichskonferenz meeting of the German republics (states) in Berlin, the joint decision is made to retain the unity of the Reich. The delegates also push for elections to be held soon for a national assembly.  There is also an Austrian delegate at the meeting.
[Overesch/Saal, p. 14]

Since 4 November, a reform of the electoral law and the form of government has been under discussion in the Sondershausen parliament. Similar to the events in Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, this parliament is also able to gain the upper hand over the weak workers’ and soldiers’ council. On 19 November, a territorial council is created as an interim government and the constitution is changed to a republican form of government. Prince Günther (who is governing Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and Schwarzburg-Sondershausen in a personal union) announces this change on 25 November together with his abdication. He is the last ruler in power in the German federated states to abdicate.
[Kittel, p. 54-55]

28 November

Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Kaiser Wilhelm II formally abdicates.

30 November

The Council of People’s Representatives announces that elections are to be held for a constituent national assembly.  All men (including soldiers) and women over 20 years of age have the right to vote in the universal, equal, secret, and direct elections.

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Abkürzungs- und Siglenverzeichnis der verwendeten Literatur:

ADGBFederation of German General Trade Unions
AEGGeneral Electricity Company
AfA-BundGeneral Free Federation of Employees
AVUSAutomobile Traffic and Training Road
BMWBavarian Motor Works
BRTgross register tons
BVPBavarian People’s Party
CenterCenter Party
DAPGerman Workers’ Party
DDPGerman Democratic Party
DNTGerman National Theater
DNVPGerman National People’s Party
DVPGerman People’s Party
GmbHLimited (form of company)
KominternCommunist International
KPDCommunist Party of Germany
KVPConservative People’s Party
MSPDMajority Social Democratic Party of Germany; the Majority Socialists
NSnational socialism (Nazi)
NSDAPNational Socialist German Workers’ Party; Nazi party
NVNational Assembly
O.C.Organization Consul
OHLArmy High Command
SASturmabteilung; Brownshirts
SPDSocial Democratic Party of Germany
StGBPenal Code
UfAUniversum Film Aktiengesellschaft
USPDIndependent Social Democratic Party of Germany
VKPDUnited Communist Party of Germany
ZentrumCenter Party
[AB]August Baudert: Sachsen-Weimars Ende. Historische Tatsachen aus sturmbewegter Zeit, Weimar 1923.
[AS]Axel Schildt: Die Republik von Weimar. Deutschland zwischen Kaiserreich und „Drittem Reich“ (1918-1933), hrsg. von der Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Thüringen, Erfurt 2009.
[BauerBauer, Kurt, Nationalsozialismus. Ursprünge, Anfänge, Aufstieg und Fall, u.a. Wien 2008.
[BihlBihl, Wolfdieter, Der Erste Weltkrieg 1914 - 1918. Chronik - Daten - Fakten, Wien 2010.
[BüttnerBüttner, Ursula, Weimar. Die überforderte Republik 1918-1933, Stuttgart 2008.
[DNV]Die Deutsche Nationalversammlung im Jahre 1919 in ihrer Arbeit für den Aufbau des neuen deutschen Volksstaates, hrsg. v. Ed.[uard] Heilfron, Bd. 1 bis 6, Berlin [1919].
[Ebert/Wienecke-JanzEbert, Johannes/Wienecke-Janz, Detlef, Die Chronik. Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts bis heute, Gütersloh/München 2006.
[EK]Eberhard Kolb: Die Weimarer Republik, 3. überarb. u. erw. Aufl., München 1993.
[EtzoldEtzold, Hans-Rüdiger, Der Käfer II. Die Käfer-Entwicklung von 1934 bis 1982 vom Urmodell zum Weltmeister, Stuttgart 1989.
[GG]Gitta Günther: Weimar-Chronik. Stadtgeschichte in Daten. Dritte Folge: März 1850 bis April 1945 (Weimarer Schriften, Heft 33), Weimar 1987.
[GrüttnerGrüttner, Michael, Das Dritte Reich 1933-1945 (= Bd. 19, Gebhardt. Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte), Stuttgart 2014.
[HildebrandHildebrand, Klaus, Das Dritte Reich, 7. Aufl., München 2010.
[Kessler Tgbb]Harry Graf Kessler. Tagebücher 1918-1937, hrsg. von Wolfgang Pfeiffer-Belli, Frankfurt a. M und Leipzig 1996.
[KittelKittel, Erich, Novembersturz 1918. Bemerkungen zu einer vergleichenden Revolutionsgeschichte der deutschen Länder, in: Blätter für deutsche Landesgeschichte 104 (1968), S. 42-108.
[KolbKolb, Eberhard, Die Weimarer Republik, 7. durchges. und erw. Aufl., München 2010.
[NiedhartNiedhart, Gottfried, Die Außenpolitik der Weimarer Republik, 2. aktualisierte Aufl., München 2010.
[O/S]Manfred Overesch/ Friedrich Wilhelm Saal: Die Weimarer Republik. Eine Tageschronik der Politik, Wirtschaft, Kultur, Düsseldorf 1992.
[Overesch/SaalOveresch, Manfred/Saal, Friedrich Wilhelm, Die Weimarer Republik, Eine Tageschronik der Politik, Wissenschaft Kultur, Augsburg 1992.
[PeukertPeukert, Detlef, Die Weimarer Republik. Krisenjahre der Klassischen Moderne, Frankfurt a.M. 1987.
[PK]Paul Kaiser: Die Nationalversammlung 1919 und die Stadt Weimar (Weimarer Schriften, Heft 16), Weimar 1969.
[PM]Paul Messner: Das Deutsche Nationaltheater Weimar. Ein Abriß seiner Geschichte. Von den Anfängen bis Februar 1945 (Weimarer Schriften, Heft 17), Weimar 1985.
[ThHB]Thüringen-Handbuch. Territorium, Verfassung, Parlament, Regierung und Verwaltung in Thüringen 1920 bis 1995, hrsg. von Bernhard Post und Volker Wahl, Redaktion Dieter Marek (Veröffentlichungen aus Thüringischen Staatsarchiven, Bd. 1), Weimar 1999.
[TofahrnTofahrn, Klaus W., Chronologie des Dritten Reiches. Ereignisse, Personen, Begriffe, Darmstadt 2003.
[UB]Ursula Büttner: Weimar. Die überforderte Republik 1918-1933. Leistungen und Versagen in Staat, Gesellschaft, Wirtschaft und Kultur, Stuttgart 2008.
[VU]Volker Ullrich: Die Revolution von 1918/19, München 2009.
[WinklerWinkler, Heinrich-August, Weimar 1918-1933. Die Geschichte der Ersten deutschen Demokratie, München 1993.
[WirschingWirsching, Andreas, Die Weimarer Republik. Politik und Gesellschaft, 2. erw. Aufl., München 2010.

(zusammengestellt von Dr. Jens Riederer und Christine Rost, bearbeitet von Stephan Zänker)