The German Revolution of November 1918 is nowadays largely forgotten outside Germany. It is generally regarded as a failure even by those who have heard of it, a missed opportunity which paved the way for the rise of the Nazis and the catastrophe to come.
Robert Gerwarth argues here that to view the German Revolution in this way is a serious misjudgement. Not only did it bring down the authoritarian monarchy of the Hohenzollern, it also brought into being the first ever German democracy in an amazingly bloodless way.
Focusing on the dramatic events between the last months of the First World War in 1918 and Hitler's Munich Putsch of 1923, Robert Gerwarth illuminates the fundamental and deep-seated ways in which the November Revolution changed Germany. In doing so, he reminds us that, while it is easy with the benefit of hindsight to write off the 1918 Revolution as a 'failure', this failure was not somehow pre-ordained. In 1918, the fate of the German Revolution remained very much an open book.
Robert Gerwarth is Professor of Modern History at UCD and Director of the Centre for War Studies. He is the author of The Bismarck Myth (Oxford UP, 2005) and a biography of Reinhard Heydrich (Yale UP, 2011). His third monograph, The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End was published by Penguin (UK) and FSG (US) in the autumn of 2016. He has authored several articles in leading international journals such as Past & Present, The Journal of Modern History, Geschichte & Gesellschaft, and Vingtième Siècle. His work has been translated into some thirty languages.
Introduction: 1: 1917 and the Revolution of Expectations
2: Hoping for Victory
4: The Sailors' Mutiny
5: The Sailors' Mutiny
6: Showdown in Berlin
7: Making Peace in the West
8: Challenges for the Young Republic
9: Fighting Radicalization
10: The Triumph of Liberalism
11: Democracy Besieged
12: Undermining Weimar: Versailles
The Defiant Republic: Germany 1919-23