Weimar Republic timeline 1918-20


This Weimar Republic timeline includes significant political, economic and social events in Germany from late 1918 to the end of 1920. Written by Alpha History authors.

1918


March 21st: The German army launches the Spring Offensive, a final major offensive to break through the Western Front in northern France and Belgium.
July: The Spring Offensive fails, with German casualties approaching 700,000.
August: The Allies launch a series of counter-offensives that drive the Germans out of northern France. German forces lose significant territory, men and equipment.
October 10th: The Allies break through the Hindenburg Line at the Battle of Cambrai. An Allied invasion of Germany appears imminent.
October 20th
: Mutinies break out in numerous army and naval units throughout Germany.
November 4th: General strikes are called in many German factories.
November 7th: Mutinous sailors seize control of many German coastal cities, plus the cities of Frankfurt and Munich.
November 8th: Democratic-socialists in Bavaria, led by Kurt Eisner, overthrow the Wittelsbach monarchy and proclaim a republic.
November 9th: The German chancellor, Prince Max von Baden, announces the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II, without the kaiser’s full agreement.
November 9th: Social Democratic Party (SDP) politician Philip Scheidemann proclaims a German republic. Elsewhere, Spartakusbund (Spartacus League) leader Karl Liebknecht declares the birth of a socialist republic.
November 11th: The beginning of the end of World War I: combatant nations sign an armistice, agreeing to cease fighting at 11am.
December 14th: The first Freikorps unit, the Lichtschlag, is formed near Hagen in western Germany.
December 24th: Communists seize control of a government building in Berlin and manage to hold off an army unit sent to remove them.
December 30th: The Spartakusbund splits from other socialist parties and eventually becomes independent.
December 31st: Rosa Luxemburg presents a founding program for the newly formed Communist Party of Germany (KPD), which calls for armed revolution.

1919

January 5th: Thousands of protesters, many of them sympathetic to the KPD and some of them armed, rally in central Berlin.
January 9th: Government troops and Freikorps brigades begin to mobilise on the outskirts of Berlin, following orders issued by defence minister Gustav Noske.
January 12th: The ‘Battle of Berlin’ begins between communist militias and Freikorps units.
January 15th: Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg are captured by the Freikorps, beaten and executed. The communist takeover of Berlin is defeated.
January 19th: The provisional government holds elections for a new national assembly, the first German election to use proportional voting, universal suffrage and women’s suffrage. The SPD records the largest share of the vote (38 per cent).
February 6th: The new National Assembly meets in the city of Weimar. Continued outbreaks of violence in Berlin prevent the assembly from meeting there. Lawyer and German Democratic Party (DDP) politician Hugo Preuss is tasked with overseeing the drafting of a new constitution.
February 11th: Friedrich Ebert (SPD) is confirmed by the Weimar assembly as the president of Germany.
February 21st: Kurt Eisner, the Jewish-German socialist who seized control of Bavaria in November 1918, is assassinated by a young nationalist.
March 3rd: Communists launch another attempt to seize control of Berlin. This uprising is suppressed within days.
April 4th: Left wing revolutionaries seize control of Bavaria and two days later proclaim the formation of a Soviet socialist republic there.
April 12th: Communists with close ties to Russia take control of the newly formed Bavarian government and begin seizing property and executing aristocrats and suspected spies.
May 3rd: Around 25,000 Reichswehr soldiers and Freikorps volunteers move into Munich and overthrow the Bavarian communist regime.
June 22nd: After days of bitter debate and acrimonious press coverage, the Treaty of Versailles is ratified by the German Reichstag.
June 28th: The Treaty of Versailles is signed by all parties, formally ending World War I.
July 31st: The Weimar National Assembly finalises and approves a new constitution.
August 11th: The Weimar constitution is proclaimed, formally ending the German Revolution. The National Assembly becomes known as the Reichstag.
August 21st: Friedrich Ebert is formally sworn in as president of the new republic.
September 11th: A Reichswehr corporal named Adolf Hitler is sent to infiltrate and report on the German Workers’ Party (DAP), a small nationalist group in Munich.
November 18th: Former general Paul von Hindenburg tells a Reichstag committee that the German army was “stabbed in the back” in late 1918.

1920


February 20th: The DAP, now boasting around 300 members, re-forms as the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP).
February 24th: The NSDAP holds its first public meeting and adopts a political manifesto, the ‘Twenty Five Point Program’.
March 12th: The Kapp putsch: a Freikorps unit enters Berlin late at night and demands the replacement of the Ebert government with a right wing government, led by civil servant Wolfgang Kapp.
March 13th: The Weimar government issues a public statement, calling on soldiers and workers to thwart the Kapp putsch with a general strike.
March 17th: After four days of resistance and negotiation, the Kapp putsch collapses. Its leaders, Kapp and Walther von Luttwiz, flee Berlin.
March 17th: Communists in the Ruhr respond by attacking Freikorps units and forming a committee to seize power.
March 24th: The Weimar government demands an end to the Ruhr uprising and general strike by no later than April 2nd.
March 31st: Adolf Hitler is discharged from the Reichswehr and dedicates himself to full time work with the NSDAP.
April 2nd: The Reichswehr marches into the Ruhr and suppresses the left-wing uprising there, killing around 2000 people.
April 6th: French troops occupy Frankfurt and other cities, in response to the presence of Reichswehr soldiers in the Ruhr, a breach of the Versailles treaty.
June 6th: National elections change the composition of the Reichstag and force a change in government. The SPD loses 61 seats but remains the largest party in the Reichstag. Nationalist parties increase their share of the vote, while the KPD stands candidates for the first time, winning four seats.
August 7th: The government passes the National Disarmament Law, requiring political and paramilitary groups to surrender caches of weapons and civilians to report the whereabouts of these weapons.
October 11th: Nationalists murder a young girl, Marie Sandmeier, for informing authorities about a stockpile of illegal arms.
December 17th: The NSDAP purchases a newspaper, Volkischer Beobachter, which becomes the party’s official publication.


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This page was written by Jennifer Llewellyn, Jim Southey, Brian Doone and Steve Thompson. To reference this page, use the following citation:
J. Llewellyn et al, “Weimar Republic who’s who”, Alpha History, accessed [today’s date], http://alphahistory.com/weimarrepublic/weimar-republic-whos-who/.