Quotations: the early republic

This page contains a collection of Weimar Republic quotations pertaining to the birth and early years of the Republic. Topics include the end of World War I, the Treaty of Versailles, the formation of the Weimar Republic and the Spartacist Uprising of 1919. These quotations have been researched, curated and compiled by Alpha History authors. If you would like to suggest a quotation for inclusion on this page, please contact us.

The end of World War I

“The war has ended, quite differently indeed from how we expected. Our politicians have failed us miserably.”
Kaiser Wilhelm II, September 1918

“The real disaster [of 1918] was that the Germans did not think that they had been defeated. They had, as the legend was to have it, been ‘stabbed in the back’. Jews, the Left, soft-brained academics had prevented them from winning the war and setting up a Europe that had more sense, on the ground, than anything dreamed up by the naive Americans. Ludendorff was the main architect of this fantasy.”
Norman Stone, historian

“You have kept the enemy from crossing our frontiers and you have saved your country from the miseries and disasters of war… We end the struggle proudly and with our heads held high, where we have stood for four years in the face of a world full of enemies.”
German general Paul von Hindenburg, November 1918

“As an English general has very truly said, the German Army was ‘stabbed in the back’… Like Siegfried, stricken down by the treacherous spear of savage Hagen, our weary front collapsed.”
General Paul von Hindenburg, November 1919

“The deepest, most disgusting shame ever perpetrated by a people in history, the Germans have done onto themselves. Egged on and misled by the tribe of Judah [the Jews] whom they hated, who were guests among them! That was their thanks! Let no German ever forget this, nor rest until these parasites have been destroyed and exterminated from German soil.”
Former Kaiser Wilhelm II, December 1919

“Vengeance! German nation! Today in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, the disgraceful treaty is being signed. Do not forget it! The German people will… press forward to reconquer the place among the nations to which it is entitled. Then will come vengeance for the shame of 1919!”
Deutsche Zeitung newspaper, June 1919

“The historian, with every justification, will come to the conclusion that we were very stupid men… We arrived determined that a peace of wisdom and justice should be negotiated. We left the conference conscious that the treaties imposed upon our enemies were neither just nor wise.”
Harold Nicholson, British diplomat, 1919

“This [the Treaty of Versailles] is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.”
Attributed to French military leader Ferdinand Foch, 1919

The birth of the Weimar Republic

“If the Kaiser does not abdicate, the social revolution is inevitable. But I do not want [revolution], I even hate it like sin.”
Friedrich Ebert, SPD politician, November 1918

“The old and rotten, the monarchy has collapsed. The new may live. Long live the German Republic!”
Philip Scheidemann, SPD politician, November 1918

“You had no right to proclaim the Republic!”
Friedrich Ebert to Philip Scheidemann, November 1918

“Act! Act! Courageously, decisively and constantly… disarm the counter-revolution, arm the masses, occupy all positions of power. Act quickly!”
Rosa Luxemburg, January 1919

“The despicable actions of Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg soil the revolution and endanger all its achievements. The masses must not sit quiet for one minute longer while these brutal beasts and their followers paralyse the activities of the republican government and incite the people more and more to civil war.”
Pro-SPD newspaper, January 1919

“The working class must stand united against the Spartacists if democracy and socialism are not to be lost.”
Gustav Noske, January 1919

“Those troops [who joined the Freikorps] were for the most part men who had no homes and no jobs to go to, or who were reluctant to return to civilian life. All these Freikorps pursued their own policies and very soon ceased to take any notice of the military leadership. They certainly took not the slightest notice of the despised democratic ministers.”
Helmut Heiber, German historian

“At five o’clock this afternoon, Ebert’s swearing-in [as president] before the National Assembly. The stage was festively decorated with the new German colours… The house was crowded, except for the seats belonging to the Nationalists and Independents, which remained ostentatiously empty… When Ebert made a speech, all very decorous but lacking ‘go’, like a confirmation in a decent middle-class home. The republic should avoid ceremonies, they are not suited to this type of government… The whole occasion had something touching and, above all, tragic about it.”
Count Harry Kessler, August 21st 1919

“After a year of existence, the bourgeois republic has lost its illusory youthful charm in the eyes of the proletarian masses… The maintenance of the bourgeois republic is impossible… The impending military coup d’état must be opposed with a revolutionary offensive.”
German Communist Party circular, November 1919

The Kapp putsch

“As a result of a lunatic coup, the government buildings of Berlin have fallen into the hands of mutineers. No political party, no man of sober-minded thought is behind these events. They are to be deplored… Enough blood has flowed since 1914. This adventure will collapse in a few days from its intrinsic impracticality… The soldiers of the national army have to defend the constitution, protect the president and government and be obedient. To emulate the breaking of their oath by a number of officers is prohibited by duty and law.”
Government decree during the Kapp putsch, March 1920

“Strike, stop working, strangle this military dictatorship, fight… for the preservation of the republic, forget all dissension! There is only one way to block the return of Wilhelm II. General strike all along the line! Workers unite!”
A government call-to-arms during the Kapp putsch, March 1920

“Troops do not fire on troops. Perhaps you intend that a battle be fought before the Brandenburger Tor between troops that have fought side by side against a common enemy? When Reichswehr fires on Reichswehr then all comradeship within the officer corps will have vanished.”
General Hans von Seeckt, refusing to commit troops during the Kapp putsch, March 1920