Quotations: problems of government

This page contains a number of Weimar Republic quotations pertaining to political parties, the Reichstag and the difficulties of government in the Republic. 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.

Politics, parties and government

“Socialism excludes everything arbitrary. It is order on the highest level. Disorder, personal caprice and violence are mortal enemies of socialism.”
Friedrich Ebert, SPD political leader

“Without democracy, there is no freedom. Violence, no matter who is using it, is always reactionary.”
Friedrich Ebert, SPD political leader

“We allied ourselves in order to fight Bolshevism… Our aim [in November 1918] was to introduce as soon as possible an orderly government, supported by the army and the National Assembly.”
Friedrich Ebert, SPD political leader

“The [SPD] leadership has failed… The leadership can and must be recreated from the masses and out of the masses. The masses are the decisive element, they are the rock on which the final victory of the revolution will be built… And that is why a future victory will bloom from this ‘defeat’… You stupid henchmen! Your order is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will raise itself with a rattle and announce itself with fanfare, to your terror…”
Rosa Luxemburg, Spartacist leader, shortly before her execution

“Everything depends on… making the government firm and keeping it firm. Whether it pleases us or not, there is nothing else, and whoever can, should help. Who is unable to do so, or cannot bring himself to do it, should at least not disturb. But that is done by stupid newspaper articles which publicise the many weaknesses and ridiculous traits of the republic.”
Hans von Seeckt, Reichswehr general, February 1919

“You know what the answer [to signing the Treaty of Versailles] must be. I am going for a walk… You have taken upon yourself a heavy responsibility.”
Paul von Hindenburg to General Wilhelm Groener, May 1919

“Students and citizens, your resistance to the Republic and to democracy is simply a fear of words. You shy at them like restive horses; you fall into unreasoning panic at the sound of them. But they are just words… to think they must refer to some outlandish kind of foreign humbug is mere childishness.”
Thomas Mann, writing in October 1922

“The wave of drunkenness which overtook the country ten years ago has left behind many hungover people who know no other cure for their hangover than to become drunk again. They have learned nothing.”
Kurt Tucholsky on nationalism, August 1924

“Our Republic is not yet an object of mass consciousness but a constitutional document and a government administration. When the people want to see the Republic, they are shown Wilhelmstrasse. And then one wonders why they return home, somewhat shamed. Nothing is there to make the heart beat faster. Around this state, lacking any ideas and with an eternally guilty conscience, there are grouped a couple of so-called constitutional parties, likewise lacking an idea, which are not led but administered by a bureaucratic caste.”
Carl von Ossietzky, September 1924

“The democratic republic offers the most favourable ground for the liberation of the working class and therefore for the development of socialism. For this reason, the Social Democratic Party defends the Republic and is committed to its full development.”
Program of the SDP, revised September 1925

The crisis of the early 1920s

“The campaign for securing out of Germany the general costs of the war was one of the most serious acts of political unwisdom for which our statesmen have ever been responsible.”
John Maynard Keynes, British economist, 1919

“We refuse to buckle under to this military pressure. We did not bring about the revolution to make this bloody Freikorps regiment legal. Workers! Comrades! Go on strike, put down your work and stop this military dictatorship. There is only one way to prevent the return of a Kaiser: shut down the economy!”
Anti-Kapp putsch propaganda, March 1920

“Rathenau has great personal courage. He knows exactly how much he is hated, as a man and a politician, by many in the land, that they are in fact aiming for his life. But he spurns all police precautions and protective measures, and goes the way that may lead to his destruction with a certain fatalism.”
Eugen Schiffer, DDP politician

“This despicable act struck not only one man, Rathenau, it struck Germany in its totality.”
Friedrich Ebert, speaking at Rathenau’s funeral, June 1922

“The French, by their invasion of the Ruhr and their imprisonment of mine directors, have done more to bring together all the parties and all the classes in Germany than it was possible to effect by other means… For the moment all class hostility by the workmen against the owners has been submerged by the patriotic wave. The whole country appears to be united.”
Lord D’Abernon, British ambassador to Germany, January 1923

“The so-called passive resistance of Germany in the year 1923 is really a fable. Bad as the situation was in general for the German masses in the Rhine and Ruhr districts, the really decisive economic battle over the coal mines bore the features of a tragicomedy… The government should have ordered the cessation of work in all industries in the occupied area, and have regarded as a traitor any mine owner who allowed the work of a pit to be carried on… But [Chancellor] Cuno… still felt that he was one of the German capitalists… and could not take strong measures against them. Thus passive resistance was from the very outset a pathetic and halfhearted proceeding.”
Arthur Rosenberg, Marxist historian, 1936

“Germany, far from making the slightest effort to carry out the treaty of peace, has always tried to escape her obligations… Until now she has not been convinced of her defeat… We are also certain that Germany, as a nation, resigns herself to keep her pledged word only under the impact of necessity.”
French leader Raymond Poincare, December 1922

“I do not consider a Stresemann cabinet viable, not even after its transformation. This lack of confidence I have expressed to the chancellor himself, as well as to the president, and I have told them that in the long run, I could not guarantee the attitude of the Reichswehr to a government in which it had no confidence… A Stresemann government cannot last without the support of the Reichswehr and of the forces standing behind it.”
General Hans von Seeckt, November 1923