In 1918, revolutionists took control of the greater part of Berlin. The Kaiser fled to Holland and a new Socialist Chancellor took command. The revolt had begun to spread rapidly across Germany.
The Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Council was administering Berlins municipal governments. The War Ministry had submitted and its acts were only valid only when countersigned by a Socialist representative. The Workmen’s and Soldier’s Council issued an announcement: “The Presidency of the Police, as well as the Chief of Command, is in our hands.”
The above is according to a report by The New York Times on 11 November 1918. This report was highlighted in a 2018 video produced by CommonSpace titled ‘Remember the real reason WWI ended’.
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CommonSpace, an independent Scottish news and opinion website was relaunched on 16 March 2020 as ‘Source’. It ceased publishing a little more than a year later on 30 June 2021. We were unable to verify who is speaking in the video below but it is possibly CommonSpace/Source reporter Sean Bell.
A hundred years from the end of the First World War the media has been full of the commemoration of the dead. But why is there so little discussion of how the war ended and who ended it?
In a BBC educational resource meant for schoolchildren, we learnt that Germany lost the war simply because Britain and France defeated them. This article included an understated reference to strikes in the German Navy. But German sailors weren’t on strike – they had mutinied. And this is how the war really ended.
They armed themselves and headed inland, determined to stop a war that killed ten million people. As they came closer to Berlin the city erupted in strikes and demonstrations against the war. The German Kaiser abdicated, the government collapsed, and the war was over.
World War I was ended by a wave of revolutions that swept the continent first in Ireland in 1916, then Russia in 1917 and finally in Germany in 1918. In cities across the continent, including Glasgow, there were riots and strikes against the war.
At the front soldiers rebelled. By 1917, half of the French army were routinely refusing to follow orders.
But official remembrance by the state and politicians obscures this history of revolutions.
People are right to remember the suffering and loss of the war. Those who were killed in a war for the interests of the rich and powerful are remembered as patriotic martyrs. Those ordinary soldiers and workers who ended the war by turning on their own governments are forgotten – because their actions represent the danger to the powerful today.
Note: if you follow THIS link to view the image above online as clipped from The New York Times, then click on the image to enlarge it, it is possible to read the articles about the people’s revolution in Berlin. They are fascinating and well worth the read.
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