Failure of a Revolution: Germany in 1918-1919

Failure of a Revolution: Germany in 1918-1919

Failure of a Revolution: Germany in 1918-1919

Failure of a Revolution: Germany in 1918-1919

Excerpt

The German Revolution of 1918 left militarism to dominate the German scene. Therefore it was a failure. This book shows and explains how this failure came about.

The German Revolution of 1918 set up a political democracy. A political democracy is a mere form if there exists no democratic social and economic substance to support it. In Germany, the State has never had a democratic substance; government has always been the prerogative of certain groups and individuals. Hence democratic political forms could not maintain themselves.

The failure of 1918 manifested itself most visibly in 1933 and in 1939. In 1945, these manifestations were expunged by Germany's defeat. But the seed of the old substance remained.

The German democratic forms of 1918, like real democracy wherever it exists, comprised the division of the functions of government into three branches, legislative, executive and judicial. The latter branch of government became particularly important in Germany because it was the only branch that functioned there after the defeat of 1945 and thus had not only substantial but also unbroken continuity. We shall see a number of examples of its earlier functioning, in the Revolution, in the following pages. As the writing of history serves (or should serve) a purpose, it is instructive to give here also two examples of the working of the German judiciary after the downfall of Hitler.

The first of them is connected with the Revolution of 1918. Matthias Erzberger, a progressive leader of the Centre Party in the Revolution, was murdered by two young men, Schulz and Tillessen, in 1921. They found sanctuary in Hungary and returned to Germany in 1933 to be fêted as national heroes. At the end of the Second World War both were apprehended by the Allied authorities in the Western Zone of occupation. Tillessen was handed over to the German judiciary authorities. Although . . .

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