The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics, 1918-1945

By John W. Wheeler-Bennett | Go to book overview

Ghosts in Field-Grey

THE NEMESIS OF POWER: THE GERMAN ARMY IN POLITICS, 1918-1945 (829 pp.) --John W. Wheeler-Bennett-St. Martin's ($12).

Unter den Linden was alive with demonstrators. Snatches of the Internationale seeped into the Wilhelmstrasse chancellery, where Socialist Friedrich Ebert, shaky head of a shaky government, sat wondering if he was another Kerensky doomed to fall before his country's Communists. It was Nov. 9, 1918. Shipwrecked in the field, rudderless at home, Germany was drifting into anarchy.

One of Ebert's telephones rang--the private line from the headquarters of the beaten German army at Spa, 360 miles away. With vast relief. Chancellor Ebert heard the voice of Hindenburg's First Quartermaster-General Wilhelm Gröner offering an alliance with the Socialists on behalf of the German officer corps.

"The high command," said the crisp voice from Spa, stating the terms, "expects the government to cooperate with the officer corps in the suppression of Bolshevism and in the maintenance of discipline." Ebert accepted, and out of this uneasy marriage of convenience between frightened Socialists and nerveless Junkers was born that spindly political problem child, the Weimar Republic.

True to the pact in its own fashion, the army soon settled the immediate Communist threat by marching shock troops into Berlin. When Adolf Hitler and his beer-hall fanatics flared up in their 1923 Putsch, the army ground it out in the Munich gutters. Later the officer corps began to think it could use Hitler to fashion a Reich more to its liking. But once the ex-corporal got to twirling the

TIME, DECEMBER 28, 1953

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