• GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • FRANKISH KINGDOM
  • JOHANNES REUCHLIN
  • THE WEIMAR CONSTITUTION
  • W
  • INFLATION, REPARATIONS, AND
  • THE STRESEMANN ERA, 19231929
  • STABILIZATION AND LOCARNO,
  • CULTURE AND SOCIETY
  • ROAD TO DICTATORSHIP,
  • T
  • CONSOLIDATION OF POWER
  • THE NAZI TOTAL STATE
  • ULRICH VON HUTTEN
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  • THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN
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  • THE HOLOCAUST
  • A
  • ALLIED PLANS AND CONFERENCES
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  • ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM
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  • T
  • UPRISING OF JUNE 17, 1953
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  • R
  • CONSEQUENCES AND PROBLEMS OF
  • ECONOMIC UNIFICATION,
  • P
  • RENAISSANCE ART
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  • FOREIGN POLICY
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  • HISTORICAL DICTIONARY A
  • A
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  • A REPUBLIC PROCLAIMED
  • A SEVERE ARMISTICE
  • T
  • ESTABLISHMENT OF A REVOLUTIONARY
  • EBERT MAKES A DEAL WITH THE
  • THE SPARTACISTS
  • INTERPRETATION OF THE
  • A VENGEFUL PEACE
  • V
  • THE GOALS OF THE PEACEMAKERS
  • TERMS OF THE TREATY
  • WAR GUILT AND REPARATIONS
  • DENUNCIATION AND RELUCTANT
  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • E

     

    Ebert, Friedrich (18711925)

    Social Democratic leader and first president of

    the Weimar Republic

    Born in February 1871 the son of a Heidelberg

    tailor, Ebert learned the trade of leatherworking

    in school. He joined the saddlers union and the

    SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY before it became legal

    in 1890. A party organizer and agitator, he was

    an effective speaker and was often elected to

    union and party positions. He became editor of

    a Social Democratic newspaper in 1893, and secretary

    of the party executive in 1905. Elected to

    the Reichstag in 1912, he succeeded August

    BEBEL as elected party chairman in 1913.

    When war broke out in August 1914, Ebert

    led the Social Democratic Party in its vote for

    credits to support the war. He was extremely

    patriotic and lost two sons in the war. Although

    he tried to maintain party unity, in 1916 he

    turned against the antiwar faction of his party.

    Ebert favored compromises and alliances with

    the middle-class parties in order to attain a

    nonannexationist peace. He worked for the

    peaceful settlement of the BERLIN munitions

    workers strike of January 1918. On November

    9, 1918, he was named Reich chancellor by

    Prince Max von Baden.

    During the REVOLUTION OF 19181919 he

    placed himself at the head of the revolutionary

    movement in order to control its direction. He

    made a secret and critical agreement with the

    military leadership to preserve its position and

    guaranteed the return of troops according to the

    armistice; they had to cooperate in restoring

    order. The Constituent Assembly elected him

    temporary president, and he was reelected by

    the Reichstag in 1922, a position he held until

    his death in 1925. Ebert often used the emergency

    powers available through Article 48 of the

    constitution to protect the republic from attacks

    by the right and the left. Because of political

    instability he had to re-create cabinets quite

    often. He was slandered by both the right and

    the left and had to undergo libel trials on charges

    of treason during the war. He was, however, a

    good president who represented the German

    people. A significant failure of his administration

    was his inability to control the military.

     

    Ebert-Groener Pact (November 10,

    1918)

    The Ebert-Groener Pact was an agreement that

    established a tactical partnership between the

    provisional civilian government (the Council of

    Peoples Plenipotentiaries, CPP) and the Supreme

    Command of the Armed Forces (Oberste

    Heeresleitung, OHL). On November 10, 1918,

    Friedrich EBERT contacted General Groener,

    Erich LUDENDORFFs successor in the OHL at military

    headquarters at Spa, and offered to make an

    agreement beneficial to both. The provisional

    government would protect the officer corps from

    parliamentary interference and support efforts

    to restrict the activities of the soldiers councils,

    which Paul von HINDENBURG and Ludendorff

    wished to see abolished. In return, the Supreme

    Command of the Armed Forces, the OHL, would

    assist the government in maintaining order

    within Germany and administer the demobilization

    of the troops at the front as demanded

    by the Allies. Fearful of a Communist takeover

    344

    and civil war and lacking any reliable republican

    force, Ebert made the agreement without consulting

    his colleagues in the CPP.

    Eberts decision to allow the army and its

    Prusso-German authoritarianism to remain

    independent as a state within the state seemed

    unnecessary at a time when the armys prestige

    and confidence were at their lowest point in a

    century. The Social Democrats gave up their

    opportunity to create a republican army. The

    old-line generals retained their powers and

    functions within the army and control of the

    armed forces. The opportunity to rid Germany

    of its militarism was lost. Ebert, however, had

    immediate problems with which to deal, and the

    long-range implications of his agreement with

    the military were not uppermost in his mind.

    First, he had to evacuate 2 million German

    troops from France and Belgium within two

    weeks in an orderly fashion, which could not be

    accomplished without the help of the staff officers.

    The other challenge Ebert faced was an

    internal security problem, especially in BERLIN.

    There the Soldiers and Workers Councils were

    the strongest, and there was no reliable force in

    the capital to protect the provisional national

    government. Ebert believed that an agreement

    with army leaders was the only way to save the

    country from Bolshevism and civil war.

    Economic Miracle

    After World War II Germany was a landscape of

    destroyed cities, hunger, cold, and joblessness.

    Its industrial production in 1946 was one-third

    of a decade earlier. Yet by 1953 the western half

    of Germany had exceeded the gross national

    product of 1936 with only 53 percent of the land

    area and 75 percent of its population. Although

    initially the results of this recovery were

    unevenly distributed, average wages had reached

    prewar levels in 1950 and doubled by 1965. This

    extraordinary recovery and period of economic

    prosperity became the cornerstone of the political

    and social stability of the Konrad ADENAUER

    era. The annual growth rate was 10 percent, and

    gross national product tripled between 1950 and

    1960 with an inflation rate below 3 percent. The

    export-driven economy brought increasing gold

    and currency reserves into the central bank

    (Bundesbank). By 1961 full employment had

    been achieved. The West German economy

    grew into the third-strongest in the world, second

    only to the United States in world trade.

    How was this so-called Economic Miracle

    made possible? There were many factors that

    contributed to this astounding recovery. The

    foundations were in the removal of price controls

    and monetary reform in 1948. The new

    currency remained stable and was controlled by

    a politically independent central bank (Bundesbank),

    which encouraged savings and investment.

    The Marshall Plan aid stimulated the

    economy further, but supplied only 7 percent of

    Germanys capital. The demand created by the

    Korean War and the general worldwide economic

    upturn further stimulated growth. Efficient

    management, a large supply of skilled labor

    provided by refugees, and a docile labor force

    were important. Labor unions restrained their

    demands for wage increases, which kept the

    price of German goods competitive on the world

    market. The FEDERAL REPUBLIC avoided the pitfalls

    of the labor-management problems of the

    1920s by negotiating labors success in gaining

    equal representation on the supervisory boards

    of the iron and steel industries. The replacement

    of old with new modern equipment was stimulated

    by the destruction of the war and the dismantling

    of factories by the Allies after the war.

    A great deal of credit must also be attributed

    to the welfare-state capitalism that was fostered

    by economics minister Ludwig ERHARD. The

    model he chose was called a social market economy,

    based on a free market economy relying on

    private enterprise and allowing market forces to

    dominate with state intervention kept to a minimum.

    The best solution for unemployment,

    Erhard maintained, was economic growth,

    which would create jobs for all. The role of the

    state was focused on preventing economic concentrations

    that hampered competition and on

    canceling the social inequalities that capitalism

    created. Those Germans who had hoped for at

    Economic Miracle 345

    least the reduction of socioeconomic inequalities,

    which had embittered German politics in

    the past, were disappointed by Erhards policies,

    which maintained the traditional relation

    between capital and labor. The economic boom

    of the 1950s made it possible for the Federal

    Republic to address some of its social problems.

    The main tasks were caring for war victims, solving

    the housing shortage, and integrating

    refugees and expellees into society. In addition

    to state-financed housing construction, another

    key policy was the equalization of the tax burden,

    involving a redistribution of wealth that

    favored the war victims, refugees, and others

    hurt by the currency reform. Other social

    reforms followed, which allowed for a 40-hour

    workweek and pension reform that indexlinked

    pensions to the rising cost and standard

    of living.

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