Essay by originalduduCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2007

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How far do the sources support the view that Ebert was wrong to cooperate with the right wing forces in Germany to crush the threat of a left wing revolution? On November 9th, 1918, Friedrich Ebert, the then chancellor of Germany joined forces with Wilhelm Groener (first general of the German army) and formed the Freikorps in an attempt to diminish the radical socialist uprisings. The suppression of the Spartacist uprising was not a flawless procedure and required sacrifices and rushed decisions on Ebert's part, partially due to the urgency and spontaneity of the revolt. Analysis of the relevance of Ebert's decision to cooperate with the right wing will be made in this essay.

The alliance formed by the Ebert-Groener pact was riddled with peculiarity and idiosyncrasies. Source 2 implies how the pact caused widespread alienation amongst the socialists and condemns the castigatory methods used to, "crush, brutally, the socialist uprisings," adopted by the Freikorps (a militant group of volunteers formed by the government as an alternative to the army).

This violent treatment instilled distrust towards the Republic amongst the left, leading to a general consensus amongst the socialists, as said in Source 2, that, "the republic could never be forgiven," instantly reducing confidence in Ebert's government and its capacity in managing crises via diplomacy.

Although the source is somewhat opinionated, it does replicate the definite existence of such bitter feelings with the Ebert government at the time, which led to the Social Democrats' image as the party of the working classes to be irreparably tarnished - its credibility is further raised as it is from a book published in 1973, obviously having the benefit of hindsight. Moreover, Source 1 suggests the right wing forces gained authority through corrupt means. Ebert was in a desperate situation and Groener would only offer support in return for, "a share of power in the new state." It appears as if Groener utilised methods of blackmail to arrogate a degree of power from the Ebert government (Ebert had put his government into the hands of the army and Freikorps, who could not be trusted to be loyal) thus indicating that it was imprudent of Ebert to align himself with such corrupt forces that will destabilize the Reichstag. Additionally, Source 1 also suggests that the alliance reverses the effects of the liberal transformation - Groener in Source 1 claims the pact, "rescued into the new Germany the best and strongest elements of Old Prussia, despite the revolution." This showing that the agreement had the effect of negating liberal advances after World War 1 by retaining the militant rule. Therefore, the alienation of the left towards the Republic, the corrupt gain of power by the right forces and the denial of liberal advances made at the close of the war, are views suggested by the Sources which support the notion that Ebert was wrong to co-operate with the right wing forces.

Conversely, the Sources do present elements that suggest that Ebert was right in co-operating with the right wing forces. As mentioned in Source 3 Ebert, "was isolated with no armed forces to protect his government." Consequently this cooperation with the right was a rational choice to offer militant support for the government. Source 2 indirectly confirms that Ebert's government was in need of protection by recognizing the existence of "socialist uprisings". Source 1, a recollection by Groener, suggests that the cooperation led to "the best and strongest elements of Old Prussia" being transferred to the new Germany. Despite the personal views of Groener, who would be inclined to support a militant rule, there is some truth in the statement as Germany had historically functioned well under the strong rule of Otto Von Bismarck. The vulnerability of the government to the socialist uprisings and the transferral of the arguably advantageous militant authority suggest that the alliance with the right wing forces was the correct thing for Ebert to have done. However, all 3 sources fail to address the consequences of the crushing of the uprising by the use of militancy - many socialists and KPD supporters lost faith in what was supposed to be a socialist government, and the murders of socialists and prominent members of the KPD (Rosa Luxemburg, Liebknecht) signalled the government's lack of control of the forces it employed to help it stay in power.

In conclusion, it is apparent from the sources that Ebert was largely wrong to align himself with the right wing forces. However, one must recognise the short term advantages which persuaded Ebert to do so.

Bibliography:Edexcel source paper, 2002