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Monday August 5th 2019Tim Candler9

 

    In 1914, the German Empire had an Emperor, an Empress and dotted around the Empire there were something like 21 other royal Personages who had to be well in the loop of patronage so that the Empire could manage the day to day of being an empire. That's all very well for an agrarian society but Germany was well into the Industrial Revolution, massive cities, vast factories employing millions of people. And of course those millions of people all jostled together in a most un-rural manner discuss stuff, they moan and groan and many of them are perfectly capable of wondering at the possibilities of improving their circumstance. Doesn't have to be complicated, doesn't have to be get rid of the Emperor, more like an eight hour work day instead of a 10 hour or 12 hour work day, a set of work rules that made factories safer places, some sense of security should anyone fall sick or get injured. And indeed in 1914 there were many German Workers who were easily persuaded that the war the Emperor seemed hell bent upon would be fought not for the working man but for the Bankers, the Princes, the Titans of Industry, the wealthy, the middle class. The power structure in the German Empire was mostly top down, yet we poorer people did have representatives, they were well vetted representatives, but as a body they were permitted an occasional contribution to discourse on our behalf. As the war dragged on, the Generals continued to insist that they could win, but the wider discourse within German society developed doubts, and these doubts were particularly evident when munitions factory workers went on strike and the Generals could say all they wanted about their capacity to win the war, and how high their moral was, but it was very obvious to them that back home production of munitions was suffering. German Navy, which had been basically port bound since the Battle of Jutland, suddenly decided they were going to gloriously attack the British Fleet, groups of sailors mutinied. In the meanwhile the Western Allies had feelers out, their war wasn't going well either. The idea from the Western Allies was that we can all talk about an Armistice just so long as you lose your emperor and write a constitution for yourselves that might be a tad more democratic and there's a good chance we're going to need you guys to help us put an end to this communist nonsense that seems to be taking on in Russia. For those interested the desire to see Germany as a Democracy was pushed by the US President Woodrow Wilson, and would that our current president was even remotely like him.

 

Past

    Around November 9th 1918 the German Generals reluctantly agreed to the idea of an Armistice, their Emperor would agree to step down and a new constitution would be discussed. On the 11th of November the Armistice was signed but under no circumstances were the Generals prepared to admit that they and their soldiers had lost the war. In Germany new political alliances formed as democratic elections were given strong consideration. There were lots of political parties, to the left, to the right and to the center, the whole thing was very chaotic. There was street fighting, murder and mayhem and one of the things was in the peace treaty with the allies, Germany was only permitted 100,000 men in its army. Millions of German soldiers had to be let go, out into the communities, many of which had dramatically changed through the course of the war. Some have used the expression disillusioned to describe their experience of an army that could have won coming home to defeat and a bunch of generals still insisting they could have won had the home front not betrayed them. In Germany there was a tradition of militia, many of the returning soldiers took up with the militias, and many political parties employed these paramilitary units to protect them from the rough and tumble and down right violence of rival party gangs. Adolf Hitler at the end of the war was desperate to remain in the army and he found his opportunity to keep his work by agreeing to become a spy for a domestic intelligence service that was anxious to keep abreast of organizations and parties that could present deep problems for the already complicated management problem of turning The German Empire into the Weimar Republic, something that was managed quite well by the emerging Social Democratic Party, it's still very around and prides itself on being the oldest political party in Germany. The political party Hitler was sent to spy on was called The German Workers Party, nor did it have very many members, but the political center in Germany had a mortal fear of Soviet style takeover of their country, and anything that had the word "worker" in its title was incredibly suspect. Well Hitler turned up one day at the party meeting, he probably had his notebook, ready to report back. The German Workers Party's basic idea was that Jews lost the war for us, they're not really human beings, whether they are Jews or not all Bankers suck, Capitalists are a-holes, we Germans are Number One but we've all been badly betrayed by creeps and traitors and it's time we did something about it. Very much shades of this generation's tragic flirtation with White Nationalism. Oddly Hitler got into a bit of an argument with other party members about the extent to which Capitalists were just a-holes or whether they were useful a-holes. In time The German Workers Party became the National Socialist Party with Adolf Hitler as the Big Cheese who with the help of other devious minds crafted the political platform of the Third Reich. 

 

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