GHDI logo

Kaiser Wilhelm II on his Abdication (Retrospective Account, 1922)

print version     return to document list previous document      next document

page 1 of 3


On the morning of November 9, 1918, the Reich Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden, again informed me—as he had already done on the 7th—that the Social Democrats, and also the Social Democratic undersecretaries, demanded my abdication; that the rest of the members of the Government, who had stood against it thus far, were now in favor of it, and that the same was true of the majority parties in the Reichstag. For these reasons, he continued, he requested that I abdicate immediately, since, otherwise, extensive street fighting attended by bloodshed would take place in Berlin; it had already started on a small scale.

I immediately summoned Field Marshal von Hindenburg and the Quartermaster General, General Groener. General Groener again announced that the army could fight no longer and wished for rest above all else, and that, therefore, any sort of armistice must be unconditionally accepted; that the armistice must be concluded as soon as possible, since the army had supplies for only six to eight more days and was cut off from all further supplies by the rebels, who had occupied all the supply storehouses and Rhine bridges; that, for some unexplained reason, the armistice commission sent to France—consisting of Erzberger, Ambassador Count Oberndorff, and General von Winterfeldt—which had crossed French lines two evenings before, had sent no report as to the nature of the conditions.

The Crown Prince also appeared, with his Chief of Staff, Count Schulenburg, and took part in the conference. During our conversation, several telephone calls came from the Chancellor, who became most insistent; he pointed out that the Social Democrats had left the Government and that delay was dangerous. The Minister of War reported uncertainty among some of the troops in Berlin—4th Jägers, Second Company of the Alexander Regiment, Second Battery, Jüterbog, had gone over to the rebels—no street fighting.

I wished to spare my people civil war. If my abdication was indeed the only way to prevent bloodshed, I was willing to renounce the Imperial throne, but not to abdicate as King of Prussia; I would remain, as such, with my troops, since the military leaders had declared that the officers would leave en masse if I abdicated entirely, and the army would then pour back, without leaders, into the Fatherland, damage it, and place it in peril.

first page < previous   |   next > last page