The November Revolution in Berlin (November 9-11, 1918)
This photo postcard is captioned “The surrender of the Guards Uhlan barracks to members of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils.” The image shows armed soldiers and civilians in Potsdam at the entrance to the barracks, which was handed over to the revolutionaries without a fight. The revolution, which had begun in the military with sailors, soon also spread to war-weary workers in Berlin and other German cities. The workers’ and soldiers’ councils (aka soviets) that formed consequently occupied public buildings and demanded both the Kaiser’s resignation and the establishment of a democracy. During the mass protests in Berlin on November 9, the revolutionaries announced their intention to proceed without violence, using slogans such as “Brothers! Don’t shoot!” Given the different political directions within the revolutionary movement, the SPD leadership under Friedrich Ebert strove to prevent bloody encounters in the street fights because it feared that the revolution could escalate into a civil war. Above all, a fratricidal conflict between democrats and socialists was to be avoided. Yet the beginnings of such a conflict were already apparent when Karl Liebknecht proclaimed a socialist republic on November 9th.
© Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz/ Geheimes Staatsarchiv, SPK/ Bildstelle GStA PK