Primary Documents - Prince Max von Baden's Announcement of Kaiser Wilhelm II's Abdication, 9 November 1918

Prince Max von Baden With Germany actively seeking an armistice and revolution threatening, calls for Kaiser Wilhelm II to abdicate grew in intensity.  Wilhelm was himself deeply reluctant to make such a sacrifice, instead expressing a preference to lead his armies back into Germany from the Western Front.  Upon being informed by his military advisers that the army could not be relied upon not to harm him Wilhelm abandoned the notion.

Wilhelm's abdication was announced by Chancellor Prince Max von Baden in a 9 November 1918 proclamation (reproduced below) - before Wilhelm had in fact consented to abdicate (but after Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann had announced the Kaiser's departure from the balcony of the Reichstag).  Faced with a fait accompli Wilhelm formally abdicated and went into exile in Holland.  His abdication proclamation was formally published in Berlin on 30 November 1918.

Faced with public criticism over the nature of Wilhelm's abdication German Army Chief of Staff Paul von Hindenburg issued a statement on 20 March 1919 explaining the sequence of events and defending the Kaiser's role.

In the wake of the Kaiser's abdication his eldest son - Crown Prince Wilhelm - expressed a desire on 11 November 1918 - the date of the armistice - to be allowed to lead his army back home to Germany.  His wish was, given the anti-royalist fervour of the moment, rejected out of hand by the government.  He too went into exile in Holland, despatching a letter to Hindenburg following his arrival in which he explained and justified his position.

Having instigated the Kaiser's abdication Prince Max resigned, handing power to incoming Chancellor Friedrich Ebert who, in statements issued on 10 November and 17 November, appealed for public calm and reassured the German public that the incoming government would be "a government of the people".

Prince Max von Baden's Announcement of Kaiser Wilhelm II's Abdication, 9 November 1918

The Kaiser and King has decided to renounce the throne.

The Imperial Chancellor will remain in office until the questions connected with the abdication of the Kaiser, the renouncing by the Crown Prince of the throne of the German Empire and of Prussia, and the setting up of a regency have been settled.

For the regency he intends to appoint Deputy Ebert as Imperial Chancellor, and he proposes that a bill shall be brought in for the establishment of a law providing for the immediate promulgation of general suffrage and for a constitutional German National Assembly, which will settle finally the future form of government of the German Nation and of those peoples which might be desirous of coming within the empire.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

A "Communication Trench" was a narrow trench constructed at an angle to a defensive trench to permit concealed access to the defensive trench.

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