The old Germany is gone. The German people have realised that they were lied to and deluded for years.
That militarism which was praised and held up to the whole world for imitation, has collapsed. The revolution, which embarked on its victory march in Kiel, has asserted itself victoriously. The dynasties have forfeited their existence. The bearers of the crown have been stripped of their power.
Germany has become a republic, a socialist republic. Those convicted and arrested for political and military offences must immediately be released from the prisons, detention centres and work camps.
Political authority now lies with the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils. All garrisons and towns without Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils will swiftly establish their own. Likewise, peasants’ councils will be established in the countryside for the same purpose.
The primary task of the Provisional Government, approved by the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council of Berlin, will be signing of an armistice agreement and putting an end to the bloody butchery.
The revolution’s slogan is immediate peace. Whatever that peace may look like, it will be better than a continuation of the horrific mass butchery.
Considering Germany’s social structure, and the degree of maturity of its economic and political organisation, the swift and resolute socialisation of the capitalist means of production will be possible without any major convulsions. It is, moreover, required if we are to build a new economic order from the blood-soaked ruins, in order to prevent the economic enslavement of the masses and the collapse of culture. All workers, intellectual and manual, who are inspired by this ideal and who sincerely support its implementation are hereby called on to join in the pursuit of its realisation.
The Workers‘ and Soldiers‘ Council is solidly confident that the whole world is bracing for a similar upheaval. It confidently expects the proletariat of other countries to exert all its force to prevent a violation of the German people at the end of the war.
The Council proudly commemorates the Russian workers and soldiers who proceeded us on the path of revolution, and it is proud that the German workers and soldiers followed suit and thus lived up to its old glory as the avant-garde of the International. It conveys its brotherly greetings to the Russian Workers’ and Soldiers’ Government.
The Council has resolved that the German Republican Government is to establish diplomatic ties with Russia immediately, and is expecting the representatives of this government in Berlin.
As a result of the horrific war, lasting for four years, Germany is utterly and entirely devastated. Irreplaceable material and moral goods have been destroyed. The challenge of rebuilding a new life from this devastation and destruction is a daunting one.
The Workers‘ and Soldiers‘ Council is aware that the revolution cannot make good for the crimes and defects of the old regime and propertied classes overnight, that it cannot provide the masses with perfect conditions immediately. Yet this revolutionary power is the only force that can rescue what is left. Only the socialist republic is capable of unleashing the forces of international socialism for the establishment of lasting democratic peace.
Long live the German Socialist Republic!
First published in: Vossische Zeitung, No. 577, 11 November 1918.
Quote taken from: Dokumente und Materialien der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung, Band 2 November 1917 - Dezember 1918, hg. vom Institut für Marxismus-Leninismus bei ZK der SED, Berlin, 1957, S. 348f.
Translated by Zachary Murphy King and Jan-Peter Herrmann.