1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ebert, Friedrich

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EBERT, FRIEDRICH (1871- ), first president of the Reich or German Federated Republic, was born Feb. 4 1871 at Heidelberg, where he attended the national elementary school and then learned the trade of a saddler; after he had become a journeyman he migrated, according to the German custom, from place to place in Germany, seeing the country and learning fresh details of his work until he finally settled at Bremen. There he became interested in the agitation of the Social Democratic party, obtained in 1893 an editorial post on the Socialist Bremer Volkszeitung and in 1900 was appointed a trade-union secretary and ultimately elected a member of the Bremen Bürgerschaft (comitia of citizens) as representative of the Social Democratic party; in 1905 he was elected to the presiding board of his party and was returned as a deputy to the Reichstag in 1912. In 1913 he was chosen as successor to Bebel to preside over the whole Social Democratic party. During the World War he endeavoured by negotiations with the Dutch and Swedish Social Democrats to prepare the way for united action by all the Socialists in the belligerent countries. He took part in 1917 in the Stockholm conference, which, however, had no practical result. He likewise endeavoured without success to bring about a German understanding with Russia. After the revolution he was one of the six commissaries of the people who formed the first provisional Government, in which he shared the presidency with the Independent Socialist Haase. His influence among the commissaries became predominant, and he rendered eminent services in conjunction with the Socialist War Minister, Noske, and the Socialist leader, Scheidemann, in the restoration of tranquillity and orderly administration. He was a keen opponent of all varieties of the Spartacist, Communist or Bolshevist movements, and bore a leading part in the suppression of the Spartacist insurrections. He was elected president of the Reich by the National Assembly at Weimar on Nov. 12 1919. (C. K.*)