Books: Berlin Diary

BEFORE THE DELUGE: A PORTRAIT OF BERLIN IN THE 1920'S by OTTO FRIEDRICH 418 pages. Harper & Row. $10.

The Weimar Republic sort of happened about lunchtime, Nov. 9, 1918.

Philipp Scheidemann, the Social Democratic Party's deputy leader, was having a bowl of potato soup in the Reichstag dining room when he was told that the Kaiser had abdicated and that Karl Liebknecht, the left-wing firebrand, was about to proclaim Germany a Soviet republic. To head him off, Scheidemann hurried to a balcony and shouted to the crowd below: "Workers and soldiers. The cursed...

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