Friedrich Ebert (4 February 1871 – 28 February 1925) was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the first President of Germany from 1919 until his death in office in 1925.
Ebert was elected leader of the SPD on the death in 1913 of August Bebel. In 1914, shortly after he assumed leadership, the party became deeply divided over Ebert's support of war loans to finance the German war effort in World War I. A moderate social democrat, Ebert was in favour of the Burgfrieden, a political policy that sought to suppress squabbles over domestic issues among political parties during wartime in order to concentrate all forces in society on the successful conclusion of the war effort. He tried to isolate those in the party opposed to the war, but could not prevent a split.
Ebert was a pivotal figure in the German Revolution of 1918–19. When Germany became a republic at the end of World War I, he became its first chancellor. His policies at that time were primarily aimed at restoring peace and order in Germany and containing the more extreme elements of the revolutionary left. In order to accomplish these goals, he allied himself with conservative and nationalistic political forces, in particular the leadership of the military under General Wilhelm Groener and the right wing Freikorps. With their help, Ebert's government crushed a number of leftist uprisings that were, ironically, pursuing goals similar to those of the SPD. This has made him a controversial historical figure.