Friedrich Ebert was born on February 4, 1871, as the son of a tailor in Heidelberg. He joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in 1889, even before he had finished his apprenticeship as a saddler. Within the SPD Ebert was regarded as a conciliatory and pragmatic personality with leadership qualities. He fought for a close relationship with trade unions and for a society based on social peace. He was elected an SPD member to the German parliament in 1912, and in 1913 he became chairman of the Social Democratic party. He also held the position of leader of the SPD fraction in the parliament. He soon became a leading personality in the German social democratic movement.
He fought as a protagonist of parliamentary democracy for the introduction of a republican system. During the Berlin Congress of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils in December 1918, immediately after the end of World War I, he managed to push through the idea of a multi-party system with general, secret and free parliamentary elections. He thus contributed vitally to the democratic construction of the first German republic.