At the end of WWI, the Bavarian population had enough of war. It was emaciated by the unbearable losses and deprivations of four long years of war. 200,000 Bavarian soldiers had lost their lives in the trenches. Countless soldiers were mutilated and disabled by war. At home, food had already become a scarce commodity during the course of 1915. The blockade of the Allies and the inability of the state authorities to organise the fair distribution of the available resources had made hunger an everyday experience, especially for the poorer classes of the urban population. As early as in October 1916, there had been riots, for example at the Marienplatz in Munich.
During the course of the war years, it had also become increasingly clear that the German Reich and the Kingdom of Bavaria did not fight the war only for the purpose of defence, as had been conjured up in August 1914. Rather, the peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk in January 1918 revealed the annexation plans of the Central Powers. In particular, large sections of the working classes were no longer willing to continue the War under these circumstances, especially since there were no democratic reforms. In Bavaria, for example, the exercise of the right to elect the State Parliament depended on the level of tax payment. Women were not eligible to vote.
At the end of January 1918, the first major politically motivated general strike since the outbreak of WWI took place as the result of a lack of political participation by large sections of the population. More than one million people took part in this event throughout the empire. By arresting the strike leaders, the authorities and police forces managed to curb the revolutionary potential one last time.
The Spartakusbund (Spartacus Association), which emerged on the left wing of the former SPD, was particularly committed to a revolutionary uprising. In August 1914, it had initially supported the policy of the party truce (Burgfrieden) and the warfare of the German Reich. From December 1915, however, part of the Social Democratic Reichstag faction refused to continue granting war loans and in April 1917 it founded its own Unabhängige Sozialdemokraten (Independent Social Democrats, USPD). This party campaigned for a rapid end to the war, if necessary through a revolution. The Mehrheitssozialdemokraten (Majority Social Democrat, MSPD), however, continued to focus on reforms and feared that the social democratic working class would be defeated if it started a revolution and that it would blamed for the lost war.