Ernst Meyer (German politician)
Ernst Meyer was a German Communist political activist and politician. He is best remembered as a founding member and top leader of the Communist Party of Germany and as the leader of that party's fraction in the Prussian Landtag. A political opponent of Ernst Thälmann, Meyer was moved out of the top party leadership after 1928, not long before his death of tuberculosis-related pneumonia at the age of 43. Ernst Meyer was born in 1887 in East Prussia. Meyer studied economics and philosophy at the University of Königsberg, from which he received a PhD in 1910. Meyer joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1908, while he was still a student in college, beginning to write immediately for Vorwärts, the SPD's official daily newspaper. In 1911 Meyer was promoted to the position of the economics editor of'Vorwärts. At the time of World War I, Meyer took his place on the extreme left of the SPD, along with Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Franz Mehring, Clara Zetkin, he was a close political friend of Leo Jogiches and participated in the issuance of the letters and leaflets of the Spartakusbund.
Meyer remained the only Spartakan on the editorial board of Vorwarts and he attempted to resist efforts by the majority of the editorial board to support German efforts in the war. This discordant position made Meyer a target of the SDP's right wing and on April 15, 1915, he was removed from his position on the paper's editorial board. Meyer was the delegate of the Spartacus League to the Zimmerwald Conference in 1915, one of five Germans from three political groups to participate. Meyer and his Spartacist comrade, Bertha Thälheimer, did not lend their support to the resolution of the Zimmerwald Left at that gathering demanding an immediate break of revolutionary socialists from the reformist wing of the Social Democratic movement. Meyer served as a delegate to the Zimmerwald movement's second conference, held at Kienthal the following year. Following the trial of Karl Liebknecht for his anti-war activities, Meyer went into hiding together with his comrades Luxemburg and Mehring. At the end of 1918 the Spartacus League became the Communist Party of Germany.
Meyer was elected as one of the twelve members of the Zentrale of the new organization. During the German Revolution of 1918–1919, Meyer emerged to serve on the editorial board of Die Rote Fahne, the official organ of the Communist Party, he was a founding member of the Communist Party of Germany in December 1918 and was elected by the founding congress to the governing Central Committee of the new organization. In 1920 Meyer was made a member of the party's Political Bureau; the summer of that same year he attended the 2nd World Congress of the Communist International in Moscow as a representative of the KPD. Meyer reported on the agrarian question to the 2nd Congress, which elected him to the Executive Committee of the Communist International and its Presidium. In 1921, Meyer was elected as a Communist to the Prussian Landtag. At the August 1921 congress of the KPD, Meyer delivered the keynote speech, the political report of the Zentrale, emphasizing his place as a top leader of the organization.
Meyer returned to Moscow in 1922 as a member of the German delegation to the 4th World Congress of the Comintern. After his return, Mayer became one of the main architects of the "united front" tactics in Germany; the tactics was a reflection on the failed March 1921 uprising, inspired by the "offensive tactics". Instead of minority uprisings, the KPD now sought to build a mass base. Meyer again delivered the key political report to the KPD's January 1923 party congress, but this time he was not re-elected to the Central Committee, he remained an important member of the German Communist Party, returning to the top echelon after a further factional shift in 1925. In the spring of 1926 Meyer attended the 6th Enlarged Plenum of the Comintern, although he faced personal criticism in that body's discussion of the German question, he returned in November to participate in the 7th Enlarged Plenum of the CI. Meyer was re-elected to the Central Committee and its Politburo by the 1927 congress of the KPD.
He was one of the leaders of the Versöhnler faction and a political opponent of Ernst Thälmann, whose ascendency to top leadership of the KPD in 1928 spelled the end of Meyer's political career. Meyer addressed the KPD's 12th Congress in June 1929. In the winter of 1929-30 Meyer, who had long suffered from tuberculosis, contracted a case of pneumonia, he died on February 1930, at the age of 43 in Potsdam. At the time of his death Meyer's comrade Paul Frölich remembered Meyer as a "very cool and deliberate thinker", valued for these characteristics during debates over party policies and tactics. Florian Wilde: Building a Mass Party: Ernst Meyer and the United Front Policy 1921-1922, in: Ralf Hoffrogge / Norman LaPorte: Weimar Communism as Mass Movement 1918-1933, London: Lawrence & Wishart, pp. 66-86. Pierre Broué, The German Revolution, 1917-1923. John Archer, trans. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2006. "The Decline and Decomposition of a Leadership: The German Communist Party: From Revolutionary Marxism to Centrism," Revolutionary History, Vol. 2 No. 3.
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Franz Kafka was a German-speaking Bohemian Jewish novelist and short-story writer regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work, which fuses elements of realism and the fantastic features isolated protagonists facing bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible socio-bureaucratic powers, has been interpreted as exploring themes of alienation, existential anxiety and absurdity, his best known works include "Die Verwandlung", Der Process, Das Schloss. The term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe situations like those found in his writing. Kafka was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today the capital of the Czech Republic, he trained as a lawyer, after completing his legal education, was employed full-time by an insurance company, forcing him to relegate writing to his spare time. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote hundreds of letters to family and close friends, including his father, with whom he had a strained and formal relationship.
He became engaged to several women but never married. He died in 1924 at the age of 40 from tuberculosis. Few of Kafka's works were published during his lifetime: the story collections Betrachtung and Ein Landarzt, individual stories were published in literary magazines but received little public attention. In his will, Kafka instructed his executor and friend Max Brod to destroy his unfinished works, including his novels Der Process, Das Schloss and Der Verschollene, but Brod ignored these instructions, his work has influenced a vast range of writers, critics and philosophers during the 20th and 21st centuries. Kafka was born near the Old Town Square in Prague part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, his family were German-speaking middle-class Ashkenazi Jews. His father, Hermann Kafka, was the fourth child of Jakob Kafka, a shochet or ritual slaughterer in Osek, a Czech village with a large Jewish population located near Strakonice in southern Bohemia. Hermann brought the Kafka family to Prague.
After working as a travelling sales representative, he became a fashion retailer who employed up to 15 people and used the image of a jackdaw as his business logo. Kafka's mother, was the daughter of Jakob Löwy, a prosperous retail merchant in Poděbrady, was better educated than her husband. Kafka's parents spoke a German influenced by Yiddish, sometimes pejoratively called Mauscheldeutsch, but, as the German language was considered the vehicle of social mobility, they encouraged their children to speak Standard German. Hermann and Julie had six children. Franz's two brothers and Heinrich, died in infancy before Franz was seven. All three died during the Holocaust of World War II. Valli was deported to the Łódź Ghetto in occupied Poland in 1942, but, the last documentation of her. Ottilie was Kafka's favourite sister. Hermann is described by the biographer Stanley Corngold as a "huge, overbearing businessman" and by Franz Kafka as "a true Kafka in strength, appetite, loudness of voice, self-satisfaction, worldly dominance, presence of mind, knowledge of human nature".
On business days, both parents were absent from the home, with Julie Kafka working as many as 12 hours each day helping to manage the family business. Kafka's childhood was somewhat lonely, the children were reared by a series of governesses and servants. Kafka's troubled relationship with his father is evident in his Brief an den Vater of more than 100 pages, in which he complains of being profoundly affected by his father's authoritarian and demanding character; the dominating figure of Kafka's father had a significant influence on Kafka's writing. The Kafka family had a servant girl living with them in a cramped apartment. Franz's room was cold. In November 1913 the family moved into a bigger apartment, although Ellie and Valli had married and moved out of the first apartment. In early August 1914, just after World War I began, the sisters did not know where their husbands were in the military and moved back in with the family in this larger apartment. Both Ellie and Valli had children. Franz at age 31 moved into Valli's former apartment, quiet by contrast, lived by himself for the first time.
From 1889 to 1893, Kafka attended the Deutsche Knabenschule German boys' elementary school at the Masný trh/Fleischmarkt, now known as Masná Street. His Jewish education ended with his Bar Mitzvah celebration at the age of 13. Kafka never enjoyed attending the synagogue and went with his father only on four high holidays a year. After leaving elementary school in 1893, Kafka was admitted to the rigorous classics-oriented state gymnasium, Altstädter Deutsches Gymnasium, an academic secondary school at Old Town Square, within the Kinský Palace. German was the language of instruction, but Kafka spoke and wrote in Czech, he studied the latter at the gymnasium for eight years. Although Kafka received compliments for his Czech, he never considered himself fluent in Czech, though he spoke German with a Czech accent, he completed his Matura exams in 1901. Admitted to the Deutsche Karl-Ferdinands-Universität of Pra
Karl Paul August Friedrich Liebknecht was a German socialist in the Social Democratic Party of Germany and a co-founder with Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany which split way from the SPD. He is best known for his opposition to World War I in the Reichstag and his role in the Spartacist uprising of 1919; the uprising was crushed by the Freikorps. Liebknecht and Luxemburg were executed. After their deaths and Luxemburg became martyrs for socialists. According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, commemoration of Liebknecht and Luxemburg continues to play an important role among the German left, including Die Linke. Liebknecht was born in Leipzig, Germany, the son of Wilhelm Martin Philipp Christian Ludwig Liebknecht and his second wife Natalie, who came from a family with a strong political background as her father Theodor was a member of the Frankfurt Parliament of 1848. Liebknecht's parents were second cousins as his maternal great-grandmother was the sister of one of his paternal great-grandfathers.
His father was a co-founder with August Bebel of the Marxist Social Democratic Party of Germany. Liebknecht became an exponent of Marxist ideas during his study of law and political economy in Leipzig and Humboldt University of Berlin. After serving with the Imperial Pioneer Guards in Potsdam from 1893 to 1894 and internships in Arnsberg and Paderborn from 1894 to 1898, he earned his doctorate at Würzburg in 1897 and moved to Berlin in 1899, where he opened a lawyer's office with his brother, Theodor. Liebknecht married Julia Paradies on 8 May 1900; the couple had two sons and a daughter before Julia died in 1911. As a lawyer, Liebknecht defended other left-wing socialists who were tried for offences such as smuggling socialist propaganda into Russia, a task in which he was involved, he became a member of the SPD in 1900 and was president of the Socialist Youth International from 1907 to 1910. Liebknecht wrote extensively against militarism. In his speech at the Bremen party conference in 1904, he insisted to his audience: "Militarism is our most deadly enemy and the best way of waging the struggle against it is to increase the number of social democrats among the soldiers".
One of his papers, Militarismus und Antimilitarismus led to his being arrested in 1907 and imprisoned for eighteen months in Glatz, Prussian Silesia. In the next year, he was elected to the Prussian parliament despite still being in prison. Liebknecht was an active member of the Second International and a founder of the Socialist Youth International. In 1912, Liebknecht was elected to the Reichstag as a Social-Democrat, a member of the SPD's left-wing, he opposed Germany's participation in World War I, but in order not to infringe the party's unity he abstained from the vote on war loans on 4 August 1914. On 2 December 1914, he was the only member of the Reichstag to vote against further loans, the supporters of which included 110 of his own party members, he continued to be a major critic of the Social-Democratic leadership under Karl Kautsky and its decision to acquiesce in going to war. In October that year, he married art historian Sophie Ryss. At the end of 1914, together with Rosa Luxemburg, Leo Jogiches, Paul Levi, Ernest Meyer, Franz Mehring and Clara Zetkin, formed the so-called Spartacus League.
The Spatacus League publicized its views in a newspaper titled Spartakusbriefe, soon declared illegal. Liebknecht was arrested and sent to the eastern front during World War I despite his immunity as a member of parliament. Refusing to fight, he served burying the dead and due to his deteriorating health was allowed to return to Germany in October 1915. Liebknecht was arrested again following a demonstration against the war in Berlin on 1 May 1916, organized by the Spartacus League and sentenced to two and a half years in jail for high treason, increased to four years and one month. Liebknecht was released again in October 1918, when Prince Maximilian of Baden granted an amnesty to all political prisoners. Upon his return to Berlin on 23 October, he was escorted to the Soviet embassy by a crowd of workers. Following the outbreak of the German Revolution, Liebknecht carried on his activities in the Spartacist League, he resumed leadership of the group together with Luxemburg and published its party organ, Die Rote Fahne.
On 9 November, Liebknecht declared the formation of a Freie Sozialistische Republik from a balcony of the Berliner Stadtschloss, two hours after Philipp Scheidemann's declaration of a German Republic from a balcony of the Reichstag. On 31 December 1918 and 1 January 1919, Liebknecht was involved in the founding of the Communist Party of Germany. Together with Luxemburg and Zetkin, Liebknecht was instrumental in the January 1919 Spartacist uprising in Berlin, he and Luxemburg opposed the revolt, but they joined it after it had begun. The uprising was brutally opposed by the new German government under Friedrich Ebert with the help of the remnants of the Imperial German Army and militias called the Freikorps. By 13 January, the uprising had been extinguished. Liebknecht and Luxemburg were captured by Freikorps troops on 15 January 1919 and brought to the Eden Hotel in Berlin, where they were tortured and interrogated for several hours. Following this, Luxemburg was beaten with rifle butts and afterwards shot and her corpse thrown into the Landwehr Canal while Liebknecht was forced to step out of the car in which he wa
Erich Fritz Emil Mielke was a German communist official and served as head of the East German Ministry for State Security, better known as the Stasi, from 1957 until shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. A native of Berlin and a second-generation member of the Communist Party of Germany, Mielke was one of two triggermen in the 1931 murders of Berlin Police Captains Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck. After learning that a witness had survived, Mielke escaped prosecution by fleeing to the Soviet Union, where he was recruited into the NKVD, he was one of the perpetrators of the Great Purge as well as the Stalinist decimation of the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. Following the end of World War II, Mielke returned to the Soviet Zone of Occupied Germany, which he helped organize into a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship under the Socialist Unity Party becoming head of the Stasi; the Stasi under Mielke has been called the "most pervasive police state apparatus to exist on German soil."
In a 1993 interview, Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal has said that, if one considers only the oppression of their own people, the Stasi under Mielke "was much, much worse than the Gestapo."During the 1950s and'60s, Mielke masterminded the forced collectivization of East Germany's family-owned farms, which sent a flood of refugees to West Germany. In response, Mielke oversaw the construction of the Berlin Wall and co-signed orders to shoot all East Germans who were attempting to defect, he oversaw the creation of pro-Soviet secret police and insurgencies in Western Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. In addition to his role as head of the Stasi, Mielke was a General in the National People's Army, member of the SED's ruling Politburo. Dubbed "The Master of Fear" by the West German press, Mielke was one of the most powerful and most hated men in East Germany. After German reunification, Mielke was prosecuted and incarcerated for the 1931 murders of Captains Anlauf and Lenck.
He was released early due to ill health, died in a Berlin nursing home in 2000. Erich Mielke was born in a tenement in Berlin-Wedding, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire, on 28 December 1907. During the First World War, the neighborhood was known as "Red Wedding" due to many residents' Marxist militancy. In a handwritten biography written for the Soviet secret police, Mielke described his father as "a poor, uneducated woodworker," and said that his mother died in 1911. Both were, members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. After his remarriage to "a seamstress," the elder Mielke and his new wife joined the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany and remained members when it was renamed the Communist Party of Germany, his son Erich claimed "My younger brother Kurt and two sisters were Communist sympathisers."Despite his family's poverty, Erich Mielke was academically gifted enough to be awarded a free scholarship in the prestigious Köllnisches Gymnasium, but was expelled on 19 February 1929, for being "unable to meet the great demands of this school."
While attending the Gymnasium, Mielke joined the Communist Party of Germany in 1925, worked as a reporter for the communist newspaper Rote Fahne from 1928 to 1931. He joined the KPD's paramilitary wing, or Parteiselbstschutz. At the time, the Parteiselbstschutz was overseen by KPD Reichstag Representatives Hans Kippenberger and Heinz Neumann. According to John Koehler, "Mielke was a special protege of Kippenberger's having taken to his paramilitary training with the enthusiasm of a Prussian Junker. World War I veterans taught the novices how to handle pistols, machine guns, hand grenades; this clandestine training was conducted in the sparsely populated, pastoral countryside surrounding Berlin. Mielke pleased Kippenberger by being an exceptional student in classes on the arts of conspiratorial behavior and espionage, taught by comrades who had studied at the secret M-school of the GRU in Moscow."According to John Koehler, members of the Parteiselbstschutz "served as bouncers at Party meetings and specialized in cracking heads during street battles with political enemies."
Besides the Berlin Police, their arch-enemies were street-fighters affiliated with the Nazi Party, the Monarchist German National People's Party, "radical nationalist parties." The SPD, which dominated German politics from 1918–1931 and which the KPD accused of "Social fascism," was their most detested foe. According to Koehler, the KPD's Selbstschutz men "always carried a Stahlrute, two steel springs that telescoped into a tube seven inches long, which when extended became a deadly, fourteen-inch weapon. Not to be outdone by the Nazis, these street-fighters were armed with pistols as well."In a 1931 biography written for the Cadre Division of the Comintern, Mielke recalled, "We took care of all kinds of work. The last work, accomplished by a Comrade and myself, was the Bülowplatz Affair". On 2 August 1931, Neumann and Kippenberger received a dressing down from Walter Ulbricht, the KPD's leader in the Berlin-Brandenburg region. Enraged by police interference, Ulbricht snarled, "At home in Saxony we would have done something about the police a long time ago.
Here in Berlin we wi
Lilly Becher was a German writer and communist activist. Noted as one of the first anti-Nazi writers to produce documentary work dealing with the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany during the 1930s, Lilly Becher was the wife of noted writer Johannes Becher and achieved significant recognition in East Germany as a writer in her own right. Lilly Becher was born as Lilly Korpus in Nuremberg on January 27, 1901, studied in Munich and Heidelberg. Joining the Communist Party of Germany during the first political climaxes of the post-World War I turmoil in 1919, she began a long career as a political journalist in the 1920s, working for the KPD newspaper Die Rote Fahne in 1921 and organizing a women's section of the Communist Party in 1922-1923, she moved to Vienna in 1933, the year of Hitler's assumption of power in Germany, remaining for a year before moving to work for the Éditions du Carrefour publishing firm in Paris, where she helped publicize and document the plight of German Jews under her homeland's Nazi regime in Éditions du Carrefour's 1936 collection Der Gelbe Fleck, one of the first such documentary works on the subject.
The book's foreword was written by Lion Feuchtwanger. After meeting and marrying Johannes R. Becher, a revolutionary and fellow refugee from the Nazis in Paris, the two moved to the Soviet Union, living there until 1945. Both joined the National Committee for a Free Germany following the German invasion of the Soviet Union. With Germany's defeat in the Second World War, the Bechers returned to the Soviet occupation zone of the divided Allied-occupied Germany. Lilly Becher worked as head editor of the Neuen Berliner Illustrierten, a major East German weekly magazine, from 1945 until 1950. Johannes Becher composed the lyrics to the German Democratic Republic's national anthem, Auferstanden aus Ruinen, during the same period. Becher completed her husband's biography in 1963, five years after his death in 1958, she won high official recognition by the East German government in the 1960s and 1970s, among them the prestigious East German Banner of Labor for outstanding achievement in 1969. Becher died on September 20, 1978
The Weimar Republic is an unofficial historical designation for the German state from 1918 to 1933. The name derives from the city of Weimar; the official name of the republic remained Deutsches Reich unchanged from 1871, because of the German tradition of substates. Although translated as "German Empire", the word Reich here better translates as "realm", in that the term does not have monarchical connotations in itself; the Reich was changed from a constitutional monarchy into a republic. In English, the country was known as Germany. Germany became a de facto republic on 9 November 1918 when Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated the German and Prussian thrones with no agreement made on a succession by his son Crown Prince Wilhelm, became a de jure republic in February 1919 when the position of President of Germany was created. A national assembly was convened in Weimar, where a new constitution for Germany was written and adopted on 11 August 1919. In its fourteen years, the Weimar Republic faced numerous problems, including hyperinflation, political extremism as well as contentious relationships with the victors of the First World War.
Resentment in Germany towards the Treaty of Versailles was strong on the political right where there was great anger towards those who had signed the Treaty and submitted to fulfill the terms of it. The Weimar Republic fulfilled most of the requirements of the Treaty of Versailles although it never met its disarmament requirements and paid only a small portion of the war reparations. Under the Locarno Treaties, Germany accepted the western borders of the country by abandoning irredentist claims on France and Belgium, but continued to dispute the eastern borders and sought to persuade German-speaking Austria to join Germany as one of Germany's states. From 1930 onwards President Hindenburg used emergency powers to back Chancellors Heinrich Brüning, Franz von Papen and General Kurt von Schleicher; the Great Depression, exacerbated by Brüning's policy of deflation, led to a surge in unemployment. In 1933, Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor with the Nazi Party being part of a coalition government.
The Nazis held two out of the remaining ten cabinet seats. Von Papen as Vice Chancellor was intended to be the "éminence grise" who would keep Hitler under control, using his close personal connection to Hindenburg. Within months, the Reichstag Fire Decree and the Enabling Act of 1933 had brought about a state of emergency: it wiped out constitutional governance and civil liberties. Hitler's seizure of power was permissive of government by decree without legislative participation; these events brought the republic to an end – as democracy collapsed, the founding of a single-party state began the dictatorship of the Nazi era. The Weimar Republic is so called because the assembly that adopted its constitution met at Weimar, from 6 February 1919 to 11 August 1919, but this name only became mainstream after 1933. Between 1919 and 1933 there was no single name for the new state that gained widespread acceptance, why the old name Deutsches Reich remained though hardly anyone used it during the Weimar period.
To the right of the spectrum the politically engaged rejected the new democratic model and cringed to see the honour of the traditional word Reich associated with it. The Catholic Centre party, Zentrum favoured the term Deutscher Volksstaat while on the moderate left the Chancellor's SPD preferred Deutsche Republik. By 1925, Deutsche Republik was used by most Germans, but for the anti-democratic right the word Republik was, along with the relocation of the seat of power to Weimar, a painful reminder of a government structure, imposed by foreign statesmen, along with the expulsion of Kaiser Wilhelm in the wake of massive national humiliation; the first recorded mention of the term Republik von Weimar came during a speech delivered by Adolf Hitler at a National Socialist German Worker's Party rally in Munich on 24 February 1929—it was a few weeks that the term Weimarer Republik was first used in a newspaper article. Only during the 1930s did the term become mainstream, both within and outside Germany.
According to historian Richard J. Evans: The continued use of the term'German Empire', Deutsches Reich, by the Weimar Republic....conjured up an image among educated Germans that resonated far beyond the institutional structures Bismarck created: the successor to the Roman Empire. After the introduction of the republic, the flag and coat of arms of Germany were altered to reflect the political changes; the Weimar Republic without the symbols of the former Monarchy. This left the black eagle with one head, facing to the right, with open wings but closed feathers, with a red beak and claws and white highlighting. By reason of a decision of the Reich's Government I hereby announce, that the Imperial coat of arms on a gold-yellow shield shows the one headed black eagle, the head turned to the right, the wings open but with closed feathering, beak and claws in red color. If the Reich's Eagle is shown without a frame, the same charg
György Lukács was a Hungarian Marxist philosopher, literary historian, critic. He was one of the founders of Western Marxism, an interpretive tradition that departed from the Marxist ideological orthodoxy of the Soviet Union, he developed the theory of reification, contributed to Marxist theory with developments of Karl Marx's theory of class consciousness. He was a philosopher of Leninism, he ideologically developed and organised Lenin's pragmatic revolutionary practices into the formal philosophy of vanguard-party revolution. As a literary critic Lukács was influential, because of his theoretical developments of realism and of the novel as a literary genre. In 1919, he was appointed the Hungarian Minister of Culture of the government of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic. Lukács has been described as the preeminent Marxist intellectual of the Stalinist era, though assessing his legacy can be difficult as Lukács seemed both to support Stalinism as the embodiment of Marxist thought, yet to champion a return to pre-Stalinist Marxism.
Lukács was born Löwinger György Bernát in Budapest, Austria-Hungary to the investment banker József Löwinger and his wife Adele Wertheimer, who were a wealthy Jewish family. He had sister, his father was knighted by the empire and received a baronial title, making Lukács a baron as well through inheritance. As an Austro-Hungarian subject, the full names of Lukács were the German Baron Georg Bernhard Lukács von Szegedin and the Hungarian Szegedi Lukács György Bernát; as a writer, he published under the names Georg György Lukács. Lukács participated in intellectual circles in Budapest, Berlin and Heidelberg, he received his doctorate in economic and political sciences in 1906 from the Royal Hungarian University of Kolozsvár. In 1909, he completed his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Budapest under the direction of Zsolt Beöthy. Whilst at university in Budapest, Lukács was part of socialist intellectual circles through which he met Ervin Szabó, an anarcho-syndicalist who introduced him to the works of Georges Sorel, the French proponent of revolutionary syndicalism.
In that period, Lukács's intellectual perspectives were anti-positivist. From 1904 to 1908, he was part of a theatre troupe that produced modernist, psychologically realistic plays by Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Gerhart Hauptmann. Lukács spent much time in Germany, studied at the University of Berlin from 1906 to 1907, during which time he made the acquaintance of the philosopher Georg Simmel. In 1913 whilst in Heidelberg, he befriended Max Weber, Emil Lask, Ernst Bloch, Stefan George; the idealist system to which Lukács subscribed at this time was intellectually indebted to neo-Kantianism and to Plato, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Søren Kierkegaard, Wilhelm Dilthey, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. In that period, he published The Theory of the Novel. After the beginning of the First World War, Lukács was exempted from military service. In 1914, he married the Russian political activist Jelena Grabenko. In 1915, Lukács returned to Budapest, where he was the leader of the Sunday Circle, an intellectual salon.
Its concerns were the cultural themes that arose from the existential works of Dostoyevsky, which thematically aligned with Lukács's interests in his last years at Heidelberg. As a salon, the Sunday Circle sponsored cultural events whose participants included literary and musical avant-garde figures, such as Karl Mannheim, the composer Béla Bartók, Béla Balázs, Arnold Hauser, Zoltán Kodály and Karl Polanyi. In 1918, the last year of the First World War, the Sunday Circle became divided, they dissolved the salon because of their divergent politics. In light of the First World War and the Russian Revolution of 1917, Lukács rethought his ideas, he became a committed Marxist in this period and joined the fledgling Communist Party of Hungary in 1918. As part of the government of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic, Lukács was made People's Commissar for Education and Culture, it is said by József Nádass that Lukács was giving a lecture entitled "Old Culture and New Culture" to a packed hall when the republic was proclaimed, interrupted due to the revolution.
During the Hungarian Soviet Republic, Lukács was a theoretician of the Hungarian version of the red terror. In an article in the Népszava, 15 April 1919, he wrote that "The possession of the power of the state is a moment for the destruction of the oppressing classes. A moment, we have to use". Lukács became a commissar of the Fifth Division of the Hungarian Red Army, in which capacity he ordered the execution of eight of his own soldiers in Poroszlo, in May 1919, which he admitted in an interview. After the Hungarian Soviet Republic was defeated, Lukács was ordered by Kun to remain behind with Ottó Korvin, when the rest of the leadership evacuated. Lukács and Korvin's mission was to clandestinely reorganize the communist movement, but this proved to be impossible. Lukács went into hiding, with the help of photographer Olga Máté. After Korvin's capture in 1919, Lukács fled from Hungary to Vienna, he was arrested but was saved from extradition due to a group of writers including Thomas and Heinrich Mann.
Thomas Mann based the character Naphta on Lukác