Bremen Soviet Republic
The Bremen Soviet Republic was an unrecognised, short-lived state, existing for 25 days in 1919. It consisted of the state of Germany; the republic was established amid the German Revolution. After the abdication of the Kaiser on the 9 November 1918, Germany fell into a state of instability; the Social Democratic Party of Germany -led government and the Spartacus League both announced the launch of a German Republic. This led to civil war and the German Revolution of 1918-19 with the two opposing sides fighting for power. Before the creation of the Soviet state, radical labour movements enjoyed significant support in Bremen with the SPD electorally dominating the city; as a result, with the outbreak of the civil war, Bremen was sympathetic to the left-leaning Spartacus League. The revolt in Bremen began just before the abdication of the Kaiser with a workers' council being established and elected; this council sat in Bremen City Hall and managed the affairs of the small state independent of the newly established, SPD-led, Weimar Republic in Berlin.
On 10 January, the worker's council declared the republic setting up the Soviet of People's Representatives within the city. Teachers, most notably Johann Knief, made up the bulk of the leadership professing support for many Leninist theories; the Soviet of People's Representatives replaced the worker's council and was housed within the city hall. After its formation, the council passed much reformist legislation including the requirement to equal pay; the long term aim, though never realised, was to nationalise the economy of Bremen by establishing a dictatorship of the proletariat. By early 1919, the Weimar Republic held a strong enough position in the civil war to challenge the state; as a result, Friedrich Ebert sent the Freikorps into Bremen to topple the republic. Unlike the Bavarian Soviet Republic the suppression of the worker's council in Bremen cost the lives of over 80 individuals; the Bremen Soviets fell due to the geographical nature of the state. The city of Bremen fell on 4 February with Bremerhaven holding out until it was defeated on 8/9 February.
The Soviet of People's Representatives held the role of legislature and totaled nine representatives Johann Knief, a member of the independent SPD group, held significant influence within the republic holding the role of People's Commissar. It was formed from the worker's council established in November 1918 with a similar membership makeup. Aftermath of World War I Eugen Leviné History of Bavaria Rat Bavarian Soviet Republic Alsace Soviet Republic Group Workers' Policy: The Bremen Left Radicals. From the history of the Bremen workers' movement until 1920; the Bremerhaven Republic from a syndicalist perspective
The Kapp Putsch known as the Kapp–Lüttwitz Putsch after its leaders Wolfgang Kapp and Walther von Lüttwitz, was an attempted coup on 13 March 1920 which aimed to undo the German Revolution of 1918–1919, overthrow the Weimar Republic and establish an autocratic government in its place. It was supported by parts of nationalist and monarchist factions; the coup took place in the capital and the legitimate German government was forced to flee the city. The coup failed after a few days, when large sections of the German population followed a call by the government to join a general strike. Most civil servants refused to cooperate with his allies. Despite its failure, the putsch had significant consequences for the future of the Weimar Republic, it was one of the causes of the Ruhr uprising of March 1920, which the government suppressed by military force, whilst dealing leniently with those behind the putsch. These events polarized the electorate, resulting in a shift in the majority after the June Reichstag elections.
After Germany had lost World War I, the German Revolution of 1918–1919 ended the monarchy and the German Empire was abolished and a democratic system, the Weimar Republic, was established in 1919 by the Weimar National Assembly. Right-wing nationalist and militarist circles opposed the new republic and promoted the stab-in-the-back myth, claiming that the war had only been lost because the brave efforts of the undefeated German military had been undermined by civilians at home. In 1919–20, the government of Germany was formed by the Weimar Coalition, consisting of the Social Democratic Party, German Democratic Party and Zentrum. President Friedrich Ebert, Chancellor Gustav Bauer and Defence Minister Gustav Noske were all members of the SPD. According to the constitution, the president was the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, represented in peace time by the Minister of Defence; the most senior officer of the land forces was called Chef der Heeresleitung, a post held in early 1920 by General Walther Reinhardt.
Gustav Bauer was obliged to sign the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 though he disagreed with it. The treaty had been dictated by the victorious Allies of World War I. In early 1919, the strength of the Reichswehr, the regular German army, was estimated at 350,000, with more than 250,000 men enlisted in the various Freikorps, volunteer paramilitary units consisting of returning soldiers from the war; the German government had used Freikorp troops to put down Communist uprisings after the war. Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which came into effect on 10 January 1920, Germany was required to reduce its land forces to a maximum of 100,000 men; the initial deadline was set for 31 March 1920. Freikorps units were expected to be disbanded. Since the reason for their creation—internal repression—had become obsolete with the crushing of the leftist uprisings, they were becoming a threat to the government; some senior military commanders had started discussing the possibility of a coup as early as July 1919.
Although the putsch has been named after Wolfgang Kapp, a 62-year-old nationalist East Prussian civil servant, planning a coup against the republic for a while, it was instigated by the military. On 29 February 1920, the Defence Minister Noske ordered the disbandment of two of the most powerful Freikorps, the Marinebrigade Loewenfeld and Marinebrigade Ehrhardt; the latter numbered from 5,000–6,000 men and had been stationed at the Truppenübungsplatz Döberitz, near Berlin, since January 1920. An elite force, it had been created from former Imperial Navy officers and NCOs, boosted by Baltikumer. During the civil war in 1919, the brigade had seen action in Berlin, it was opposed to the democratic government of Friedrich Ebert. Its commander, Korvettenkapitän Hermann Ehrhardt, declared that the unit would refuse its dissolution. On 1 March, it staged a parade without inviting Noske. General Walther von Lüttwitz, in command of all the regular troops in and around Berlin, the highest ranking general in the army at the time and in command of many Freikorps, said at the parade that he would "not accept" the loss of such an important unit.
Several of Lüttwitz' officers were horrified at this open rejection of the government's authority and tried to mediate, by setting up a meeting between Lüttwitz and the leaders of the two major right-wing parties. Lüttwitz was not dissuaded from his course of action. Noske removed the Marinebrigade from Lüttwitz' command and assigned it to the leadership of the Navy, hoping that they would disband the unit. Lüttwitz agreed to a meeting with President Ebert, suggested by his staff. In the evening of 10 March, Lüttwitz came with his staff to Ebert's office. Ebert had asked Noske to attend. Lüttwitz, drawing on demands by the right-wing parties and adding his own, now demanded the immediate dissolution of the National Assembly, new elections for the Reichstag, the appointment of technocrats as Secretaries for Foreign Affairs, Economic Affairs and Finance, the dismissal of General Reinhardt, appointment of himself as supreme commander of the regular army and the revocation of the orders of dissolution for the Marinebrigaden.
Ebert and Noske rejected these demands and Noske told Lüttwitz that he expected his resignation the next day. Lüttwitz went
The Oberste Heeresleitung was the highest echelon of command of the army of the German Empire. In the latter part of World War I, the Third OHL assumed dictatorial powers and became the de facto political authority in the empire. After the formation of the German Empire in 1871, the Prussian Army, Royal Saxon Army, Army of Württemberg and the Bavarian Army were autonomous in peacetime, each kingdom maintaining a separate war ministry and general staff to administer their forces. On the outbreak of war, the Constitution of the German Empire made the Emperor Commander-in-Chief of the combined armies; the Emperor's role as Commander-in-Chief was ceremonial and authority lay with the Chief of the General Staff, who issued orders in the Emperor's name. The pre-war Chief of the General Staff was Colonel General Helmuth von Moltke and the Oberste Heeresleitung was the command staff led by Moltke as Chief of the General Staff of the Army; the General Staff was formed into five divisions and two more were created during the war: Central Division - Administered the General Staff's internal affairs.
Operations Division - The heart of the General Staff, responsible for planning and orders Operations Division B - Oversaw the Macedonia and Turkish fronts. Split from the Operations Division on 15 August 1916. Operations Division II - Previously the heavy artillery section of the Operations Division, merged with the Field Munitions Service on 23 September 1916. Responsible for the war economy. Information Division - Responsible for the analysis of military intelligence. Renamed the Foreign Armies Division on 20 May 1917. Section IIIb - Responsible for espionage and counter espionage. Political Division - responsible for legal questions and liaison with the political authorities. In addition to the General Staff of the Field Army, the Supreme Army Command consisted of the Emperor's Military Cabinet, the Intendant General, senior advisers in various specialist fields and representatives from the four German War Ministries and representatives of the other Central Powers; the Emperor was Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial German Navy, led by the German Imperial Admiralty Staff and from August 1918 by the Seekriegsleitung.
Co-ordination was poor at the beginning of the war between OHL and SKL, the navy did not know about the Schlieffen Plan, an initial attack on France through Belgium. Upon mobilizing in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I, the Großer Generalstab formed the core of the Supreme Army Command, becoming the General Staff of the Field Army. Colonel General Helmuth von Moltke, Chief of the General Staff since 1906, continued in office, as did most of the Division heads; as a result of these longstanding working relationships, Moltke delegated substantial authority to his subordinates to the chiefs of the Operations Division, Colonel Gerhard Tappen, the Information Division, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hentsch. These officers were dispatched to subordinate headquarters to investigate and make decision on behalf of OHL. Although the German armies were victorious in the Battle of the Frontiers their advance was brought to a halt at First Battle of the Marne. Communications between OHL and the front line broke down and Hentsch was dispatched by Moltke to the Headquarters of the First and Second Armies to assess the situation.
After discovering the Armies were separated from each other by a gap of twenty-five miles and in danger of being encircled, Hentsch ordered a retreat to the Aisne. On hearing the news from the front, Moltke suffered a nervous breakdown on 9 September. Moltke was replaced by the Prussian Minister of War, Lieutenant General Erich von Falkenhayn, first informally in September and officially on 25 October 1914. Although Tappen was retained as head of the Operations Division, Falkenhayn brought in two of his own associates, Generals Adolf Wild von Hohenborn and Hugo von Freytag-Loringhoven, into the OHL. Hohenborn served as Generalquartiermeister until January 1915 when he succeeded Falkenhayn as Prussian Minister of War. Freytag-Loringhoven replaced Hohenborn as Generalquartiermeister. Unlike his predecessor, Falkenhayn centralised decision making in his own hands and explained himself to his subordinates. After taking command Falkenhayn became engaged in the Race to the Sea as the German and Franco-British armies attempted to outflank each other to the north.
The campaign culminated at Ypres where both combatants launched major offensives that failed to achieve a breakthrough. Two strategic issues dominated the remainder Falkenhayn's tenure as Chief of the General Staff. First was the priority accorded to the western fronts. Victories at the Battle of Tannenberg and First Battle of the Masurian Lakes had made Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg a popular hero and contrasted starkly with the stalemate in the west. Hindenburg and his supporters sought to shift Germany's main effort to the eastern front in hopes of knocking Russia out of the war. Falkenhayn resisted this, believing that France and Great Britain were the true opponents and that a decisive victory against the Russians was impossible; the second concern was the Battle of the centrepeice of Falkenhayn's western strategy. Writing after the war, Falkenhayn stated that his intention was to draw the French
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
The Spartacus League was a Marxist revolutionary movement organized in Germany during World War I. The League was named after leader of the largest slave rebellion of the Roman Republic, it was founded by Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, others. The League subsequently renamed itself the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, joining the Comintern in 1919, its period of greatest activity was during the German Revolution of 1918, when it sought to incite a revolution by circulating the newspaper Spartacus Letters. Liebknecht and Luxemburg became prominent members of the left-wing faction of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, they moved to found an independent organization after the SPD supported Imperial Germany's declaration of war on the Russian Empire in 1914 at the start of World War I. Besides their opposition to what they saw as an imperialist war and Liebknecht maintained the need for revolutionary methods, in contrast to the leadership of the SPD, who participated in the parliamentary process.
The two were imprisoned from 1916 until 1918 for their roles in helping to organize a public demonstration in Berlin against German involvement in the war. After two years of war, opposition to the official party line grew inside the SPD. More and more members of parliament refused to vote for war bonds and were expelled, which led to the formation of the Independent Social Democratic Party; the Spartacus League was part of the USPD in its formation period. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Spartacus League began agitating for a similar course: a government based on local workers' councils, in Germany. After the abdication of the Kaiser in the German Revolution of November 1918, a period of instability began, which lasted until 1923. On 9 November 1918, from a balcony of the Kaiser's Berliner Stadtschloss, Liebknecht declared Germany a "Free Socialist Republic". However, earlier on the same night, Philipp Scheidemann of the SPD had declared a republic from the Reichstag. In December 1918, the Spartakusbund formally renamed itself the Communist Party of Germany.
In January 1919, the KPD, along with the Independent Socialists, launched the Spartacist uprising. This included staging massive street demonstrations intended to destabilize the Weimar government, led by the centrists of the SPD under Chancellor Friedrich Ebert; the government accused the opposition of planning a general strike and communist revolution in Berlin. With the aid of the Freikorps, Ebert's administration crushed the uprising. Luxemburg and Liebknecht were killed in custody. An excerpt from the Spartacist Manifesto: The question today is not dictatorship; the question that history has put on the agenda reads: bourgeois democracy or socialist democracy. For the dictatorship of the proletariat does not mean bombs, putsches and anarchy, as the agents of capitalist profits deliberately and falsely claim. Rather, it means using all instruments of political power to achieve socialism, to expropriate the capitalist class, through and in accordance with the will of the revolutionary majority of the proletariat.
Ottokar Luban, The Role of the Spartacist Group after 9 November 1918 and the Formation of the KPD, in: Ralf Hoffrogge and Norman LaPorte, Weimar Communism as Mass Movement 1918-1933, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2017, pp. 45–65. Bill Pelz, The Spartakusbund and the German working class movement, 1914-1919, Lewiston: E. Mellen Press, 1988. Eric D. Weitz, "'Rosa Luxemburg Belongs to Us!'" German Communism and the Luxemburg Legacy, Central European History, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 27–64 Eric D. Weitz, Creating German Communism, 1890-1990: From Popular Protests to Socialist State. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997 David Priestand, Red Flag: A History of Communism," New York: Grove Press, 2009 On the Spartacus Programme by Rosa Luxemburg
The Neptune Fountain in Berlin was built in 1891 and was designed by Reinhold Begas. The Roman god Neptune is in the center; the four women around him represent the four main rivers of Prussia at the time the fountain was constructed: the Elbe, Rhine and Oder. The Vistula is now in Poland, while the Oder forms the border between Germany and Poland; the fountain was removed from its original location at the Schlossplatz in 1951, when the former Berliner Stadtschloss there was demolished. After being restored, the fountain was moved in 1969 to its present location between the St Mary's Church and the Rotes Rathaus; the diameter is 18 m, the height is 10 m. There was another well-known Neptunbrunnen in Breslau, but it was destroyed during World War II and the city was transferred to Poland. In 2013 a member of the Berlin Police Force shot an armed man before the fountain; the 31-year-old man was nude, holding a knife, was believed to be mentally disturbed. List of public art in Berlin
Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany 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 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 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 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 socialist and communist uprisings as well as those from the right, including the Kapp Putsch. This has made him a controversial historical figure. Ebert was born in Heidelberg, German Empire on 4 February 1871 as the seventh of nine children of the tailor Karl Ebert and his wife Katharina. Three of his siblings died at a young age. Although he wanted to attend university, this proved impossible due to the lack of funds of his family. Instead, he trained as a saddle-maker from 1885 to 1888. After he became a journeyman in 1889 he travelled, according to the German custom, from place to place in Germany, seeing the country and learning fresh details of his trade. In Mannheim, he was introduced by an uncle to the Social Democratic Party, joining it in 1889. Although Ebert studied the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, he was less interested in ideology than in practical and organisational issues that would improve the lot of the workers and there.
Ebert was on the "black list" of the police due to his political activities, so he kept changing his place of residence. Between 1889 and 1891 he lived in Kassel, Elberfeld-Barmen, Quakenbrück and Bremen, where he founded and chaired local chapters of the Sattlerverband. After settling in Bremen in 1891, Ebert made a living doing odd jobs. In 1893, he obtained an editorial post on the socialist Bremer Bürgerzeitung. In May 1894, he married Louise Rump, daughter of a manual labourer, employed as a housemaid and in labelling boxes and, active in union work, he became a pub owner that became a centre of socialist and union activity and was elected party chairman of the Bremen SPD. In 1900, Ebert was appointed a trade-union secretary and elected a member of the Bremer Bürgerschaft as representative of the Social Democratic Party. In 1904, Ebert presided over the national convention of the party in Bremen and became better known to a wider public, he became a leader of the "moderate" wing of the Social Democratic Party and in 1905 Secretary-General of the SPD, at which point he moved to Berlin.
At the time, he was the youngest member of the Parteivorstand. Meanwhile, Ebert had run for a Reichstag seat several times in constituencies where the SPD had no chance of winning: 1898 Vechta, 1903 and 1906 Stade. However, in 1912, he was elected to the Reichstag for the constituency of Elberfeld-Barmen; this was the election that made the SPD the strongest party in the Reichstag with 110 out of a total of 397 members, surpassing the Centre Party. On the death of August Bebel on 13 August 1913, Ebert was elected as joint party chairman at the convention in Jena on 20 September with 433 out of 473 votes, his co-chairman was Hugo Haase. When the July Crisis of 1914 erupted, Ebert was on vacation. After war was declared in early August, Ebert travelled to Zürich with party treasurer Otto Braun and the SPD's money to be in a position to build up a foreign organisation if the SPD should be outlawed in the German Empire, he returned on 6 August and led the SPD Reichstag members to vote unanimously in favour of war loans, accepting that the war was a necessary patriotic, defensive measure against the autocratic regime of the Tsar in Russia.
In January 1916, Haase resigned. Under the leadership of Ebert and other "moderates" such as Philipp Scheidemann, the SPD party participated in the Burgfrieden, an agreement among the political parties in the Reichstag to suppress domestic policy differences for the duration of the war in order to concentrate the energies of the country on bringing the conflict to a successful conclusion for Germany; this positioned the party in favour of the war with the aim of a compromise peace, a stance that led to a split in the SPD, with those radically opposed to the war leaving the SPD in early 1917 to form the USPD. Similar policy disputes caused Ebert to end his parliamentary alliance with several left-wing members of the Reichstag and start to work with the Centre Party and the Progress Party in 1916; those kicked out by Ebert called themselves "Spartacists". Beginning in 1916, Ebert shared the leadership of his Reichstag delegates with Scheidemann. Although he opposed a policy of territorial gains secured through m