Threats to the Weimar Republic

Threats to the Weimar Republic

Spartacist uprising 1919 Spartacist was really Just an early name for ‘Communists’. At the end of WWI when the Kaiser was overthrown and left Germany Nov. 1918, moderate socialists took over and formed a government. The Spartacist (led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht) wanted a violent Communist revolution and a wiping out of Capitalism but were rejected. In Dec. 1918 the Congress of workmen and soldiers councils rejected radical Communism and Luxemburg/ Liebnecht. In Jan. 1919 Luxemburg/ Liebnecht tried to take over and seize power by force, forcing Communism on Germany, much like the Bolsheviks had done to Russia Nov. 17, but their Spartacist Revolt in Berlin was crushed by the Socialist government and army troops, both of them were killed. In January 1919 a left wing uprising occurred in Berlin. Originating in a General Strike of some half a million workers, this demonstration soon turned into a short but bloody uprising that we now call the Spartacist Uprising. The trigger for the uprising was the dismissal of Berlin’s police chief, Emil Eichhorn, on 4th January 1919. Eichorn himself protested, claiming that only the soviet style committee of Berlin could oust him legitimately.

The following day, Shop stewards, the KPD Communist Party) and USPD met. They agreed to work together to oust the Ebert Government. They mobilised their supporters and quickly took control of communication centers and important locations within Berlin. The government briefly negotiated with the revolutionaries. However neither side were willing to make significant concessions in their demands. As the negotiations faltered, the protests became violent. Ebert moved his government to the safety of the town of Weimar and called in a combination of German soldiers and members of the Freikorps (A group mainly of former soldiers).

Fully armed and having received training and experience of fighting in the First World War, they were more than a match for the Spartacists. By January 8th 1919 several key locations had been recaptured including the Government Printing Office. The opposition began to fragment, with the KPD dismissing Karl Liebnecht and withdrawing its support for the uprising. On the 1 lth January 1919 the Freikorps surrounded the Police Headquarters, which was the stronghold of the left wing revolutionaries. It was captured on the 13th January, effectively ending the uprising. In the following days

Karl Liebnecht and Rosa Luxemburg, were arrested by the Freikorps. Liebnecht and Luxemburg were unceremoniously executed upon their capture. Spartacist Uprising was quite probably doomed to failure from the start. They lacked military training and equipment, were a coalition of groups with differing visions for the future of Germany and had no clear chain of command. Against the German army and the Freikorps there was probably little doubt of the outcome. However, the uprising in Berlin significantly increased anti-communist sentiment and fears of a Russian style revolution during the forthcoming elections.

Red rising in the Ruhr 1920 The “Red Rising” was a Communist attempt to take over the Ruhr region of Germany in 1920. stayed out on strike in the Ruhr Valley[? ], the richest industrial area ‘of Germany. The Communists formed a Red Army, but the German army was able to defeat them. The “Red Rising” gave the government reason to treat the Communists very brutally. Between 1919 and 1922 there were 356 political murders in Germany. Walter Rathenau, Germany’s Foreign Minister, was murdered as part of the escalating violence. ” Capp Putsch 1920 The Capp Putsch took place in Weimar Germany in March 1920.

Wolfgang Capp was a right-wing Journalist who opposed all that he believed Friedrich Ebert stood for especially after what he believed was the humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles. The Capp Putsch was a direct threat to Weimar’s new government. Capp was assisted by General Luttwitz who led a group of Freikorps men. On March 13th, 1920, Luttwitz seized Berlin and proclaimed that a new right of centre nationalist government was being established with Capp as chancellor. Ebert had no immediate response to this in the sense that he could not impose his will on the situation.

For the second time, e had to leave his capital – once again undermining his status and to some emphasising his weak position within Germany. The government reconvened in Dresden and the only card Ebert could play was to call for a general strike to paralyse the movement of those who supported Capp and Luttwitz. Capp received support from one of Germanys foremost military officers – General Erich Ludendorff. But the main officer corps of the German Army failed to follow Ludendorffs lead. It is possible that they felt some form of support for a president who had given them a free hand in dealing with the Communists/Spartacist in 1919.

Certainly, Ebert could not have been seen as being anti-military. However, the military did nothing to stop the putsch and give active support to Ebert. The general strike called for by Ebert ensured that those who supported Capp could not move around and such paralysis doomed the putsch to failure. Capp and Luttwitz fled Berlin on March 17th. The five days of the Capp Putsch are of importance as they showed that: The government could not enforce its authority even in its own capital the government could not put down a challenge to its authority only the mass power of a general strike could re-establish

Ebert’s authority. However, the success of this strike does indicate that the people of Berlin were willing to support Ebert’s government rather than a right-wing government lead by Capp. In this sense, it can be argued that Ebert had the support of Berliners. A counter-argument to this is that Ebert was irrelevant to the Berliners thinking – they simply wanted no more trouble in their capital after experiencing the Spartacist/Communist rebellion in 1919. Peace was more important than political beliefs.

Those who fought for Capp and Luttwitz were obvious future supporters of the fledgling Nazi Party. Ironically, the Erhardt Brigade, one of Luttwitz main fighting force, put a sign on their helmets to identify who they were: the swastika. Munich putsch 1923 In November 1923, Hitler tried to take advantage of the crisis facing the Weimar government by instigating a revolution in Munich. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, but poor planning and misjudgement resulted in failure and the Hitler plotted with Kahr and Lossow At first, the Nazis were Just a terrorist group.

Hitler assembled a large group of unemployed young men and former soldiers, known as the storm troopers (the SA), hich attacked other political groups. Hitler hoped to take power by starting a revolution. during the crisis of 1923, therefore, Hitler plotted with two nationalist politicians – Kahr and Lossow – to take over Munich in a revolution. Hitler is angered as Kahr and Lossow call off the rebellion, Hitler collected his storm troopers and told them to be ready to rebel. But then, on 4 October 1923, Kahr and Lossow called off the rebellion. This was an impossible situation for Hitler, who had 3,000 troops ready to fight.

Hitler waved a gun at Kahr and Lossow On the night of November 1923, Hitler and 600 storm troopers burst into a meeting that Kahr and Lossow were holding at the local Beer Hall. Waving a gun at them, Hitler forced them to agree to rebel – and then let them go home. The SA took over the army headquarters and the offices of the local newspaper. The next day, 9 November 1923, Hitler and his Nazis went into Munich on what they thought would be a triumphal march to take power. However, Kahr had called in police and army reinforcements. There was a short scuffle in which the police killed 16 Nazis. Hitler fled, but was arrested two days later.