Farm Labor in Germany, 1810-1945

Farm Labor in Germany, 1810-1945

Farm Labor in Germany, 1810-1945

Farm Labor in Germany, 1810-1945

Excerpt

For a brief period after the military collapse and the ensuing revolution in November 1918, Germany seemed to follow the Russian example. The Socialists suddenly found themselves in complete possession of state power, a goal aimed at in their program but which came to them as a great surprise. All over the country red flags were hoisted. The masses, banded together in workers' and soldiers' councils, challenged the Provisional government, the Council of People's Commissioners which had been set up by the two Socialist parties, the moderate Social Democrats and the more radical Independent Socialists. The slogan "all powers to the Councils" fascinated the rank and file, especially in the cities. The primary aim of the revolutionary councils was to place political power in the hands of workers in big industries, which would bring about economic revolution. Although wholly unprepared for their task, the Council of People's Commissioners backed by the bourgeoisie and the majority of the working class, succeeded in maintaining their authority in the turmoil of the revolution. Officially they confirmed the claim of the Berlin workers' and soldiers' councils who assumed authority for the Reich and declared themselves the supreme political authority. Actually, however, the Commissioners prevented the councils from exercising control until the first national congress of councils on December 16, 1918, confirmed the legislative and executive power of the People's Commissioners. The Provisional government, however, had suffered internal division. The Independent Socialists, especially their left wing, the Spartakists (named after the leader of the slaves who rebelled against Rome) wanted to postpone elections until full socialization had been achieved. The Social Democratic party (SPD) aimed at establishing as quickly as possible a democratic government representing the whole of the German people. When troops were called in to suppress insurrection, the Independent Socialists withdrew their three representatives from the government in December 1918. They were replaced by another three Social Democrats.

On January 19, 1919, the Constituent Assembly was elected. The small figure of only two million (out of more than thirty million) votes cast for the Independent Socialists who wanted to follow Soviet Russia showed that . . .

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