Socialist Labor and Politics in Weimar Germany: The General Federation of German Trade Unions

Socialist Labor and Politics in Weimar Germany: The General Federation of German Trade Unions

Socialist Labor and Politics in Weimar Germany: The General Federation of German Trade Unions

Socialist Labor and Politics in Weimar Germany: The General Federation of German Trade Unions

Excerpt

Labor movements in European countries have always been deeply involved in politics. This study concentrates on one country, Germany; one time segment, Weimar (1918-1933); and the politics of one major labor federation, the socialist General Federation of German Trade Unions. It is not designed to provide a complete overview of the German labor movement, which before 1933 was ideologically and politically fragmented primarily into socialist, Christian, and liberal unions. Rather it is designed to fill one lacuna in the literature on German trade unionism, by dealing specifically with the socialist or "free" labor unions' politics, organization, and linkage to the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Weimar governments. It focuses on these unions because they served as prototypes for other European socialist unions, their high membership and large-scale apparatus gave them significantly more power at the national level than the other German unions possessed, and their relationship to the SPD fit into a union-party pattern typical in a number of European countries.

The socialist unions then constituted one of the two largest labor movements in the world (the British Trades Union Congress was the other) and the largest organized secular group in Germany. They were composed of three central federations, not subsumed under one peak organization but encompassing the major social and occupational strata. These were:

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