The Spartacist Uprising of 1919 and the Crisis of the German Socialist Movement: a Study of the Relation of Political Theory and Party Practice

By Eric Waldman | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
"The Spartacist Uprising" -- Civil War in Berlin

1. The Test of Strength

The hostile encounters between the Majority Socialists and the left opposition during December 1918 had deepened the cleavage within the German socialist movement. Mutual animosity had grown in intensity. The rival demonstrations on December 29, 1918, at the occasion of the funeral for the victims of the Christmas incident, had illustrated the great antagonism existing between the "government" socialists and their opposition on the left. The attitude of the SPD leadership toward the left wing radicals was expressed in a candid article in Vorwaerts:

The despicable actions of Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg soil the revolution and endanger all of its achievements. The masses must not sit by quietly for one minute longer while these brutal beasts and their followers paralyze the activities of the republican governmental offices, incite the people more and more to a civil war, and strangle with their dirty fists the right of free expression.

They want to demolish and destroy with lies, slander, and violence everything which dares oppose them. They pose with boundless insolence as the masters of Berlin, in spite of the fact that at least nine-tenths of the population hate and despise their actions from the bottom of their souls. . .1

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1
Extracts of this Vorwaerts article are quoted in Illustrierte Geschichte, p. 269. The accusation that the radical left "strangles free expression" is a reference to the occupation of the

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