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

Conclusions

THIS STUDY has been concerned with the crisis of the German socialist movement which commenced during World War I and came to a climax in January of 1919 in Berlin with the bloody fighting between the Majority Socialists -- supported by regular army units and by the notorious Free Corps -- and the left wing radicals. Interpretations dealing with the Spartacist Uprising usually contain one of the following two assertions: (1) The uprising was a deliberately planned and organized attempt by the German Communists and their allied revolutionary organizations to overthrow the provisional Majority Socialist government and to create a Soviet-type proletarian dictatorship. (2) The insurrection was a defensive action of the Berlin proletariat which was deliberately provoked by the government into open rebellion in order to furnish the government forces with a pretext to crush the revolutionary workers and their organizations prior to the elections for the national assembly on January 19, 1919.

The first of these interpretations is found in the writings of Social Democratic authors like Bernstein, Hermann Mueller, and Noske, and in. the accounts of exponents of the political right such as Volkmann, Oertzen, and Runkel. The second interpretation is that of the left wing radicals, for example, Richard Mueller, Barth, and Eichhorn, and, of course, of the Communists. An interesting position is maintained by former KPD members who were in the Party during its early period. Representatives of this group, such as Ruth Fischer and Paul Froelich (who are undoubtedly most sincere in their opposition to contemporary Moscow-directed parties), go out of their way to report events which

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