The German Revolution, 1917-1923 (Historical Materialism Books (Haymarket Books))
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“Broué enables us to feel that we are actually living through these epoch-making events…. [D]o not miss this magnificent work.”—Robert Brenner, UCLA
A magisterial, definitive account of the upheavals in Germany in the wake of the Russian revolution. Broué meticulously reconstitutes six decisive years, 1917-23, of social struggles in Germany. The consequences of the defeat of the German revolution had profound consequences for the world.
Pierre Broué (1926-2005) was for many years Professor of Contemporary History at the Institut d’études politiques in Grenoble and was a world renowned specialist on the communist and international workers’ movements.
its members wished to build a genuine organisation. Liebknecht, Luxemburg, Mehring and Zetkin addressed Swiss socialist papers to make known their condemnation of the chauvinist declarations which the revisionists Südekum and Richard Fischer had made. Liebknecht, Luxemburg and Mehring sent Christmas greetings to the Labour Leader in London; Mehring declared that the struggle for peace and against annexations could not be separated from the class struggle, and that it would be waged in Germany,
spontaneously ﬁnd the forms of organisation adequate to the course of their actions, and that the role of the party was no more than to enlighten them and stimulate them to action, then the Spartacists would have formed their own organisation, or at least solidly organised their own faction within the USPD – something which they did not do. Schorske comments on the organisational structure which the Party adopted at Gotha: The Independents thus deprived themselves of any organizational instrument
of action, and they were lost in the crowd. Moreover, most of them did not see things very clearly.’98 Whilst waiting for the workers to draw the lessons of defeat and to rebuild their forces, the price of the defeat had to be paid straightaway. Some 50,000 Berlin workers, about 10 per cent of the strikers, found their special exemptions cancelled, and were called up into the armed forces. Amongst them were ‘ringleaders’ like Müller, who was the ﬁrst to go.99 The police set out to hunt down the
party. It has parties of traitors like the Scheidemanns . . ., and of servile souls like Kautsky. But it has no revolutionary party. Of course, a mighty, popular revolutionary movement might rectify this deﬁciency, but it is nevertheless a serious misfortune and a grave danger. That is why we must do out utmost to expose renegades like Kautsky, thereby supporting the revolutionary groups of genuinely internationalist workers, who are to be found in all countries. The proletariat will very soon
demonstration of workers clashed with the police when a workers’ and soldiers’ council was formed with Schnellbacher, a Spartacist, in the chair.68 Again, on 7 November, in Brunswick, sailors from outside the city organised a demonstration and forced the opening of the prison gates, whilst the striking workers appointed a workers’ council. On 8 November, the ruling prince abdicated and the Spartacist August Merges, chairman of the workers’ and soldiers’ council, assumed the title of President of