Post-war Germany,

The Left-Right wing conflict

With Germany actively seeking an armistice and revolution threatening, calls for Kaiser Wilhelm II to abdicate grew in intensity. Wilhelm was himself deeply reluctant to make such a sacrifice, instead expressing a preference to lead his armies back into Germany from the Western Front. Upon being informed by his military advisers that the army could not be relied upon not to harm him Wilhelm abandoned the notion.

The Spartacist Revolt

In January 1919, the Weimar Government led by President Friedrich Ebert and his Social Democratic Party, was challenged by a group of revolutionaries called the Spartacists. The Spartacists were communists, who wanted Germany to be run by the working classes. They believed that power and wealth should be shared equally among the population.

They wanted to replicate the Russian Revolution of 1917 by:

  • overthrowing the central government
  • establishing soviets in place of central government in German towns and cities
  • using violent methods
It is important to note that the Spartacists were led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg.

The Protest

In January 1919, 50,000 workers went on strike and demonstrated in the centre of Berlin. This demonstration was taken over by the Spartacist leadership. Newspaper and communication buildings were seized and the demonstrators armed themselves. However, many protesters returned home frustrated at the lack of planning by the Spartacists.

The Government, which had moved to Weimar to avoid the violence, employed the Freikorps to put down the rising. The Freikorps were ex-army soldiers who hated the communists. Over 100 workers were killed during what became known as 'Bloody Week'.