German Revolution 1918-23

Learning from the rich debates of the past

Published on: Wed, 25/09/2019 - 09:18

Paul Hampton

The Communist International (Comintern), founded in the aftermath of the October 1917 Russian revolution, was the greatest forum for Marxist strategic debate so far.

The first five years of the Comintern, between 1919 and 1923 were a school for learning and discussing how revolutionary parties should be built, how to assess the situation and orientate, and how to win a majority of workers to socialism.

The publication of The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922-1923, edited by Mike Taber, is extremely valuable. This volume is

Rosa Luxemburg on 1905

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 10:19

Martin Thomas

“The extent to which the party rises to the occasion [of a revolutionary upsurge] — that depends in the greatest degree on how widely [the Marxists have] known how to make their influence felt among the masses in the pre-revolutionary period...”

It depends on “the extent to which [they were] already successful in putting together a solid central core of politically well-trained worker activists with clear goals, how large the sum of all their political and organisational work has been”.

Volume 3 of the new Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, published this year, shows how false the idea is that

Werner Scholem: Trotskyism, Zinovievism, antisemitism

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 09:58

Paul Hampton

The socialist life of Werner Scholem deserves to be better known. The publication of Ralf Hoffrogge’s exhaustive biography, A Jewish Communist in Weimar Germany (Haymarket 2018), means that English readers now have the opportunity to appreciate his contribution.

Werner Scholem was born in Germany in December 1895. He joined the Socialist Workers’ Youth group as a teenager in 1912 and then the Social Democratic Party (SPD) on turning 18.

Scholem opposed the First World War but was conscripted, wounded on the Eastern front and then imprisoned for anti-war activities. He was sent to the Western

The Bavarian Soviet Republics of 1919

Published on: Tue, 16/07/2019 - 14:52

Barrie Hardy

The Jewish community in Germany has been advised by their government not to wear the kippah in public in case they become targets of antisemitic attacks.

Antisemitic hate crimes have risen 20% in the last year and nine out of ten cases have been blamed on the extreme right. Concerns have also been raised about the growth in support for the far right Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) within the ranks of the German army and police force - traditional breeding grounds for right wing authoritarianism.

Numerous Germans with Jewish backgrounds have made vital contributions to the cultural heritage

Reading about Rosa Luxemburg

Published on: Wed, 16/01/2019 - 12:33

As we go to press on 15 January 2019, it is exactly the 100th anniversary of the murder of the Polish¬German revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg. She was killed by a right-wing militia operating under the Social¬Democratic government which was heading off the German workers’ revolution.

We have a pamphlet in production on Luxemburg and the German revolution. Readers can also find a good summary of Luxemburg’s political work in two articles, from 1935 and 1938, by Max Shachtman.

The 1938 article is in print as an item in our book In Defence of Bolshevism. Much more on Rosa Luxemburg on

Revolution in Germany, 1918

Published on: Wed, 07/11/2018 - 10:57

Paul Hampton

In November 1918, German workers overthrew the imperial government and ended the First World War. What began as a sailors’ revolt within weeks saw workers’ councils take charge of various German cities. A social democratic government took power amidst a situation of dual power. The revolution, however, would be defeated, or at least limited to the replacement of the old monarchist government by a parliamentary democracy, and a parliamentary democracy so flawed that it would within 15 years fall to the Nazis.

At the end of October 1918, the German admirals decided on a last-gasp operation,

Glory o, glory o, to the bold Bolsheviks

Published on: Wed, 15/11/2017 - 11:22

Sean Matgamna

The Russian Revolution has had all sorts of things grafted onto the image it projects to us. But what was it in reality?

In the revolution, the workers and the farmers — and the soldiers who were mainly peasants — revolted against the ruling classes and the war. This was a tremendously democratic movement. It was a movement that created soviets, that is workers’ councils. No powerful state made the revolution. It was the people, the workers, the red guards in St Petersburg and Moscow, the factory militias. What they thought they were doing was liberating themselves from all future class rule.

Germany 1918/19: the revolution betrayed

Published on: Thu, 17/07/2008 - 19:01

Stan Crooke

Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were victims of a wave of terror unleashed by the leaders of German Social Democracy in order to crush working-class revolution.

The German Social Democratic Party (SPD) had been founded in 1875. After a period of illegality it began to expand dramatically in the opening years of the twentieth century. By 1907 it had over half a million members. By 1914 it numbered a million members and was the largest political party in the world.

Its share of the vote in elections and its number of seats in the Reichstag (German parliament) likewise steadily increased. In

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