Germany

Revolutionary Shop Stewards and Workers Councils in the German Revolution

If Ralf Hoffrogge were writing within an American context rather than a German one, he would be situated between two important developments in the United States. A new cohort of social movement historians is addressing the gaps in anarchist, anti-authoritarian, and left-communist historiography. Neighboring this is a resurgence of interest in workers' councils historically and in the contemporary period.

Memories

My name is Jan Appel, and I was born in a village in Mecklenburg in 1890. I attended elementary school and learned the shipbuilding trade. Even before my birth my father had been a Socialist. I myself became a member of the Sozial-demokratische Partei Deutschlands [SPD] on reaching 18 years of age. I saw military service from 1911 to 1913, and thereafter as a soldier in the War. In October 1917 I was demobilised and sent to work in Hamburg as a shipyard worker. In 1918 we called a strike of armaments workers. The strike held out for a whole week at the Vulkan-Werft. read more »

Gabriel Kuhn (ed.): All Power to the Councils! A Documentary History of the German Revolution

Every schoolchild on the globe knows something about the Russian Revolution from 1917. It was the origin of a state called Soviet Union and a political confrontation later known as the cold war which shaped the 20th century longer than any other political conflict.

Unlike the crucial events of 1917, the German Revolution of 1918 is not part of the global memory. It did not erect a socialist state as hoped by many of its protagonists and instead ended with a fragile republic that lasted only twelve years and was destroyed by the Nazi Party in 1933. read more »

Between Ignorance and Staging

Henning Fischer, Uwe Fuhrmann, Jana König, Elisabeth Steffen, Till Sträter (eds.):

Zwischen Ignoranz und Inszenierung: Die Bedeutung von Mythos und Geschichte für die Gegenwart der Nation (Between Ignorance and Staging: The Present Significance of Myth and History for the Nation) read more »

Strike Bike: an occupied factory in Germany

Nordhausen is a small town in Thuringia (former DDR). Of its 43,000 inhabitants 7,500 are unemployed. Bicycles have been produced here since 1986, initially as part of an engine factory with 4,000 workers. After German reunification, only the bicycle production remained, and most recently 135 workers and up to 160 temporary workers were labouring there. read more »

Rosa Luxemburg and the Revolutionary Antiwar Mass Strikes in Germany during World War I

Since 1906 Rosa Luxemburg was the outstanding protagonist of the revolutionary mass strike idea in Germany. After having participated for some months in the First Russian Revolution of 1905/06 she published her important essay “Mass Strikes, Political Party and Trade Unions”.  Luxemburg recommended the mass strike as a mean of pressure for getting more democratic rights. read more »

Rosa Luxemburg’s Criticism of Lenin’s Ultra Centralistic Party Concept and of the Bolshevik Revolution

In 1922 a heated controversy on Rosa Luxemburg’s manuscript “The Russian Revolution” arose in the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and in the Communist International (KI). Paul Levi, a close friend of Rosa and since March 1919 leader of the KPD, criticised publicly the participation of the Central Committee in the March 1921 uprising in Middle Germany[1] and called it a putsch especially since some Russian advisors from the KI had urged the action. read more »

Rosa Luxemburg’s Concept of Basic Democratic Socialism

Every year in January between 50.000 and 100.000 people honour Rosa Luxemburg with a march to her grave at a cemetery in Berlin, Germany. In the last several years conferences on Rosa Luxemburg took place not only in Germany but also in other European countries like Finland, Russia, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, USA (1998 in Chicago where Bill Pelz organized the meeting) and even in China and recently in South America. read more »

Rosa at a Loss

In recent German historical writing, the protest movement of the Berlin workers against the Ebert­–Scheidemann government1 in the second week of January 1919 is no longer described as the ‘Spartakus Uprising’, and as a result the German Communist Party (KPD) is not now held solely or even mainly responsible for it.2 Yet the assert­ion still haunts historical works and the media that the uprising was a putsch that was fully supported by Rosa Luxemburg and the other Spartakus leaders, in opposition to the demo read more »