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Bavarian Soviet Republic

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bavarian Soviet Republic

Räterepublik Baiern
Motto: "Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt Euch!"
"Workers of the world, unite!"
Anthem: Die Internationale
The Internationale
The location of the Bavarian Soviet Republic (in red) shown with the rest of the Weimar Republic (in beige).
The location of the Bavarian Soviet Republic (in red) shown with the rest of the Weimar Republic (in beige).
StatusUnrecognized state
Common languagesGerman
GovernmentSoviet Republic
• 12 April 1919 – 3 May 1919
Eugen Leviné
• Established
6 April 1919
• Disestablished
3 May 1919
CurrencyGerman Papiermark (ℳ)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Weimar Republic
People's State of Bavaria
Weimar Republic
Free State of Bavaria
Today part of Germany

The Bavarian Soviet Republic (German: Räterepublik Baiern)[1][2] was a short-lived unrecognised socialist state in Bavaria during the German Revolution of 1918–19.[3][4] It took the form of a workers' council republic. Its name is variously rendered in English as the Bavarian Council Republic[5] or the Munich Soviet Republic (German: Münchner Räterepublik; the German name Räterepublik means a republic of councils or committees; council or committee is also the meaning of the Russian word soviet)[6][2] after its capital, Munich. It was established in April 1919 after the demise of Kurt Eisner's People's State of Bavaria and sought independence from the also newly proclaimed Weimar Republic. It was overthrown less than a month later by elements of the German Army and the paramilitary Freikorps.

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  • ✪ Bavarian Soviet Republic - 1919 Economy and Reconstruction I BEYOND THE GREAT WAR
  • ✪ The (Briefly) Communist German State, The Bavarian Soviet Republic.
  • ✪ The German Region that Became a Communist Republic in 1920 - The Red Ruhr Rising
  • ✪ National Anthem of Bavarian Soviet Republic (1919): "Die Internationale"
  • ✪ German Revolution | 3 Minute History


Hi, I’m Jesse Alexander and welcome to the Beyond the Great War, the monthly episode where we answer questions from viewers like you. Vorusian Gambit asks: Are you going to cover the Bavarian Revolution? Arguably, it was a lot more consequential politically and in terms of its long-term effects than the Spartacus Uprising in January 1919? Well Mr or Ms Gambit, we would love to. Alright, here we go: In spring 1919, for a few weeks there was actually a third Soviet territory in the world besides Russia and Hungary – the Bavarian Soviet Republic. So let’s start with a little background here. Now of course since 1871 Bavaria was part of Germany, and had its own local government and even had its own king. That all changed in November 1918 with the armistice and revolution. The king was kicked out and an Independent Social Democratic government under Kurt Eisner took power and declared the People’s State of Bavaria, which remained within Germany. In early 1919 though, things destabilized across the entire country: there was the Spartakist Uprising in Berlin, which we covered in our first episode, there was a brief Soviet Republic in the city of Bremen, but things really heated up in March. A general strike in Berlin led to violence and another leftist uprising. The government cracked down extremely hard, and full-on battles with artillery, armoured cars and fighter planes left more than 1000 people dead – 75 of them government troops (Jones 238). This all happened in the neighbourhoods around our studio, by the way, and this newspaper in front of me is filled with reports about the fighting around here. On top of all that, once the Hungarians declared themselves a Soviet Republic on March 21st, it seemed to would-be revolutionaries in Munich that the time was ripe. “The news from Hungary hit Munich like a bomb” recalled revolutionary poet Erich Muehsam (Gerwarth, 128) The Eisner government was in chaos since the Independent Social Democrats had lost the January election and in February, Eisner had been assassinated by a nationalist aristocrat on his way to resign his post. On April 6, the Soldiers’ and Workers’ Council of Munich declared Bavaria a Soviet Republic and the elected government fled. It seemed to many that the Bavarian Soviet Republic was indeed the final phase of a full German revolution. Author Thomas Mann, who lived in Munich at the time and did not support the Soviet, confided to his diary on April 7th: “It may be assumed that the rest of Germany will follow.” (Gerwarth, 129). The Chairman of the Comintern and leading Russian Bolshevik Grigoriy Zinoviev sent a supportive message to the revolutionaries: “We are deeply convinced that the time is not far off when the whole of Germany will be a soviet republic.” (Gerwarth, 129) But all this was not to be. Bavaria was deeply conservative and rural, and most of the population had no interest in supporting a revolutionary government dominated by urban, Jewish writers and poets like Erich Mühsam – though of course there were German working class members as well, like former schoolteacher Ernst Niekisch. The Soviet’s policies of nationalizing banks and companies, abolishing capitalism, and letting universities be run by the students similarly fell on deaf ears outside the coffeehouses of Munich. On April 12 and 13 troops loyal to the exiled Bavarian elected government, along with volunteer nationalists of the Thule Society, attempted a coup known as the Palm Sunday Putsch. The coup attempt failed, but both sides became radicalized. The Soviet was taken over by Russian emigres Max Levien and Eugen Leviné and more extreme policies were introduced, though internal violence was kept in check by more the moderate socialists and relatively effective revolutionary courts (Jones 308). Government troops attacked again on April 18 but were defeated at Dachau by the Bavarian Red Army. This defeat prompted the exiled Bavarian Prime Minister Hoffmann to put out a call for volunteers: “Bavarians! Countrymen! In Munich rages a Russian terror, unleashed by foreign elements. This insult to Bavaria must not be allowed to last another day, not even another hour. All Bavarians must immediately help, regardless of party affiliation…Munich calls for your aid. Come on! Step forward! Now! The Munich disgrace must be wiped out.” (Gerwarth, 130). Thousands of Freikorpsmen, including future Nazi Ernst Röhm, answered the call and joined the government troops preparing to march on Munich (Gerwarth, 130). The offensive began soon after and by April 27 it became clear that the Soviet Republic was doomed, and the revolutionary government fell apart. At this point the violence began to spiral out of control. A group of Soviet radicals took 9 aristocratic members of the right-wing nationalist Thule Society hostage in a school, plus a random art professor. On April 29, government troops massacred a group of 30 civilians as they advanced – they also executed 53 Russian prisoners of war suspected of revolutionary sympathies (Jones 313). Further atrocities were enabled by Social Democrat Minister Gustav Noske’s Schiessbefehl, or shooting order issued the next day: “Whomsoever resists government troops by force of arms shall be shot forthwith.” This gave government soldiers and Freikorpsmen license to execute suspected rebels on the spot and allowed the government to demonstrate its might, in spite of the relative weakness and isolation of the Soviet. Things got even worse on April 30, when Red Army guards executed the hostages at the school, including the lone female captive, who was a relative of a government commander. The identities of the perpetrators are still unknown, and it is not clear if they considered it a reprisal for the government massacres of the previous day. The hostage killings exploded in the press, with rumours that Russians had been responsible. Local resident Josef Hofmiller wrote in diary: “They got the Russians drunk, until they became complete animals, and let them loose upon the unhappy hostages.” (Jones, 304), The fact that the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council condemned the murders was largely ignored. The city was now surrounded, government artillery was brought up and resistance was completely broken by May 1st. The fighting and atrocities had cost the lives of between 600 and 1000 people – 58 government troops, 135 rebels (some of who had been executed after capture) and hundreds of innocent bystanders (Jones, 296). Much like the November armistice didn’t stop the fighting in much of Europe, the killing didn’t end with end of organized fighting. On May 6, a group of Freikorpsmen acting on a false tip of Spartakist activity burst into a church meeting attended by 25 innocent Catholics. The soldiers tortured, bayoneted, and then shot them all, though four survived. One of the few accused to admit his role, a soldier named Müller, testified at his trial, “Today I am sorry about it. I wanted to do good, I considered it my duty. It’s possible that I struck with my bayonet, but I can’t remember.” (jones 327). The Bavarian Soviet Republic was gone, having lasted just three weeks. It would live on in German public memory as a murderous Russian abomination. But it was also another example, along with the Spartakist and March Uprisings, of the Weimar Government choosing ally with the Freikorps and unleash uncontrollable violence on its own people, a fateful decision for the years to come. If you are curious about the Bavarian Soviet Republic’s perception in the countryside as opposed to Munich, in this month’s The Great War supporter podcast we talk to German historian Frank Jacob who just published his research on exactly this topic. Among other things, he explains why Bavarian scepticism and fear of Bolshevism didn’t mean they weren’t open to the idea of governance through councils. The podcast is available to our youtube members and Patreon supporters, and you can find more information about supporting the channel in the video description below. Our second question is from Nick Bradbury. Nick asks: How did the allies, but mainly the French and Belgians, recover the land and villages so quickly? Well, as early as 1915, French politicians began to evaluate the damage done to the country, and to estimate what it might take to repair it. By 1918, after 3 more years of shelling, neglect, and occupation, large parts of northern and eastern France were completely devastated. Just to throw a few numbers at you: 2 500 000 hectares of farmland, 62 000km of roads, 2000km of canals, 5000km of railway, and hundreds of thousands of houses were destroyed (Deperchin, 1063). By early 1919 the last of the refugees forced out of their homes by the German offensives of 1914 and 1918 were returning home – if indeed they had a home to return to. However, for the first time in history, many of the warring states had promised their people to make good on the losses they had to endure during the war. Modern war was total war, and the state had resorted to mobilizing every last citizen to do their part for victory. Once victory was achieved, the state was morally obliged do to repair the damage and compensate its citizens for their sacrifices. In France, this was not just a promise made out good will - the French state was actually bound by a law called the Charte des sinistrés, or refugee charter. The French government instructed its own “War Damage Commission”, under minister of finance Louis-Lucien Klotz, to compensate every citizen affected by the war individually, but this, as you can imagine, was extremely expensive. In terms of regions, the worst damage was done to the industrial areas of northern France, especially the coal mines, which were either damaged or used by the Germans during the war. Reintegrating the agricultural farmland was in comparison rather easy, except for the areas that were former battlefields, where millions of unexploded shells were still buried in the poisoned soil. But repairing, rebuilding or converting factories would be a costly and time-consuming affair. Most of the military factories that had been built or remodelled to produce grenades, rifles, uniforms, helmets, and other wartime goods, now had to be converted to make civilian goods. In early 1919, France could use the demobilisation-effect to offer veterans work in rebuilding the damaged areas, which was also a way to deal with the surge in the unemployment rate. But this was only a short-term solution, and in May the French parliament had to resort to steep tax increases. The war had already forced the French government to take out high interest loans to cope with the extreme costs. Money was no object in the fight for national survival, but now the interest rate came would come back to haunt them. The longer the war had gone on, the higher the debt had climbed. The overall sum by war’s end was a staggering 5 billion dollars – that’s more than 73 billion in today’s money – which the French now owed to Great Britain and the US. This crushing debt was of course hotly debated at the Peace Conference, with the French doing their best to seek relief. Either Great Britain and the US would have to forgive some of the debt – which not a popular idea for their governments -- or Germany had to pay, the sooner the better. “Le boche paiera”, Minister Klotz said when confronted with the bill at the Peace Conference. But the Germans were not paying yet. And many politicians felt that France could not fund the reconstruction alone. Etienne Clémentel, the French Minister of Commerce, pleaded for US helped based on Wilsonian principles: “the complete reconstruction of the North of France and Belgium is in essence everyone’s business, the primordial task of the economic league of free peoples.” Belgium had also suffered terribly from the ravages of war. With the frontline running straight through the country, many villages, factories and farmland close to the front were flooded, destroyed by shellfire or simply abandoned. Most of the country had been occupied by the Germans, and they fully exploited its economic infrastructure. The Germans of course, prioritized factories helping their war-effort and neglected or simply dismantled plants that were not useful. After their retreat, they took much of the machinery with them, or stripped it of valuable copper and iron. Unoccupied Belgium, on the other hand, had to keep up its armed forces, and to provide for civilians and refugees crowded into the western part of the country. Trade came to a virtual stop during the war. The British blockade affected shipping bound for al ports, and the fear of u-boats left much of the Belgian merchant fleet stranded as well. After the Germans were finally driven out of the country, the Belgians stood before a shattered economy. The only sector that had really thrived during the war was agriculture, as the Germans were keen to keep up the food supply. But in comparison to France, Belgium did not suffer such an oppressive weight of debts to foreign powers. That meant it still had the credit to take out loans and invest in a quick recovery of their industry. The Belgian “Société Nationale de Crédit à l’Industrie”, or national industry credit cooperative was able to effectively funnel privately borrowed money to the devastated areas, and it became a patriotic endeavour to make good the damages of the war. But private loans alone could not hope to cover the amount it would take to restart the country’s economy. Like France, Belgium had to resort to higher taxes and stricter control of the market though the government and foreign banks. On the one hand, this helped Belgium to recover the “lost” areas rather quickly and reintegrate the damaged industries back into their economy. On the other, the Belgian government became shackled to the interest rate of the banks, which in turn forced higher taxes and inflation. Like the other Allies, it had to rely on Germany to pay for all of it in the end. At the end of 1918, French Minister for Liberated Regions Albert Lebrun estimated that it would take 20 years and 100 000 workers to put the damage right. In the end, things went more quickly than this and was mostly completed by 1930, though officially work continued until 1962 (Deperchin, 1072) Even today, in northern France and Belgium’s “iron harvest,” old shells and other war relics are still ploughed up every year. Our last question today is from Niko Stavropoulos, who asks: I was curious to see the economic situation in Europe as well as the United States at the time. I would assume that many businesses have just lost a large portion of their sales due to the war ending, and also how many men now re-entering the workforce must not help either. Thanks for the question Nick. As I outlined with France and Belgium before, a lot of countries had made promises to compensate their citizens for their losses and sacrifices for the war, until the reparations from Germany could be paid. But more threatening was the fact, that the international commercial hierarchy had changed. Europe, it seemed, would have to make way for the new financial powerhouse that was the USA. Great Britain’s war damages were less obvious anyways. Instead of a war-torn countryside, Britain had suffered high losses to their merchant fleet, and had to put aside immense sums of money to pay for all the pensions of veterans and widows. But the real threat to the empire was the disruption of the global market. Britain had been the main benefactor of the pre-war economic cooperation between the nations, despite and because of their rivalries. London, with Paris on the second place, had been the financial powerhouse of the world, due to the principles of free trade and a healthy import/export routine in a liberal capitalist system. But now, with half of Europe’s economy in shambles, and the other half in massive debt from overseas, Britain’s future as the trading centre of the world, was in serious question. The massive debts and overall financial and social insecurity was having an impact on the whole empire. From the early 1919 until mid 1920 there was a strong surge of inflation gripping the world. Goods were in high demand and prices were not only rising to unprecedented levels, they were actively destroying the market. And worse, they fueling the threat of revolution. The costs of living were getting staggeringly high, while wages stayed mostly the same. Workers were flooding to the unions and strikes were now more common than ever. In fact there were more strikes in Great Britain and France, than in revolution-stricken Germany. Socialist agitators were rising up, questioning if the war had really been fought to a victorious end, and if there wasn’t still a revolution to fight? Were they really the victor if their standards of living were getting worse? On a global scale, a lot of countries were largely unaffected by the war, or could even profit from Europe’s weakness. Such as the Asian countries, like China or Japan, but also the South Americas, which were now buying up the market. And that drove up the import prices all over the globe, and hitting Europe the hardest, as it was in dire need of those resources to rebuild the damage done by the war. The Italian Lire and the French Francs were in free fall, and even the steadfast British Pound was in trouble. Every country’s currency but the US dollar had been disconnected from the gold standard and their relative values were dropping fast. And that in a time, when they were expected to pay back their debts. All were counting on Germany’s reparations. In this poisonous atmosphere, the economist John Maynard Keynes – who took part in the Paris Peace Conference 1919 as an economic expert – dropped his work: “The Economic Consequences of Peace”. A very liberal, free-market centred book in which he strongly argued that high reparations would ultimately shackle Europe’s economy and that only the unfettered distribution of goods would benefit the world in the long run. Reparations would only serve the politicians, who sought to reverse peace. They would make nations distrust each other and turn their backs to the liberal global market and seek their lot in protectionism. “The Economic Consequences of Peace” became a bestseller overnight, especially in the US. Like the others, the US’ economy was hit by a “post-war-shock”. A wave of unemployment hit the country, as the war-economy was suddenly put to a halt, and the army was demobilising. In principle, the US shared the same interests as Great Britain in returning to a pre-war liberal market and to restore the international trading relations, now that the war-regulations were a thing of the past. But due to claims to reparations and municipal debts, politics and trade were now in an interlocked state like never before. President Woodrow Wilson was aware that the US had to push for a leading role in restoring Europe as a trading partner. Like Great Britain, the US did not want Germany’s economy to be fully destroyed, or shackled for generations to an utopian sum of reparation. It needed a balanced Europe, that would be a valuable trading partner, but no dangerous competitor. But which path should Europe choose? Reparations had to be paid, but this would take years, many decades even. And they could not even agree on a concrete sum yet. The only solution to the inflation problem was a massive, government-initiated deflation of the market. Especially France and Great Britain had to forcefully rebalance the European economy, and to restore domestic order, by adjusting the value of their currencies. But that would ultimately affect the US. Deflation could solve that problem, but if the Federal Reserve of the United States reacted the same way, by deflating its own market, it could drag down the whole fragile European economy. That was most certainly not the future, the winners of the Great War were expecting. Well, that’s all for this episode of Beyond the Great War. We want to thank Markus Linke for helping us with the research for this episode. Keep your questions coming in the comments for the next episode, and remember that if you really want your question to reach us you can consider supporting us on Patreon or by clicking the join button below. And of course we’ll also answer community questions on our monthly Supporter podcast. As always, you can find the sources we used for this episode in the video description, and if you want to check out our merchandise there’s a gallery below this video. I’m Jesse Alexander and this is the Great War, a Production of Real Time History and the only youtube history channel that is its own gold standard.



The roots of the republic lay in the German Empire's defeat in the First World War and the social tensions that came to a head shortly thereafter. From this chaos erupted the German Revolution of 1918. At the end of October 1918, German sailors began a series of revolts in Kiel and other naval ports. In early November, these disturbances spread civil unrest across Germany. On 7 November 1918, the first anniversary of the Russian revolution, King Ludwig III of Bavaria fled from the Residenz Palace in Munich with his family, and Kurt Eisner, a politician[3] of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), became minister-president[7] of a newly proclaimed People's State of Bavaria.

Though he advocated a socialist republic, Eisner distanced himself from the Russian Bolsheviks, declaring that his government would protect property rights. As the new government was unable to provide basic services, Eisner's USPD was defeated in the January 1919 election, coming in sixth place. On 21 February 1919, as he was on his way to parliament to announce his resignation, he was shot dead by the right-wing nationalist Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley.

After Eisner's assassination, the Landtag convened, and Erhard Auer – the leader of the Social Democrats and the Minister of the Interior in Eisner's government – began to eulogize Eisner, but rumours had already begun to spread that Auer was behind the assassination. Acting on these false allegations, Alois Linder, a saloon waiter who was a fervent supporter of Eisner, shot Auer twice with a rifle, seriously wounding him. This prompted other armed supporters of Eisner to open fire, causing a melee, killing one delegate and provoking nervous breakdowns in at least two ministers. There was effectively no government in Bavaria thereafter.[8]

Unrest and lawlessness followed. The assassination of Eisner created a martyr for the leftist cause and prompted demonstrations, the closing of the University of Munich, the kidnapping of aristocrats, and the forced pealing of church bells. The support for the Left was greater than Eisner himself had been able to command.[8]

On 7 March 1919, the Socialists' new leader, Johannes Hoffman, an anti-militarist and former schoolteacher, patched together a parliamentary coalition government, but a month later, on the night of 6–7 April, Communists and anarchists, energized by the news of a left-wing revolution in Hungary, declared a Soviet Republic, with Ernst Toller as chief of state. Toller called on the nonexistent "Bavarian Red Army" to support the new dictatorship of the proletariat and ruthlessly deal with any counter-revolutionary behavior.[9][10]

The Hoffmann government fled to Bamberg in Northern Bavaria, which it declared the new seat of government.[11]

Ernst Toller government

Initially, the Bavarian Soviet Republic was ruled by USPD members such as Ernst Toller, and anarchists like anarchist writer Gustav Landauer, Silvio Gesell, and playwright Erich Mühsam. Toller, who was also a playwright, described the revolution as the "Bavarian Revolution of Love".[12] Among the café society of Schwabing, the new government became known as "the regime of the coffeehouse anarchists."[13]

Toller's government members were not always well-chosen. For instance, the Foreign Affairs Deputy Dr. Franz Lipp – who had been admitted several times to psychiatric hospitals – declared war on Württemberg and Switzerland over the Swiss refusal to lend 60 locomotives to the Republic.[14][13] He also claimed to be well acquainted with Pope Benedict XV[15] and informed Vladimir Lenin and the Pope by cable that the ousted former Minister-President Hoffmann had fled to Bamberg and taken the key to the ministry toilet with him.[16]

Other Toller appointments included: as commissar for military affairs, a former waiter; a burglar with a conviction for moral turpitude as police president of Munich; as commissar for transportation a part-time railroad track maintenance worker; and – in Catholic Bavaria, where nuns ran the schools – a Jew as minister for education. Toller's minister for public housing published a decree saying that no house could thereafter contain more than three rooms and that the living room must always be above the kitchen and bedroom.[11]

The new government reformed the arts and opened Munich University to everyone except those who wished to study history, which was deemed "hostile to civilization." One minister declared that capitalism would be brought down by making money free.[13]

Eugen Leviné government

On Saturday 12 April 1919, only six days into Toller's regime, the Communist Party seized power, led by three Russian émigrés, with Eugen Leviné as head of state.[3][17] Having received the blessings of Lenin – who at the annual May Day celebration in Red Square said "The liberated working class is celebrating its anniversary not only in Soviet Russia but in ... Soviet Bavaria"[17][18][13] – Leviné began to enact hardcore communist reforms, which included forming a "Red Army" from factory workers, seizing cash, food supplies, and privately owned guns, expropriating luxurious apartments and giving them to the homeless and placing factories under the ownership and control of their workers. One of Munich's main churches was taken over and made into a revolutionary temple dedicated to the "Goddess of Reason." Bavaria was to be in the vanguard of the Bolshevization of Europe, with all workers to receive military training.[13]

Leviné also had plans to abolish paper money and reform the education system but never had time to implement them. There was time, however, for Max Levien, following Lenin's orders, to arrest aristocrats and members of the upper-class as hostages.[13]

During Leviné's short reign, food shortages quickly became a problem, especially the absence of milk. Public criticism over the milk shortage turned political, precipitating the communist government to publicly declare: "What does it matter? ... Most of it goes to the children of the bourgeoisie anyway. We are not interested in keeping them alive. No harm if they die – they’d only grow into enemies of the proletariat."[18]

An attempt by troops loyal to the Hoffmann government, along with the Kampfbund (combat league) organized by the nationalist volkische Thule Society,[19] to mount a counter-coup and overthrow the BSR failed on 13 April,[20] having been put down by the new Red Army, which consisted of factory workers and members of the soldiers' and workers' councils. Twenty men died in the fighting.[13]

Military clash and demise

The rival governments – Hoffman's People's State of Bavaria seated in Bamberg, and the Bavarian Soviet Republic located in Munich – clashed militarily at Dachau on 18 April when Hoffman's 8,000 soldiers met the Soviet Republic's 30,000. The BSR forces – led by Ernst Toller – were victorious in the first battle at Dachau, but Hoffman made a deal that gave him the services of 20,000 men of the Freikorps under Lt. General Burghard von Oven. Oven and the Freikorps, along with Hoffman's loyalist elements of the German Army – called the "White Guards of Capitalism" by the communists – then took Dachau and surrounded Munich. Supporters of the BSR had, in the meantime, on 26 April, occupied the rooms of the Thule Society in the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, and arrested Countess Hella von Westarp, the society's secretary, and six others, to be held as hostages.[21] Egilhofer, panicked by Munich being surrounded by Hoffman's forces, had these seven and three other hostages executed on 30 April.[18] They included the well-connected Prince Gustav of Thurn and Taxis.[22] The executions were carried out despite Toller's efforts to prevent them.[23]

The Freikorps broke through the Munich defenses on 1 May,[23] leading to bitter street fighting that involved "flame-throwers, heavy artillery, armoured vehicles, even aircraft".[20] At least 606 people were killed, of whom 335 were civilians.[18][20] Leviné was later condemned to death for treason, and shot by a firing squad in Stadelheim Prison. Gustav Landauer was killed by the Freikorps,[24] and they killed Egilhaufer as well. Numerous others were given prison sentences, such as Toller (5 years) and the anarchist writer Erich Mühsam (15 years); others received longer sentences, 6,000 years' worth in all, some of it to hard labour.[20]

After the trials and the execution of 1,000-1,200 Communists and anarchists, Oven declared the city to have been secured on 6 May, ending the reign of the Bavarian Soviet Republic.[23] Although the Hoffman government was nominally restored, the actual power in Munich had shifted to the Right.[25]

The Bamberg Constitution was enacted on 14 August 1919, creating the Free State of Bavaria within the new Weimar Republic.

Notable people

Active participants in the Freikorps units – those of Oven, Franz Ritter von Epp, and Hermann Erhardt – that suppressed the Bavarian Soviet Republic included many future powerful members of the Nazi Party, including Rudolf Hess, a member of the Freikorps Epp.[26][27][28]

One notable supporter of the Soviet Republic was the young artist Georg Schrimpf, then aged 20, who was arrested when the movement was crushed.[29] Hitler's longstanding chauffeur and first leader of the Schutzstaffel (SS) Julius Schreck signed up and served as a member of the Red Army in late April 1919.[30] Balthasar Brandmayer, one of Hitler's closest wartime friends, remarked “how he at first welcomed the end of the monarchies” and the establishment of the republic in Bavaria.[30] All the National Socialist officers subsequently became disillusioned after the demise of the socialist republic.


The immediate effect of the existence of the People's State of Bavaria and the Bavarian Soviet Republic was to inculcate in the Bavarian people hatred of left-wing rule. They saw the period in which these two states existed as one of privation and shortages, censorship and restrictions on their freedoms, and general chaos and disorder. It was seen as Schreckensherrschaft, the "rule of horror". These feelings were then constantly reinforced by right-wing propaganda not only in Bavaria but throughout the Reich, where "Red Bavaria" was held up as an object lesson in the horrors of Socialism and Communism. In this way, the radical right was able to provoke and feed the fears of the peasants and the middle class. The separate strands of Bavarian right-wing extremism found a common enemy in the Left, and Bavaria became profoundly "reactionary, anti-Republican, [and] counter-revolutionary."[20]

The Left itself had been neutralized after the demise of the two socialist states, and in such a way that there continued to be bad blood between the Communist Party (KPD) and the Socialist Party (SPD) that prevented them from working together throughout Germany – even ignoring that under orders from Moscow the KPD portrayed the SPD as the primary bourgeois threat to socialism in Germany. This lack of cooperation, with the Communists seeing the Socialists as betrayers of the Revolution, and the Socialists seeing the Communists as under the control of Moscow, later redounded to the advantage of the Nazi Party, since only a parliamentary coalition of the KPD and SPD could have prevented the Nazis from coming to power. Even at the height of their influence in the Reichstag, they did not have enough delegates to resist such a coalition.[31]

See also



  1. ^ Mitchell, Allan (1965) Revolution in Bavaria, 1918-1919: The Eisner Regime and the Soviet Republic. Princeton University Press, p.346. ISBN 9781400878802
  2. ^ a b Hollander, Neil (2013) Elusive Dove: The Search for Peace During World War I. McFarland. p.283, note 269. ISBN 9781476614106
  3. ^ a b c Gaab (2006), p.58
  4. ^ "Bavarian Council Republic" in Encyclopædia Britannica (1969)
  5. ^ Kuhn, Gabriel (ed.) (2012) All Power to the Councils! A Documentary History of the German Revolution of 1918-1919, Oakland: PM Press, p.205
  6. ^ Hooglund, Eric James (1966) The Munich Soviet Republic of April, 1919. University of Maine
  7. ^ Schuler, Thomas (December 2008). "The Unsung Hero: Bavaria's amnesia about the man who abolished the monarchy". The Atlantic Times. Archived from the original on 2013-12-19.
  8. ^ a b Mitcham (1996), p.32
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