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Spartacus League

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spartacus League
Spartakusbund
CountryGerman Empire Germany
Leader(s)Karl Liebknecht,
Rosa Luxemburg,
Clara Zetkin
Foundation4 August 1914 (1914-08-04)
Dissolved15 January 1919 (1919-01-15)
Split fromSocial Democratic Party
Motives
IdeologyCommunism
Marxism
Revolutionary socialism
Political positionFar-left
Notable attacksSpartacist uprising
StatusDefunct

The Spartacus League (German: Spartakusbund) was a Marxist revolutionary movement organized in Germany during World War I.[1] The League was named after Spartacus, leader of the largest slave rebellion of the Roman Republic. It was founded by Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, and others. The League subsequently renamed itself the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD), joining the Comintern in 1919. Its period of greatest activity was during the German Revolution of 1918, when it sought to incite a revolution by circulating the newspaper Spartacus Letters.[2]

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  • ✪ The Revolution That Could Have Turned Germany Communist in 1919 - The Spartacist Rising
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Transcription

Contents

History

Die Rote Fahne, newspaper of the Spartacus League, 23rd November 1918.
Die Rote Fahne, newspaper of the Spartacus League, 23rd November 1918.

Liebknecht (the son of SPD founder Wilhelm Liebknecht) and Luxemburg became prominent members of the left-wing faction of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). They moved to found an independent organization after the SPD supported Imperial Germany's declaration of war on the Russian Empire in 1914 at the start of World War I. Besides their opposition to what they saw as an imperialist war, Luxemburg and Liebknecht maintained the need for revolutionary methods, in contrast to the leadership of the SPD, who participated in the parliamentary process. The two were imprisoned from 1916 until 1918 for their roles in helping to organize a public demonstration in Berlin against German involvement in the war.[3][4]

After two years of war, opposition to the official party line grew inside the SPD. More and more members of parliament refused to vote for war bonds and were expelled, which ultimately led to the formation of the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD). The Spartacus League was part of the USPD in its formation period.[5]

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Spartacus League began agitating for a similar course: a government based on local workers' councils, in Germany. After the abdication of the Kaiser in the German Revolution of November 1918, a period of instability began, which lasted until 1923. On 9 November 1918, from a balcony of the Kaiser's Berliner Stadtschloss, Liebknecht declared Germany a "Free Socialist Republic". However, earlier on the same night, Philipp Scheidemann of the SPD had declared a republic from the Reichstag.[6]

In December 1918, the Spartakusbund formally renamed itself the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).[7] In January 1919, the KPD, along with the Independent Socialists, launched the Spartacist uprising. This included staging massive street demonstrations intended to destabilize the Weimar government, led by the centrists of the SPD under Chancellor Friedrich Ebert. The government accused the opposition of planning a general strike and communist revolution in Berlin. With the aid of the Freikorps (Free corps), Ebert's administration quickly crushed the uprising. Luxemburg and Liebknecht were taken prisoner and killed in custody.[8]

Spartacist Manifesto of 1918

An excerpt from the Spartacist Manifesto (published in 1918):

The question today is not democracy or dictatorship. The question that history has put on the agenda reads: bourgeois democracy or socialist democracy. For the dictatorship of the proletariat does not mean bombs, putsches, riots and anarchy, as the agents of capitalist profits deliberately and falsely claim. Rather, it means using all instruments of political power to achieve socialism, to expropriate the capitalist class, through and in accordance with the will of the revolutionary majority of the proletariat.

Prominent members

References

  1. ^ David Priestand, Red Flag: A History of Communism," New York: Grove Press, 2009
  2. ^ Eric D. Weitz, Creating German Communism, 1890-1990: From Popular Protests to Socialist State. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997
  3. ^ Eric D. Weitz, "'Rosa Luxemburg Belongs to Us!'" German Communism and the Luxemburg Legacy, Central European History, Vol. 27, No. 1 (1994), pp. 27-64
  4. ^ Article on the Spartacus League with primary sources: http://spartacus-educational.com/GERspartacus.htm
  5. ^ On the relationship of Spartakusbund and USPD see Ottokar Luban, The Role of the Spartacist Group after 9 November 1918 and the Formation of the KPD, in: Ralf Hoffrogge and Norman LaPorte (eds.), Weimar Communism as Mass Movement 1918-1933, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2017, pp. 45-65; and Ottokar Luban: "Die Rolle der Spartakusgruppe bei der Entstehung und Entwicklung der USPD Januar 1916 bis März 1919", in: Jahrbuch für Forschungen zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung, No. II/2008.
  6. ^ David Priestand, Red Flag: A History of Communism," New York: Grove Press, 2009
  7. ^ Ottokar Luban, The Role of the Spartacist Group after 9 November 1918 and the Formation of the KPD, in: Ralf Hoffrogge and Norman LaPorte (eds.), Weimar Communism as Mass Movement 1918-1933, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2017, pp. 45-65, especially p 53.
  8. ^ Eric D. Weitz, Creating German Communism, 1890-1990: From Popular Protests to Socialist State. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997
  9. ^ Kranzfelder, Ivo (2005). George Grosz. Cologne: Benedikt Taschen. ISBN 3-8228-0891-1

Sources

  • Ottokar Luban, The Role of the Spartacist Group after 9 November 1918 and the Formation of the KPD, in: Ralf Hoffrogge and Norman LaPorte (eds.), Weimar Communism as Mass Movement 1918-1933, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2017, pp. 45–65.
  • Bill Pelz, The Spartakusbund and the German working class movement, 1914-1919, Lewiston [N.Y.]: E. Mellen Press, 1988.
  • Eric D. Weitz, "'Rosa Luxemburg Belongs to Us!'" German Communism and the Luxemburg Legacy, Central European History, Vol. 27, No. 1 (1994), pp. 27–64
  • Eric D. Weitz, Creating German Communism, 1890-1990: From Popular Protests to Socialist State. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997
  • David Priestand, Red Flag: A History of Communism," New York: Grove Press, 2009

External links

This page was last edited on 12 November 2019, at 04:27
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