On This Day: 9 January 1919: The Spartacist Rising


(Karl Liebknecht gives a speech at the Siegesaule, January 1919- Deutsches Historisches Museum)

On 9 January 1919, as demonstrations and strikes against the Ebert-Scheidemann government continued, the leadership began to disintegrate.

The Independent Social Democrats, Revolutionary Shop Stewards and Communists disagreed on questions of tactics and ideology. Their meetings failed to produce results and support outside Berlin for the demonstrations did not appear to be forthcoming.

Within the fledgling Communist Party, the leadership was divided between the minority, including Karl Liebknecht and Wilhelm Pieck, who supported the action, and those, including Hermann and Käthe Duncker, Leo Jogiches and Rosa Luxemburg, who argued that the Communists should withdraw their support from the demonstrations.

The previous afternoon, attempts by the Independent Socialists to negotiate a peaceful end to the demonstrations with the government had failed when the government announced its intention to crush the ‘Rising’ by force. As a result, the Independents published an appeal to the workers to resist government forces, but offered no clear direction or aims.

Defying the will of the Communist Party’s central committee, Liebknecht and Pieck, continued to support the demonstrations and to call for the overthrow of the government. Amongst the three main groups supporting the demonstrations and strikes, there was general confusion bordering on panic. The strikers and demonstrators themselves recieved confused and contradictory information from their ‘leaders’ and by the evening of 9 January, a ‘great disillusionment’ was reported amongst striking workers. Meanwhile, the ‘Freikorps’- pro-government bands of armed volunteers led by right-wing officers, were being prepared by Defence Minister Gustav Noske for an assault on Berlin…

(Source: Ottokar Luban, ‘Rosa at a Loss’, available here: http://www.workerscontrol.net/activists/rosa-loss)



About rosaluxemburgblog

I was awarded a PhD in History by Swansea University for a thesis on Rosa Luxemburg (2016). I am currently co-editing the fourth volume of 'The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg' and am a member of the Advisory Board of the International Rosa Luxemburg Society.
This entry was posted in Karl Liebknecht, On This Day, Rosa Luxemburg. Bookmark the permalink.

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