The German Revolution

November 1918: Germany's revolutionary month

Issue section: 

Revolution was ignited in Germany 100 years ago by a mutiny of the North Sea Fleet at Kiel. Admirals decided to send it out on 30 October on a completely hopeless assault on the British Navy. Sailors organised to prevent the ships from leaving port. Their commanders responded by jailing more than 1,000 sailors. A mass solidarity movement was organised, led by women in the town, to defend the sailors, the workers of Kiel and nearby cities, and then the soldiers sent in to put down the revolt who ended up joining it.

Interview: Women of Aktion

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

In this new production by Bent Architect, the stories of revolutionary women who helped bring about the end of the First World War are explored through an imagined collaboration between radical theatre maker Joan Littlewood and German revolutionary playwright Ernst Toller. Socialist Review spoke to the play’s writer and co-director (with Jude Wright), Mick Martin.

What led you to look at women’s stories from the German Revolution?

Professor Ingrid Sharp from Leeds University came to see our 2014 play England, Arise! about the Huddersfield socialist conscientious objectors in the First World War, and she loved it. Her specialist areas of interest are the German anti-war movement and women’s history. She said that the German anti-war movement has not really been looked into, and that German historians tend not to be as focused on women’s history as is the case here.

Richard Linsert and the first sexual liberation movement

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

The histories of socialism and sexual liberation are entwined, most clearly in revolutionary Germany a century ago, writes Noel Halifax.

The factory system tore apart the working class family. As workers were driven off the land and sucked into the new factories and cities of the industrial age, their ways of living fell apart. Many commentators from both the left and the right noticed this with varying degrees of horror and dismay, from Friedrich Engels in Manchester to the reactionary writer Robert Carlyle in London.

Lenin, Luxemburg and the War

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Lenin's critical response to Rosa Luxemburg's Junius pamphlet

Rosa Luxemburg's First World War Junius pamphlet, written in prison and so vividly described by Sally Campbell in February's Socialist Review, was arguably the greatest anti-war statement of the last century.

Its haunting theme, socialism or barbarism, prophetically cast its shadow over the 20th century and continues to do so now.

Why Read... Lessons of October

Issue section: 
Issue: 

The year 1923 was a decisive year in the history of the international movement. It was the point at which the revolutionary movement sweeping Europe after the victory of the Bolsheviks in 1917 finally broke and began to ebb. And it was also the time at which the Soviet bureaucracy began to firmly consolidate its grip over Russian society.

Lessons of defeat: German communists and the rise of Hitler

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Eighty years ago Hitler came to power, crushing the strongest workers' movement in the world. Donny Gluckstein, author of A People's History of the Second World War, looks at the fatal mistakes the German left made in response to the rise of Nazis and draws lessons for today

This year, 2013, marks a tragic anniversary. It is 80 years since Hitler established his dictatorship over Germany. On 27 February 1933, shortly after his appointment as chancellor, the parliament (Reichstag) burned down in a fire which was probably started by the Nazis. This was the excuse needed to ban the Communist Party and begin mass repression. On 22 March the first concentration camp opened at Dachau near Munich.

Victor Serge: the untamed revolutionary

Issue section: 
Author: 

Victor Serge was an anarchist who rallied to the Russian Revolution and Bolshevism. He later fought against both Stalinism and fascism to keep the real revolutionary tradition alive. Here George Paizis looks at Serge's extraordinary life and the lessons its offers for us today

Victor Serge (1880-1947) was one of the most important revolutionary writers of the last century. When he died, he left behind a body of books and articles, novels and poems that responded to nearly 50 years of activity and involvement in key moments of the socialist movement. Yet he was largely ignored by the British left till Peter Sedgwick translated his Memoirs of a Revolutionary in 1963. Now a new and finally unabridged edition of his Memoirs provides an opportunity to introduce Serge to a new generation of socialists, to test the relevance of his writings.

Sex and the German Revolution

Issue section: 
Author: 

As part of LGBT history month, Colin Wilson looks at the how the German Revolution of 1918 led to significant new freedoms for lesbians and gays, and the role played by Communists

Germany's looming defeat in the First World War meant political crisis. In November 1918 the fleet mutinied and revolution began. The Kaiser - the German emperor - fled to Holland and a republic was proclaimed, beginning a period of radicalisation that was to last until 1923. But, while they had started a revolution, German workers never took the decisive final step of seizing power, as the Russian working class had done in October 1917.

Subscribe to RSS - The German Revolution