Early Representations of the History of Revolution and Soviet Republic

Revolution and Soviet Republic immediately became the subject of publications curated by authors from all political camps. It is obvious that in this case negative judgement prevailed –from the Bourgeois-Conservative as well as from the Socialist-Communist perspective. These early evaluations still influence the reception of the events in part to this day.

The End of the Soviet Republic in Bavaria

The June issue 1919 of the popular Bavarian monthly Das Bayerland (The Bavarian Land) discussed the end of the Soviet Republic in great detail from an old-Bavarian or Conservative perspective. The essays in the issue were dedicated in particular to the successful fighting of government troops and free corpses. The Bayernland issue also contributed to the creation of the myth of the free corps Werdenfels as an “expression of the healthy strength of the people” (p. 317). A photo of the Werdenfels corps decorates the title page of the issue.

Most of the photos were made by the future NS-photographer Heinrich Hoffmann (1885-1957). “Heroic” soldiers are skilfully juxtaposed with “dodgy” leaders of the Soviet Republic.

Literature:

Das Ende der Räterepublik in Bayern : [Umschlagt.]

1919
  • (München)

Sailer: The Revolutionary Days of the King of Bavaria

Josef Benno Sailer (1866-1933) described in his brochure (published in 1919) the revolutionary destiny of King Ludwig III (1845-1921, r. 1912/13-1918). He regarded the king, with whom he sympathised, as a misinformed victim of his ambience. Sailer described in detail Ludwig’s escape from Munich over Wildenwart, Hintersee and castle Anif to St. Bartholomä.

Des Bayernkönigs Revolutionstage : ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Umsturzes in Bayern

1919
  • Sailer, Josef Benno (1866-1933); Verfasser
  • München

Doeberl: Socialism, Social Revolution, Social People’s State

In 1919, Michael Doeberl (1861-1928), a Bavarian regional historian tenured at Munich University, wrote a series of articles for the Allgemeine Zeitung published in Munich. In these articles, he discussed first the general development of Socialism and then dealt in more detail with the events in Bavaria. In 1920, his contributions were published in book form.

The former ministry official Doeberl assessed the Revolution from the perspective of a Bavarian federalist.

He clearly understood that the MSPD under Erhard Auer (1874-1945) was against a violent uprising. He called the Revolution a “Munich uprising”; for him it was the work of the “Schwabing Boheme” as well as of “foreign and subversive elements” (p. 39). He also considered in detail the reasons for the quick downfall of the monarchy. According to Doeberl’s interpretation, Kurt Eisner (1867-1919) moved “deliberately in the paths of Russian Bolshevism” (p. 43). In addition, Eisner did not acknowledge the results of the state election of 1919, which ended with the devastating defeat of the USPD (p. 46). The liberation of Munich from the Soviet Republic installed by “power-hungry non-Bavarians” (p. 63) was the work of the governmental troops as well as of “Bavarian, in particular rural contingents” (p. 66). The outcome of this “political carnival” (p. 66) was the loss of the ordered finances in Bavaria, of the Bavarian status in the Empire and possibly also of the existence of the state of Bavaria (pp. 66-67).

Doeberl also severely criticised the Bamberg Constitution. In this context, he missed among other things a self-regulatory professional second chamber that would be able to “account for the most valuable part of the Soviet thought”. The result of the entire uprisings was to be that “Bavaria […] already had become an imperial province with sophisticated self-administration” (p. 79). He found fault for this with the Eisner government as well as with the political parties, including the Bavarian People’s Party. “The Bavarian state’s constitution is fundamentally nothing but an executive decree for the imperial constitution.” (p. 85).

In his perspective on “Der Geist des neuen Hauses” (The Spirit of the New House), Doeberl first reminds the readers of the merits of the former ruling house of Wittelsbach. Before the Revolution, Bavaria had been on a path towards “progressive Democratisation” (p. 87). Under the existing monarchy, a reasonable and measured socialisation could also have been carried out. But then, he invites the readership to face reality and not to accept democracy, but to implement “the rule of the entire sovereign people and of its comprehensive interests” (p. 91). The decisive factor would be the victory over class struggle and class hatred. “Whoever overcomes this enemy, is the true social Messiah of the German people.” (p. 92).

The treatise concludes with a 70-page appendix of documents. Included are, among other documents, the “Auer-Süßheim” application with its explanation dated to 1917 as well as the royal decree of 2 November 1918 on a parliamentary Bavarian State.

Literature:

Sozialismus, soziale Revolution, sozialer Volksstaat

1920
  • Doeberl, Michael (1861-1928); Verfasser
  • München

From Eisner to Eglhofer. Communism in Munich

Entitled Der Kommunismus in München, the six issues describe the developments between November 1918 and May 1919. The work refrains from any conspicuous polemic and attempts, despite its open dislike of the Revolution, to remain objective in its discussion. Strikingly, it breaks off with the events of 1 to 3 May 1919. The subsequent reprisal actions (“White Terror”) are not mentioned.

Editor of this series was the forestry commissioner Georg Escherich (1870-1941). Escherich was head of the “Organisation Escherich” (Orgesch), i.e. of the umbrella organisation of the self-defence militias that provided an important support to the “cell of order, Bavaria”. The issues were published in 1921 as the so-called series of “Escherich-Hefte” under the title of Der Kommunismus in München (Communism in Munich). In 1922, the six issues were distributed bound in one cover and entitled Von Eisner bis Eglhofer. Die Münchener Revolution vom November 1918 bis zum Zusammenbruch der Räteherrschaft (From Eisner to Eglhofer: The Munich Revolution from November 1918 to the Fall of Soviet Rule).

Literature:

Der Kommunismus in München / 1. Vorgeschichte und Persönlichkeiten

1921
  • Escherich, Georg (1870-1941); Verfasser
  • München

Der Kommunismus in München / 2. Die arbeitenden Kräfte

1921
  • Escherich, Georg (1870-1941); Verfasser
  • München

Der Kommunismus in München / 3. Dem Bolschewismus entgegen

1921
  • Escherich, Georg (1870-1941); Verfasser
  • München

Der Kommunismus in München / 4. Die Schein-Räterepublik

1921
  • Escherich, Georg (1870-1941); Verfasser
  • München

Der Kommunismus in München / 5. Die kommunistische Räterepublik

1921
  • Escherich, Georg (1870-1941); Verfasser
  • München

Der Kommunismus in München / 6. Der Zusammenbruch der Räteherrschaft

1921
  • Escherich, Georg (1870-1941); Verfasser
  • München

The Munich Tragedy

As late as 1919, the Berlin "Verlagsgenossenschaft Freiheit", which is part of the USPD (Independant Social Democratic Party of Germany), published a depiction of the events in Munich in 1918/19, almost half of which is devoted to the "white terror" after Munich's liberation, the victims of which are extensively acknowledged. In the concluding "Lessons from the Tragedy", the USPD's view of the events is presented.

Literature:

Die Münchener Tragödie : Entstehung, Verlauf und Zusammenbruch der Räte-Republik München

1919
  • Berlin

Communist Voices

The KPD politicians Paul Frölich (1884-1953) and Michael Smilg-Benario (b. 1895-after 1970) published important early treatises from a Communist and Socialist point of view. Both titles are still protected by copyright.

The KPD politicians Paul Frölich (1884-1953) and Michael Smilg-Benario (b. 1895-after 1970) published important early treatises from a Communist and Socialist point of view. Both titles are still protected by copyright.

Titles cited:

  • Michael Smilg-Benario, Drei Wochen Münchener Räterepublik (Beiträge zu den Problemen der Zeit), Berlin 1919.
  • P. Werner (=Paul Frölich), Die Bayrische Räterepublik, Leipzig 1919.

Literature: