The Soviet Republics

After the attacks of 21 February 1919 and as the result of the power vacuum, the situation in Munich came to a head at the beginning of April 1919. The government formed in mid-March under Prime Minister Hoffmann was unable to guarantee stable conditions. Some of the councils became increasingly radicalised. Council representatives feared that the discussions about the Weimar constitution and about a new Bavarian constitution would lead to the marginalisation of the Soviet movement. In addition, the economic supply situation in the Bavarian state capital deteriorated rapidly. When a Soviet Republic was proclaimed in Hungary on 21 March, this event further boosted the far left. At the beginning of April, there was a showdown between the Bavarian government and the Central Council: the representatives of the councils were able to prevent the convening of the State Parliament scheduled for 8 April.

The First Soviet Republic

On April 7, representatives of the Central Council and of the Revolutionary Workers’ Council in Munich proclaimed the "Räterepublik Baiern" (Soviet Republic Bavaria). Then the Hoffmann government withdrew its headquarters to Bamberg and took media and economic countermeasures. From the very beginning, the influence of the Soviet government was primarily limited to the Munich area, but events in the state capital concerned the whole of Bavaria. The new government was influenced by writers such as Gustav Landauer (1870-1919), Erich Mühsam (1878-1934) and Ernst Toller (1893-1939). It pursued idealistic goals such as pacifism, but was poorly organised and acted amateurishly.

Soviet Republics outside Munich

Soviet republics were also proclaimed in other Bavarian towns. But almost all of them were ended after only a few days, for example in Augsburg, Fürth or Würzburg. Only in the immediate vicinity of Munich Soviet republics lasted longer, for example in Kolbermoor, Rosenheim or Starnberg. Only the military intervention of the Freicorps and of government troops led to an end of these councils.

The Communist Soviet Republic and the Suppression of the Soviet Movement

Munich's first Soviet government only lasted for a short time. After an unsuccessful coup by pro-government troops, communists led by Max Levien (1885-1937) and Eugen Leviné (1883-1919) took power on 13 April and established a second Soviet Republic. From Bamberg, the Hoffmann government, together with the Berlin Reich government, organised military countermeasures. Reichswehr and Freikorps associations advanced against Munich and crushed the Soviet Republic in battles akin to civil war at the beginning of May 1919. In some cases, the troops used disproportionate force, leaving numerous neutral persons as victims.