The German revolution: When capitalism could have been destroyed

Following the brutality forced upon the working class by the First World War, and the epoch making events of Red October in Russia 1917, the powder keg of revolution was ignited in Germany.

The German revolution of 1918 saw the splitting of the armed forces on class lines. From the 3rd to the 9th of November that year, Sailors’, Soldiers’, and Workers’ councils (Soviets) seized the major cities, including Berlin, with little to no resistance. Renditions of the Internationale rang throughout the streets.

Socialism in Germany appeared to be within reach. But there was a key ingredient missing — a hardened revolutionary leadership like that of the Bolsheviks. The reformist leaders, in a move of utter betrayal, handed the revolution to the capitalist class, who organised the Freikorps for the execution the of the revolution’s most essential cadre, including Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

The years to follow would see the working class make several more attempts to seize power, each ending in defeat. Had they succeeded, the isolation of Russia would have been broken, and the revolutionary wave would have continued throughout Western Europe. Capitalism could have been destroyed.

In this session, Andy Southwark will draw out the lessons of the German revolution that we cannot afford to ignore in the fight for communism today.

Recommended reading: The German Revolution of 1918

Further reading: When the communists ruled in Bavaria / Germany 1918-1933: Socialism or Barbarism / The Revolutionary Legacy of Rosa Luxemburg

Recommended listening: