January Revolt in Germany

Armistice Europe

Europe 1919.011

January Revolt in Germany

The Treaty of Versailles and the European Revolutions in the wake of World War I (10 January 1919)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

Following the 1918 armistice with Germany, American, Belgian, British, and French troops moved into the German Rhineland. Meanwhile the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils that had arisen in the November Revolution had agreed to cooperate with the German government to form a Republic. This alienated the communist factions, who mounted unsuccessful revolts in Berlin, Bremen, and Munich.

Main Events

Greater Poland Uprising

Taking advantage of the German Revolution, the veteran Polish Military Organization led a revolt in Posen (Poznań), in the Polish-inhabited German Province of Posen. By 15 January 1919, the Poles had gained control of most of the province, allowing them to successfully claim the region at the Treaty of Versailles in June of that year.

Spartacist uprising

Unrest erupted in Berlin following the dismissal of its leftist Police Chief for refusing to act against demonstrating workers. Some 500,000 protesters arrived in downtown Berlin, led Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg - the founders of the German Communist Party (originally called the Spartacus League). Liebknecht called for the overthrow of the government, but the revolt was suppressed by the ex-military Freikorps, who arrested and killed Liebknecht and Luxemburg on 15 January.

Soviet Republic of Bremen

On 14 November 1918, Alfred Henke of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany formally declared the seizure of power by the workers' and soldiers' council in Bremen, dissolving the Bremen Senate. After a few months of unrest and conflict among the city's factions, the Bremen Soviet Republic was proclaimed on 10 January 1919 after which the workers' and soldiers' council was replaced by a Council of People's Commissars with Henke as Chairman. The Soviet Republic was suppressed by the Freikorps on 4 February.

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