A few days before the demonstration, Erhard Auer assured the ministers that there would be no problems from independent democrats headed by Kurt Eisner. On November 7, the majority of the protesters pulled Teresa’s meadow and left it, while a small group followed Eisner to the barracks, where she met with substantial reinforcements.
In 1918, Bavaria, the first during the national uprising in Germany, overthrew the monarchy and then lived for six months under the power of the Social Democrats and the Communists.
The First World War ended in Germany with a heavy defeat. As elsewhere in the country, the population of Bavaria at the end of 1918 was tired and suffering from hunger. The people were displeased with the actions of the central government in Berlin. The soldiers returning from the front told of the horrors of the war and that they were actually cannon fodder, which the Prussian emperor sent for slaughter.
When the imminent defeat in the war became absolutely obvious, the imperial government decided to shift the responsibility for it to the liberals and the Social Democrats and launched political reforms. However, the process of democratization quickly got out of control. The November revolution began in Germany.
In Bavaria, which at the time was one of the four kingdoms in the empire, the coup was led by the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) - pacifists and fans of Immanuel Kant.
Escape the king
7 November 1918 of the year in 15: 00 on the meadow of Theresa, where the Munich Oktoberfest is now being held, gathered, according to various estimates, from 40 to 80 thousands of people. The demonstrator was organized by USPD leader Kurt Eisner.
Erhard Auer, his rival from the “system” Social-Democratic Party, also led his people to Theresa’s meadow: despite being close to power, he had to demonstrate opposition in order not to lose voters ’sympathy.
The action was joined by the trade unions of several large factories, as well as numerous deserters and demobilized soldiers. The participants warmed themselves up with beer, which they bought in the nearest zucchini. Moderate speakers tried to calm the heated crowd with the promise of quick reforms. Speaking in the role of “angel of peace”, system politician Erhard Auer quietly went home: for him the rally was already over.
But few people heard the speech of Auer on the vast expanse of the meadow: at this meeting 25 speakers were speaking at the same time - communists, anarchists, and so on. Radically minded politicians urged people not to disperse and immediately overthrow the royal power.
“Comrades! Our leader Kurt Eisner believes that we speak a lot of words, but we don’t come close to our goal. Those who want a revolution are following me, march! ”- Felix Fehenbach, an activist of the independent Social Democrats, dressed in feldgrau (the main color of the field uniform of the German army. - RP), commanded. At least a thousand people responded to his call. However, even this number of revolutionaries was enough to storm the barracks located in the northern part of Munich.
Demonstration on the meadow of Theresa 7 on November 1918 of the year.
Within a couple of hours, revolutionaries seized a military academy, a prison, and several police stations. War-weary soldiers gladly joined the rebellion and arrested the officers, and the former prisoners locked up their guards in their cells.
Kingdom of Bavaria from the XII century rule of the Wittelsbach dynasty. From 1913, the throne was occupied by Ludwig III. This monarch, while still heir to the throne, attended the coronation of Nicholas II. In Moscow, he was remembered for setting up a diplomatic scandal: stating that "we (German princes. - RP) are not vassals, but allies of the German emperor," thereby emphasizing some of the independence of his kingdom.
On the morning of November 7, King Bavaria Ludwig III began his day, as usual, with a walk in the English Garden near the residence. On the beginning of the revolution, he learned from a random passer-by (according to another version - from a policeman). At first, the king rather lightly reacted to the uprising. By the time the mob laid siege to his palace, he was having dinner with his wife, Maria Theresa.
Only under pressure from some ministers, who realized how serious the situation was, did he agree to leave the capital for a few days. How far events have gone is judged by the fact that in order to evacuate the king, we had to hire a driver in a company that was engaged in car rental. The personal chauffeur of the monarch had already joined the rebels; the soldiers who were guarding the residence did the same thing - no one in Munich wanted to protect the monarchy and die for the sovereign.
In the evening, revolutionaries gathered at Munich’s biggest beer house, Matezebroy. It was the most convenient building in the city for holding mass meetings: there were about 4 thousands of visitors in the four halls of the establishment, and in a revolutionary situation, the beer halls could accommodate a larger number of guests. In addition, the pub was located in the very center of Munich, not far from the key city buildings - the railway station, the residence of the king, the parliament and the police department. In the future, "Matezerbroy" became the headquarters of the revolutionaries.
In 22: 30, the actual leader of the uprising, Kurt Eisner, as chairman, opened the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly of workers, soldiers and representatives of the peasantry in the beer club.
Then, accompanied by armed guards, Eisner went to the parliament building, where he announced that the dynasty of Bavarian kings had been overthrown and a free Bavarian Republic was being created.
“The Bavarian revolution has won! We swept out the old rubbish - Wittelsbach dynasty! I appeal to you and ask your consent to appoint me as interim prime minister of the republic, ”Eisner addressed the crowd.
Following Munich, the councils of workers, soldiers and peasants began to form in other cities of Bavaria - in Passau, Augburg, Rosenheim, Nuremberg. By the morning of November 8, red flags hung on the Frauenkirche, Munich’s highest cathedral, and the newspapers came out with the headlines “Bavaria is an independent state.”
The revolution in Bavaria took place absolutely bloodless - with the exception of a few cases of nighttime robberies, no one was hurt during the coup.
Learning of the proclamation of the republic, Ludwig III took refuge in the castle of Anif, not far from Salzburg and approximately 150 kilometers from Munich. In November, the king freed the soldiers and officers from the oath given to him. Although the de jure monarch did not abdicate the throne, Eisner declared that this document was his renunciation. Ludwig III returned home in April 1920, but no longer claimed the throne. Three years after the revolution, the last king of Bavaria passed away.
“I went to kill Eisner,” said Count Anton von Arco to relatives in the morning of February 21 of the year 1919. A few hours later the Minister-President of Bavaria was killed by a young lieutenant with two shots at close range, both bullets hit the neck.
The criminal himself was seriously wounded by the revolutionary’s bodyguards. Anton von Arco was immediately operated and saved a life.
As a Prussian, a Jew, a writer and a socialist, Kurt Eisner was an ideal object of hatred for all reactionaries. The anti-Semitic press informed the readers that the real name of the leader of the Bavarian Republic, Solomon Koschinsky, was called in his “Political and Satirical Nonpartisan Gazette” the “Red Hand”. The propaganda campaign against Eisner was led by the Thule Society, which was led by the German occultist Baron Rudolf von Sebottendorf.
The funeral procession, which was unprecedented for Munich, accompanies the murdered Kurt Eisner to the Eastern Cemetery.
The future murderer of the prime minister, Count Arko, was refused to be accepted into this order: the leadership of the Tula Society decided that it was not sufficiently pure-blooded: “The blood of a Jewish mother flows in his veins” (the girlfriend’s mother had the name Oppenheim and belonged to an influential family of Jewish bankers ).
The Thule Society became the center of counter-revolution in Bavaria. Two days after the proclamation of the republic, the organization formed the first combat cell. Its members took root in workers' circles, the Reichswehr and the police. The agents of the “Society of Thule” were even in the special forces of order to maintain the new state. The members of the organization tried to make the first attempt on Eisner in December on 1918.
5 January 1919 was a member of the Tule Society Anton Drexler founded the German Workers' Party, the political wing of an occult organization. Later it was renamed the National Socialist German Workers' Party - the Nazi Party.
But not only nationalist fanatics wanted to get rid of Eisner. His coalition partners, the "systemic" Social Democrats, led by Interior Minister Erhard Auer, made great efforts to restore the old order. So, they sabotaged the work of the councils. “Soldiers, workers and peasant councils should not have executive power. Their activities should not overlap with state and municipal authorities, ”Auer openly said.
Eisner believed that with the help of councils, people can be taught self-government. “A revolution is not a democracy, it’s just the path to democracy,” he said. The prime minister sought to transfer legislative and executive powers to the councils, leaving the role of consultant and controlling functions to parliament.
The left radicals were also dissatisfied. Members of the Revolutionary Workers' Councils, especially the anarchists and supporters of the newly created Communist Party, demanded that the Soviets be given the same powers as in the USSR, and build a republic according to the Soviet model; “Half-hearted” position did not suit them.
7 January 1919, 4 thousands of unemployed people tried to storm the building of the Bavarian Ministry of Social Development. Three people died, eight were injured. Eisner ordered the arrest of the instigators of the riots, including Communist leader Max Levin and anarchist Erich Muzam. In response, their supporters took several thousand people to the streets, and all the detainees had to be released.
By the parliamentary elections held on January 12 1919, the Prime Minister of the Bavarian Republic was in political isolation. His party, the USPD, received less than 3% of the vote. The conservative Bavarian People’s Party scored 35%, with the Social Democrats in second place with 33%. The Bavarian Communists — they were actually led from Moscow — these elections were boycotted.
Three days after the Bavarian elections in Berlin, the leaders of German communists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht died at the hands of the right-wing militants from Freikor (the White Army). The leftist radicals called on workers all over the country to "revolutionary retaliation." The main slogan of the demonstrations held in many cities of Germany, called for giving "all power to the Soviets."
In Bavaria, such a demonstration was led by Kurt Eisner, he was driving in an open-top car. In his last public speech, he called for "an uprising of the masses" and "the completion of the work of the revolution."
The fact that the Prime Minister of Bavaria will be killed soon was understood by everyone, including the head of government himself. “Everyone I met was expecting an attack on Eisner,” wrote the American diplomat Herbert Field in his diary. “You cannot avoid attempts for a long time, and they will kill me only once,” Eisner himself said fatally. He died when he went to parliament to announce his resignation (after losing the election, he could no longer lead the republic).
“Hundreds of people stood and watched Eisner’s blood stains spread across the road dust. Suddenly a truck full of people appeared at the end of the street. A machine gun was mounted on the cab, and from the body there were cries of “Let's take revenge for Eisner,” the writer Oscar-Maria Graf recalled that day.
In the eyes of the public, the main instigator of the prime minister’s assassination was Interior Minister Erhard Auer. The mob called for “the destruction of the traitor Auer.” The Communists broke into the parliament building where the minister was located. Butcher Alois Lindner, armed with a Browning rifle, shot at the minister and seriously injured him. Then in a panic and crush killed several people.
Eisner’s funeral, which took place on February 26 of the year 1919, turned into a single revolutionary rally throughout Bavaria.
“Death returned to Eisner people's sympathy, he became a symbol of the revolution in Bavaria,” Erich Muzam later wrote.
Killer Anton von Arco was first sentenced to death, then to life imprisonment. Later, under the new government, the court re-reviewed the sentence and reduced the term of imprisonment to five years. Anton von Arco became a hero for the far right. At the trial, the prosecutor spoke of the defendant: “If all German youth were imbued with such enthusiasm, we could look to the future with more confidence.” The count's escape from prison was prepared by Josef Goebbels.
In 1924, the place of Anton von Arco in the prison cell of Stadelheim was taken by Adolf Hitler. The future Reich Chancellor of Germany mentioned the murder committed by the count in Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”, 1925): goals throughout Germany. "
After the victory of the NSDAP, Anton von Arco barely escaped prison by mentioning that he was “ready to kill again”. He was released when he explained that he did not intend to encroach on Hitler. Earl died in 1945 in a car accident - his car collided with a US Army truck when overtaking.
"We, the Communists, are all dead on vacation"
The death of the first leader of the Bavarian Republic did not stop the revolution - on the contrary, it entered a more radical phase.
The successor to the assassinated prime minister was the poet Ernst Toller, a not very experienced politician, an extreme pacifist, who called for exceptionally peaceful resistance. He did not last long on this post - March 17 was headed by Johann Hoffmann. The central council of the Bavarian Republic was headed by Ernst Nikish - in the future, a well-known theoretician of national Bolshevism, and then one of the activists of independent social democrats.
After the funeral of Eisner and numerous demonstrations, the Red supporters went on the offensive. Hungary was the inspiring example, where 20 March 1919 was declared a socialist republic. Many then talked about the creation of the red axis "Russia - Hungary - Bavaria" and about the imminent world revolution.
The leaders of the Soviets asked the Parliament and the government several times to declare Bavaria Soviet, but this proposal was rejected. April 4 workers of Augsburg began a general strike.
7 April The Revolutionary Council in Munich announced the creation of the Bavarian Soviet Republic. It was a unique state formation: neither its own authorities, nor troops, nor officials.
Gustav Landauer, appointed People's Commissar of Education, before the revolution was known as a philosopher and translator of Shakespeare; he was more concerned not with questions of power, but with the spread of atheistic propaganda in the territory of Catholic Bavaria. The functions of the Minister of Foreign Affairs were performed by one Dr. Lipp, who was admitted to a psychiatric clinic a few days after the revolution. Before that, he had time to speak on the radio with an absurd speech and to send Vladimir Lenin a telegram of a very eccentric content.
The first Soviet government managed to lead Bavaria in the style of gatherings in a literary cafe only six days. The communists realized that the Hoffmann government that had fled from Munich inevitably organized a counter-revolutionary coup and took power into their own hands. 13 April, the republic was headed by an emigrant from Russia, Yevgeny Levin.
Unlike intellectuals (who were immediately arrested by the communists), the communists knew what to do. The instruction was sent to them by telegram Vladimir Lenin:
- create work councils;
- to disarm the bourgeoisie and arm the workers;
- confiscate clothing stores and other outlets;
- expropriate factories and real estate;
- to raise wages in 2 — 3 to peasants and unskilled workers;
- confiscate all the paper and equipment needed to print brochures and newspapers;
- introduce a six-hour working day with additional 2 — 3 community service hours;
- to force the bourgeoisie to free occupied apartments and give workers access to luxury real estate;
- take all the banks;
- take the bourgeoisie hostage;
- introduce more food rations for workers than for the bourgeoisie;
- mobilize all workers to protect the Soviets;
- to mobilize villagers through propaganda.
The new government carried out this training manual literally: first of all, they began to disarm the population. "All citizens are obliged to turn in the next 12 hours weapon. Those who don’t surrender their weapons will be shot, ”said 22, a summer sailor Rudolf Egelhofer, who was appointed commandant of Munich and commander-in-chief of the emerging Red Army. In addition, the Communists began to withdraw and distribute food, and also banned the entire press-free Council. The hostages were mostly members of the Tule Society.
In response, the Hoffmann government launched its propaganda in the countryside under the slogan “Against the dictatorship of Russians and Jews,” and also telling the peasants that the Communists are transferring all women to state ownership. Started the hungry blockade of the republic.
Since there were not a large number of people willing to fight with the Soviets in Bavaria, Johann Hoffmann turned to the Freichor for volunteer forces in Berlin for help.
Historians are still arguing about what Adolf Hitler was doing from November 1918 to May 1919. Since the future Fuhrer escaped demobilization, he and his unit had to be in Munich. In his memoirs, he does not describe in a word his role in the Bavarian socialist revolution. He only argues that it was in those years that he became “hateful for Bolshevism.” If by that time Hitler had joined the Society of Tula, this would also have been known. Nor did he join Freikor. Most likely, Adolf Hitler, like all of his colleagues, went over to the side of Free Bavaria and did not protest about the ideology of her government. Presumably, Hitler, like the other soldiers of the garrison of Munich, was obliged to wear a red armband.
In the second half of April, 1919 began the offensive on Munich of the regular units of the Reichswehr and Freicore, a total of 35 thousand people. In the first battle, commanded by poet and pacifist Ernst Toller, the Red Army defeated and captured 50 officers, forcing the frykor to retreat. Toller insisted on the negotiations and released all the prisoners.
But the advancing troops were not interested in negotiations. 1 May 1919, the Freicore troops entered Munich. The communists staged a “red terror” - they shot ten hostages from the “Thule Society”.
The white army killed and arrested thousands of people - only in the first days of May, more than 600 supporters of socialist Bavaria died in the battles, another 400 people were shot, including 55 Russian prisoners of war. Historians estimate the total number of victims of the suppression of the uprising in 2 thousands of people.
Almost all the leaders of the Communists, including Yevgeny Levine, were arrested and killed - by the way, the words “we, the communists, all the dead on vacation” belong to him. Managed to run only the leader of the Communist Party of Bavaria, Max Levin. He was shot in the USSR in 1937 year.
The last pockets of resistance in the Bavarian Republic were suppressed by May 4 of 1919. Independent, and then socialist Bavaria, lasted a little less than six months.
And 9 in November, 1923, the whole of Germany has again spoken about the events in Munich - however, they concerned the far-right "beer putsch", which was led by Adolf Hitler.