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Bavarian Soviet Republic
The Bavarian Soviet Republic (Bayerische Räterepublik)—also known as the Munich Soviet Republic (Münchner Räterepublik)—was a short-lived revolutionary government over the German state of Bavaria in 1919 that sought to replace the fledgling Weimar Republic in its early days.
After Bavaria overthrew its monarch on 7 November 1918, Kurt Eisner of the Independent Socialist Party declared Bavaria a "socialist republic", but he distanced himself from the Russian Bolsheviks, declaring that his government would protect property rights. For a few days, distinguished Munich economist Lujo Brentano served as Minister of Trade (Volkskommissar für Handel).
On 21 February 1919, Anton Graf Arco , a fanatic rightist student, shot the USPD Bavarian Minister-President, Kurt Eisner, while he was on his way to hand in his resignation. This assassination caused unrest and lawlessness in Bavaria, and the news of a Soviet revolution in Hungary encouraged communists and anarchists to seize power.
On April 6, the "Bavarian Soviet Republic" was proclaimed. Initially, it was ruled by Independent Socialists, such as Ernst Toller and Gustav Landauer, and anarchists like Erich Mühsam. However, Ernst Toller, a playwright, was not very good at dealing with politics, and his government did little to restore order in the city.
His government members were also not always the best pick. For instance, the Foreign Affairs Deputy (who had been admitted several times to psychiatric hospitals), declared war on Switzerland, over Switzerland's refusal to lend 60 locomotives to the Bavarian Soviet Republic. As such, the regime collapsed within six days, being replaced by the communists, with Eugen Levine as their leader.
Eugene Levine began communist reforms, that included expropriating luxurious apartments and giving them to the homeless, placing factories under the ownership and control of the workers, etc. Levine also had plans to abolish paper money and reform the education system. However, he never had time to implement them.
Levine refused to collaborate with the regular army of the city, and also organized his own army, the Red Army (Rote Armee ) under Rudolf Egelhofer , similar to the Red Army of Soviet Russia. In order to protect the revolution, thousands of unemployed workers volunteered; soon the ranks of the Rote Armee reached 20,000. The Red Guards began arresting known counter-revolutionaries and on 29 April 1919, eight men were executed as right-wing spies.
Soon after, on 3 May 1919, the right-wing and proto-fascist Freikorps (having a force of 30,000 men), together with the "White Guards of Capitalism" (having a force of 9,000), invaded the Bavarian Soviet Republic and defeated the communists, after bitter street fights in which over 1,000 communist volunteers died. About 800 men and women were arrested and executed by the victorious Freikorps. These included Eugen Levine, who was found guilty for the killing of the eight spies.
- Aftermath of World War I
- History of Bavaria
- History of Germany
- Weimar Republic
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