Pierre Broué

The German Revolution

Eric D. Weitz

Foreword to the English Edition

Pierre Broué’s history of the German Revolution is a remarkable achievement. Written long before key archives became available in the 1990s, Broué managed to write a detailed and moving history of the radical Left in Germany amid the conflagration of war and revolution. Written in France, The German Revolution was also a product of the global left-wing upsurge of the 1960s and early 1970s, a period when many activists and academics began to rediscover and rewrite the history of the Left from the founding of the Second International in the 1880s to the antifascist resistance movements of the 1940s. The years that Broué covers in depth were those of the most widespread popular insurgency in Europe since the revolutions of 1848. They were marked by the carnage of World War I, the great antiwar strikes in so many European countries, the Russian Revolutions of 1917, and the swell of revolutions and class-based civil wars that ran all across the continent from 1918 to 1923. These were the years also when, in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, Communist Parties were founded and the Social-Democratic-Communist split became virtually unbridgeable.

For Broué, the Bolshevik Revolution remained the correct model of revolutionary practice and V.I. Lenin the key strategist and thinker. The tragedy in Germany was that it lacked comparable leaders and a sufficiently developed consciousness among the workers. While the German Left had its powerful figures and devoted, experienced activists, they could never constitute a strong enough nucleus within the labour movement and, in any case, failed to work out a consistent and effective revolutionary strategy. Broué writes of the many heroic struggles of German workers: the antiwar strikes of 1917 and 1918, the revolutionary overthrow of the Imperial government in 1918, the waves of strikes and armed uprisings that continually punctuated the period from 1918 to 1923. But the ultimate defeat in 1923 was a world-shattering event. It marked not only the end of any hopes for a socialist Germany in this period. It also meant that the Bolshevik Revolution would remain isolated. Left to its own devices, the Soviet Union turned in on itself. In Broué’s account, the degeneration of the revolutionary movement into Stalinism was a result not of the ideological and political presuppositions of Leninism, but of the historical defeat of the working class abroad, especially in Germany. Had the German proletariat triumphed, Germany’s higher technical and cultural levels would have contributed mightily to the development of socialism in the Soviet Union and beyond. The defeat of 1923 was world-shattering in another sense: its reverberations came in 1933 with the counter-revolution triumphant, the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Broué provides a wealth of fascinating detail. He uses to great effect virtually all the materials that were accessible to him at the time, including long-forgotten memoirs and newspaper accounts. His narrative is often gripping: the great working-class upsurge that overthrew the Imperial government in November 1918, the debates within the Spartacist group leading up to the founding of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in the very first days of 1919, the struggles for the possession of the streets and factories, the continual back and forth between the emissaries of the Russian Communist Party and their German counterparts. There are also trenchant biographical portraits. For Broué, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were, of course, the main figures, and despite certain criticisms, his admiration of them is untrammelled. Their assassinations in 1919 marked an irreparable blow to the young Communist Party still struggling to find its bearings. He also evaluates highly their successor as head of the KPD, Paul Levi, despite his split with the Party in 1921. These are well-known figures; what is even more striking in Broué’s text is the many portraits of lower-level leaders and activists, the cadres who kept the Party going despite its many defeats.

The German Revolution was written in the 1970s, when academic scholarship on the German labour movement and the German Revolution was in its boom phase. In French, Broué’s work stood almost alone. [1] But scores, and even hundreds, of studies appeared in German and English in this period. Most depart sharply from Broué’s key analytical points.

The scholarship of from the late 1960s into the 1980s was fuelled largely by the development of social history, which turned the analytical gaze from high politics and elite members of society to the common people. In West Germany, ‘historical social science’, emanating pre-eminently from Bielefeld University, provided the dominant paradigm. [2] In the English-speaking world, the great inspiration came from E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class. [3] The English-language scholarship especially brought workers into play as agents of their own history, while the German-language scholarship focused more on the structural constitution of class society and the constraints and possibilities of popular activism. Despite the huge variety of individual works in both languages, the result by the 1990s was an infinitely richer depiction of the conditions of working-class life and the characteristics of labour activism. [4] East-German historical research helped this trend by producing some works that were empirically rich, but overall, the discipline of history was too wedded to official regime interpretations of the past to really contribute to the excitement and innovations in scholarship. [5]

But another result, totally unanticipated in the social history scholarship of the time, was to call into question the very concept of class and the notion of the proletariat as a more or less homogeneous actor in history. [6] In Broué’s account, there is a working class in the singular, just as there is a capitalist class in the singular. Each has its own interests, which are unmediated reflections of their respective positions in the class hierarchy. But most of the academic scholarship demonstrated that the working class was a highly complex entity, divided by gender, skill, religion, region, and politics. The Social-Democratic and Communist Parties presumed to speak for the working class, but their relationship to their class base was always tenuous. The parties sought to channel, educate, and discipline their members; they were not just the unmediated expression of the working class, which, in any case, hardly existed in the singular. [7]

By all accounts, the workers councils were the key institutions that emerged in the German Revolution, as they had been in the Bolshevik Revolution. Much of the historical debate has centred on the question of just how radical were the councils. [8] Broué is deeply attentive to the political conflicts within the labour movement in the early months of the Revolution, but he most definitely upholds the radical potential of the councils. By the end of the scholarly wave in the late 1980s, a far more restrained view had become predominant. In this reading, the councils were never revolutionary; most of them simply turned over day-to-day power to state bureaucrats and backed the Social-Democratic Party. In the wake of the disasters of World War I, the vast majority of the councils simply sought to administer an orderly transition to a new democratic government and a peacetime economy. [9] Yet Broué is correct, it seems to me, to emphasise the potential of the councils, and not just their immediate conservatism. [10] Certainly, there is evidence enough of efforts to turn them into effective agencies of power, if not in the immediate weeks and months of the Revolution, then during the socialisation strikes in spring 1919 and the general strike that defeated the Kapp Putsch in spring 1920.

For all his attentiveness to the manifestations of popular protest, Broué misses one central element that has been highlighted in the scholarship since around 1990: women’s activism, notably around issues of consumption, but also in the workplace. [11] Clearly, this is a result of the surge in women’s and gender history over the last few decades. Broué is fixated on the workplace and the working class. Yet there was a whole realm of popular activism in marketplaces, unemployment offices, and coal depots. No less than the police forces and civilian officials, the overwhelmingly male leadership of the trade unions and workers’ parties had no idea how to address these protests. They could envision the new society based on labour’s participation and control over the production process, but they could not imagine how a new society could be built upon women’s protests. Later, the KPD would also develop an uneasy and unclear relationship to such efforts. It sometimes supported any manifestation of protest against the existing society, but its proletarian heart remained committed to the mines and factories as the sites of ‘real’ activism. [12]

And what about the Party itself? The KPD was the first mass-based Communist Party to emerge outside of the Soviet Union. The Soviet leaders placed enormous hopes on a German revolution. The German comrades basked in the glow of these expectations. Until the disastrous defeat of 1933, they ranked just behind the Russians in the Comintern. But the KPD also came increasingly under the sway of the Soviets, as was the case with all Communist Parties around the globe. This, too, was a result of the great defeat of 1923. Ironically, here Broué is in line with commentators such as Hermann Weber, who view the Stalinisation of the KPD as developing very early and as substantially complete by 1928. [13] More recent histories, situated more firmly in the social history of the German working class, have challenged this approach. [14] Instead, they have argued that the character of the KPD had very much to do with domestic social and political factors. Notably, the urban working-class milieu in Germany decisively shaped the KPD, partly by giving it its activist hue, partly by solidifying a split between Social Democrats and Communists that ran through local communities and the workplace as well as the political parties. Other factors, like the tendency to view the male proletarian as the essential actor and male combativeness as the key revolutionary virtue, also decisively shaped the nature of the KPD, and these characteristics had roots in Germany and Europe as well as in the Soviet Union. In other words, it is too narrow a perspective to view the history of German Communism through the lens of Moscow. It is one of the great virtues of Broué’s study that he explores in intricate detail German developments at the level of both high politics and popular activism. But, after 1923, he argues, the history of German Communism was determined in Moscow. In fact, there was always a complex interaction between Comintern and Soviet regime directives, on the one hand, and the proclivities and practices of German Communists, on the other.

A great deal has changed in the world since the original French publication of The German Revolution. Communist regimes no longer exist in Europe, and few are their advocates. The confidence in the triumph of socialism and communism that animated Broué’s work is shared by fewer and fewer people. The political field has become vastly more complicated with the decline of traditional parties in Europe, including those of the classical labour movement, and the rise of new social movements, such as feminism and environmentalism. Scholarly controversies are different from those that fuelled the many studies on German labour from the late 1960s into the 1980s. German Communist archives are open for investigation, and have enabled scholars to write much more finely-honed depictions of the KPD and its successor, the Socialist Unity Party (SED). Yet Pierre Broué’s study remains a highly valuable contribution to the literature and a testament to what a creative scholar can produce even without the free run of the archives.

Suggestions for Further Reading [15]

Source publications and reference works

Bauer, Franz J. (ed.), Die Regierung Eisner 1918/19. Ministerratsprotokolle und Dokumente, Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1987.

Bernstein, Eduard, Die deutsche Revolution von 1918/19. Geschichte der Entstehung und ersten Arbeitsperiode der deutschen Republik, edited by Heinrich August Winkler, annotated by Teresa Lowe, Bonn: Verlag J.H.W. Dietz Nachf., 1998.

Bock, Hans Manfred, Bericht iiber den Gründungsparteitag der KAPD am 4. und 5. April 1920 in Berlin, Jahrbuch Arbeiterbewegung, 5, 1977: 185–242.

Crusius, R., G. Schiefelbein and M. Wilke (eds.), Die Betriebsräte in der Weimarer Republik, 2 Volumes, Berlin: Verlag Olle & Wolter, 1978.

Groß-Berliner Arbeiter- und Soldatenräte in der Revolution 1918/19. Dokumente der Vollversammlungen und des Vollzugsrates.
Vol. 1: Gerhard Engel et al. (eds.), Vom Ausbruch der Revolution bis zum 1. Reichsrätekongreß, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1993.
Vol. 2: Gerhard Engel et al. (eds.), Vom Reichsrätekongreß bis zum Generalstreikbeschluß am 3. Marz 1919, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1997.

Heinrich Potthoff and Hermann Weber (eds.), Die SPD-Fraktion in der Nationalversammlung, 1919–1920, Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1986.

Quellen zur Geschichte der deutschen Gewerkschaftsbewegung im 20. Jahrhundert.
Vol. 1: Klaus Schönhoven (ed.), Die Gewerkschaften in Weltkrieg und Revolution 1914–1919, Cologne: Bund-Verlag, 1985.
Vol. 2: Michael Ruck (ed.), Die Gewerkschaften in den Anfangsjahren der Republik 1919–1923, Cologne: Bund-Verlag, 1985.

Quellen zur Geschichte der Rätebewegung in Deutschland.
Vol. 1: Eberhard Kolb with Reinhard Rürup (eds.), Der Zentralrat der Deutschen Sozialistischen Republik, 19.12.1918–8.4.1919, Leiden: Brill, 1968.
Vol. 2: Eberhard Kolb and Klaus Schönhoven (eds.), Regionale und lokale Räteorganisationen in Württemberg, Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1976.
Vol. 3: Peter Brandt and Reinhard Rürup (eds.), Arbeiter-, Soldaten- und Volksräte in Baden, 1918/19, Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1980.

Sabine Roß, Biographisches Handbuch der Reichsrätekongresse 1918/19, Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 2000.

Weber, Hermann (ed.), Die Gründung der KPD. Protokoll und Materialien des Gründungsparteitages der Kommunistischen Partei Deutschlands 1918/19, Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1993.

Studies of developments in Germany

Arnold, Volker, Rätebewegung und Rätetheorien in der Novemberrevolution. Räte als Organisationsformen des Kampfes und der Selbstbestimmung, Second revised edition, Hamburg: Junius Verlag, 1985.

Bahne, Siegfried, Die Erwerbslosenpolitik der KPD in der Weimarer Republik, in Vom Elend der Handarbeit: Probleme historischer Unterschichtenforschung, edited by Hans Mommsen and Wilfried Schulze, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1981.

Barclay, David E. and Eric D. Weitz (eds.), Between Reform and Revolution: Studies in German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990, Providence: Berghahn, 1996.

Bauer, Karin, Clara Zetkin und die proletarische Frauenbewegung, Berlin: Oberbaum, 1978.

Bayerlein, Bruno, Leonid G. Babicenko, Fridrich Firsov, and Aleksandr Ju. Vatlin (eds.), Deutscher Oktober, 1923. Ein Revolutionsplan und sein Scheitern, Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 2003.

Bock, Hans Manfred, Syndikalismus und Linkskommunismus von 1918 bis 1923. Ein Beitrag zur Sozial- und Ideengeschichte der frühen Weimarer Republik, Second edition, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1993.

Bodek, Richard, Communist Music in the Streets: Politics and Perceptions in Berlin at the End of the Weimar Republic, in Elections, Mass Politics, and Social Change in Modern Germany: New Perspectives, edited by Larry Eugene Jones and James Retallack, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Canning, Kathleen, Gender and the Politics of Class Formation: Rethinking German Labor History, American Historical Review, 97, 3, 1992: 736–68.

Crew, David, A Social Republic? Social Democrats, Communists, and the Weimar Welfare State, 1919–1933, in Between Reform and Revolution: Studies in German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990, edited by David E. Barclay and Eric D. Weitz, Providence: Berghahn, 1996.

Daniel, Ute, Arbeiterfrauen in der Kriegsgesellschaft: Beruf Familie und Politik im Ersten Weltkrieg, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1989.

Davis, Belinda, Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin, Chapel Hill: Univerity of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Dobson, Sean, Authority and Upheaval in Leipzig, 1910–1920. The Story of a Relationship, New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

Dreetz, Dieter, Klaus Gessner and Heinz Sperling, Bewaffnete Kämpfe in Deutschland 1918–1923, Berlin: Militarverlag der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, 1988.

Feldman, Gerald D., Eberhard Kolb and Reinhard Rürup, Die Massenbewegung der Arbeiterschaft in Deutschland nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg, Politische Vierteljahrschrift, 13, 3, 1972: 84–105.

―― et al., Die Anpassung an die Inflation / The Adaption to Inflation, Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1986.

Fischer, Conan J., The German Communists and the Rise of Nazism, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.

Fülberth, Georg, Die Beziehungen zwischen SPD und KPD in der Kommunalpolitik der Weimarer Periode 1918/19 bis 1933, Cologne: Pahl-Rugenstein, 1985.

Gietinger, Klaus, Eine Leiche im Landwehrkanal. Die Ermordung der Rosa L, Mainz: Decaton Verlag, 1993.

Grau, Bernhard, Kurt Eisner 1867–1919. Eine Biographie, Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, 2001.

Grossmann, Atina, Reforming Sex: The German Movement for Birth Control and Abortion Reform, 1920–1950, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Guttsmann, W.L., Workers’ Culture in Weimar Germany: Between Tradition and Commitment, New York: Berg, 1990.

Hagemann, Karen, Frauenalltag und Männerpolitik: Alltagsleben und gesellschaftliches Handeln von Arbeiterfrauen in der Weimarer Republik, Bonn: J.H.W. Dietz Nachf., 1990.

Harman, Chris, The Lost Revolution: Germany 1918–1923, London: Bookmarks, 1982.

Hartewig, Karin, Das unberechenbare Jahrzehnt. Bergarbeiter und ihre Familien im Ruhrgebiet 1914–1924, Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, 1993.

Heer-Kleinert, Lore, Die Gewerkschaftspolitik der KPD in der Weimarer Republik, Frankfurt a.M.: Campus, 1983.

Herlemann, Beatrix, Die Kommunalpolitik der KPD im Ruhrgebeit 1924–1933, Wuppertal: Peter Hammer, 1977.

Kluge, Ulrich, Soldatenräte und Revolution. Studien zur Militärpolitik in Deutschland 1918/19, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1975.

――, Die deutsche Revolution 1918/1919, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1985.

Koch-Baumgarten, Sigrid, Aufstand der Avantgarde. Die Märzaktion der KPD 1921, Frankfurt am Main and New York: Campus Verlag, 1986.

Kolb, Eberhard, Die Arbeiterräte in der deutschen Innenpolitik 1918–1919, Expanded edition, Frankfurt am Main [etc.]: Ullstein, 1978.

―― (ed.), Friedrich Ebert als Reichspräsident. Amtsführung und Amtsverständnis, Munich: Oldenbourg Verlag, 1997.

Kontos, Silvia, ‘Die Partei kdmpft wie ein Mann’: Frauenpolitik der KPD in der Weimarer Republik, Frankfurt am Main: Roter Stern, 1979.

Krause, Hartfrid, USPD: Geschichte der Unabhängigen Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands, Frankfurt am Main: Europaische Verlags-Anstalt, 1975.

Krumpholz, Ralf, Wahrnehmung und Politik. Die Bedeutung des Ordnungsdenkens fur das politische Handeln am Beispiel der deutschen Revolution von 1918–1920, Münster: Lit Verlag, 1998.

Lehnert, Detlef, Sozialdemokratie und Novemberrevolution. Die Neuordnungsdebatte 1918/19 in der politischen Publizistik von SPD und USPD, Frankfurt am Main and New York: Campus Verlag, 1983.

Linse, Ulrich, Die entschiedene Jugend 1919–1921. Deutschlands erste revolutionäre Schüler- und Studentenbewegung, Frankfurt am Main: Dipa-Verlag, 1981.

Lucas, Erhard, Märzrevolution im Ruhrgebiet. März/April 1920, 3 Volumes, Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Roter Stern, 1970–8.

――, Zwei Formen von Radikalismus in der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung, Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Roter Stern, 1976.

Luz, Rudolf, KPD, Weimarer Staat und politische Einheit der Arbeiterbewegung in der Nachkriegskrise 1919-1922/23, Konstanz: Hartung-Gorre Verlag, 1987.

Mason, Tim, Nazism, Fascism and the Working Class: Essays by Tim Mason, edited by Jane Caplan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Mallmann, Klaus-Michael, Kommunisten in der Weimarer Republik, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1999.

Mommsen, Hans, Die verspielte Freiheit: Der Weg der Republik von Weimar in den Untergang 1918 bis 1933, Frankfurt a.M.: Propyläen, 1990.

Pelz, William A., The Spartakusbund and the German Working Class Movement 1914–1919, Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1987.

Peterson, Larry, German Communism, Workers’ Protest, and Labor Unions. The Politics of the United Front in Rhineland-Westphalia 1920–1924, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1993.

Peukert, Detlev J.K., Die Weimarer Republik: Krisenjahre der klassischen Moderne, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1987.

――, Jugend zwischen Krieg und Krise. Lebenswelten von Arbeiterjungen in der Weimarer Republik, Cologne: Bund-Verlag, 1987.

Rosenhaft, Eve, Beating the Fascists? The German Communists and Political Violence, 1929–1933, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

Rouette, Susanne, Sozialpolitik als Geschlechterpolitik. Die Regulierung der Frauenarbeit nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg, Frankfurt am Main and New York: Campus Verlag, 1993.

Ruck, Michael, Die Freien Gewerkschaften im Ruhrkampf 1923, Cologne: Bund-Verlag, 1986.

Rürup, Reinhard, Demokratischer Revolution und ‘dritter Weg’: Die deutsche Revolution von 1918/19 in den neueren wissenschaftlichen Diskussion, Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 9, 2, 1983: 278–301.

Rürup, Reinhard (ed.), Arbeiter- und Soldatenräte im rheinisch-westfälischen Industriegebiet. Studien zur Geschichte der Revolution 1918/19, Wuppertal: Verlag Peter Hammer, 1975.

Schock, Eva Cornelia, Arbeitslosigkeit und Rationalisierung: Die Lage der Arbeiter und die kommunistische Gewerkschaftspolitik 1920–1928, Frankfurt a.M.: Campus, 1977.

Schönhoven, Klaus, Reformismus und Radikalismus: Gespaltene Arbeiterbewegung im Weimarer Sozialstaat, Munich: DTV, 1989.

Schumann, Dirk, Politische Gewalt in der Weimarer Republik 1918–1933. Kampf um die Straße und Furcht vor dem Bürgerkrieg, Essen: Klartext, 2001.

Seligmann, Michael, Aufstand der Räte. Die erste bayerische Räterepublik vom 7. April 1919, Grafenau: Trotzdem Verlag, 1989.

Stolle, Uta, Arbeiterpolitik im Betrieb: Frauen und Männer, Reformisten und Radikale, Fach- und Massenarbeiter bei Bayer, BASF, Bosch und in Solingen (1900–1933), Frankfurt a.M.: Campus, 1980.

Tenfelde, Klaus (ed.), Arbeiter im 20. Jahrhundert, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1991.

――, Proletarische Provinz: Radikalisierung und Widerstand in Penzberg/Oberbayern 1900–1945, Munich: Oldenbourg, 1982.

Weber, Hermann, Kommunismus in Deutschland 1918–1945, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1983.

Weber, Stefan, Ein kommunistischer Putsch? Märzaktion 1921 in Mitteldeutschland, Berlin: Dietz, 1991.

Weinhauer, Klaus, Alltag und Arbeitskampf im Hamburger Hafen. Sozialgeschichte der Hamburger Hafenarbeiter 1914–1933, Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1994.

Weitz, Eric D., Creating German Communism, 1890–1990: From Popular Protests to Socialist State, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997.

――, Popular Communism: Political Strategies and Social Histories in the Formation of the German, French, and Italian Communist Parties, 1919–1948, Western Societies Program Occasional Paper no. 31, Ithaca: Cornell University Institute for European Studies, 1992.

――, ‘Rosa Luxemburg Belongs To Us!’: German Communism and the Luxemburg Legacy, Central European History, 27, 1, 1994: 27–64.

Wheeler, Robert F., USPD und Internationale. Sozialistischer Internationalismus in der Zeit der Revolution, Frankfurt am Main: Ullstein Verlag, 1975.

Winkler, Heinrich August, Der Schein der Normalität: Arbeiter und Arbeiterbewegung in der Weimarer Republik 1924 bis 1930, Berlin: J.H.W. Dietz Nachf., 1988.

――, Von der Revolution zur Stabilisierung: Arbeiter und Arbeiterbewegung in der Weimarer Republik 1918 bis 1924, Berlin: J.H.W. Dietz Nachf., 1984.

――, Der Weg in die Katastrophe: Arbeiter und Arbeiterbewegung in der Weimarer Republik 1930 bis 1933, Berlin: J.H.W. Dietz Nachf., 1990.

Wunderer, Hartmann, Materialien zur Soziologie der Mitgliedschaft und Wählerschaft der KPD zur Zeit der Weimarer Republik, Gesellschaft, 5, 1975: 257–81.

Studies of international connections

Berger, Stefan, and David Broughton (eds.), The Force of Labour. The Western European Labour Movement and the Working Class in the Twentieth Century, Oxford and Washington, DC: Berg, 1995.

Bertrand, Charles (ed.), Revolutionary Situations in Europe, 1917–1922. Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Montreal: Interuniversity Centre for European Studies, 1977.

Broué, Pierre, Histoire de l’Internationale Communiste 1919–1943, Paris: Fayard.

Carsten, Francis L., Revolution in Central Europe, 1918–1919, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972.

Cronin, James E., and Carmen Sirianni (eds.), Work, Community, and Power. The Experience of Labor in Europe and America, 1900–1925, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983.

Gluckstein, Donny, The Western Soviets. Workers’ Councils versus Parliament 1915–1920, London: Bookmarks, 1985.

Haimson, Leopold H., and Giulio Sapelli (eds.), Strikes, Social Conflict and the First World War. An International Perspective, Milan: Feltrinelli, 1992.

Haimson, Leopold H., and Charles Tilly (eds.), Strikes, Wars, and Revolutions in an International Perspective. Strike Waves in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Linden, Marcel van der, Communist Parties: The First Generation (1918–1923), in Transnational Labour History: Explorations, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003.

Löwenthal, Richard, The ‘Missing Revolution’ in Industrial Societies: Comparative Reflections on a German Problem, in: Volker R. Berghahn and Martin Kitchen (eds.), Germany in the Age of Total War, London: Croom Helm, 1981.

Post, Ken, Revolution’s Other World. Communism and the Periphery, 1917–39, Basingstoke and New York: Macmillan Press, 1997.

Schmitt, Hans A. (ed.), Neutral Europe between War and Revolution 1917–23, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1988.

Vatlin, Alexander. The Testing-Ground of World Revolution: Germany in the 1920s, in Tim Rees and Andrew Thorpe (eds.), International Communism and the Communist International 1919–43, Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1998.

Wrigley, Chris (ed.), Challenges of Labour: Central and Western Europe 1917–1920, London: Routledge, 1993.


1. The exceptions in French are the works of Gilbert Badia, such as, Le Spartakisme, les dernières années de Rosa Luxemburg et de Karl Liebknecht, 1914–1919 (Paris: l’Arche, 1967).

2. A good example dealing specifically with labour is Jürgen Kocka, Klassengesellschaft im Krieg: Deutsche Sozialgeschichte 1914–1918 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1973).

3. E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (New York: Pantheon, 1964).

4. The grand syntheses in German are contained in the series, Geschichte der Arbeiter und der Arbeiterbewegung in Deutschland seit dem Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts, edited by Gerhard A Ritter. For the period covered by Broué’s study, the relevant volume is Heinrich August Winkler, Von der Revolution zur Stabilisierung: Arbeiter und Arbeiterbewegung in der Weimarer Republik 1918 bis 1924 (Berlin: J.H.W. Dietz Nachf., 1984).

5. Notable examples of East German scholarship on German labour include Erwin Konneman and Hans-Joachim Krusch, Aktionseinheit contra Kapp-Putsch (Berlin: Dietz, 1972), and Hartmut Zwahr (eds.), Die Konstituierung der deutschen Arbeiterklasse von den dreißiger bis zu den siebziger Jahren des 19. Jahrhunderts (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1981).

6. For the best critique, see Kathleen Canning, Gender and the Politics of Class Formation: Rethinking German Labor History, American Historical Review, 97, 3, 1992: 736–68, and idem, Languages of Labor and Gender: Female Factory Work in Germany, 1850–1914 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994).

7. For an account of the pre-war labour movement that reflects this position, see Eric D. Weitz, Creating German Communism, 1890–1990: From Popular Protests to Socialist State (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), pp. 18–61, and, generally David E. Barclay and Eric D. Weitz (eds.) Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990 (New York: Berghahn Books, 1998).

8. The two important, early works that stimulated the debate were Eberhard Kolb, Die Arbeiterräte in der deutschen Innenpolitik (Düsseldorf: Droste, 1962), and Peter von Oertzen, Betriebsräte in der Novemberrevolution (Düsseldorf: Droste, 1963)

9. For this position, see Winkler, Von der Revolution zur Stabilisierung.

10. See also Weitz, Creating German Communism.

11. See, for example, Ute Daniel, Arbeiterfrauen in der Kriegsgesellschaft: Beruf, Familie und Politik im Ersten Weltkrieg (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1989); Karen Hagemann, Frauenalltag und Männerpolitik: Alltagsleben und gesellschaftliches Handeln von Arbeiterfrauen in der Weimar Republik (Bonn: J.H.W. Dietz Nachf., 1990); Karin Hartewig, Das unberechenbare Jahrzehnt: Bergarbeiter und ihre Familien im Ruhrgebiet (Munich: Beck, 1993); Atina Grossmann, Reforming Sex: The German Movement for Birth Control and Abortion Reform, 1920–1950 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); and Belinda Davis, Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000).

12. See Weitz, Creating German Communism, pp. 188–232.

13. Among many other works, see Weber’s magnum opus, Die Wandlung des deutschen Kommunismus: Die Stalinisierung der KPD in der Weimarer Republik, 2 vols. (Frankfurt am Main: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1969).

14. See Klaus-Michael Mallmann, Kommunisten in der Weimarer Republik (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1999), and Weitz, Creating German Communism.

15. Compiled by Marcel van der Linden and Eric D. Weitz.

Last updated on 13.2.2014