Burgfrieden—literally "fortress peace" or "castle peace" but more accurately "party truce"—is a German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 term used for the political truce the Social Democratic Party of Germany
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 and the other political parties agreed to during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The trade unions refrained from striking, the SPD voted for war credits
War bond
War bonds are debt securities issued by a government for the purpose of financing military operations during times of war. War bonds generate capital for the government and make civilians feel involved in their national militaries...

 in the Reichstag
Reichstag (German Empire)
The Reichstag was the parliament of the North German Confederation , and of the German Reich ....

 and the parties agreed not to criticize the government and its war. There were several reasons for the Burgfrieden politics: the Social Democrats believed it was their patriotic duty to support the government in war; they were afraid of government repression should they protest against the war; they feared living under an autocratic Russian Czar more than the German constitutional monarchy and its Kaiser; and they hoped to achieve political reforms after the war, including the abrogation of the inequitable three-class voting system
Prussian three-class franchise
After the 1848 revolutions in the German states, the Prussian three-class franchise system was introduced in 1849 by the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm IV for the election of the Lower House of the Prussian state parliament. It was completely abolished only in 1918...

, by cooperating with the government.

The only SPD member of parliament to vote against war credits in the second session was Karl Liebknecht
Karl Liebknecht
was a German socialist and a co-founder with Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany. He is best known for his opposition to World War I in the Reichstag and his role in the Spartacist uprising of 1919...

. In the third session on March 20, 1915, Otto Rühle
Otto Rühle
Otto Rühle was a German Marxist active in opposition to both the First and Second World Wars, and a founder with along with Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Mehring and others of the group and magazine Internationale, which posed a revolutionary internationalism against a world of warring...

 joined him. Over the course of the war the number of SPD politicians opposed to the war steadily increased. Their resistance against the Burgfrieden politics led to the expulsion of Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and activist of Polish Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen...

, Clara Zetkin
Clara Zetkin
Clara Zetkin was a German Marxist theorist, activist, and fighter for women's rights. In 1910, she organized the first International Women's Day....

, and others from the SPD. These went on to found the Spartacist League
Spartacist League
The Spartacus League was a left-wing Marxist revolutionary movement organized in Germany during World War I. The League was named after Spartacus, leader of the largest slave rebellion of the Roman Republic...

, the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany
Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany was a short-lived political party in Germany during the Second Reich and the Weimar Republic. The organization was established in 1917 as the result of a split of left wing members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany...

 (USPD), and the Communist Party of Germany
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...


The only trade union to refuse the Burgfrieden was the Free Association of German Trade Unions
Free Association of German Trade Unions
The Free Association of German Trade Unions was a trade union federation in Imperial and early Weimar Germany. It was founded in 1897 in Halle under the name Representatives' Centralization of Germany as the national umbrella organization of the localist current of the German labor movement...

 (FVdG), which would later become the Free Workers' Union of Germany
Free Workers' Union of Germany
The Free Workers' Union of Germany was an anarcho-syndicalist trade union, which existed from the renaming of the Free Association of German Trade Unions on September 15, 1919 to its official disbandment in January 1933 after the Nazis came into power, although many of its members continued to be...


Further reading

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