Kapp Putsch
The Kapp Putsch — or more accurately the Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch — was a 1920 coup attempt
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 during the German Revolution of 1918–1919 aimed at overthrowing the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

. Based on opposition to the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 imposed at the end of 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 putsch was later labelled as right-wing monarchist and reactionary.


In early 1919 the strength of the Reichswehr
The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was renamed the Wehrmacht ....

, the regular army, was estimated at 350,000. There were in addition more than 250,000 men enlisted in the various Freikorps
Freikorps are German volunteer military or paramilitary units. The term was originally applied to voluntary armies formed in German lands from the middle of the 18th century onwards. Between World War I and World War II the term was also used for the paramilitary organizations that arose during...

. Under the terms of the Versailles Treaty, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 was required to reduce its armed forces to a maximum of 100,000. Freikorps units were therefore expected to be disbanded.

In March 1920 orders were issued for the disbandment of the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt
Marinebrigade Ehrhardt
The Marinebrigade Ehrhardt was a Free Corps group of around 6,000 men formed by Captain Hermann Ehrhardt in the aftermath of World War I, also known as II Marine Brigade or the Ehrhardt Brigade...

. Its leaders were determined to resist dissolution and appealed to General Walther von Lüttwitz
Walther von Lüttwitz
Walther von Lüttwitz was a German general known for his involvement in the Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch.Lüttwitz was born in Bodland near Kreuzburg in Upper Silesia. During World War I, Lüttwitz held several high military ranks...

, commander of the Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 Reichswehr, for support. Lüttwitz, an organiser of Freikorps
Freikorps are German volunteer military or paramilitary units. The term was originally applied to voluntary armies formed in German lands from the middle of the 18th century onwards. Between World War I and World War II the term was also used for the paramilitary organizations that arose during...

units in the wake of World War I, and a fervent monarchist, responded by calling on President
President of Germany
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...

 Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany .When Ebert was elected as the leader of the SPD after the death of August Bebel, the party members of the SPD were deeply divided because of the party's support for World War I. Ebert supported the Burgfrieden and...

 and Defense Minister Gustav Noske
Gustav Noske
Gustav Noske was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany . He served as the first Minister of Defence of Germany between 1919 and 1920.-Biography:...

 to stop the whole programme of troop reductions. When Ebert refused, Lüttwitz ordered the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt to march on Berlin. It occupied the capital on 13 March. Lüttwitz, therefore, was the driving force behind the 1920 putsch, even though its nominal leader was Wolfgang Kapp
Wolfgang Kapp
Wolfgang Kapp was a Prussian civil servant and journalist. He was a strict nationalist, and a nominal leader of the so-called Kapp Putsch.-Early life:...

, a 62-year-old East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

n civil servant and fervent nationalist. After the putsch Noske named Kapp, Waldemar Pabst
Waldemar Pabst
Waldemar Pabst was a German soldier and political activist involved in far right and anti-communist activity in both his homeland and Austria.-Anti-communism:...

 and Hermann Ehrhardt
Hermann Ehrhardt
Hermann Ehrhardt was a German Freikorps commander during the period of turmoil in Weimar Republic Germany from 1918 to 1920, he commanded the famous II.Marine Brigade, better known as the Ehrhardt Brigade or Marinebrigade Ehrhardt.Born in Diersburg, now part of Hohberg, Baden-Württemberg, he later...

 as being responsible, despite the support from much higher up in the army.

At this point Noske called upon the regular army to suppress the putsch. He encountered a blank refusal. The Chef der Heeresleitung General Hans von Seeckt
Hans von Seeckt
Johannes Friedrich "Hans" von Seeckt was a German military officer noted for his organization of the German Army during the Weimar Republic.-Early life:...

, one of the Reichswehr's senior commanders, told him: "Reichswehr does not fire on Reichswehr." The government, forced to abandon Berlin, moved to Dresden, where they hoped to get support from Generalmajor Maercker. When they realized that Maercker did not want to take a clear stance they moved further to Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

. Meanwhile, Kapp tried to form a government, with a number of desperate and in part criminal characters in the subordinate offices. Well-known conservatives and former secretaries of state, who were invited to assume the more important offices, declined to associate themselves with him.

The Cabinet issued a proclamation calling on Germany's workers to defeat the putsch by means of a general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

. The strike call received massive support. This struggle claimed numerous victims among workers all over the country. With the country paralysed, and with the leading generals of the army — with the exception of Ludendorff — having at the same time informed Lüttwitz that his position and action were entirely irregular and that he must resign in the interests of the country, the putsch collapsed; Kapp and Lüttwitz, unable to govern, fled to Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....


There were two main reasons why the Weimar Republic survived in 1920. Firstly, the working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 rallied to its defense. Secondly, most of the leading Freikorps commanders refused to join the putsch, perhaps with the view that it was premature.


The chief grievances which Kapp and his followers had against the government were (a) that the national assembly, which had been elected to serve temporarily, was beginning to act as a permanent Reichstag; (b) that it seemed this assembly might revise the constitution with respect to the election of the President of the Republic so that the Reichstag, rather than the electorate of the country, was responsible for the President's election. There was something in these complaints, and as a consequence the date of the general election for the first republican Reichstag was hastened and was fixed for the following June, while all attempts to change the method of election for the presidency of the Republic were abandoned.

The effects of the Kapp Putsch throughout Germany were more lasting than in Berlin. On the one hand, it led to a succession of communist insurrections, of which the most serious was that which was suppressed by reactionary troops and with reactionary severity in the Ruhr region, March-April 1920. On the other hand, it left a rump of military conspirators such as Col. Bauer, Maj. Pabst and Capt. Ehrhardt, who found refuge in Bavaria under the reactionary government of Gustav von Kahr (itself an indirect product of the Kapp coup) and there attempted to organize plots against the republican constitution and government of Germany. The crisis in the relations of Bavaria with the Reich (August-September 1921) which ended in von Kahr's resignation was a further phase of the same trouble.

Monument to the March Dead

Between 1920 and 1922 a monument in honour of the workers who lost their lives in the wake of the Kapp Putsch was erected in the Weimar central cemetery. The memorial was commissioned by the Weimar Gewerkschaftskartell (Union Kartell) and built according to plans submitted to a competition by the architectural office of Walter Gropius
Walter Gropius
Walter Adolph Georg Gropius was a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School who, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture....

. Although Gropius maintained that the Bauhaus
', commonly known simply as Bauhaus, was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term stood for "School of Building".The Bauhaus school was founded by...

 should remain politically neutral, he ultimately agreed to participate in the competition staged among Weimar artists at the end of 1920. The monument was arranged around an inner space, in which visitors could stand, the repeatedly fractured and highly angular memorial rose up on three sides as if thrust up from or rammed into the earth. In February 1936, the Nazis
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 destroyed the monument due to its political overtones, and considered its design to fall under the category of degenerate art
Degenerate art
Degenerate art is the English translation of the German entartete Kunst, a term adopted by the Nazi regime in Germany to describe virtually all modern art. Such art was banned on the grounds that it was un-German or Jewish Bolshevist in nature, and those identified as degenerate artists were...


See also

  • 1920 in Germany
    1920 in Germany
    Events in the year 1920 in Germany.-National level:President*Friedrich Ebert Chancellor*Gustav Bauer to 27 March, then Hermann Müller to 25 June, then Constantin Fehrenbach...

  • Ruhr Red Army
    Ruhr Red Army
    Red Ruhr Army was an army of between 50,000 and 80,000 left wing workers from the Communist Party of Germany, the Communist Workers' Party of Germany, the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany, and the Free Workers Union of Germany, formed on March 13, 1920 as a reaction to the Kapp Putsch...

  • Rudolph Berthold
    Rudolph Berthold
    Rudolf Berthold was a German World War I flying ace. Between 1916 and 1918 he shot down 44 enemy planes—most of them over the Belgian front. Berthold had the reputation as a ruthless, fearless and—above all—a very patriotic fighter...

    (1891–1920) *death and gravestone section

External links

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