Spartacist uprising
The Spartacist Uprising , also known as the January uprising (Januaraufstand), was 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...

 (and the armed battles accompanying it) in 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...

 from January 5 to January 15, 1919. Its suppression marked the end of the German Revolution
German Revolution
The German Revolution was the politically-driven civil conflict in Germany at the end of World War I, which resulted in the replacement of Germany's imperial government with a republic...

. The name "Spartacist uprising" is generally used for the event even though neither the Spartakusbund nor 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...

 (KPD) initiated or led the uprising and only participated after it had already begun. It was one of a number of elements that contributed to German disillusionment with the Weimar Government
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...



The uprising began after the January 4 discharge 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...

 Chief of Police Emil Eichhorn, a member of the Independent Social Democratic Party
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) by the "Council of the People's Deputies" (Rat der Volksbeauftragten), whose politics were mainly controlled by 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...

 from the Social Democratic Party
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 (SPD) since the USPD left the committee December 29, 1918. Eichhorn had refused to take up arms against striking
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 workers in the Christmas turmoils on December 24, so that Ebert considered him to be unreliable.

Several workers then spontaneously seized the editorial office of a newspaper in the Kochstraße in Berlin and erected barricades on the streets. They were soon joined by more workers and blocked several streets in the newspaper quarter, including the office of the SPD organ "Forward" (Vorwärts
Vorwärts was the central organ of the Social Democratic Party of Germany published daily in Berlin from 1891 to 1933 by decision of the party's Halle Congress, as the successor of Berliner Volksblatt, founded in 1884....

). The newspaper had printed articles hostile to the Spartacists since the beginning of September.

The Revolution Committee

The leaders of the USPD and the KPD soon decided to support the actions of the workers. They appealed for a general strike in Berlin on January 7, which garnered about 500,000 people, who surged into downtown Berlin that weekend. In the following two days, however, the strike leadership, the so-called Revolution Committee, was not able to agree on how to proceed. Some called for armed insurgency, others advocated deliberations with Ebert. The workers, still squatting in the buildings, obtained weapons.

Internal disagreement

Even within the Communist Party there was dissent on what to do. 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...

, unlike Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and activist of Polish Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen...

, advocated violently overthrowing the Ebert government, because otherwise the KPD could become too distant from the workers who were planning to do just this. At the same time several KPD leaders tried to persuade the regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

s stationed in Berlin, especially the Volksmarinedivision, to their side. Their armed presence was supposed to prevent fighting. This was, however, unsuccessful, because most of the soldiers had already gone home or because of their loyalty to the "Rat der Volksbeauftragten".

On January 8, the KPD left the Revolution Committee after USPD representatives had invited Friedrich Ebert for talks. While these took place, the workers found out about a flyer published by Vorwärts titled "Die Stunde der Abrechnung naht!" (The hour of vengeance is coming soon!) and about the 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...

 (anti-Republican paramilitary organizations, who fought 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...

 and the November Revolution), whom the SPD administration had hired to suppress the workers. Ebert had ordered 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:...

, also a member of the SPD, to do so on January 6. Then the Revolution Committee stopped talks with the SPD. The Spartacist League then called for its members to take part in armed combat.

Attack by the Freikorps

On the same day, Ebert ordered the Freikorps to attack the workers. The former soldiers still had weapons and military equipment from 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...

, which gave them a formidable advantage. They quickly re-conquered the blocked streets and buildings; many of the workers surrendered. Around 100 civilians and 17 Freikorps soldiers died during the fighting. Liebknecht and Luxemburg were captured by Freikorps and killed.
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