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Remembering Kurt Eisner

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

By Amy Nicholas On the 8th November 1918 – almost exactly 100 years ago – German socialist, journalist and statesman Kurt Eisner organised the socialist revolution that overthrew the monarchy in Bavaria. Against the backdrop of the “Great War” and – as we know with hindsight - so close to the ceasefire. As revolutions go, this one wasn’t all that revolutionary... The dethroned King Ludwig III fled and kept his head for one, and Eisner ensured that the more radical elements of the Socialist agenda – namely the nationalization of banks and companies – weren't implemented.

Eisner made some powerful enemies, particularly after he published secret documents which implicated the Reich Leadership in working against peace and indeed ensuring the onset of the First World War in 1914. By 1919 Eisner had dramatically lost the first state elections and on the 21st of February of that same year was assassinated. His assassination was thought to be both politically motivated and an act of anti-Semitism.

Eisner’s death was followed swiftly by the collapse of the republic he had established; it was brutally crushed in the spring of 1919 by right-wing troops, sparking a climate of nationalism in Munich in which the National Socialist Workers’ Party (eventually known as the Nazi Party) was able to flourish.

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