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(en) Germany, Die Platform: 104 years ago: General strike against reaction and March Revolution in the Ruhr area (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Thu, 4 Apr 2024 08:17:25 +0300

These days, 104 years ago, in March 1920, businesses came to a standstill everywhere in the German Reich. The working class is opposing the reactionary Kapp-Lüttwitz putsch with a general strike. It is the start of one of the largest workers' uprisings in German history - the March Revolution in the Ruhr area. ---- Less than two years earlier, the November Revolution swept away the old order and put an end to the murderous war of the European imperialists. But the treacherous social democracy is strangling the social revolution through a pact with the old elites. Nevertheless, they seek revenge for the loss of their emperor, the territories and colonies and their strong army.

On March 13, 1920, parts of the Reichswehr under General Lüttwitz and the Prussian official Wolfgang Kapp attempted a coup in Berlin in order to restore the old order. The core of the mutinous troops are members of the Freikorps, reactionary men's groups of former frontline soldiers who marched with the swastika on their helmets even before the founding of the NSDAP. While the SPD government is fleeing the putschists in Berlin, the workers know what to do. A nationwide general strike is called for March 15th. Within three days the putschists are exhausted and give up.

Resistance to the putsch is particularly strong in the Ruhr area. The organizations of the workers' movement - parties such as the SPD, USPD and KPD as well as the trade unions General German Trade Union Confederation (predecessor of the DGB) and the anarcho-syndicalist Free Workers Union of Germany (predecessor of the FAU) - form "action committees" that exercise local power in the cities take over. They rely on armed workers' formations that are formed to defend themselves against the putschists. These combat units quickly joined forces to form the "Red Ruhr Army" and together they succeeded in driving the hated Reichswehr out of the entire industrial area. The "March Revolution" is a joint action by the proletariat in the Ruhr area: Social Democrats fight shoulder to shoulder with communists and anarchists, numerous unorganized people and even members of Christian trade unions.

As much as there is unity in defending against the immediate danger, there are quite different opinions about the broader goals of the uprising: "Defense of the Republic!" some shout. They are concerned with disarming the troops involved in the coup and purging the state apparatus of monarchist-minded officials, i.e. with a parliamentary democracy that is more than just a facade. "Socialization!" and "All power to the councils!" shout the others. They see the opportunity now for a much more thorough transformation of society, for the continuation of the November Revolution of 1918. The working population should wrest control of the means of production from the bosses ("socialization") and use them to satisfy their own needs; it should exercise its collective power itself through grassroots assemblies ("councils") instead of delegating it to parliaments. Where the opportunity presents itself and radical forces such as the syndicalists are particularly strong, the first steps towards realizing these ideas are already being taken.

However, the insurgents should not have time to clarify their internal contradictions. Barely back in office from exile in southern Germany, the government once again clearly rejected the many-voiced calls for social change. "Peace and order" is now the order of the day. In order to restore this, the SPD leadership entered into an alliance with the military, as in November 1918. She doesn't even shy away from using the troops that just staged the coup against her against the workers who saved her from the coup. The government's first priority is to end the social experiment on the Rhine and Ruhr before the spark spreads to other areas.

But the March Revolution remains isolated; the desperate call: "Save the Ruhr workers!" goes unheard. A major reason for the passivity of the rest of the workforce are illusionary hopes in their political and trade union leaders and their negotiations in Berlin and Bielefeld, where an agreement on the movement's demands is to be negotiated. In this way, the Reichswehr was able to gather troops from other parts of Germany unhindered, which crushed the movement three weeks after it was formed and took terribly bloody revenge in the process. The terror of the Freikorps offers a foretaste of what was to come after 1933.

According to the official narrative of this state, the Weimar Republic failed because the democratic center was crushed by the extreme forces of the left and right. In contrast, the fate of the March Revolution shows us that the political center, especially the party leadership of the SPD, at the very beginning of the Weimar period, in alliance with the extreme right, bloodily suppressed those forces that might have been able to do so in the 1930s would be to counteract the rise of the Nazis.

Today we remember the millions of workers who courageously opposed the harshest reaction's grasp on state power. Today we particularly remember the tens of thousands of Ruhr proletarians who fought for their liberation from the yoke of capitalism in the spring of 1920. You are never forgotten!

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