'Long live peace!'

IssueOctober - November 2018
Feature by Gabriel Carlyle


‘Enemy Activities – Manufacturing War Material – Noon hour in a German munitions factory, 1917 – 1918’.
Photo: US National Archives and Records Administration [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

'How did the workers' councils emerge in Germany? They emerged from the big strike movements of the last years, in which we – who have always been strong opponents of the war and who have lived with tortured souls for four years given the pressure and the lies the German people were exposed to – were the driving political force. We convinced the people in the big factories who shared our ideas to act as workers' councils; they did so under enormous danger.' - Ernst Däumig, 19 December 1918 [1]

‘It is all a swindle:
The War is for the wealthy,
The Middle Class must give way,
The people provide the corpses’
Poem left in a train compartment by German soldiers in early 1918 [2]

The German revolution of 1918 – 1919 overthrew the centuries-old Hohenzollern dynasty that was ruling Germany at the time of the First World War and saw radical attempts to replace Germany’s economic system by one run democratically by German workers, rather than by capitalists or by the state. The British response to the revolution led to perhaps a quarter of a million civilian deaths and played a critical role in the destablisation of post-war German society, enabling the rise of the Nazis and the Second World War.

Yet for all that, the German revolution appears to be little-known here in the UK. When I told a friend that I was writing this piece, her immediate response was: ‘The what? Was that something that happened in the 1840s?’

‘For us the war is over’
The German revolution was a direct result of Germany’s request for an armistice (that is, a formal agreement to stop fighting so that a peace could be negotiated) and the threat of an Allied invasion following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire, then a German ally. It was therefore an outcome, rather than a cause, of Germany’s military defeat. [3]

On 28 September 1918, the de facto head of Germany’s war effort, general Erich Ludendorff, decided that Germany could no longer sustain its military campaign. It must seek peace – and form a parliamentary government for this purpose. At his insistence, on the evening of 4–5 October, the German cabinet sent a note to US president Woodrow Wilson asking for an immediate armistice. [4]

However, at the end of October 1918, as negotiations continued on the terms of the armistice, the German admiralty – acting on its own initiative – ordered one last desperate attack on the British navy.

It never took place.

Instead, German sailors mutinied. Some ships went to the rendezvous point as ordered, but upon arrival the sailors extinguished the fires in the boilers and refused to proceed. Other ships never even weighed anchor. Challenged by their officers the mutineers replied: ‘We do not put to sea, for us the war is over’. [5]
(Revealingly, the German admiralty were not the only ones who wanted to prolong the war. In their private letters, Britain’s admirals openly confessed their desire that impossibly high armistice terms should be set, to drive Germany into risking a final sea battle. [6] ‘In a way I was pleased with these demands,’ wrote Britain’s first sea lord, admiral Rosslyn Wemyss, on 5 November 1918, ‘as I believed that directly the Germans heard them they would refuse and would come out and fight, in which case we should have got all we wanted.’[7])

The mutiny at sea led to a revolt in the city of Kiel. This in turn set off a series of virtually bloodless uprisings throughout Germany. Inspired by the Russian example, workers and soldiers around the country formed thousands of improvised decision-making councils.


Revolutionary sailors at a rally in Wilhelmshaven, 10 November 1918 Photo: German Federal Archives via Wikimedia Commons.

‘Brothers, no shooting!’

Finally, on 9 November 1918, the revolution came to Berlin.

The night before, the trade unionist Richard Müller watched as endless rows of heavily-armed soldiers marched past Berlin’s famous Hallesches Tor gate.

‘There was no doubt that they would drown the people’s revolution in blood,’ he later wrote. ‘Now, as the decisive moment was approaching, I was seized by an oppressive feeling, a great worry for my class comrades, for the proletariat. Given the magnitude of the moment, I felt shamefully small and weak.’ [8]

But the next day the workers carried red flags and placards addressed to the garrison troops saying ‘Brothers, no shooting!’, and hardly a soldier was prepared to fire on them. [9]

The German chancellor, prince Max of Baden, announced the abdication of the German emperor and Prussian king Wilhem II (the kaiser), before himself being forced to step down. Germany was proclaimed a republic.

In his diary for the day, the world’s most famous scientist, Albert Einstein, wrote: ‘Class cancelled because of revolution’. [10]

The Revolutionary Shop Stewards

The groundwork for the Berlin uprising had been laid over several years, with three massive anti-war strikes, each larger than the previous one, the first in June 1916. (By contrast, no political strikes of any significance took place in Britain during the entire war.)

These strikes, in turn were the result of secret organising inside the the German Metalworkers Union (DMV), the largest trade union in the world.

This organising started in Berlin, in opposition to the so-called Burgfrieden (literally, the ‘peace of the castle’). This was a political truce in which the unions called off all ongoing strikes and agreed not to initiate any more for the remainder of the war.

Unhappy with this arrangement, some of the DMV’s lathe operators began organising 'apolitical' pub evenings or private meetings after official union sessions that were often infiltrated by the police. [11]

Gradually, they built a covert network within the union, capable of bringing tens of thousands of workers out on strike for political purposes – something that none of the other left-wing opposition groups in Germany was ever able to do. [12]

This network would eventually come to be called the Revolutionary Shop Stewards.

Richard Müller, the trade unionist who watched the German army marching past the Hallesches Tor on the eve of the Berlin uprising, was their political leader. The head of the lathe operators' section of the Berlin Branch of the DMV, Müller wore thick round glasses and sported a toothbrush moustache. He was also one of the few leaders of the German working class movement who was himself a worker. [13] (By contrast, Germany’s most famous revolutionary of the period, Rosa Luxemburg, employed servants prior to the war.) Raised in poverty, he probably had no formal education beyond eight years of primary school. [14]

The Revolutionary Shop Stewards, whose work in the lathe shops was central to German arms production, didn’t start as radicals. What brought them together at first was their unwillingness to abandon the right to strike, their only means of exerting pressure on their employers. [15] As the war progressed, they became increasingly radicalised.

The June 1916 strike would mark a key turning point in this development. [16]

'Long live peace!'

On 1 May 2016, Karl Liebknecht, a German lawyer and socialist, was arrested after making an anti-war speech in Berlin’s Potsdam Square. Before the war, in 1907, he had been jailed for 18 months for high treason for publishing Militarism & Anti-Militarism.

In his 1916 speech, Liebknecht declared: ‘By a lie the German workingman was forced into the war, and by like lies they expect to induce him to go on with war! We will have no more war. We will have peace – now!’ [17]

On 27 June 2016, the night before Liebknecht's trial for treason, a group of roughly 30 Revolutionary Shop Stewards met. [18] They had booked a Berlin dance hall for their gathering, but when they arrived found police informers (‘characters who had business written all over their faces’, in Müller’s words) already there, so they met instead in a pub in Sophienstrasse.

Müller proposed that they take action in solidarity with Liebknecht. The next day, some 55,000 workers left their workplaces to march in perfect discipline through the streets of Berlin. [19] Munitions workers from roughly 40 Berlin armament works shouted: ‘Long live Liebknecht!’ and ‘Long live peace!’. [20]

Meanwhile, in Brunswick, 120 miles to the west, an estimated three-fifths of the workforce in some 65 factories also joined the strike. [21]

Half a million strikers

Dozens of striking workers and suspected leaders, including Müller, were drafted and sent to the front following the strike – though Müller was discharged after only three months. [22] Nevertheless, the action had transformed a demonstration of state power into a show of strength for the anti-war movement and demonstrated the Stewards’ ability to bring tens of thousands of workers out of their workplaces and onto the streets. [23]

Typically, the Spartacists – the revolutionary socialist grouping associated with Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg – immediately tried to organise a follow-up strike, but – just as typically – the Stewards resisted these calls, judging that the mood in their working-class communities would be unreceptive. [24]

Instead, the next mass strike took place in April 1917. This time, it involved as many as 300,000 people, many of them women, in over 300 armaments works in Berlin, as well as simultaneous strikes in Halle, Magdeburg and Leipzig. [25] The demands of the strike eventually expanded to include: peace without annexations, universal equal voting rights with a secret ballot, and the release of Müller himself, who had been arrested and sent to a military camp two days before the strike began. [26]

A third strike, involving half a million people, followed in January 1918. From the outset, its demands included the freeing of political prisoners, freedom of speech and the press, and the speedy conclusion of peace. [27]

A strike on this scale had no precedent in Germany, even in peacetime. [28]

Hundreds of strikers were rounded up and conscripted into the army, martial law was imposed, and the Berlin military district announced that it would be ‘a military offence for strikers not to report to work on the morning of February 4 [1918]’. [29] Fearing a massacre by the still-loyal army, the Stewards ended the strike on 3 February. [30]

In its wake, an estimated 50,000 strikers were sent to the front, and Müller was drafted for a third time. [31] But the Stewards had prepared for this repression – each naming a substitute who could replace them in the event of a mass arrest. They would later begin stockpiling weapons for an armed revolt. [32]
As with the strikes, the Stewards’ systematic preparations were crucial on 9 November 1918, during the Berlin uprising. Nonetheless, overtaken by events, most of the actions on that day were, in the words of historian Ralf Hoffrogge, ‘uncoordinated, spontaneous and improvised’.


Trade unionist Richard Müller addresses the Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils in the Prussian Landtag (parliament) in Berlin on 16 December 1918.
Photo: Robert Sennecke, German Federal Archives via Wikimedia Commons.

Councils v capitalism

The overthrow of the monarchy – followed by the signing of the armistice two days later – ushered in a new struggle, this time pitting revolutionaries like Liebknecht, Müller and Luxemburg (all of whom had opposed the war) against the leadership of the main German socialist party, the SPD, who had supported the war and now chose to collaborate with the most reactionary sections of German society – its officer corps and the state bureaucracy – in order to prevent more revolutionary change. [33]

Would Germany become a capitalist parliamentary democracy, dominated by an economically-privileged minority and the forces of the old order? Or would the workers’ and soldiers’ councils that had sprung up during the revolution become the basis for a radical re-organisation of Germany’s political and economic system? [34]

As elaborated by Müller and his fellow Steward Ernst Däumig, this reorganisation would involve the creation of bottom-up parallel structures of economic and political councils, based on councils directly elected in workplaces and in geographical constituencies. [35] Higher-order councils – for example, municipal, regional or national councils – would be elected by members of councils on the level immediately below, giving each structure a pyramid shape.

Central to this idea were two principles. One was that: ‘the bodies of the council system [could not] hold any powers long-term but [had to be] under constant control by the voters who [could] recall councils or council members whenever they ha[d] lost their trust’ (Däumig). The other was that employers could not join the council system. [36]

The backers of the council system believed that it was the only way to realise a set of political goals that were generally agreed on by all German radicals, such as breaking the power of the military, and socialising the biggest industries. [37] As Däumig put it: ‘if the workers are not involved, if they are kept dormant and separated from economic affairs, then socialization can either never be realized or it will only turn into state capitalism, into monopolization against the will of the workers’. [38]

Despite their radical potential, only a minority of council participants wanted to make them a permanent institution and the government was able to dismantle, repress or neuter the councils in short order. [39]

The revolutionaries’ hopes were ultimately crushed using massive violence, though the fetishisation of armed struggle probably also contributed to their failure.

‘I hate it like sin’

On 9 November 1918, the day of the Berlin uprising and the fall of the kaiser, the chair of the SPD, Friedrich Ebert, was made chancellor. That evening, the German army’s chief of staff, general Wilhelm Groener, rang to tell Ebert that the officer corps expected the new government to ‘fight against Bolshevism and places itself at the disposal of the government for such a purpose’. [40] Ebert, who only two days earlier had told his predecessor, prince Max of Baden, that he hated revolution ‘like sin’, would have no problem with this. [41]

Crucially, writes historian Douglas Newton, author of the major scholarly work on Britain’s response to the German revolution, British policy and the Weimar Republic 1918 – 1919, ‘from the moment of the outbreak of the revolution, the British government and British military forces [gave] countless indications to the Germans that [the left-wing movements behind the councils] were anathema [to them] and ... the sooner [they and their institutions] were liquidated the better.’ [42]

In January 1919, there was a workers' uprising in Berlin – once again, primarily the work of the Stewards. [43] What began as a general strike involving hundreds of thousands of workers rapidly evolved into a 'revolutionary uprising' involving less than 1,000 armed fighters. [44] Significantly, historian Ralf Hoffrogge notes, the January uprising’s rapid defeat ‘was due not only to the army’s brutality but also to a lack of public support. Although the majority of workers supported the general strike, only a minority supported the armed uprising; after the devastation of World War 1, violence in political struggles was unpopular, even among the most radical workers’. [45] Typically, Müller – though no pacifist – had opposed the move as being premature, demanding that the actions be limited to a general strike. [46] Over 150 people died in the fighting, and the Stewards’ reputation was so badly damaged that they effectively dissolved themselves as a group. [47]

There was a series of strikes in Berlin, the Ruhr region, and around Halle during March–April 1919. The strikers demanded recognition of the workers’ councils and the immediate socialisation of key industries. The military, and government-linked paramilitary forces, were used to crush them. [48]

In March 1919, Gustav Noske, the commander of government troops in Berlin, gave his men permission to shoot anyone identified as an insurgent, on the spot, even if they were willing to surrender. Noske also ordered the use of heavy artillery in residential areas. [49] Over 1,000 civilians, mostly unarmed strikers, were killed.

At least one example exists of the successful use of nonviolent tactics against government forces during this period. When 2,000 horse guards armed with machine guns surrounded and attacked the ‘red sailors’ holed up in Berlin’s Royal Palace in December 1918, masses of people rushed to the square in front of the palace, forming a huge crowd of mostly unarmed civilians who mingled with the soldiers, imploring them to stop attacking the sailors. Unwilling to shoot unarmed civilians, the soldiers threw their rifles to the ground. [50]

As on 9 November 1918, the key questions were the loyalty and ruthlessness of the troops. Whether such tactics could have been successfully deployed against paramilitaries selected for their hostility towards the revolution is a different matter. [51]

The ‘institutionalisation of… loyalist and reactionary units as the army of the new state’ that took place during the repression of these strikes, notes Hoffrogge, ‘would become a decisive factor in the Weimar Republic’s destruction’ [52]. This injected what historian Richard Bessell describes as ‘a new dimension of terror into German domestic political life’ that was qualitatively and quantitatively different from the pre-revolutionary period. [53]

‘Germany became a democracy – but a democracy in which the bastions of power were held by the adherents of the old regime’, notes FL Carsten, author of a pioneering study of British and German anti-war movements in the First World War. ‘It was the generals and the bureaucrats, the agrarians and the industrialists, who dominated the fate of the first German republic … [until] finally they succeeded in destroying it by handing over political power to [Hitler]’. [54]

Starved and shunned

The British government’s response to the revolution played a key role in the suppression of the uprisings as well as in creating the conditions that enabled the Nazis’ later rise to power.

In a public lecture on 11 November 2014, the then-UKIP leader Nigel Farage maintained that the Allies had ‘allow[ed] the Germans a dignified, an honourable way out’ by agreeing to the 11 November 1918 armistice. This was, in part, he claimed, because the British prime minister, Lloyd George, ‘was absolutely sick to death of the war’. This, according to Farage, was ‘the biggest mistake of the entire 20th century’, enabling Hitler to later ‘[get] his political army off the ground’. [55]

In reality, notes Newton, ‘it was not the lack of Allied bayonets in Berlin that eroded support for democracy in Germany.’ Indeed, ‘Notwithstanding the Germans’ own serious mistakes in their revolution, it was Allied behaviour that… ensured that democracy came to symbolise humiliation’.

Moreover, ‘the future safety of democracy in Germany scarcely concerned Whitehall for a moment’ during this crucial period, with Britain agreeing to a ‘crushing armistice’ because it wanted, among other things, ‘a victory dazzling enough to contain the forces of change at home’. [56]

In the wake of the armistice, ‘British intelligence revealed that the German people… were exhausted and starving , and full of contempt for the “great swindle” of the war.’ [57]

The door was open for a generous, negotiated peace of reconciliation and recovery. But it was slammed shut. Instead, the new democratic Germany was to be starved and shunned before being forced to accept a peace of aggrandisement for Britain. [58]

‘Today we are top dog’

The British response to the German armistice request was driven by a number of factors, prominent among them British fears about unrest at home.
Rightly or wrongly, by 1918, many British leaders had come to view revolution in Britain as a distinct possibility. [59] An awe-inspiring victory, whether by continued fighting or by means of a crushing armistice, was viewed by Lloyd George and others as necessary to prevent such a outcome. [60]

A second factor was British leaders’ assessment that their power to dictate peace terms was then at its height. ‘Today we are top dog,’ Austen Chamberlain, one of the members of Lloyd George’s war cabinet explained on 26 October 1918: ‘Our fleets, our Armies have brought Germany to her knees and today (more than at any later time) the peace may be our peace.’ [61]

In 1914, British policymakers had secretly planned to let the other Great Powers – allies and enemies alike – bleed each other dry so that an essentially unbloodied Britain could then step in and grasp the lion’s share of the spoils. [62]

Ironically, they now feared that America might soon be in a position to do just that.

Assisting repression

The terms of the armistice of 11 November 1918 included: the withdrawal German forces from France and Belgium; the allied occupation of the Rhineland; and the handing over, by the Germans, of massive quantities of military hardware, including most of its fleet. [63]

Crucially, though, the armistice kept the economic blockade in place as a means to coerce Germany into agreeing the Allies' peace terms.

As Lloyd George explained to the proprietor of the News of the World, George Riddell, on 9 April 1919: ‘if the Germans decline to fulfil their obligations we can compel them by an economic blockade involving starvation and stoppage of trade’. [64]

In fact, the German population was already starving and continued to starve (see ‘Lift the hunger blockade!’).

Meanwhile, the British ‘dispersed the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils wherever they encountered them in their areas of occupation’ [65] and ‘willingly lent assistance to the [German] authorities in various towns in taking steps to crush… [the] demonstrations and strikes’ organised by the government’s left-wing opponents [66]. British intelligence agents immediately went to work recruiting informers to infiltrate left-wing organisations. [67] Local town council elections in the Rhineland were forbidden on the grounds that, following the revolution’s democratic reforms, ‘the elections, if allowed, would probably result in a complete change of officials’ (emphasis added). [68]

A bloody disaster, for both sides

By contrast, notes Newton, ‘The experiences of the ordinary British troops preserved in the sources show a remarkably consistent pattern: the German people whom they encountered and with whom they were billeted were genuinely hungry, vulnerable and disconcertingly friendly.’ [69]

‘They are neither sullen nor full of hate’, one British soldier wrote back to his parents in December 1918. ‘Their attitude seems to be – “We have fought a good fight and we have lost. We will do what you tell us – you are the victors, we hope that you won’t be too hard on us”.’ [70]

According to Newton, many of the British soldiers sent to occupy the Rhineland believed ‘that the war was a bloody disaster for both sides, and that it ought to be buried in a spirit of reconciliation.’ [71] Impulsive and private acts of reconciliation _were_ already taking place. For example, a woman running a cafe in Solingen presented a British soldier with the army cap of her dead brother, explaining that he had been killed in the trench warfare at Passchendaele. [72]

However, the continued imposition of the economic blockade on a country which British naval intelligence assessed as ‘lurching toward a new crisis as a result of imminent famine’ was also having an impact on German attitudes. [73]

“Many British soldiers sent to occupy the Rhineland believed the war was a bloody disaster for both sides and that it ought to be buried in a spirit of reconciliation.”

‘The governments of the Allies had always said that they were prepared to deal with the German nation if they threw over the Military regime, but now that this had been done, there was no moderation in the terms imposed on Germany,’ two disgruntled German soldiers told the leader of the British section of the inter-allied armistice commission, lieutenant-general Richard Haking. This, they said, ‘would rankle for ever in the minds of the German nation.’ [74]

‘A devastating blow’

‘The German government,’ notes Newton, ‘had been encouraged to extirpate [Germany’s left-wing revolutionaries], and stood in danger of political discredit if it had nothing to show its people for the brutality.’ [75] On 28 June 1919, it was coerced into signing the infamous Versailles Treaty.

“It was Allied behaviour that ensured that democracy came to symbolise humiliation.”

Crucially, the treaty stripped Germany of her colonies (which were redistributed to the Allies, rebranded as ‘mandates’) and imposed a massive bill for ‘reparations’ on the country. These had been two of the British government’s key aims. The total bill for reparations, writes historian Michael Howard, was ‘a sum so huge that it could not even be computed’. Consequently, the matter was referred to a reparations commission that was to report in 1921, though Germany ‘had to pledge themselves in advance to accept the Commission’s findings’ and to make a downpayment of 20 billion marks in the interim. [76]

The new German government’s repression of its left-wing opponents, notes Newton, had sprung from its belief that ‘only by shutting down radical experiments would Germany be granted food and a just peace’. [77]

It received neither.

Indeed, Newton writes, ‘the perceived humiliations of the peace process constituted a devastating blow to the political credibility of the founders of the new republic’, leading directly to the political rehabiliation of the German Right.[78]

In 1918 – 1919, Britain could have ‘pursued a policy of strengthening the hands of the new [German] government – by declaring support for the new administration in Berlin, by applauding the break with the imperial system and the decision for a republic, by dispatching emergency food, by swiftly raising the economic blockade, and by insisting on a process of genuine negotiation of the peace with representatives from Berlin’.

Had the British done so then, given the balance of forces at the time, ‘all of these gestures would very probably have been supported by the United States and adopted by the powers gathered in Paris in 1919.’[79]

The British government chose a different path, with profound consequences not just for Germany, but for the course of world history.


[1] Ernst Däumig, ‘The National Assembly Means the Councils’ Death’, in Gabriel Kuhn (ed), All Power to the Councils! A Documentary History of the German Revolution of 1918 – 1919, PM Press, 2012, p42.
[2] Richard Bessel, Germany and the First World War, Oxford University Press, 1993, p1.
[3] David Stevenson, 1914 – 1918: The History of the First World War, Penguin, 2005, p496.
[4] ibid., pp469, 471
[5] FL Carsten, War Against War: British and German Radical Movements in the First World War, Batsford, 1982, pp218 – 219.
[6] Douglas Newton, Recoiling from Revolution: British Military Leadership and the German Revolution of 1918 – 1919 [hereafter ‘Recoiling’], unpublished, p5.
[7] ibid., p9
[8] Ralf Hoffrogge, Working-Class Politics in the German Revolution: Richard Müller, the Revolutionary Shop Stewards and the Origins of the Council Movement, Brill, 2014 [hereafter, ‘Hoffrogge 1’], pp68, 71.
[9] Murray Bookchin, The Third Revolution: Popular Movements in the Revolutionary Era, vol 4, Continuum International, 2005, p23; Hoffrogge 1, pp69, 71.
[10] Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe, Pocket Books, 2007, p240
[11] Ralf Hoffrogge, ‘From Unionism to Workers’ Councils: The Revolutionary Shop Stewards in Germany, 1914 – 1918′ [hereafter, ‘Hoffrogge 2’], in Immanuel Ness & Dario Azzellini (eds), Ours to Master and to Own: Workers’ Control from the Commune to the Present, Haymarket, 2011, pp87 – 88. According to Müller, the initial organising started ‘right after the outbreak of the war’ and ‘[i]t took less than a year for the circle to widen and to extend to… sectors of the war industry’ beyond Berlin’s iron and meal workers (Kuhn, op. cit., p29).
[12] Hoffrogge 1, p29. According to Hoffrogge the core of the organisation ‘had only fifty to eighty members at any given time’ (Hoffrogge 2, p88). The total number of Stewards is unknown, but the entire network (presumably at its peak) was later estimated by Müller at over 1,000 (Hoffrogge 1, p29).
[13] Harry Harmer, Rosa Luxemburg, Haus, 2008, p9. According to Harmer, ‘the upper echelons of the SPD who were [Luxemburg’s] closest friends’ likewise ‘found life impossible without them’ (ibid., p59). ‘It is possible that Luxemburg’s only real contact with the working class may have been though servants and [her] audiences applauding’ (ibid.).
[14] Hoffrogge 1, pp11, 13.
[15] Müller’s opposition was initially aimed at the Burgfrieden rather than the war itself (ibid., p32).
[16] Hoffrogge 1, p34.
[17] S. Zimand (ed), The Future Belongs to the People, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013 [first published 1918], p86.
[18] Hoffrogge 1, p37.
[19] Carsten, op. cit., p83.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid. Small demonstrations, numbering in the hundreds, also took place in Bremen, Essen, Hamburg and Stuttgart (ibid., pp83 – 84).
[22] Hoffrogge 1, p38.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Ibid. Following the June 1916 strike, the two groups did work on plans for a follow-up strike in August 1916. When the Stewards decided not to participate, the Spartacists went ahead anyway and issued a call for the strike. However, ‘without the Shop Stewards’ participation, it received little response’ (ibid., p38). Liebknecht considered the Stewards to be (in Müller’s words) ‘a club of feral bourgeois philistines who met in secret and never informed the world of their existence’ (ibid., p62). Müller and the Stewards, on the other hand, called the Spartacists’ constant demands for action (‘hop[ing] that street fights would escalate the tension and bring about a revolutionary situation’) ‘revolutionary gymnastics’ (Hoffrogge 2, pp90 – 91). Nonetheless, both groups benefited from the contact between them. Without the Stewards, the Spartacists had no way of mobilising tens of thousands of workers, but the Spartacists' literature also played a key role in radicalising the Stewards (ibid., p92).
[25] Carsten, op. cit., p125; Hoffrogge 1, pp42, 51. Once again, the Stewards were the driving force behind this strike, though this time they chose to use the general assembly of the Berlin DMV, where they were a powerful force, to call it (ibid., pp40 – 41).
[26] The strike, which began on 17 April 1917, was called off by the chairman of the Berlin DMV after a single day. However, some 50,000 workers continued striking until 23 April, electing a workers’ council to represent them and expanding their political demands to those listed (ibid., pp42 – 43). Müller’s arrest, which many workers believed was the result of the DMV’s leadership informing on him, became the strike’s first political demand. Ironically, the union’s leadership had ‘wanted to prevent the strike or at least reduce it to purely economic demands’ (ibid., pp41 – 42). The leadership of the union, and the leadership of the left-wing Social Democratic Party (SPD), acted to neutralise all three of the big political strikes in the years leading up to the revolution. The chair of the SPD, Friedrich Ebert, later claimed ‘that he and his party had only participated in [the January 1918 strike] to slow it down and stop it as quickly as possible’ (ibid., pp37, 41 – 42, 54 – 55).
[27] Hoffrogge 1, p49.
[28] Bookchin, op. cit, p12.
[29] Ibid.
[30] Hoffrogge 1, pp54 – 55.
[31] According to Hoffrogge, ‘Large numbers of revolutionary-minded workers continued their agitation at the front, whether by organising or through private conversations’ (Hoffrogge 1, p56). According to Müller, these activities ‘could not dent the army’s iron discipline until the summer of 1918, but, as defeat loomed, they became increasingly effective’ (ibid.).
[32] Ibid., pp56, 64 – 65. The man Müller had nominated to replace him in the event of his arrest, Emil Barth, organised the purchase and collection of the weapons, which were hidden in private homes. Money to purchase weapons was also obtained from the Soviet embassy (ibid.).
[33] Harmer, op. cit., p124.
[34] Kuhn, op. cit., p46.
[35] Hoffrogge 1, p111.
[36] Kuhn, op. cit., p52; Hoffrogge 1, p110.
[37] Kuhn, op. cit., p28.
[38] ibid., p48.
[39] Carsten, op. cit., p231; Hoffrogge 1, p143.
[40] Harmer, op. cit., p124.
[41] The prince asked Ebert: ‘If I succeed in convincing the Kaiser [to abdicate] , can I count on your support in fighting the Social Revolution?’. Ebert replied: ‘Unless the Kaiser abdicates, the Social Revolution is inevitable. But I will have none of it; I hate it like sin.’ Bookchin, op. cit., p22.
[42] Douglas Newton, British Policy and the Weimar Republic 1918 – 1919 [hereafter ‘British Policy’], Oxford University Press, 1997, p411.
[43] Bookchin, op. cit., p63.
[44] Hoffrogge 1, pp100 – 106; email from Ralf Hoffrogge, 21 March 2014.
[45] Hoffrogge 2, p97 n15.
[46] Hoffrogge 1, p102.
[47] Kuhn, op. cit., pxxvii; Hoffrogge 1, p108.
[48] Hoffrogge 1, p117; Kuhn, op. cit., pxxvii.
[49] Hoffrogge 1, p123.
[50] Bookchin, op. cit., p50.
[51] op. cit., p56.
[52] Hoffrogge 1, p123.
[53] Bessel, op. cit., p261.
[54] Carsten, op. cit., pp231 – 232.
[55] ‘Ukip Leader Nigel Farage: The Armistice Created Hitler and it Was the Biggest Mistake of the 20th Century’, ibtimes.co.uk, 11 November 2014, https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/nigel-farage-armistice-created-hitler-it-was-…, ‘Nigel Farage: the armistice was the biggest mistake of the 20th century’, Guardian, 11 November 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/11/farage-ukip-armistice-…  
[56] Douglas Newton, ‘Should the British have fought on to Berlin in November 1918 for democracy’s sake?’ [hereafter ‘Should’], manuscript, p2.
[57] Should, p3.
[58] British policy, pp80, 140
[59] Brock Millman, Managing Dissent in First World War Britain, Frank Cass, 2000, chapter 11. Especially pp287, 272.
[60] British policy, p165.
[61] Ibid, p178.
[62] David French, The Strategy of the Lloyd George Coalition, 1916 – 1918, Clarendon Press, 1995, pp3 – 4.
[63] Michael Howard, The First World War: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2002, p111.
[64] British Policy, p397.
[65] Recoiling, p30.
[66] Ibid, p25.
[67] Ibid, p25.
[68] Ibid, p30.
[69] British Policy, p242.
[70] Ibid, p242.
[71] Ibid, p419.
[72] Ibid, p244.
[73] Recoiling, p23.
[74] Should, p14.
[75] British Policy, p413.
[76] Howard, op. cit., pp115 – 116.
[77] Recoiling, p31.
[78] British Policy, p424.
[79] Ibid., p14.