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Spartacist Revolt 1919

AS, A-Level
AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

The Independent Socialists were a political group from the end of the first world war. The Spartacists broke away from this political group to form the German Communist Party in January 1919.

The Spartacist leaders were Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. At the founding of the Communist Party, the communists declared that the National Assembly which was managing the government of Germany was not fulfilling the revolution that they craved. As a result, the Spartacists demanded the creation of workers and soldiers councils or soviets across Germany.

On January 6, the Spartacist Revolutionary Committee announced via proclamation that Ebert should be deposed and that they would be forming a new revolutionary communist government. Whilst this proclamation was being announced armed groups of communist rebels took control of key government buildings in Berlin. Liebknecht and Luxemburg were hoping for a revolution along the same lines of Russia when it had undergone its own communist revolution in 1917.

Ebert’s response was to first attempt a negotiation in order to stop the chaos and resume the work of consensual government. The Spartacists ignored the attempted negotiation which forced Ebert’s hand to call in the army to resolve the problem. General Groener found that they needed more support than they had with the army so recruited the Freikorps to assist in their defeat. Street fighting broke out between the Freikorps and the Communists and resulted in the death of Liebknecht and Luxemburg.

The result of the revolt was the continued hostility from the left towards the Weimar Republic as those on the left believed that Ebert had sold out to the conservatives and those on the right by using the Freikorps to suppress the left.

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