17 thoughts on “Opposition in Germany against World War I

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  11. On December 2, 1914, Karl Liebknecht, a leading representative of the revolutionary and internationalist tendency that had emerged from the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), voted against war credits in the Reichstag.

    His stand was the most public rejection within Germany of the betrayal of socialist internationalism by the SPD to that date. Along with most of the Second International, the SPD had repudiated its previous commitment to oppose imperialist war, supporting its “own” ruling elite when the war broke out on August 4.

    Liebknecht, despite opposing the SPD’s support for the war, had initially voted for German war credits on August 4, citing party discipline. The SPD’s capitulation reflected the intense pressure of the nationalist war hysteria that had been promoted by the entire political establishment, along with the fact that the most authoritative leaders of the party, including Karl Kautsky, effectively sanctified the SPD’s betrayal.

    On August 4-5, immediately after the SPD’s betrayal, Rosa Luxemburg and six other revolutionary opponents of the imperialist war, including Franz Mehring, met and founded the embryo of the Gruppe International (International Group). The following week, Liebknecht also joined the group. In mid-September, he travelled to Belgium, where he attempted to visit Leuven, a town that was being ravaged by the German army. He was turned away by authorities, returning to Germany a vocal opponent of its military operations in Belgium. Over the following weeks, he and other members of the group campaigned within the SPD against support for the imperialist war.

    On December 2, Liebknecht issued a statement to the Reichstag, outlining his opposition to the war credits. Officials refused to allow it to be read, or to enter it into the parliamentary record. It declared:

    “This War, desired by none of the people concerned, has not broken out in behalf of the welfare of the German people or any other. It is an Imperialist War, a war over important territories of exploitation for capitalists and financiers. From the point of view of rivalry in armaments, it is a war provoked by the German and Austrian war parties together, in the obscurity of semi-feudalism and of secret diplomacy, to gain an advantage over their opponents. At the same time the war is a Bonapartist effort to disrupt and split the growing movement of the working class.”

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/01/twih-d01.html#50

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