21 thoughts on “Opposition in Germany against World War I

  1. Pingback: Margaret Bondfield, British pro-peace World War I heroine | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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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.”


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  13. Pingback: British feminist Sylvia Pankhurst’s anti-World War I Christmas party | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  14. Pingback: Anti-war comics about World War I | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  15. On March 25, 1915, Karl Liebknecht, a leader of the revolutionary wing of German Social Democracy (SPD), was mustered into the German army and assigned to the eastern front despite his immunity as a member of the Reichstag, the German parliament.

    On March 23 Liebknecht had been ordered to place himself at the disposal of the German military authorities, an action that was attributed to Liebknecht’s outspoken opposition to the imperialist war, which had reached a high point in his refusal to vote for war credits.

    Liebknecht was barred from appearing at political or public meetings of any kind. He was also ordered to cease writing newspaper and magazine articles criticizing German military measures and to consider himself under military surveillance.

    In December 1914 Liebknecht was the only SPD deputy (parliamentary member) who voted against the war in the Reichstag, winning him enormous prestige among growing numbers of workers. Fearing his influence, the opportunist majority in the leadership of German Social Democracy publicly denounced this vote as a “breach of discipline.”

    Under the impact of the war, a far larger opposition began to emerge within the SPD, which was reflected by growing opposition among Reichstag deputies. In March 1915, 25 SPD deputies voted against further war credits.

    In his Reichstag speech in December 1914, Liebknecht declared, “This war was not desired by any of the people affected, nor was it kindled to promote the welfare of the German or any other people. It is an imperialist war, a war for capitalist domination of the world markets and for political domination of the important countries in the interest of industrial and financial capitalism. …It is also a bonapartist attempt to demoralize and destroy the growing labor movement.”


  16. Pingback: New Zealanders shun governmental World War I propaganda | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  17. 100 years ago: Revolutionary socialists publish first issue of Die Internationale in Germany

    On April 15, 1915, a small group of revolutionary socialists in Germany who had opposed the imperialist world war that began in August 1914 published the first and only issue of Die Internationale (The International). Led by well-known Marxists Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, and Franz Mehring, the Gruppe International (International Group) opposed the betrayal of socialist internationalism by the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), which had responded to the outbreak of war by supporting the military actions of its “own” government.

    The newspaper was published under the most difficult of conditions. Luxemburg had been imprisoned on February 18, for her opposition to the war, while Liebknecht had been drafted into the German army in late March, in an attempt to politically silence him. The SPD leadership did nothing to oppose the attack on either revolutionary leader. When the paper was released, the German censor moved to confiscate all copies, and the Public Prosecutor charged those involved in its publication with high treason.

    The paper featured Rosa Luxemburg’s article, “The Rebuilding of the International,” on the betrayal of the German social-democrats and the Second International, of which the SPD was the largest and most influential party. It declared:

    “With the outbreak of the world war, word has become substance, the alternative has grown from a historical tendency into the political situation. Faced with this alternative, which it had been the first to recognize and bring to the masses’ consciousness, Social Democracy backed down without a struggle and conceded victory to imperialism. Never before in the history of class struggles, since there have been political parties, has there been a party that, in this way, after fifty years of uninterrupted growth, after achieving a first-rate position of power, after assembling millions around it, has so completely and ignominiously abdicated as a political force within twenty-four hours, as Social Democracy has done.”

    Luxemburg declared that the alternatives facing the working class were, “either Bethmann-Hollweg (the German Chancellor) – or Liebknecht. Either imperialism or socialism as Marx understood it.”

    The issue also carried an article by Luxemburg, under the pseudonym “Mortimer,” exposing the pro-imperialist character of SPD theoretical leader, Karl Kautsky’s latest writings on the war, and his claim that “modern democracy” (i.e., bourgeois democracy) was the goal of the socialist movement.


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