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February 21: Revolution in Bavaria

February 21, 2014
220px-KurtEisnerKurt Eisner, a socialist journalist who led a revolution that overthrew Bavaria’s monarchy in November, 1918, was assassinated on this date in 1919. Eisner had been jailed for treason the previous year for helping to lead a strike of 6,000 munitions workers. He had been opposed to World War I and had leaked documents showing that, in his words, “a small horde of mad Prussian military” leaders allied with capitalists and the monarchy had caused the war. These actions, along with anti-Semitic “stabbed in the back” mythology about Germany’s loss in the war, made Eisner a very unpopular politician, and his government was voted out of office within two months of taking power in a revolution that had been fueled by rebellious sailors and striking workers. Eisner was on his way to hand in his resignation to parliament when he was shot in the back by a German nationalist. The murder led to the brief establishment of a Bavarian Soviet Republic in what playwright Ernst Toller called “the Bavarian Revolution of Love,” but it was overthrown by the German army, with 700 revolutionary men and women executed. “On November 6, 1918, he was virtually unknown, with no more than a few hundred supporters, more a literary than a political figure. He was a small man with a wild grey beard, a pince-nez, and an immense black hat. On November 7 he marched through the city of Munich with his few hundred men, occupied parliament and proclaimed the republic. As though by enchantment, the King, the princes, the generals, and Ministers scattered to all the winds.” —John Simkin, Spartacist Educational