Saturday, 18 July 2015

The Kapp Pustch

Kapp was born in New York on July 24, 1868.

"Although Ludendorff was easily the most famous of the ten prisoners in the dock, Hitler at once grabbed the limelight for himself...

He did not intend to make the mistake of those who, when tried for complicity in the Kapp putsch, had pleaded, as he later said, that ”they knew nothing, had intended nothing, wished nothing. That was what destroyed the bourgeois world – that they had not the courage to stand by their act ... to step before the judge and say, ’Yes, that was what we wanted to do; we wanted to destroy the State.’


"On the very eve of the birth of the Third Reich a feverish tension gripped Berlin. The Weimar Republic, it seemed obvious to almost everyone, was about to expire. For more than a year it had been fast crumbling. General Kurt von Schleicher, who like his immediate predecessor, Franz von Papen, cared littlefor the Republic and less for its democracy, and who, also like him, had ruled as Chancellor by presidential decree without recourse to Parliament, had come to the end of his rope after fifty-seven days in office.

On Saturday, January 28, 1933, he had been abruptly dismissed by the aging President of the Republic, Field Marshal von Hindenburg. Adolf Hitler,leader of the National Socialists, the largest political party in Germany, was demanding for himself the chancellorship of the democratic Republic he had sworn to destroy.

The wildest rumors of what might happen were rife in the capital that fateful winter weekend, and the most alarming of them, as it happened, were not without some foundation. There were reports that Schleicher, in collusion with General Kurt von Hammerstein, the Commander in Chief of the Army, waspreparing a putsch with the support of the Potsdam garrison for the purposeof arresting the President and establishing a military dictatorship. There was talk of a Nazi putsch. The Berlin storm troopers, aided by Nazi sympathizersin the police, were to seize the Wilhelmstrasse, where the President’s Palaceand most of the government ministries were located. There was talk also of ageneral strike. On Sunday, January 29, a hundred thousand workers crowded into the Lustgarten in the center of Berlin to demonstrate their opposition tomaking Hitler Chancellor. One of their leaders attempted to get in touch withGeneral von Hammerstein to propose joint action by the Army and organizedlabor should Hitler be named to head a new government. 1 Once before, at thetime of the Kapp putsch in 1920, a general strike had saved the Republic afterthe government had fled the capital.

What was the Right in Bavaria at this chaotic time? It was the RegularArmy, the Reichswehr; it was the monarchists, who wished the Wittelbachsback. It was a mass of conservatives who despised the democratic Republicestablished in Berlin; and as time went on it was above all the great mob ofdemobilized soldiers for whom the bottom had fallen out of the world in 1918,uprooted men who could not find jobs or their way back to the peaceful societythey had left in 1914, men grown tough and violent through war who could notshake themselves from ingrained habit and who, as Hitler, who for a while wasone of them, would later say, ”became revolutionaries who favored revolution forits own sake and desired to see revolution established as a permanent condition.”
Armed free-corps bands sprang up all over Germany and were secretly equipped by the Reichswehr At first they were mainly used to fight the Pole sand the Baits on the disputed eastern frontiers, but soon they were backing plots for the overthrow of the republican regime. In March 1920, one of them, the notorious Ehrhardt Brigade, led by a freebooter, Captain Ehrhardt, occupied Berlin and enabled Dr. Wolfgang Kapp, a mediocre politician of the extremeRight, to proclaim himself Chancellor. The Regular Army, under General vonSeeckt, had stood by while the President of the Republic and the government fled in disarray to western Germany. Only a general strike by the trade unions restored the republican government.
In Munich at the same time a different kind of military coup d’etat was more successful. On March 14,1920, the Reichswehr overthrew the Hoffmann Socialist government and installed a right-wing regime under Gustav von Kahr. And now the Bavarian capital became a magnet for all those forces in Germany whichwere determined to overthrow the Republic, set up an authoritarian regime and repudiate the Diktat of Versailles. Here the condottieri of the free corps, including the members of the Ehrhardt Brigade, found a refuge and a welcome. Here General Ludendorff settled, along with a host of other disgruntled, discharged Army officers.Here were plotted the political murders, among them that of Matthias Erzberger, the moderate Catholic politician who had had the courage to sign the armistice when the generals backed out; and of Walther Rathenau,the brilliant, cultured Foreign Minister, whom the extremists hated for being a Jew and for carrying out the national government’s policy of trying to fulfill at least some of the provisions of the Versailles Treaty.
It was in this fertile field in Munich that Adolf Hitler got his start.

Kapp was born in New York on July 24, 1868.

At the war’s end Ludendorff fled to Sweden disguised in false whiskers and blue spectacles.He returned to Germany in February 1919, writing his wife: ”It would be the greatest stupidityfor the revolutionaries to allow us all to remain alive. Why, if ever I come to power againthere will be no pardon. Then with an easy conscience, I would have Ebert, Scheidemannand Co. hanged, and watch them dangle.” (Margaritte Ludendorff, Als ich LudendorffsFran war, p. 229.) Ebert was the first President and Scheidemann the first Chancellor ofthe Weimar Republic. Ludendorff, though second-in-command to Hindenburg, had been thevirtual dictator of Germany for the last two years of the war.

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