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The January 1919 Uprising in Berlin

Article about: While going through a box of photographs and postcards, I found these ten postcard photos of the 5-15 January uprising in Berlin. These photos were all taken from 11 to 15 January when the F

  1. #1

    Default The January 1919 Uprising in Berlin

    While going through a box of photographs and postcards, I found these ten postcard photos of the 5-15 January uprising in Berlin. These photos were all taken from 11 to 15 January when the Freikorps units crushed the uprising.
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    The uprising started when the Social Democrats (SPD) led by Fredrich Ebert, fired the Berlin Chief of Police, Emil Eichhorn, for providing arms to leftist radicals. The leftists occupied the police headquarters on Alexanderplatz. This photo shows Freikorps members sealing off the area.
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    The Freikorps troops under Ludwig Maercker stormed the police headquarters after shelling it with artillery and mortors, shown here. This photo was obviously taken after the battle.
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    These are probably troops from Freikorps Potsdam under Maj. Franz von Stephani. I haven't read anything about flame throwers being used against the rebels, but there they are.
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    The Teachers' Association Building at Alexanderstr. 27A was just up the street from the police headquarters. The uprising attracted about 500,000 active participants, most of them unarmed civilians. But there were pleanty of armed men among them both Army and Navy veterans who occupied buildings throughout the city's center.
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    This photo and the one below were taken at the Marinehaus, which was the headquarters of the German Navy, located on the corner of Märlisches Ufer and am Köllnischen Park. 300 rebels defended the building. As the photo shows, not all the rebels were ex-military.
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    This is obviously not one of the postcards. The communists added this marker in the 1960's and I took the picture in 1991. It commerates the rebels who were killed in the fighting.
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    The correct name of this building is Die Königliche Elisabethschule. It was located on Kochstrasse very near what later became Check Point Charlie after the Berlin wall went up . The photos shows the building being hit by an artillery round.



  2. #2

    Default Re: The January 1919 Uprising in Berlin

    Hey Dwight that's some great postcards you have there. I really like the flame thrower one. Thanks for sharing.

    Luke

  3. #3

    Default Re: The January 1919 Uprising in Berlin

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    The caption says, "Arrested Spatakists," but it isn't historically accurate. The January Uprising is often called the Spartakist Revolt, but the truth is that the Spartakists and the newly formed Germa Communist Party, did not foment the uprising. They joined it after it was already underway, but before the Freikorps showed up on the scene. The group responsible was the so-called the German Independent Socialist Party (USPD).
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    This is near the Naval Headquarters building shwon above.
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    Probably a posed photo. Dwight

  4. #4

    Default Re: The January 1919 Uprising in Berlin

    Great photographs ! all the troops shown are still using their old Imperial issue equipment, thanks for showing and bringing to light a rarely discussed subject here on the forum.....from little acorns.....I would like add that one of these Freikorps units had a Beutepanzer (Captured trophy tank) probably a MK IV ex-British tank, it was promptly confiscated by the Allied control commision !
    Prost ! Steve.
    "The German Army is the perfectly adapted, perfectly running Machine. The difference is that the Germans are organised with a view to War...with the cold, hard, practical and business-like purpose of winning victories."
    G.W. Steevens - The Daily Mail (1897)

  5. #5

    Default Re: The January 1919 Uprising in Berlin

    A great and very informative thread. I had never heard of this.

  6. #6

    Default Re: The January 1919 Uprising in Berlin

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    Germany´s defeated ! ...

    ... the Freikorps uprised proudly

    Wanna show you a rare document, the signature of the Freikorpsführer Gerhard Roßbach !

  7. #7

    Default Re: The January 1919 Uprising in Berlin

    Excellent stuff

    Cheers, Ade.
    Had good advice? Saved money? Why not become a Gold Club Member, just hit the green "Join WRF Club" tab at the top of the page and help support the forum!

  8. #8
    KSH
    KSH is offline
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    Default Re: The January 1919 Uprising in Berlin

    This has for me been one of the most interesting threads I have read here for some time and thank you Dwight for your postcards and your captions to the images. This was a pivotal moment in German history and sadly it has gone unnoticed by far too many people interested in German history.

    As Ade says above, Excellent stuff!


    Regards,

    Kenneth S-H.

  9. #9

    Default Re: The January 1919 Uprising in Berlin

    It appears that the Freikorps troops who attacked the police headquarters were from the Freikorps Reinhard, commanded by Col. Wilhelm Reinhard. This group was a sub-unit within the Freikorps Maercker. I have read that Reinhard's Freikorps were the men who captured and executed Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht on 15 January 1919, but I can't confirm that. The rebels certainly fought back, but the Freikorps were much better armed, better lead, and certainly better organized than the rebels. The Freikorps response to the uprising effectively ended the November Revolution. The next big uprising was the Kapp-Putsch and General Strike in March 1920, which was a nationalist attempt to overthrow the Ebert government. I have a collection of postcards and photos of that too, which I will post in the near future.

    Reibert: Thanks for adding the Rossbach artifacts. Could you, please tell us something about them? Dwight

  10. #10

    Default Re: The January 1919 Uprising in Berlin

    thank you for sharing.

    The freikorps and social history of this time is very interesting.

    sadly I can only contribute my enthusiasm to the thread but look forward to further posts.

    cheers

    tony

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