Bavaria

   A rural state, Bavaria sustained a particularism and monarchism* distinct from Germany's other Lander. Only three cities—Munich, Nuremberg, and Augsburg—exceeded 100,000 in population; most institutions in agrarian-based Bavaria harkened back to an earlier era. Its religious makeup of 70 percent Catholics* and 29 percent Protestants* roughly inverted the situation in Ger-many as a whole (although, within Bavaria's eight districts, Protestants outnum-bered Catholics in Upper and Middle Franconia and in the Palatinate). Moreover, the cohesiveness of the religious communities had a singular impact on the average attitude toward politics.
   While the war initially fostered German nationalism among the eight million Bavarians, its final stages revived particularism and intensified anti-Prussian ran-cor. When on 7-8 November 1918 Kurt Eisner,* a pacifist and socialist, enlisted Bavarian war-weariness to depose the ancient Wittelsbach dynasty, the step was widely deemed an expression of Bavaria's unique status within the Reich. But the Armistice* erased any grounds for supporting this Jew* from Berlin.* When he gained only 3 of 180 seats in the state elections of 12 January 1919, Eisner's political base was subverted. He clung unwisely to office, but his 21 February assassination* polarized Bavarian politics. Johannes Hoffmann,* his Social Democratic successor, soon faced an odd assortment of utopian Communists. Fleetingly led by Ernst Toller* and Gustav Landauer,* they staged a coup d'etat on 6 April, whereupon Hoffmann removed his government to Bamberg; this "desertion" seemed to underscore the SPD's ineptitude. The new Raterepublik, meanwhile, governed little beyond Munich's city limits ("Munich is not Ba-varia" was a typical rural response). While Bavarians went hungry, coffeehouse intellectuals passed giddy decrees—for example, the manifesto of the Public Housing Commissar that "henceforth the living room must always be placed above the kitchen and bedroom." On 13 April an unsuccessful putsch by Mu-nich's military garrison resulted in the city's seizure by real Communists. Gov-erned by a four-man executive led by Eugen Levine,* the regime armed the workers, banned the bourgeois press, commandeered food from farmers,* seized the banks, and generally terrorized the city. When Berlin ordered the army and Freikorps* units to reinstall Hoffmann, the "liberation" claimed over one thou-sand lives.
   Munich's leftist experiment, controlled largely by non-Bavarians, encouraged the rise of the NSDAP while transforming many Bavarians into ardent anti-Marxists. From May 1919 until the 1923 Beerhall Putsch,* Bavaria was home to an array of patriotic associations* that sought to destroy the Republic; indeed, it was the only state with a serious organization, the Bayrische Königspartei, seeking restoration of the monarchy (albeit Bavaria's Wittelsbach monarchy). Hoffmann, meanwhile, retained office until March 1920 in coalition with the DDP and the BVP. But having created an Einwohnerwehr to end Bavaria's reliance on Prussian military assistance, he was forced into retirement by his creation in the wake of the Kapp* Putsch. Although the SPD enjoyed broad support in Bavaria, it never again held a ministerial portfolio.
   From March 1920 until Weimar's demise, the BVP retained the Prime Min-istership and most other governmental portfolios. But state politics were marked by a peculiar struggle between the BVP, as the reactionary defender of states' rights and clerical prerogative, and the NSDAP, the voice of a radical, anticler-ical nationalism. Munich's suspicion of Berlin, which typically unified Bavari-ans, induced several disputes with the Reich government: Bavaria refused to employ the Law for the Protection of the Republic,* it sheltered illegal para-military groups, and it retained unsanctioned People's Courts. But Hitler's* putsch convinced the BVP to reexamine its relationship with Berlin. Heinrich Held,* Prime Minister during 1924-1933, astutely concluded that by working with the Republic, Bavaria could retain its unique status while countering the Nazi threat; indeed, Bavaria consistently gave the NSDAP a smaller percentage of votes than the remainder of Germany. It was a major feat that Held, and thus Bavaria, mastered this delicate maneuver for so long. Ultimately, however, ef-forts to counter the Nazis' seizure of power by reinstating the old monarchy were crushed in March 1933.
   REFERENCES:Diehl, Paramilitary Politics; Dorondo, Bavaria and German Federalism; Garnett, Lion, Eagle, and Swastika; Harold Gordon, Hitler; Kershaw, Popular Opinion; Landauer, "Bavarian Problem"; Mitchell, Revolution in Bavaria; Pridham, Hitler's Rise to Power.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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