Niekisch, Ernst

(1889-1967)
   politician and journalist; a key theorist for National Bolshevism.* Born to the family of a metalworker in the Silesian town of Trebnitz, he was raised in Bavaria,* where he became a schoolteacher. He joined the SPD in 1917 and became chairman of Augsburg's Workers' and Soldiers Council* in November 1918; thereafter he organized Swabia s Pro-vincial Council (Kreisausschuss). At the December 1918 Congress* of Workers' and Soldiers Councils he was among the majority who voted against legitimiz-ing the council system as "the basis of the constitution of the socialistic Re-public. After the Council of People s Representatives* split on 24 December 1918, he led a small group of Bavarian Social Democrats who endorsed a United Front* with Kurt Eisner s* USPD. On 21 February 1919, the day Eisner was assassinated, Niekisch was hastily elected chairman of the eleven-member Cen-tral Council (Zentralrat) of the Bavarian Workers , Peasants , and Soldiers Councils. He was a proponent of both the council system and parliamentary democracy; his admirers hoped that he might reconcile Bavaria s socialist fac-tions. But his efforts at compromise, including reassembly of the Landtag, failed to appease the radicals. From Eisner's death to Johannes Hoffmann's* selection as Prime Minister on 18 March, he wielded considerable authority in Bavaria. Thereafter his prominence dwindled as Hoffmann refused to embrace the Zen-tralrat and the radical Left rebuffed the Landtag. On 8 April he resigned and declared Munich s situation "untenable. He was arrested on 5 May upon the collapse of Eugen Levine's* Raterepublik and was sentenced to two years' im-prisonment.
   Niekisch gradually recast his politics. He left the SPD for the USPD in 1919, but returned to the SPD when the parties reunited in 1922 and served until 1923 as deputy faction chairman in the Bavarian Landtag. In 1924, after he became secretary of the Textile-Worker Association in Berlin,* he began working with the Young Socialists, a group that hoped to bridge the gap between socialism and nationalism (he once claimed to support "an entente between Potsdam and Moscow ). The SPD expelled him in 1926, whereupon he joined a splinter group known as the Alte Sozialistische Partei until 1928. With his Eastern ro-manticism, he perceived Bolshevism as a nationalist phenomenon that marketed itself with a veneer of Marxist dogma. The essence of the Soviet Revolution, he argued, was mystical and anti-Semitic*; it aspired to unite the Slavic world with a Prussian-oriented Germany against the decadent West. He founded the journal Widerstand (Resistance) in 1926 and used the publication to ridicule the Republic, advance his concept of National Bolshevism, and attack the Locarno Treaties* as a betrayal of both Russia and Germany. In 1930 he defined his ideas in Die Entscheidung (The decision).
   Perceiving danger in Nazism, Niekisch published Hitler - ein deutsches Ver-hangnis (Hitler—a German misfortune) in 1932. Widerstand was banned in 1934, and Niekisch was arrested in 1937. After being charged with high treason, he was imprisoned until his liberation in 1945 by the Red Army. In 1953 he broke with the Communist regime and relocated to West Berlin.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Lebovics, Social Conservatism; Mitchell, Revolution in Bavaria; Wurgaft, Activists.

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

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  • Ernst Niekisch — (* 23. Mai 1889 in Trebnitz; † 23. Mai 1967 in West Berlin) war ein deutscher Politiker und politischer Schriftsteller. Bekannt wurde er als einer der führenden Köpfe des Nationalbolschewismus, der den Strasser Flügel der NSDAP beeinflusste. Er… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Niekisch — Niekisch,   Ernst, Schriftsteller und Politiker, * Trebnitz 23. 5. 1889, ✝ Berlin (West) 23. 5. 1967; war 1918/19 Vorsitzender des »Zentralen Arbeiter und Soldatenrates« in München; ab 1917 Mitglied der SPD (1919 22 der USPD), später Vertreter… …   Universal-Lexikon

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