Revolutionary Shop Stewards
- (Revolutionäre Obleute)Emerging in Berlin* during the early months of World War I, the Obleute were radical socialists who sprang not from the SPD but from the trade unions.* Opposed to the policies of the SPD, the Stewards organized themselves clan-destinely into small groups within munitions factories in order to mobilize work-ers opposed to the war. The selective membership was restricted to union officials possessing administrative or political experience. In time they evolved a covert network and spread their organization to other plants and shipyards. In 1916, persuaded of eventual revolution, they formed a link with the Social Dem-ocratic Alliance, precursor to the USPD. They were largely responsible for the strikes and factory actions of 1916-1918. Until his induction Richard Müller* led the Stewards; he was succeeded in February 1918 by Emil Barth.*The Obleute were often at odds with the Spartacists. In contrast to their so-cialist colleagues, they hoped to retain their position as a small cadre of revo-lutionaries rather than evolve into a party organization. Moreover, they avoided theoretical discourse and favored conspiratorial activity over mass action. En-gaged from October 1918 in the formation of Workers' and Soldiers' Councils,* they opposed the December 1918 proposal of the Spartacus League* to break with the USPD and found a new party; indeed, they refused to join the KPD without Karl Liebknecht's* endorsement of five demands (including participa-tion in the National Assembly* elections). Their decision to stand by the USPD deprived the KPD of a critical connection with the workers. Yet while they initially opposed a putsch, it was largely at their behest that a vote was taken on 5 January 1919 to oust the Council of People's Representatives* with a general strike. The resultant action, the Spartacus Uprising,* was a disaster. By March 1919, with neither program nor political leadership, they admitted that they had been outmaneuvered by the SPD. Much of their energy was absorbed, albeit briefly, by the Workers' Councils.REFERENCES:Angress, Stillborn Revolution; Haffner, Failure of a Revolution; Morgan, Socialist Left; Waldman, Spartacist Uprising.
A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. C. Paul Vincent.
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Shop Stewards — See Revolutionary Shop Stewards … Historical dictionary of Weimar Republik
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Barth, Emil — (1879 1941) radical trade union* leader; represented the USPD on the Council of People s Representatives.* Born in Heidelberg, he worked as an itinerant tinsmith before settling in Berlin* in 1904. An anarchist during 1908 1910, he supported… … Historical dictionary of Weimar Republik
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Emil Barth — (* 23. April 1879 in Heidelberg; † 17. Juli 1941 in Berlin) was a German Social Democratic metal worker who became a key figure in the German Revolution of 1918. Barth joined the anti war Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) in 1917, and… … Wikipedia
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Ledeböur, Georg — (1850 1947) politician; prominent figure in the Spar tacist Uprising.* Born in Hanover, he lost his parents at an early age. Despite a crippling bone disease, he served in the Franco Prussian War of 1870. He joined the Progressive Party after… … Historical dictionary of Weimar Republik
Müller, Richard — (1880 ?) revolutionary leader; founder of the Revo lutionary Shop Stewards.* Born in the Thuringian town of Weira, he apprenticed as a lathe operator and, upon settling in Berlin,* slowly acquired leadership in the metalworkers union. Head of… … Historical dictionary of Weimar Republik