Spartacus League

(Spartakusbund)
   chief precursor to the KPD. On 4 August 1914 several antiwar socialists gathered to affirm both their commitment to international socialism and their opposition to the war just erupting. Centered on Rosa Luxemburg,* Karl Liebknecht,* Leo Jogiches, Franz Mehring, and Clara Zetkin,* the participants organized in 1915 as the Gruppe Internationale. Functioning within the SPD—which it opposed due to the Party's support of the war—the Gruppe Internationale held a formal conference in January 1916 and adopted Luxemburg s axiom that there is no such thing as a "national defensive war. The conferees also began publishing a series of political tracts, subsequently known as the Spartakusbriefe (Spartacus letters). In March 1916, when the group was enlarged by eighteen SPD deputies expelled from the Reichstag* faction for defying Party discipline, it took the name Spartakus-gruppe. The next year, when support for the war split the SPD, the group at-tached itself to the new USPD.
   The Spartakusgruppe' s vision was never restricted to the pacifism that served as a basis for the USPD. With the war in its last year and the Russian Revolution serving as a backdrop, its ideology coalesced around revolutionary Marxism. Luxemburg, imprisoned for most of the war, played the central role in focusing the ideology. Yet, she differed with several colleagues over the use of Bolshevik tactics in Germany. Her critique of Lenin s strategies, which appeared in several Spartakusbriefe, reproached the Russian s adherence to national self-determination, his dismissal of a constituent assembly, and his use of terror. In one letter that appeared in September 1918, she even argued that Germany would have to rescue the situation in Russia.
   The Spartakusbund, so named on 11 November 1918, was a relatively un-noticed group of revolutionaries, never more than a few thousand people. Over-shadowed by the two socialist parties, it was not well placed to guide events. The postwar Workers and Soldiers Councils* were more a spontaneous de-velopment than a response to Spartacist propaganda. When the Congress* of Workers and Soldiers Councils voted in December 1918 to reject the council system as a basis for Germany s political future, it was a bitter defeat for the Spartacists. Prompted by growing cleavage in the socialist movement, the Spar-tacists called a conference on 29 December 1918. Meeting at Prussia s* Abgeordnetenhaus, they voted to separate from the USPD; then, prompted by members of Bremen s Linksradikalen and other radical groups, they constituted themselves as the Communist Party of Germany* (KPD). Despite the name change, the abortive revolt that occurred within days of the KPD s founding was known as the Spartacist Uprising.*
   REFERENCES:Angress, Stillborn Revolution; Morgan, Socialist Left; Waldman, Spar-tacist Uprising.

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

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