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German Socialism since 1914

  • Leslie J. Macfarlane

Abstract

The SPD members of the German Reichstag had voted en bloc in August 1914 to support the grant of war credits in compliance with the majority vote at the Reichstag Party meeting. The decision opened up a deep and bitter divide between the majority who endorsed the decision to go to war and the minority who opposed it. The majority accepted the official claim that the war was forced on Germany as a war of national defence, in the face of the imminent threat of invasion resulting from the Russian mobilisation of its vast armies to attack Germany’s ally, Austria. The minority embraced a wide spread of opinion from pacifists to revolutionary Marxists, who saw the war credit vote as marking the abandonment of the principles of international working-class solidarity. Many of the majority doubtless recalled and repeated the words of the revered late leader, August Bebel, at the 1907 Party Conference:

If a time really comes when we have to defend the fatherland, then we shall do so because it is our fatherland; we shall defend it as the soil on which we live, as the country whose language we speak and whose customs we hold, and because we wish to make of this fatherland of ours a land of such perfection and beauty as shall be unmatched in all the world.2

Keywords

Trade Union Liberal Democratic Party Work Council Socialist Party Centre Party 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Valuable studies of this period are to be found in G.D.H. Cole, A History of Socialist Thought, Vol. IV. Pt I Communism and Social Democracy, 1914–1931, Ch. IV and Chapter V ( London: Macmillan, 1958 ).Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Andreis Markovits, The Politics of the West German Trade Unions ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986 ), p. 66.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Leslie J. Macfarlane 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie J. Macfarlane
    • 1
  1. 1.St John’s CollegeOxfordUK

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