FAILURE OF A REVOLUTION: Germany 1918/19 by Sebastian Haffner


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This book, it seems, has made waves in Germany by carving several sacred carcasses. Haffner, a columnist for the mass circulation Stern declares that there was an indigenous German revolution in 1918; that the Social Democratic Party leadership, more rhetorical than radical, ""betrayed"" it, alienating the rank and file, polarizing the Republic, and leaving an open door which Hitler eventually walked through. He draws his portrait in blacks and whites -- Ebert (who hated revolution ""like sin""), Noske and Ludendorff are villains, Rosa Luxemburg and Wilhelm Liebknecht (mainly journalists throughout the turmoil until their brutal murder) the victims, and the ""Socialist Democrat workers, soldiers and sailors"" the heroes whose laurel wreaths were snatched away. In such a rapid-fire treatment one looks in vain for influences (e.g., the Bolshevik Revolution. as a model), nuances (the position of the various SDP factions), or background (the peace negotiations at Versailles); with neither footnotes nor a bibliography this oversimplification is perhaps not unexpected. For a more authoritative account of these events within a broader framework, consult Samuel W. Halperin or Erich Eyck.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1973
Publisher: Library Press