Between 1920 and 1922 a monument in honor of the workers who lost their lives during the Kapp Putsch was erected in the Weimar central cemetery. It was commissioned by the Union Cartel of Weimar and built according to plans submitted to a competition by the architectural office of Walter Gropius. Although Gropius maintained that the Bauhaus should remain politically neutral, he ultimately agreed to participate in the competition staged among Weimar artists at the end of 1920. The monument was arranged around an inner space, in which visitors could stand, the repeatedly fractured and highly angular memorial rose up on three sides as if thrust up from or rammed into the earth.
In February 1936, the Nazis destroyed the monument due to its political overtones, and considered its design to fall under the category of degenerate art. Underneath the images posted immediately below, you can read an account of the event written by the German left communist Arthur Rosenberg.
History of the German
On 14 June 1919, Wissell, then Reich Minister for Economy, said at the Socialist Party meeting in Weimar:
Despite the revolution, the nation feels that its hopes have been disappointed. Those things which the people expected of the government have not come to pass. We have further consolidated political democracy in a formal sense; true. But we have not yet done anything but carry on the program which had already been begun by the Imperial German government of Prince Max of Baden. The constitution has been prepared without any real and active participation on the part of the people. We have not been able to satisfy the dull resentment with which the masses are imbued because we have had no real program.
Essentially we have governed according to the old forms of our state life. We have only succeeded in breathing very little fresh life into these forms. We have not been able so to influence the revolution that Germany seemed filled with a new spirit. The inner structure of German civilization, of social life, appears little altered. And even so, not for the better. The nation believes that the achievements of the revolution are simply negative in character, that in place of one form of military and bureaucratic government by individuals another has been introduced, and that the principles of government do not differ essentially from those of the old regime… I believe that the verdict of history upon both the National Assembly and ourselves will be severe and bitter.
It must be admitted that Wissell saw very clearly the state of affairs in Germany at that time. In every way the minutes of this first party meeting held by the Majority Socialists after the revolution is a document as affecting as it is instructive. On the one side stood the opposition minority, among whom Wissell must actually be reckoned, which recognized the fatal nature of the path that the German Revolution was treading. On the other side was the majority, which was grouped about the party leaders and the government, and which strove convulsively after optimism. The motions put forward by the opposition organizations show the temper then prevailing among millions of workmen. The motions demanded over and over again that efforts should be made to restore peace with the USPD, even if discredited leaders had to be sacrificed. The Münster organization demanded: “The Reichswehr Minister Noske shall be expelled from the party.” Frankfurt-on-the-Main demanded:
The Social Democratic group in the Constituent National Assembly shall be ordered to do all in its power to ensure the rapid disbanding of the volunteer corps and the formation of a national defense upon democratic foundations.
The meeting of the delegates of the Social Democratic Party of Hamburg regards the volunteer army as constituting a serious danger to the achievements of the revolution. Its delegates to the party meeting are therefore under the obligation to demand the creation of a national army according to the provisions of the Erfurt Program.
Other motions advocated the councils, nationalization, the democratization of the administration, the abolition of the old bureaucracy. To these were added the wails of delegates from rural districts, who felt that they had been abandoned, and complained that since the lapse of the workers’ councils they had been delivered over to the old powers again. The majority at the party meeting undoubtedly felt equally strongly the grievances that were raised. But in view of the course hitherto taken by the revolution they saw no way out and voted down the opposition’s motions.
The exodus of the workmen from the SPD to the USPD became increasingly rapid. And the embitterment of the radical masses was greatly increased by the sanguinary events that took place in Berlin on 13 January 1920. The Reichstag was at that time discussing a government measure for the establishment of industrial councils. Its purpose was to confine the activity of these councils essentially to the sphere of social welfare. The opposition among the working classes regarded the proposed law as inadequate. The USPD organized a mass demonstration in front of the Reichstag, against the government bill and in favor of wider powers for the councils. The Communists joined in the demonstration. The demonstrators were perfectly peaceful. Nobody had any idea of storming the Reichstag, or of attempting a coup. Various working-class leaders made speeches to the assembled masses in front of the Reichstag. The technical mistake was indeed made of keeping the masses assembled before the Reichstag for too long a time. Slight brushes occurred between the workmen and the police who had been called up in case of emergency. At length the police came to the conclusion that there was reason to fear an attack upon the Reichstag, and machine-guns were turned on the unarmed demonstrators. The crowd was dispersed. Forty-two workmen were killed. The political responsibility for the attitude of the police on 13 January was borne by the Prussian Minister for the Interior, Wolfgang Heine.
At the very time when the SPD was losing a large part of its adherents, the great majority of the middle classes openly turned against the republic. The urban and rural middle classes had been perfectly prepared after 9 November to accept the new order, and to cooperate in building up the republic on democratic lines. Out of consideration for the middle classes the government had believed it necessary to proceed with the utmost caution. Yet it was the hesitancy of the republican leaders that alienated the middle classes. If great and decisive action had been taken, such as, for example, the expropriation of great landowners and the nationalization of mines, and if the government had shown the people that a new era had really dawned, then the government would also have carried the middle classes along with it. Since, however, everything was obviously going to remain unchanged, enthusiasm for the revolution evaporated and the republic and democracy were blamed for all the trials of daily life. Continue reading