Workers and Soldiers Council

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Reich Assembly of Workers 'and Soldiers' Councils on December 16, 1918

Workers 'and soldiers' councils already existed during the Russian Revolution , which is why the term Soviet originated there . In the German November Revolution 1918 organs were of self-government in the cities often mainly of workers and soldiers assembled the persecuted among other objectives, the Hohenzollern - monarchy overthrow and the First World War to end. They took the Soviets (German: Councils ) of the Russian October Revolution as a model. In their majority they consisted of supporters of the SPD and the USPD . The institution of the councils forms the most important element of council democracy / council republic and, related to it, the political currents of council communism .


Address to the Reichstag (November 1918)
ID of a DRK medic with a stamp of the soldiers' council

The first workers' and soldiers' council was formed on November 4, 1918 as a result of the Kiel sailors' uprising . Numerous other cities followed suit over the next few days until the revolution reached Berlin on November 9th . While at the beginning there were social and anti-war protests with the slogan “Peace and Bread”, the councils demanded the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the socialist republic . At the Reichsrätekongress , which met in Berlin on December 16, demands were made for the abolition of the previous army constitution and the introduction of a people's army with elected officers . The USPD's motion to maintain the council system as the basis of the constitution of the republic and to grant the councils legislative and executive power was rejected. On January 19, 1919, the provisional settlement of the command and position of the soldiers' councils in the peace army was achieved . It was signed by the Reich government ( Ebert , Noske ), the Prussian War Ministry ( Reinhardt , Göhre ) and the Central Council of Workers 'and Soldiers' Councils ( Cohen , Müller ).

The SPD politician Gustav Noske headed the Workers 'and Soldiers' Council in Kiel. He succeeded in moderating and ultimately neutralizing the revolutionary movement. As a result, the Weimar Republic was founded as a compromise between the revolutionary demands and the interests of the bourgeois forces. The Communist Party of Germany under Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg was formed from the experiences of the workers 'and soldiers' councils and their (partial) defeat .

Long-term importance

Although there were precursors in the 19th century ( workers 'committees ), the workers' councils formed in 1918 can be understood as the origin of works councils and later also staff councils , i.e. the employee representation within the framework of company co-determination .

See also


  • Wilhelm Keil : Experiences of a Social Democrat. Volume 2, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1948.
  • Gerhard Engel : The "Free Democratic Fraction" in the Greater Berlin Council Movement - Left Liberalism in the Revolution 1918/1919. In: International scientific correspondence on the history of the German labor movement (IWK). No. 2/2004, pp. 150-202.
  • Martin Gohlke: The councils in the revolution of 1918/19 in Magdeburg. oops Oldenburger Online-Publikations-Server, Oldenburg 1999 DNB 958847843 (Dissertation University of Oldenburg 1999 full text online PDF, 1.3 MB)
  • Ralf Hoffrogge : Richard Müller - The man behind the November Revolution. Karl-Dietz, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-320-02148-1 .
  • Reinhard Rürup : Problems of the Revolution in Germany 1918/19. (= Institute for European History Mainz. Lectures. 50). Steiner, Wiesbaden 1968.
  • Ulrich Kluge : Soldiers' Councils and Revolution. Studies on military policy in Germany 1918/19 (= critical studies on historical science . Volume 14). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1975, ISBN 3-525-35965-9 (Dissertation FU Berlin 1972 (online) )
  • General congress of workers and soldiers' councils in Germany. From 16 to 21 December 1918 in the Berlin House of Representatives. (= Critical Library of the Labor Movement. 1). Reprint of the Berlin 1919 edition. Olle & Wolter, Berlin 1976.
  • Sebastian Haffner : The German Revolution 1918/1919. How was it really? Kindler, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-463-00738-X . (5th, corrected and updated edition under the title: Der Verrat. Verlag 1900, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-930278-00-6 )
  • Hagen Schulze : Weimar. Germany 1917–1933 (= settlers German history: The Germans and their nation . Volume 4). Severin & Siedler, Berlin 1982, ISBN 3-88680-050-4 .
  • Karl Heinrich Pohl : Authoritative State and Democracy. Aspects of the “revolution” of 1918/19. In: Manfred Hettling (Ed.): Revolution in Germany? 1789-1989. Seven posts. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1991, ISBN 3-525-33572-5 , pp. 46-70. (on-line)
  • Heinrich August Winkler : Weimar 1918–1933. The history of the first German democracy. Beck, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-406-37646-0 .
  • Horst Möller : The Weimar Republic. An unfinished democracy. (= dtv 34059). 9th edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-423-34059-5 , pp. 1–93.

Regional representations

  • W. Sollmann : The revolution in Cologne. A report of facts. Verlag der Rheinische Zeitung, Cologne 1918 (reprint: Archiv Verlag, Braunschweig 1993).
  • Paul Hahn : Memories from the Revolution in Württemberg. “The red rooster. A revolutionary phenomenon. ” (= Contemporary memoirs ). Berger's literary office and publishing house, Stuttgart 1922
  • Erhard Lucas : Frankfurt under the rule of the workers 'and soldiers' council. 1918/19. New Critique Publishing House, Frankfurt am Main 1969.
  • Klaus Schönhoven: The Württemberg soldiers' councils in the revolution of 1918/19. In: Journal for Württemberg State History. 33, 1974, ISSN  0044-3786 , pp. 236-257.
  • Eberhard Kolb , Klaus Schönhoven : Regional and local council organizations in Württemberg. 1918/19. (= Sources on the history of the council movement in Germany 1918/1919. Volume 2). Droste, Düsseldorf 1976, ISBN 3-7700-5084-3 .
  • Günter Cordes: The revolutionary year 1918/19 in Württemberg and the events in Ludwigsburg. In: Ludwigsburg history sheets. 32, 1980, ISSN  0179-1842 , pp. 117-138.
  • Dirk Dähnhardt : Revolution in Kiel. The transition from the German Empire to the Weimar Republic in 1918/19. (= Communications from the Society for Kiel City History. 64). 2nd, unchanged edition. Karl Wachholtz, Neumünster 1984, ISBN 3-529-02636-0 . (Also: Kiel, Univ., Diss., 1977)
  • Kurt Eisermann: Everyday life under the workers 'and soldiers' council. The November Revolution in Cuxhaven and its effects . In: Men from Morgenstern , Heimatbund an Elbe and Weser estuary e. V. (Ed.): Niederdeutsches Heimatblatt . No. 827 . Nordsee-Zeitung GmbH, Bremerhaven November 2018, p. 3–4 ( digitized version [PDF; 4.3 MB ; accessed on July 5, 2019]).


Web links

Commons : Workers and Soldiers Council  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Aribert Schwenke: Temporary Volunteer Associations and Hallenser SC during the unrest in 1919–21 . Once and Now, Yearbook of the Association for Corporate Student History Research, Vol. 31 (1986), pp. 47–72, here p. 47.
  2. Some contemporaries spoke of "Arsol councils".
  3. oops