The Freikorps Epp was a military association of volunteers and temporary volunteers in the early Weimar Republic . Named after its leader, Colonel Franz Ritter von Epp , the Freikorps was initially involved in the suppression of the Munich Soviet Republic after it was set up in spring 1919 . Then the Freikorps was taken over as Brigade Epp in the Reichswehr and used in the Ruhr uprising in the fight against the Red Ruhr Army . The Freikorps was known for its ruthless behavior and shooting of prisoners and civilians. Among other things, it is held responsible for the murder of Gustav Landauer . Many members joined National Socialism , including Epp and his chief of staff Ernst Röhm , as well as Rudolf Hess , Eduard Dietl , Hans Frank , Otto Strasser and Gregor Strasser . The Freikorps is one of the "birth cells" of the Nazi movement.
As early as February 4, 1919, the Prussian War Ministry had asked the Munich Central Council to send volunteers to the military training area in Ohrdruf in Thuringia , where associations for border protection in the east were set up. However, the Bavarian government under Prime Minister Kurt Eisner feared that the Bavarian volunteers should actually be deployed in Bavaria , prevented the sending of formations and on February 10th banned advertising for the Eastern Border Guard in Bavaria. On the same day, Epp went to Berlin and was officially commissioned by Gustav Noske , a member of the Council of People's Representatives and, soon afterwards, Reichswehr Minister , to set up a Bavarian volunteer corps for the Eastern Border Guard. At the end of 1918, Noske had asked Epp whether he would join the Freikorps movement .
Even after Eisner's murder on February 21, 1919, the Bavarian government stuck to its resistance to the establishment of a Bavarian Freikorps and forbade advertising for the Freikorps in Bavaria. Search troops searched all trains heading for Thuringia and arrested travelers to Ohrdruf. Epp, who on February 17th had a leaflet campaign carried out in Munich, but fled to Ohrdruf on February 25th, made slow progress under these circumstances with the development of his volunteer corps. On March 31st he had only 49 officers, 33 NCOs and 94 men.
Regardless of the ban, the recruiting officers of the Freikorps were not least active at the Bavarian universities. A general student assembly was held in Erlangen on March 27, at which around 900 of the approximately 1000 students present agreed to join the Epp Freikorps. The Rectorate and Senate of the University had previously agreed to interrupt the semester and thus to close the university. The Erlangen students made up the largest contingent of 350 men within the Freikorps. They joined together according to corporation affiliation and formed a student committee to represent interests. Erlangen students also took on leading positions on Epp's staff. Heinz Schauwecker was in charge of the medical service, while Edgar Stelzner from Bubenreuth , against whom an arrest warrant had been issued because of the student assembly, acted as political advisor.
When the majority socialist government under Johannes Hoffmann had to flee to Bamberg after the proclamation of the Munich Soviet Republic on April 7, 1919 , Hoffmann began to support the formation of the Freikorps Epp unofficially and against the resistance of his military minister Ernst Schneppenhorst . On April 14th, he officially asked the government for military help. The Freikorps Epp had reached regimental strength with about 700 men on April 23 and was concentrated in Ulm as the "Bavarian Rifle Corps" .
Suppression of the Munich Soviet Republic
For the deployment in Bavaria, the Reich government provided Prussian Freikorps, including the Freikorps Görlitz and Lützow and the Marine Brigade Ehrhardt , Württemberg troops, including a security company under the command of Erwin Rommel , and Bavarian Freikorps under the command of Epps, in addition to the Freikorps Epp, for example Freikorps Oberland , together. The government troops were about 20,000 strong. The advance began on April 27, 1919. On April 28th the Freikorps Epp took Freising , Erding , Wasserburg and Gars am Inn . In Munich the Red Guards were already in the process of disbanding, and scouts estimated their combat strength there at 2,000 to 3,000 men on April 27. After Munich was circled on May 1st, individual Freikorps, including the Epp Freikorps and the Ehrhardt Marine Brigade, began an unplanned and uncoordinated attack the following day. By the evening of May 2, 1919, Munich was completely occupied and there were only a few places where there was still fighting.
The government troops proceeded with extraordinary severity against any sign of resistance. Above all, however, there was a wave of arrests, shootings and murders. The many shootings were legitimized with bitter resistance from Red Guards. The struggles of the Freikorps Epp in Giesing , a traditional stronghold of the labor movement, were considered particularly difficult. The combat detachment of the Freikorps under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Herrgott had advanced here and into the Au from Lohhof and Harlaching . Later representations from the time of National Socialism make no secret of the particularly brutal approach of the Bavarian Freikorps:
“You can't make much difference between the one who really shot and the one who was only involved in the fight by an unfortunate accident. Some innocent people have to believe in it. Colonel von Epp's Upper Bavarians have no time to conduct lengthy investigations. With the Prussians it is perhaps a little different. "
It is not possible to give the number of those who did not die in the course of the fighting, but were murdered or executed in the course of the subsequent purge. The Freikorps Epp reported on May 11, 1919 that 200 " Spartacists " had been killed and six dead themselves. Estimates of the number of people killed in Munich between April 30 and May 8, 1919 vary between 557 and 1,200; there are probably well more than 600. On June 2, 1919, the Munich police compiled a register according to which 335 civilians had died during the fighting, 184 of them as bystanders and 144 as shot dead.
A few individual cases, for which members of the Epp Freikorps were directly responsible, attracted particular attention. These include the murder of the socialist Gustav Landauer on his admission to the Stadelheim prison , which was also guarded by units of the Freikorps Epp, and of the grammar school professor Karl Horn, who was shot and robbed on May 3rd while being transported to Stadelheim. Other victims could not be identified. In June 1919, 32 bodies were exhumed in the Stadelheim prison garden, eleven of which remained unknown.
The military part that the Freikorps Epp had in the conquest of Munich is controversial. Critics point out that many more Prussian and Württemberg soldiers were involved in the fighting than Bavarian soldiers. In any case, Epp took advantage of the situation and was celebrated as the “liberator of Munich” at a parade of his troops on Odeonsplatz on May 5, 1919. He benefited from this fame not least during the time of National Socialism , when he was stylized as a national hero.
In May 1919 the Freikorps Epp was dissolved or taken over as the 21st Brigade (Bavarian Rifle Brigade) in the provisional Reichswehr . Other associations, including the Freikorps Oberland and Bogendörfer, were integrated into the brigade .
- Joseph Friedrich Abert
- Hans Baumann
- Hans Baur
- Robert Bergmann
- Wilhelm Brückner
- Georg Dechant
- Karl Maria Demelhuber
- Otto Deßloch
- Eduard Dietl
- Oskar Dirlewanger
- Hans Frank
- Karl Fritsch
- Heinrich Gärtner
- Wilhelm Hartnack
- Georg house
- Friedrich Heilingbrunner
- Adolf Herrgott
- Rudolf Hess
- Hans Georg Hofmann
- Franz von Hörauf
- Adolf Hühnlein
- Edgar Julius Jung
- Otto Lancelle
- Johann-Erasmus of Malsen-Ponickau
- Benno Martin
- Otto Marxer
- Gustav Freiherr von Mauchenheim called Bechtolsheim
- Albert Miller
- Karl Pieper
- Maximilian von Pohl
- Hans Rattenhuber
- Ernst Röhm
- Rudolf von Roman
- Heinz Schauwecker
- Hans Schemm
- Karl Schlumprecht
- Josef Schmid
- Wilhelm Schmid
- August Schmidhuber
- August Schneidhuber
- Ferdinand Schörner
- Walter Schultze
- Friedrich Wilhelm Starck
- Wilhelm Stegmann
- Gregor Strasser
- Otto Strasser
- Wilhelm Stuckart
- Charles of Le Suire
- Friedrich Jobst Volckamer von Kirchensittenbach
- Gerhard Wagner
- Friedrich Weber
- Wilhelm White
- Hans Zöberlein
- Heinrich Hillmayr: Red and White Terror in Bavaria after 1918. Causes, manifestations and consequences of the violence in the course of the revolutionary events after the end of the First World War (= Modern History , Volume 2). Nusser, Munich 1974 DNB 750018259 (Dissertation University of Munich 1974, 216 pages)
- Hagen Schulze : Freikorps und Republik 1918–1920 (= Defense Scientific Research. Department of Military History Studies. Volume 8). Boldt, Boppard am Rhein 1969 DNB 481581154 (Dissertation University of Kiel November 15, 1968, 393 pages)
- Bruno Thoss : Freikorps Epp . In: Historical Lexicon of Bavaria
- Katja-Maria Wächter: The power of powerlessness. Life and politics of Franz Xaver Ritter von Epp (1868–1946) (= European university publications. Series 3: History and its auxiliary sciences , volume 824). Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 3-631-32814-1 (Dissertation University of Bonn 1997, 302 pages)
- ↑ Michael Alisch: Heinrich Himmler. Ways to Hitler; the example of Heinrich Himmler. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-631-61219-4 , p. 111. (Master's thesis Universität Hamburg 2008, 171 p.)
- ^ Hagen Schulze : Freikorps and Republic. 1918-1920. Boldt, Boppard am Rhein 1969, pp. 90f. Contrary to the sources she cited, Katja-Maria Wächter dates this visit to February 7, 1919. Katja-Maria Wächter: The power of powerlessness. Life and politics of Franz Xaver Ritter von Epp (1868–1946). P. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 3631328141 , p. 56. Walter Frank also mentions February 10 : Franz Ritter von Epp. The way of a German soldier. Hanseatische Verl.-Anst, Hamburg 1934, p. 76.
- ↑ Schulze, Freikorps , p. 92; Guardian, Power , p. 56 f.
- ^ Manfred Franze: The Erlangen student body 1918–1945 . (= Representations from Franconian history , vol. 30) Ferdinand Schöningh, Würzburg 1972, pp. 22-26.
- ↑ Schulze, Freikorps , pp. 92–94.
- ↑ Schulze, Freikorps , p. 94 f.
- ↑ Wächter, Macht , p. 60.
- ^ Heinrich Hillmayr: Red and White Terror in Bavaria after 1918. Causes, manifestations and consequences of the violence in the course of the revolutionary events after the end of the First World War. Nusser, Munich 1974, p. 117.
- ↑ a b Heinrich Hillmayr: Red and White Terror in Bavaria after 1918. Causes, manifestations and consequences of the violence in the course of the revolutionary events after the end of the First World War. Nusser, Munich 1974, p. 119.
- ^ Hansjoachim W. Koch: The German Civil War. A History of the German and Austrian Freikorps, 1918–1923. Ullstein, Berlin 1978, ISBN 3550073798 , p. 121.
- ^ Heinrich Hillmayr: Red and White Terror in Bavaria after 1918. Causes, manifestations and consequences of the violence in the course of the revolutionary events after the end of the First World War. Nusser, Munich 1974, pp. 149-151.
- ↑ The perpetrators in the Landauer case could not be identified. Heinrich Hillmayr: Red and White Terror in Bavaria after 1918. Causes, manifestations and consequences of the violence in the course of the revolutionary events after the end of the First World War. Nusser, Munich 1974, pp. 132-134; Emil Julius Gumbel : Four Years of Political Murder. 5th edition. Verl. Der Neue Ges, Berlin-Fichtenau 1922, p. 38.
- ^ Heinrich Hillmayr: Red and White Terror in Bavaria after 1918. Causes, manifestations and consequences of the violence in the course of the revolutionary events after the end of the First World War. Nusser, Munich 1974, p. 153.
- ↑ Katja-Maria Wächter: The power of impotence. Life and politics of Franz Xaver Ritter von Epp (1868–1946). P. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 3631328141 , pp. 60-65.