Gustav Noske

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Gustav Noske as a member of the Weimar National Assembly , 1919

Gustav Noske (born July 9, 1868 in Brandenburg , † November 30, 1946 in Hanover ) was a German SPD politician and the first social democratic minister to be responsible for the military in German history. Gustav Noske is also known for his central role in the November Revolution and the subsequent social and political disputes between 1918 and 1920.

Family, education and work

Gustav Noske (1933)

Gustav Noske's parents were Karl Noske, a weaver born in Ciechanowiec in what was then Russian Poland , and Emma, ​​née. Herwig.

From 1874 to 1882 Gustav Noske attended elementary and community school. In 1882 he began an apprenticeship as a basket maker . He then stayed as a journeyman in Halle an der Saale , Frankfurt am Main , Amsterdam and Liegnitz . The tough working and living conditions (11–13 hour working day, no welfare institutions, unfair pay), made worse by the increase in piece rates and the socialist law , motivated Noske to work as a journalist and, as a 17-year-old, to found a basket-making association to participate. This later became part of the German Woodworkers Association . In 1890 Noske was one of a three-person delegation that demanded that the entrepreneur take a day or half of unpaid rest from work on May 1st . All three workers were given notice. As a result, there was such great unrest in the factory that the notice of termination was reversed. After a rally in Brandenburg , August Bebel had a long conversation with him. Noske was proud when Bebel quoted from this conversation in a Reichstag speech.

In 1891 he married Martha, née Thiel. The two had three children.

In 1893 he became editor of the Brandenburger Zeitung , in 1897 he moved to the Königsberger Volkstribüne .

Party entry

Noske was a member of the SPD from 1884 on and was elected chairman of the social democratic association in his hometown in 1892, two years after the Socialist Act had ended .

Public work

First cabinet meeting of the Scheidemann cabinet on February 13, 1919 in Weimar. From left: Ulrich Rauscher , Head of Press of the Reich Government, Robert Schmidt , Nutrition, Eugen Schiffer , Finance, Philipp Scheidemann , Reich Chancellor, Otto Landsberg , Justice, Rudolf Wissell , Economy, Gustav Bauer , Labor, Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau , Foreign Affairs, Eduard David without Portefeuille, Hugo Preuss , Interior, Johannes Giesberts , Post, Johannes Bell , Colonies, Georg Gothein , Schatz, Gustav Noske , Reichswehr
Gustav Noske (right) with Walther von Lüttwitz (1920)

As the editor of the Chemnitzer Volksstimme , Noske gained a large following; by by-election (elected for the resigned Max Schippel ), he entered the German Reichstag in early 1906 (at the age of 37) as a member of the Chemnitz constituency. As a newly elected member of parliament, he quickly established himself as a specialist in colonial and military issues, even though he had never been a soldier: In the debate about the German colonies , the Social Democrats and the Center opposed colonialism together. Noske agreed with his comrades when they argued that spending money to solve social problems in Germany should have priority over investments in the colonies. He could not follow them in their polemics against the German colonial policy, which he fundamentally advocated. He also acknowledged the need for national defense, which was not shared by all Social Democratic MPs. In the eyes of the historian Helga Grebing, his advocacy of a certain national egoism made him a prototype for “that part of German social democracy that [...] integrated itself into the monarchical-authoritarian state in a positive way ”.

Noske made his breakthrough in the top group of the SPD parliamentary group and the entire Reichstag in 1907, when he opposed the accusations of War Minister Karl von Eine , who “spiced up the justification of the army budget with violent attacks against the SPD and the social democrats against the national sentiment had agreed ”, gave a knowledgeable speech that“ avoided any ideological swipe. ”In doing so, he distanced himself from August Bebel and at the same time became a target of the left wing in the SPD.

During the Kiel sailors' uprising at the beginning of November 1918, Reich Chancellor Prince Max von Baden sent him to Kiel to calm the situation there. Noske was immediately elected chairman of the local workers 'and soldiers' council, but was unable to prevent the revolution from spreading to the entire Reich. On 9 November 1918. took place during the November Revolution , the proclamation of the Republic , a day later traveled Kaiser Wilhelm II. To the Netherlands. The end of the German monarchy was sealed by the formal abdication of the emperor on November 28, 1918, his heir to the throne on December 1, 1918 and all other federal princes .

Ebert and Noske taking over the Bavarian Army in the Reichswehr on August 25, 1919 in Munich, Marsfeldkaserne

After the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) had left the Council of People's Representatives at the turn of the year 1918/19 ( Christmas battles) due to the tough military action , Noske, as People's Representative for the Army and Navy, was responsible for suppressing the January uprising in 1919 (so-called " Spartacus uprising ”), in which Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were also murdered. After the officer Waldemar Pabst , who initiated the murders of Luxemburg and Liebknecht, died in 1970, a copy of a letter from 1969 was found in his estate:

“It is clear that I could not carry out the operation without Noske's consent - with Ebert in the background - and also had to protect my officers. But very few people understood why I was never questioned or charged. As a gentleman, I acknowledged the behavior of the SPD at the time by keeping my mouth shut about our cooperation for 50 years. "

Noske has been a member of the Weimar National Assembly since its constitution on February 6, 1919. As Reichswehr Minister in the first Scheidemann cabinet , he was responsible for suppressing the rebels in the Berlin March fighting , in which around 1200 people were killed. Here, on the evening of March 9th, he issued the directive: "Anyone found fighting government troops with a weapon in hand must be shot immediately." He was also involved in the suppression of some local uprisings in which Soviet republics should be built, including in Munich and Bremen . He was nicknamed "the bloodhound" or "Blutnoske" by his opponents, which goes back to his own account of the decision to put down the Spartacus uprising in his memoirs published in 1920:

“The Minister of War, Colonel Reinhardt , formulated an order by which the government and the Central Council appointed Lieutenant General von Hofmann , who was not far from Berlin with some formations, as Commander-in-Chief. The objection was made that the workers would have the greatest reservations about a general. In great excitement, because time was pressing, our people were shouting for weapons in the street, and you were standing around in Ebert's study. I demanded that a decision be made. Then someone said: 'Then you do it!' To which I quickly replied: 'Because of me! One must become the bloodhound, I am not afraid of the responsibility! ' Reinhardt said that he had actually always hoped for the suggestion. A resolution was formulated orally in such a way that the government and the Central Council gave me the greatest possible powers for the purpose of restoring orderly conditions in Berlin. "

The swimming trunks photo: Friedrich Ebert and Gustav Noske (standing, second and third from right) with Henry Everling and other members of the production cooperative , Haffkrug , July 16, 1919

Noske shared the anti-Bolshevism of the military and gave the Freikorps supported by the Reichswehr largely a free hand in their tough crackdown on strikes and communist uprisings. With this attitude he lost all sympathy among the communists. In the summer of 1919 a photo was published that showed Noske in swimming trunks together with Reich President Friedrich Ebert. It was felt to be scandalous above all because a full-body swimsuit was still common for men in the imperial era. Many opponents of the republic used this image to polemicize against the Reichswehr Minister and the new, democratic form of government. The right-wing liberal Hannoversche Kurier, for example, recognized in the picture a symbol for the feeble republic humiliated by the Versailles Treaty : the Reichswehr Minister completely without weapons, the Reich President "in the splendor of all the nakedness". The left also used this “anti-republican icon”: The communist magazine Die Pleite published a caricature based on the photo in 1923, which showed Ebert and Noske in swimming trunks, but not in the Baltic Sea, but in a sea of ​​blood.

After he, in consultation with Ebert, the reactionary Freikorps, u. a. the Ehrhardt Brigade broke up, it came to the reactionary Kapp Putsch Lüttwitz of 13 March 1920. Also Reich President Ebert, Noske could not keep; because of "favoring the counterrevolution " Noske was forced to resign as Reichswehr Minister after the Kapp Putsch.

Political decline

Gustav Noske (right) with Wilhelm Groener , 1930

Noske was deported to the post of President of the Prussian Province of Hanover in 1920 . His attempts to regain a foothold in the SPD after 1920 failed. For example, In January 1928, for example, the district executive of the SPD in Pomerania passed a unanimous resolution on the SPD's executive committee to prevent Noske from standing for the 1928 Reichstag election .

Dismissal and National Socialist persecution

Noske, who was not dismissed after the Prussian strike (like so many other top social democratic officials or those who were loyal to the republic), was immediately asked to come to Berlin after the seizure of power . On February 6, 1933, Hermann Göring personally discussed with him the modalities of his departure from the office of Chief President. Noske was assured that he could remain in office until October 1, 1933, i.e. until he reached retirement age. However, he must take vacation until then. Noske agreed. Goering did not keep his promise in the period that followed. At the beginning of May 1933 he let it be known that the office of senior president was now to be vacated for Viktor Lutze . In mid-May, Noske was put into temporary retirement. On September 26, 1933, Noske was finally dismissed with reference to § 4 (lack of national reliability) of the law for the restoration of the professional civil service .

Also in 1933 he lost his honorary citizenship of the TH Hannover . In a report from 1938 to the Reich Ministry of Science, the rector of the university asks for approval that Noske “will not be deprived of the dignity of an honorary citizen in any form”. Although he had a different political attitude, "unfair conduct" could not be proven. The formal withdrawal of honorary citizenship is to be seen as "an undue hardship".

Noske was privy to the plans of the resistance against Adolf Hitler and was scheduled in the shadow cabinet Beck / Goerdeler in the event of a successful coup d'état as political commissioner in military district IX (Kassel). After the assassination attempt on July 20, 1944 , he was arrested and first taken to the Fürstenberg / Havel camp, which was part of the Ravensbrück concentration camp . He survived the total of seven months imprisonment in this camp and was then imprisoned in the Lehrter Strasse cell prison in Berlin-Moabit , from which he was released on April 25, 1945.

post war period

After the end of the Second World War , it was too late for the now almost 80-year-old Noske to continue his political career. Social democrats in the western zones like Kurt Schumacher defended Noske against the criticism of the communists , but also made it clear to him that they no longer placed any value on an active political role for him.

Shortly before his death in 1946, Noske wrote some of his memoirs . In it he denounced the " Eastern Jewish " influence in the German labor movement. He wrote about the radicals that “the Eastern Jewish ' Marxists ' had a special disposition to develop socialism into a dogma […] They hatched a secret science that has always remained incomprehensible to the German workers.” On the Jewish descent of the revisionists was never expelled under or by Social Democrats.

Noske's grave is located in the Engesohde city cemetery in Hanover.

State of research

The life of Gustav Noske has so far only been dealt with in a few biographies, for example in Wolfram Wette's book Gustav Noske , a political biography from 1987. This study, which is based on a broad range of sources, also reports on the current state of research on the subject. In addition, special studies have been presented on individual phases of Noske's life, such as The Revolution in Kiel by Dirk Dähnhardt ; this publication mainly sheds light on the course of the Kiel Revolution and Noske's work during this phase. Noske's time as President of the Province of Hanover has been comprehensively dealt with in a two-volume dissertation by Günther Bode from 1982.

Fonts (selection)

  • For the Social Democratic Party Congress in 1912 . In: Socialist monthly books . 16. = 18. Jg. (1912), issue 18/20, pp. 1087-1090. Digitized
  • The tactics of the faction . In: The New Time . Weekly of the German Social Democracy . 31, 1912-1913, Volume 2 (1913), Issue 39, pp. 425-428. Digitized
  • The social democratic parliamentary group and the cover documents . In: Socialist monthly books . Volume 19 (1913), issue 18/20, pp. 1101-1108. Digitized
  • Colonial Policy and Social Democracy. Stuttgart 1914.
  • together with Adolph Koester: War journeys through Belgium and Northern France 1914. Berlin 1914.
  • Colonial policy after the war . In: The New Time . 36th year 1917-1918, 1st volume (1918), issue 21, pp. 481-488. Digitized
  • Noske. How I became - autobiographies of popular personalities . Culture, Berlin 1919. Digitized
  • Speech by Reichswehr Minister Noske at the representative meeting of German universities on April 29, 1919 in Berlin . (Berlin 1919) Digitized
  • From Kiel to Kapp. On the history of the German revolution. Publishing house for politics and economics, Berlin 1920. Digitized
  • Experiences from the rise and fall of a democracy. Offenbach 1947. Digitized [also under the title Rise and Fall of German Social Democracy. Experiences from the rise and fall of a democracy. Zurich 1947 published].

Movie and TV


  • Günther Bode: Gustav Noske as President of the Province of Hanover 1920–1933. Volume 1 (text volume) and Volume 2 (notes, list of sources and references). Dissertation, Karlsruhe 1982.
  • Rainer Butenschön, Eckart Spoo (Ed.): Why does one have to be the bloodhound? The majority social democrat Gustav Noske and the German militarism of the 20th century (= Distel-Hefte. Volume 35). Distel, Heilbronn 1997, ISBN 3-929348-18-7 .
  • Hans-Christoph Schröder : Gustav Noske and the colonial policy of the German Empire. Berlin 1979.
  • Wolfram bet : Gustav Noske. A political biography. Droste, Düsseldorf 1987, ISBN 3-7700-0728-X .
  • Wolfram bet:  Noske, Gustav. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 19, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-428-00200-8 , p. 347 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Martin Schumacher (Hrsg.): MdR The Reichstag members of the Weimar Republic in the time of National Socialism. Political persecution, emigration and expatriation, 1933–1945. A biographical documentation . 3rd, considerably expanded and revised edition. Droste, Düsseldorf 1994, ISBN 3-7700-5183-1 .

Web links

Commons : Gustav Noske  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wolfram Wette:  Noske, Gustav. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 19, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-428-00200-8 , p. 347 f. ( Digitized version ).
  2. Ulrich Czisnik: Gustav Noske. A social democratic statesman. Goettingen 1969.
  3. ^ Helga Grebing: Noske, Gustav, politician. In: Wolfgang Benz and Hermann Graml (Hrsg.): Biographisches Lexikon zur Weimarer Republik. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 1988, p. 240.
  4. Ulrich Czisnik: Gustav Noske. A social democratic statesman. Göttingen 1969, page number missing.
  5. First published in full by Klaus Gietinger : Der Counterrevolutionär. Waldemar Pabst - a German career , p. 394.
  6. Gustav Noske: From Kiel to Kapp. On the history of the German revolution. Berlin 1920, p. 68.
  7. ^ Also on the following see Niels Albrecht: The power of a defamation campaign. Anti-democratic agitation by the press and judiciary against the Weimar Republic and its first Reich President Friedrich Ebert from the “Badebild” to the Magdeburg trial. Dissertation, University of Bremen 2002, pp. 45–88 ( PDF; 4 MB) , accessed on July 3, 2010.
  8. ^ Bernhard Fulda: The politics of the "unpolitical". The tabloid and mass press in the twenties and thirties. In: Frank Bösch , Norbert Frei (Ed.): Medialization and Democracy in the 20th Century. Wallstein, Göttingen 2006, p. 66.
  9. Walter Mühlhausen: The Weimar Republic bared. The swimwear photo by Friedrich Ebert and Gustav Noske. In: Gerhard Paul (ed.): The century of pictures. Vol. 1: 1900-1949. Special edition for the Federal Agency for Civic Education , Bonn 2009, p. 242.
  10. ^ Wolfram Wette: Gustav Noske. A political biography. Droste, Düsseldorf 1987, pp. 751-759.
  11. Simon Benne: Wäldner's list. During the Nazi era, the academics, who are now unpopular with Leibniz University, revoked their titles - only now could rehabilitation be possible. In: Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung , October 20, 2011, p. 15.
  12. Michele Barricelli , Holger Butenschön , Michael Jung, Jörg-Detlef Kühne , Lars Nebelung, Joachim Perels : National Socialist Unjust Measures at the Technical University of Hanover. Disabilities and privileges from 1933 to 1945 . Published by the Presidium of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University of Hanover. Michael Imhof Verlag, Petersberg 2016, ISBN 978-3-7319-0429-8 , p. 61, print of the document as Annexes 3-1 and 3-2 after p. 66 ( complete as PDF document )
  13. Short biography of the German Resistance Memorial Center .
  14. Quoted from Peter Pulzer : The Jewish participation in politics. In: Werner E. Mosse (Ed.): Jews in Wilhelminian Germany 1890–1914. An anthology . S. 2nd edition, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1998, p. 209.
  15. Peter Pulzer : The Jewish participation in politics. In: Werner E. Mosse (Ed.): Jews in Wilhelminian Germany 1890–1914. An anthology . 2nd edition, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1998, p. 208 f.
  16. Der Spiegel March 28, 1988: "One must become the bloodhound"