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Thursday August 8th 2019Tim Candler9

 

    It was a hundred years ago, the August of 1919, that the German Revolution stumbled toward a working conclusion. Centrists in the flux of politics had produced a Democratic Republic. It hadn't been easy, and in many ways it sometimes seems their achievement was astonishing, but it wasn't achieved without compromise born of some very nefarious political maneuvering that included many broken promises from the leaders of the Social Democrats to the well spring of their support which came from the further reaches of the left which had wanted a more Soviet system that would put control of the means of production into the hands of the workers through workers councils which would take over the factories and operate them for the benefit of workers. Unlike the experience of the Russian Revolutionaries, which by 1919 were well into their own much longer civil war against supporters of the Czars, German workers in the main had kind of grasped that Factories weren't that easy to run, you had a whole hierarchy to contend with, from management through the better paid highly skilled workers all the way to the unskilled workers. I guess it was fairly clear to many, and a long way from being in their own interests for a master machinist, a person who could turn a lump of metal into an engine, to accept being told what to do by a trouble maker who might have read a lot but had never even run a drill press, a person whose primary skill was that of an unskilled laborer or worse someone who'd never actually even worked in a factory. Nor did the factory owners really want to experiment too much with the means by which they earned their very good living and stature. The bankers and the Capitalists were for their part very, very nervous around the possibilities of Soviet style anything. And the thing about it was the bankers and the capitalists had the money to spare for, shall we call them campaign contributions.

 

Past

    Of the millions of soldiers returning from the war only 100,000 kept their work, the rest were abruptly laid off, a miserable experience for anyone. The soldiers who kept their work mostly felt fortunate, I guess, but in terms of the state using them to quell civil disturbances, regular German soldiers were unreliable. While their political sympathies were mixed, the regular soldiers essential inclination was to sympathize with the more unruly demonstrators, and they had a huge reluctance to open fire on German civilians. The dirty work was done by paramilitary units which primarily comprised laid off soldiers. These units were very much arranged around their political sympathies. The German sailors for example were more left wing, their political grit had been cast in their refusal to share their admiral's desires for one final glorious sea battle. Other units decidedly more right wing, had lodged themselves into the fundamental understanding that they'd been betrayed by elements within the home front. Nor were the services of paramilitary units without costs, they had to be maintained. And while there's always debate about these things, I think I'm prepared to argue that when it came to financial resources, the more right leaning units had better access, a point of view expressed by Hitler in his debate with the German Workers Party when he insisted Capitalists were useful a-holes and had to be utilized, not purged. In time the paramilitary units with access to the greatest resources became more and more powerful, they were kind of like untouchable gangsters, ruling their kingdoms. So much so in fact that some years later when time came for Hitler to secure his absolute personal control over the National Socialist Party he had to vigorously purge the leadership of the several paramilitary units that had made themselves wealthy and important supporting his rise to the Grand Poo-bah that is the position of Dear Leader.

 

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