Between Reform and Revolution

Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990

David E. Barclay
Eric D. Weitz
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 596
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  • Book Info
    Between Reform and Revolution
    Book Description:

    The powerful impact of Socialism and Communism on modern German history is the theme which is explored by the contributors to this volume. Whereas previous investigations have tended to focus on political, intellectual and biographical aspects, this book captures, for the first time, the methodological and thematic diversity and richness of current work on the history of the German working class and the political movements that emerged from it. Based on original contributions from U.S., British, and German scholars, this collection address a wide range of themes and problems.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-719-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-32)
    David E. Barclay and Eric D. Weitz

    For some one hundred and fifty years, from the first glimmers of industrialization to the present day, socialism has constituted a central element in the historical development of Germany. From the League of the Just and the General German Workers Association in the middle decades of the nineteenth century to the Social Democratic and Communist parties in the twentieth, socialist parties in Germany have claimed to represent the finest ideals of human liberty and to offer the route to material riches for all. They have professed to represent the interests of the industrial working class and the population as a...

  5. Chapter 1 Diagnosing the “German Misery”: Radicalism and the Problem of National Character, 1830 to 1848
    (pp. 33-62)
    Warren Breckman

    Although liberals, republican-democrats, and the tiny number of Germans who might retrospectively be called “socialist” were not oblivious to their differences in the 1830s, they all acknowledged common membership in theBewegungspartei,the party of movement. Even by the standards of the loose factional groupings that acted politically in the German states of that time, however, theBewegungsparteiwas less a real party than an invisible assembly of conscientious opponents of the reactionary monarchies of Germany. By the early 1840s, Karl Marx was not alone in recognizing that the crude division of German politics into opposing parties of “movement” and...

  6. Chapter 2 Working-Class Politics at the Crossroads of Conservatism, Liberalism, and Socialism
    (pp. 63-86)
    Hermann Beck

    Not only national and constitutional issues hung in the balance during the 1860s. Due to northern Germany’s rapid industrialization, social problems had also assumed a pressing urgency that demanded an expeditious, long-term political solution. Vital problems and issues that in countries like Britain and France had worked themselves out gradually, often over the course of centuries, frequently had to be resolved within the span of a decade in the states of the German Confederation. This unusual array of problems may well have represented the most important aspect of the peculiarities in Germany’s development, for solutions to the interconnected national, constitutional,...

  7. Chapter 3 The Lassallean Labor Movement in Germany: Organization, Social Structure, and Associational Life in the 1860s
    (pp. 87-112)
    Toni Offermann

    A decade after the defeat of the democratic and labor movements in 1849 to 1850, a network of “worker educational associations” began to reconstitute itself with the vigorous assistance of the left wing of the bourgeois national movement. By 1862 to 1863 efforts were again being launched to centralize associational(Verein)activities at the national level. Asked by a group in Leipzig to help them achieve this goal, the radical democrat Ferdinand Lassalle (1825 to 1864) outlined a social and political plan of action in his “Official Response”(Offizielles Antwortschreiben)that called for workers to distance themselves from the liberal...

  8. Chapter 4 Bürger and Workers: Liberalism and the Labor Movement in Germany, 1848 to 1914
    (pp. 113-140)
    Ralf Roth

    The relationship between “middle-class”Bürgerand “workers” played a central role in nineteenth-century German history, and it is not surprising that recent social historians have devoted so much attention to it. Indeed, the breach between “bourgeois” and “proletarian” democracy in the 1860s is usually regarded as an especially fateful stage on Germany’s allegedly “separate path”(Sonderweg)of historical development.¹ Virtually all studies of the relationship betweenBürgerand workers, however, have concentrated on developments at the national level. Thus, they almost uniformly come to the conclusion that the partnership between these two groups was only of short duration.² But in...

  9. Chapter 5 “Genossen und Genossinnen”: Depictions of Gender, Militancy, and Organizing in the German Socialist Press, 1890 to 1914
    (pp. 141-166)
    Mary Jo Maynes

    When in 1890 German Social Democratic Party (SPD) leaders reassembled after twelve years of exile and clandestine activity to build the newly re-legalized organization, they had no clear blueprints from which to work. The period between the party’s founding in 1875 and its banning in 1878 had been too brief to establish an organizational culture.¹ Many previous forms of political protest and activity – whether the armed insurrections of the century’s earlier decades or the secret meetings and smuggling of the outlaw period – no longer suited socialist visions and opportunities looking forward from 1890. The strategy of political mobilization that looked...

  10. Chapter 6 The Social Democratic Electorate in Imperial Germany
    (pp. 167-194)
    Jonathan Sperber

    Central to the realm of activities carried out by the Social Democratic Party in Imperial Germany and to the political self-identity of its members was election campaigning, particularly for the democratically elected Reichstag. There are a host of reasons for the party’s focus on elections, ranging from Ferdinand Lassalle’s belief in universal manhood suffrage as the key to the solution of the social problem, to the peculiar circumstances of the Anti-Socialist Law from 1878 to 1890, when the party was illegal but its candidacies were not. Most important, though, was the significance of electioneering for the party’s agitation. By campaigning...

  11. Chapter 7 Latent Reformism and Socialist Utopia: The SPD in Göttingen, 1890 to 1920
    (pp. 195-222)
    Adelheid von Saldern

    Historical research that focuses on the everyday life and social milieu of people at the local level changes substantially our understanding and interpretation of events. We begin to see people not merely as objects of great developments. Instead, we come to recognize the overarching importance of their subjective characters, which both express and shape the contours of daily life. From the local and subjective perspectives we find that people acquire reality in their own way. Their perceptions and experiences are frequently shattered by “objective categories” and often are not in line with the ordering system of scholarly research. Their appropriation...

  12. Chapter 8 A Social Republic? Social Democrats, Communists, and the Weimar Welfare State, 1919 to 1933
    (pp. 223-250)
    David F. Crew

    In Wilhelmine Germany (1890 to 1918), the Social Democratic Party (SPD) viewed the state as an instrument for the domination of the ruling classes and for the maintenance of capitalism. But even before the end of the nineteenth century, some Social Democrats were prepared to concede that the German state need not serve the ruling class alone. As political life in Europe became more democratized, as workers were enfranchised and as their numbers and organized strength grew, it seemed possible that the state might be transformed, through the electoral process, into a means of popular emancipation. This did not mean...

  13. Chapter 9 The Iron Front: Weimar Social Democracy between Tradition and Modernity
    (pp. 251-274)
    Donna Harsch

    On 16 December 1931, Otto Wels, chairman of the SPD, announced the formation of an “Iron Front of all republicans.” Embracing the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the paramilitaryReichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold,two trade union federations (ADGB and AfA-Bund), and the Workers Sport Federation, this super-organization was to coordinate the social democratic effort to defend the Weimar Republic against its enemies on the Right, in particular, the NSDAP. Created in the midst of national crisis and social democratic demoralization, the Iron Front went on to a meteoric career, distinguished by an unexpected talent for rousing Social Democrats but capped by an equally...

  14. Chapter 10 Communism and the Public Spheres of Weimar Germany
    (pp. 275-292)
    Eric D. Weitz

    The founding congress of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) convened in the very last days of 1918. Germany was enveloped in revolution and the disorder of military and economic demobilization. Miners were on strike in the Ruhr. In cities and towns throughout the country, workers’ and soldiers’ councils watched over the endeavors of mayors and other officials of the old Imperial German bureaucracy. Demonstrations, often raucous affairs in front of a city hall, a factory owner’s residence, or a military garrison, were daily occurrences. For the radicals who convened to form a new political party, the establishment of socialism...

  15. Chapter 11 The Rise and Fall of Red Saxony
    (pp. 293-314)
    William Carl Mathews

    Saxony well deserved its claim to be the model of German social democracy. If the seeds of democratic socialism were broadly strewn throughout Germany, they had been sown into very fertile soil in Saxony. As early as 1867 these seeds sprouted in the Vogtland of southwestern Saxony and flowered to become the brightest red rose of social democracy. For nearly half a century, this rose continued to bloom until, as if there were political seasons, it suddenly faltered in the wake of the hyperinflation of 1923. Although it struggled to recover much of its former glory, the coming of the...

  16. Chapter 12 Cultural Socialism, the Public Sphere, and the Mass Form: Popular Culture and the Democratic Project, 1900 to 1934
    (pp. 315-340)
    Geoff Eley

    The parties of the Left, and perhaps a majority of Left intellectuals for most of the time, have had enormous difficulties coming to terms with the commercially produced and distributed entertainment cultures of the twentieth century in their mass-mediated forms. More often than not, the Left have belittled, demonized, and disavowed the popularity of mass culture, as opposed to taking it as an important ground of democracy. The Left’s history is replete with difficulty when it comes to popular culture, with suspicion and unease, with the sense that the people’s availability for radical or oppositional politics (or for just politics...

  17. Chapter 13 The Social Origins of Unity Sentiments in the German Socialist Underground, 1933 to 1936
    (pp. 341-356)
    Gerd-Rainer Horn

    West German resistance historiography has suffered from a variety of ills that have resulted in less-than-satisfactory overall assessments of the character and evolution of German anti-Nazi resistance. Francis R. Nicosia recently recalled the outsider status of any serious research on German resistance that took place in the first two decades of the Federal Republic: “In the 1950s and 1960s, surviving resisters were regarded by many in Germany as traitors, and accordingly resistance was not a popular topic among academics, publishers, educators and the public at large.”¹ Once grudgingly accepted as a genre of historical studies, disproportionate attention has been placed...

  18. Chapter 14 Communist Resistance between Comintern Directives and Nazi Terror
    (pp. 357-372)
    Beatrix Herlemann

    The last election of the Weimar Republic took place on 5 March 1933 under the dark shadow of Nazi Storm Trooper (SA) terror. A great proportion of the leading cadres of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) had already been rounded up in the mass arrests that immediately followed the Reichstag fire. The party chairman, Ernst Thälmann, was among those who fell into the hands of the police at the beginning of March. Until his execution in the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1944, he would spend the remaining years of his life locked behind bars, deprived of any trace of...

  19. Chapter 15 Rethinking Social Democracy, the State, and Europe: Rudolf Hilferding in Exile, 1933 to 1941
    (pp. 373-396)
    David E. Barclay

    The years of repression and exile between 1933 and 1945 have long, and rightly, been regarded as a tragic caesura in the history of German social democracy. Although social democratic resistance to Nazi terror was both genuine and heroic, the fact remains that such opposition was largely ineffective, both within Germany and among the exiles who had left the country after 1933.¹ Still, for German socialists those twelve bitter years were marked by more than simply fruitless resistance, inner emigration, or bitter recrimination among various groups of exiles. Among other things, the catastrophe of 1933 inevitably encouraged many thoughtful Social...

  20. Chapter 16 Ordnungsmacht and Mitbestimmung: The Postwar Labor Unions and the Politics of Reconstruction
    (pp. 397-420)
    Diethelm Prowe

    When Erich Potthoff, head of the West German labor unions’ thinktankWirtschaftswissenschaftliches Institut(WWI) between 1946 and 1949, reflected back three decades later on the first postwar years of his union, he highlighted two observations: “The labor unions were anOrdnungsmachtat that time,” and “they wanted to have a part in running the planned economy

    (die Planwirtschaft mitmachen).”¹ The prototypically German termOrdnungsmacht, “force for order,” nicely mirrors the enduring authoritarian language and mentality of those years. But in an era marked by intense feelings of insecurity and chaos, it also proclaimed that the labor unions were an institution...

  21. Chapter 17 The Soviets, the German Left, and the Problem of “Sectarianism” in the Eastern Zone, 1945 to 1949
    (pp. 421-442)
    Norman Naimark

    The many shades of meaning in the idea of the “Left” have deprived the term of much of its historical validity.¹ Even when one ties the term to a concrete place – eastern Germany; a fixed time – the period of the Soviet occupation government, 1945 to 1949; and a relatively small group of anti-fascists, notions of the left spill all over the political spectrum, incorporating anarchists, trade unionists, communists of various sorts, Social Democrats (also of various sorts), and even Christian socialists from the supposedly middle-class party of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). This chaotic intermingling of leftist groups in postwar...

  22. Chapter 18 Pronatalism, Nationbuilding, and Socialism: Population Policy in the SBZ/DDR, 1945 to 1960
    (pp. 443-466)
    Atina Grossmann

    No sooner had the Red Army finally conquered Berlin and the guns of World War II been stilled than the politics of reproduction and sexuality – especially abortion – instantly reemerged as pressing public issues for both Germans and occupiers. As the public sphere was reconstituted in the immediate aftermath of May 1945, doctors, health officials, the press, political parties, women’s organizations, and church groups rehearsed the debates about abortion, birth control, fertility, and sexuality that had defined post-World War I and Great Depression discourse about social welfare and population policy. This time, familiar anxieties about the health and continued survival of...

  23. Chapter 19 German Social Democracy and European Unification, 1945 to 1955
    (pp. 467-488)
    Dietrich Orlow

    The role of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in the drive for a united Europe is something of a paradox. The SPD saw itself as leading Germany into a unified Europe. The continent would not fall back into a collection of warring nation states. Instead, the SPD and the other European socialist parties would establish supra-national institutions that would implement a Europe-wide democratic socialist society.¹

    The reality, of course, was rather different. Bourgeois politicians led the way in the actual construction of European unity. Among West Germany’s political leaders, Konrad Adenauer, Walter Hallstein, and Karl Arnold certainly did...

  24. Chapter 20 The Politics of Culture and the Culture of Everyday Life in the DDR in the 1950s
    (pp. 489-506)
    Anna-Sabine Ernst

    Historical writing on the German Democratic Republic (DDR) up until 1989, whether by eastern or western authors, was characterized by an emphasis on the radical caesura after 1945 and a neglect of lines of continuity and tradition. Although the political system of party and state structures has been relatively well studied, broad segments of society remain in the dark. This is particularly true of everyday culture and ways of life. After the demise of the DDR, scholars became painfully aware of this deficiency: they lacked explanations not only for the state’s forty-year-long stability but also for its – at first glance...

  25. Chapter 21 Social Democratic Gender Policies, the Working-Class Milieu, and the Culture of Domesticity in West Germany in the 1950s and 1960s
    (pp. 507-530)
    Hanna Schissler

    The Social Democratic Party (SPD) entered the postwar reconstruction period with immense moral authority. Many of Germany’s other established groups had been severely compromised by their collaboration with the Nazis. The SPD, in contrast, could claim a stance of unbridled and untainted opposition to National Socialism, symbolized most effectively by party leader Kurt Schumacher, who had endured ten years in concentration camps. Many of the party’s political goals, including socialization of major industries, were widely accepted even beyond the followers of socialist and communist ideas. The SPD seemed well-positioned to play the decisive domestic role in constructing the political and...

  26. Chapter 22 Is the SPD Still a Labor Party? From “Community of Solidarity” to “Loosely Coupled Anarchy”
    (pp. 531-546)
    Peter Lösche

    The likely disappearance of labor movements, of labor parties, and of the working class has been widely predicted for a long time. Indeed, such forecasts are almost as old as the labor movement itself. Although they were first used polemically and in the context of rivalries among various political factions and parties, they were later taken up analytically by historians and social scientists. Early on, for example, the possible disappearance of the labor movement surfaced as an issue in the debate between Eduard Bernstein and Karl Kautsky on the empirical basis of Marx’s theory of crisis and revolution. This issue...

  27. Chapter 23 Good-bye to All That: The Passing of German Communism and the Rise of a New New Left
    (pp. 547-556)
    Eric D. Weitz

    In December 1989, just weeks after the Berlin Wall had been opened, the Socialist Unity Party (SED) met for what would be its last congress. The SED had been the unquestioned ruler of the German Democratic Republic (DDR) for forty years, beholden only to the Soviet Union. For most of its history it had known only two essential leaders, Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker. Now it was on its third prime minister in a matter of one month. The SED had claimed to embody “all that was progressive” in the history of the German people. Now the party leaders had...

  28. Selective Bibliography
    (pp. 557-566)
  29. List of Contributors
    (pp. 567-570)
  30. Index
    (pp. 571-580)