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The German Revolution, 1917-1923

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“Broué enables us to feel that we are actually living through these epoch-making events…. [D]o not miss this magnificent work.”—Robert Brenner, UCLA A magisterial, definitive account of the upheavals in Germany in the wake of the Russian revolution. Broué meticulously reconstitutes six decisive years, 1917-23, of social struggles in Germany. The consequences of the defeat o “Broué enables us to feel that we are actually living through these epoch-making events…. [D]o not miss this magnificent work.”—Robert Brenner, UCLA A magisterial, definitive account of the upheavals in Germany in the wake of the Russian revolution. Broué meticulously reconstitutes six decisive years, 1917-23, of social struggles in Germany. The consequences of the defeat of the German revolution had profound consequences for the world. Pierre Broué (1926-2005) was for many years Professor of Contemporary History at the Institut d’études politiques in Grenoble and was a world renowned specialist on the communist and international workers’ movements.


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“Broué enables us to feel that we are actually living through these epoch-making events…. [D]o not miss this magnificent work.”—Robert Brenner, UCLA A magisterial, definitive account of the upheavals in Germany in the wake of the Russian revolution. Broué meticulously reconstitutes six decisive years, 1917-23, of social struggles in Germany. The consequences of the defeat o “Broué enables us to feel that we are actually living through these epoch-making events…. [D]o not miss this magnificent work.”—Robert Brenner, UCLA A magisterial, definitive account of the upheavals in Germany in the wake of the Russian revolution. Broué meticulously reconstitutes six decisive years, 1917-23, of social struggles in Germany. The consequences of the defeat of the German revolution had profound consequences for the world. Pierre Broué (1926-2005) was for many years Professor of Contemporary History at the Institut d’études politiques in Grenoble and was a world renowned specialist on the communist and international workers’ movements.

30 review for The German Revolution, 1917-1923

  1. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    M. Broué’s work is really a history of the German Communist Party, in its various forms, from 1917-1923. The author describes at great length the development of the movement’s leadership through those years, ultimately resulting in the notable failure of the revolution that never was, in 1923. As for the fundamental difference between the Russian experience and German, M. Broué noted, In the first place, the War, which in Russia had mobilised the peasantry at the side of the proletariat, had now M. Broué’s work is really a history of the German Communist Party, in its various forms, from 1917-1923. The author describes at great length the development of the movement’s leadership through those years, ultimately resulting in the notable failure of the revolution that never was, in 1923. As for the fundamental difference between the Russian experience and German, M. Broué noted, In the first place, the War, which in Russia had mobilised the peasantry at the side of the proletariat, had now ended. In any case, the peasantry in the West was far less homogeneous than the Russian peasantry. Furthermore, the Russian bourgeoisie was young, weak, deeply subject to foreign capital, and had only attained power for the first time in March 1917, in war conditions which compelled it to share power with the army. But the European bourgeoisie was old, well organised on the basis of economic concentration, rich with the experience of decades of rule, and, lastly, had learned from the Russian experience. The Russian proletariat carried out its revolution arms in hand in the midst of war, but the Western proletariat had surrendered its arms upon demobilisation, at the same time as the bourgeoisie was arming its special formations, and in the West the workers had to launch their first attacks bare-handed. Finally, in the developed countries, illusions about the capacity of capitalism to overcome its crisis were stronger, especially amongst the privileged stratum of the labour aristocracy; although in the long run this stratum could only join with the proletariat as a whole, there could be no disputing that the next great struggles of the proletariat would have a reformist character, and, therefore, the process of transforming the consciousness of the masses would be a long one. I believe the fact that Lenin and Trotsky survived the revolutionary moment whereas Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were shot dead, along with many others, should also be considered. What a mess, those years.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The translation and publication of Pierre Broué's magisterial account of the mass movements which swept across Germany from 1917 to 1923, fills an enormous hole in the literature available on this period. It covers much the same ground as Chris Harman's Lost Revolution, but does so in much greater detail, with a much firmer grasp of the historical sources, and with a quite different spirit. The key issue is the relationship between the Communist International and the German Communist Party, in p The translation and publication of Pierre Broué's magisterial account of the mass movements which swept across Germany from 1917 to 1923, fills an enormous hole in the literature available on this period. It covers much the same ground as Chris Harman's Lost Revolution, but does so in much greater detail, with a much firmer grasp of the historical sources, and with a quite different spirit. The key issue is the relationship between the Communist International and the German Communist Party, in particular in the run-up to the March Action of 1921. Reading Broué's account, makes it absolutely clear that the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) played a considerable role in these events, and in large part contributed to the catastrophe which ensued. Informed by the very juvenile "Theory of the Offensive", the ECCI leaders sided with the most inept section of the German Communist Party, used their considerable influence (and considerable material and financial resources), to muscle aside the Luxemburgist cadre who should have been the future of the party – in particular, Clara Zetkin and Paul Levi. The resulting "adventure" – famously labelled by Levi as the "largest Bakuninist putsch attempt in history" – broke the party, creating damage from which it never really recovered. In the Lost Revolution, Harman documents all this, but draws the lesson that the Germans needed to be more like the Russians. By contrast, Broué opens up a careful discussion about the very different conditions in Germany compared to Russia, and asks the question, was a different kind of Bolshevism needed in Germany, than was necessary in Russia? He doesn't answer that question – but in posing it openly and honestly, he considerably advances our understanding of this period. And to a much greater extent than Harman, Broué treats the figure of Levi with considerable respect, devoting an entire chapter to an exploration of Levi's contribution to our understanding of this period. My only complaint is that this 991 page book has no index. The frustrated reader can get around this to some extent, calling the book up on a Google Book search, and searching for items of interest. But hopefully, in the next printing, we will get an index to assist in the reading and study of this important book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tiarnan

    An exhaustive and at times exhausting history of the foundation of the German Communist Party and its frustrated revolutionary efforts in response to various missed opportunities between 1917 and 1923. This book will give you a new appreciation of the role of figures marginalised by traditional socialist (both Stalinist and Trotsky) histories of the period: individuals like the enigmatic Communist MP Paul Levi, a dapper intellectual and pioneer of the strategy of United Front, and the erratic Kar An exhaustive and at times exhausting history of the foundation of the German Communist Party and its frustrated revolutionary efforts in response to various missed opportunities between 1917 and 1923. This book will give you a new appreciation of the role of figures marginalised by traditional socialist (both Stalinist and Trotsky) histories of the period: individuals like the enigmatic Communist MP Paul Levi, a dapper intellectual and pioneer of the strategy of United Front, and the erratic Karl Radek, one of the few members of the early Comintern executive that had a genuine appreciation of both the similarities and profound differences that marked the revolutionary processes of the post WW1 era in the East and West. Broué is an avowed Trotskyist, but he doesn't hit you over the head with this allegiance, and challenges some simplistic schemas about the necessity or feasibility of a German Bolshevism, stressing the often-negative impact that undue Moscow influence had in undermining the self-confidence of the young German party's leaders, and reminding readers of the genuinely 'democratic' democratic centralism that both the Bolsheviks and KDP practiced even under duress, with full freedom of debate, to factionalise, and for minority positions to appear in the party press - in opposition to the routine practice of Trotskyist sects the world over today in conditions of perfect legality. The second half of the book is weaker than the first, and at times Broué becomes too bogged-down in his cataloguing of the internal minutiae of the KDP at the expense of a perspective of the wider context of the crisis of German society, and the living standards and combativity of its huge working class, of which the Communists only ever remained one current within a much bigger body of water. Germany in this period of the early Weimar Republic remains a classical historical 'what if?' In the best case scenario a majoritarian workers' revolution in 1920-1923 might have seen the immediate alleviation of the worst effects of hyper-inflation on living standards, a successful counter-attack against the excesses of the extreme right and its allied capitalists that led eventually to the gates of Auschwitz, and - perhaps most crucially - the lifting of the cultural and economic embargo of the capitalist West against the nascent USSR that intensified the isolation of the Bolsheviks and the tiny Russian working class, leading to vicious bureaucratic factionalism and isolation that empowered Stalin's murderous rise. Broué's book might be taken to task by more recent and more academically rigorous/conservative historians of the period for his relative revolutionary optimism, but for radicals of the left it remains a key starting point for fashioning an answer to those dilemmas.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Aubeen Lopez

    Although there was a gap of a year in me finishing this massive book, finally having finished reading it was well worth the wait and anticipation. For it was in those last 3 to 5 chapters that lessons of that great event, the German Revolution, were best summed up by Broue. Anyone seeking to learn from one of the greatest events in the last century, its causes and and consequences should take a look at Pierre Broue's massive and detailed work.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    After I finished this brilliant, iconoclastic history of the German workers movement, my partner asked "Who won?" I hate to break the bad news to you ....

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This book is massive because it needs to be. Broue gives the ins and the outs of the SPD and the revolutionary period 1917-1923. The history is important because the failure of this revolution has everything to do with the rise of fascism nearly a decade later. Someday, I hope to finish it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Neal

    An exhaustive history. Maybe too exhaustive.

  8. 4 out of 5

    gaverne Bennett

    I have been meaning to read this book for 25 years and though long it was worth it. Passion drives this book. So read nuanced accounts of historical events.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ronnie

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mirza Sultan-Galiev

  11. 5 out of 5

    Мануэль

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dominick Cortese

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nikos Loudos

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tom Ratzloff

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rodolfo

  17. 4 out of 5

    Raiko

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jon Rupinski

  19. 5 out of 5

    V.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tomás

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cedric

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tad Tietze

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tati P

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bolin Zhou

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vanch

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nightocelot

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pierre Jourdan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cesar

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