|Founder|| Karl Liebknecht |
|Founded||30 December 1918 – |
1 January 1919
|Dissolved||1946 (replaced in East Germany)|
1956 (banned in West Germany)
|Preceded by||Spartacus League|
|Succeeded by|| Socialist Unity Party of Germany (East Germany),|
German Communist Party (West Germany),
Socialist Unity Party of West Berlin (West Berlin)
|Newspaper||Die Rote Fahne|
|Youth wing||Young Communist League|
|Paramilitary wing||Rotfrontkämpferbund (RFB)|
|Ideology|| Communism |
The Communist Party of Germany (German : Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, KPD) was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.
West Germany was the informal name for the Federal Republic of Germany, a country in Central Europe, in the period between its formation on 23 May 1949 and German reunification on 3 October 1990. During this Cold War period, the western portion of Germany was part of the Western Bloc. The Federal Republic was created during the Allied occupation of Germany after World War II, established from eleven states formed in the three Allied zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Its (provisional) capital was the city of Bonn. The Cold War era West Germany is unofficially historically designated the "Bonn Republic".
Founded in the aftermath of the First World War by socialists opposed to the war, the party became gradually ever more committed to Leninism and later Stalinism after the death of its founding figures. During the Weimar Republic period, the KPD usually polled between 10 and 15 percent of the vote and was represented in the Reichstag and in state parliaments. Under the leadership of Ernst Thälmann from 1925 the party became staunchly Stalinist and loyal to the leadership of the Soviet Union, and from 1928 it was largely controlled and funded by Comintern in Moscow. Under Thälmann's leadership the party directed most of its attacks against the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which it regarded as its main adversary and referred to as "social fascists"; the KPD considered all other parties in the Weimar Republic to be "fascists."The party's paramilitary wing was the Roter Frontkämpferbund ("Alliance of Red Front-Fighters"), which was banned as extremist by the governing social democrats in 1929; in 1932 the KPD also founded Antifaschistische Aktion, commonly known as Antifa, which it described as a "red united front under the leadership of the only anti-fascist party, the KPD," and which largely attacked the "social fascists" [social democrats]. Banned in the Weimar Republic one day after Adolf Hitler emerged triumphant in the German elections in 1933, the KPD maintained an underground organization but suffered heavy losses.
Leninism is the political theory for the organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party and the achievement of a dictatorship of the proletariat as political prelude to the establishment of socialism. Developed by and named for the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, Leninism comprises socialist political and economic theories, developed from Marxism and Lenin's interpretations of Marxist theories, for practical application to the socio-political conditions of the Russian Empire of the early 20th century.
Stalinism is the means of governing and related policies implemented from around 1927 to 1953 by Joseph Stalin (1878–1953). Stalinist policies and ideas as developed in the Soviet Union included rapid industrialization, the theory of socialism in one country, a totalitarian state, collectivization of agriculture, a cult of personality and subordination of the interests of foreign communist parties to those of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, deemed by Stalinism to be the leading vanguard party of communist revolution at the time.
The Weimar Republic is an unofficial historical designation for the German state from 1918 to 1933. The name derives from the city of Weimar, where its constitutional assembly first took place. The official name of the republic remained Deutsches Reich unchanged from 1871, because of the German tradition of substates. Although commonly translated as "German Empire", the word Reich here better translates as "realm", in that the term does not have monarchical connotations in itself. The Reich was changed from a constitutional monarchy into a republic. In English, the country was usually known simply as Germany.
The party was revived in divided postwar West and East Germany and won seats in the first Bundestag (West German Parliament) elections in 1949, but its support collapsed following the establishment of a communist state in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany. The KPD was banned as extremist in West Germany in 1956 by the Constitutional Court. Some of its former members founded an even smaller fringe party, the German Communist Party (DKP), in 1969, which remains legal, and multiple tiny splinter groups claiming to be the successor to the KPD have also subsequently been formed.
The Bundestag is the German federal parliament. It can be compared to the chamber of deputies along the lines of the United States House of Representatives or the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Through the Bundesrat, a separate institution, the individual states of Germany participate in legislation similar to a second house in a bicameral parliament.
A Communist state is a state that is administered and governed by a single party, guided by Marxist–Leninist philosophy.
The German Communist Party is a minor communist party in Germany. The DKP supports far-left positions and was an observer member of the European Left. At the end of February 2016 it left the European party.
In East Germany, the party was merged, by Soviet decree, with remnants of the Social Democratic Party to form the Socialist Unity Party (SED) which ruled East Germany from 1949 until 1989–1990; the forced merger was opposed by the social democrats, many of whom fled to the western zones. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, reformists took over the SED and renamed it the Party of Democratic Socialism; in 2007 the PDS subsequently merged with the SPD splinter faction WASG to form Die Linke .
East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic, was a state that existed from 1949 to 1990, when the eastern portion of Germany was part of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. Commonly described as a communist state in English usage, it described itself as a socialist "workers' and peasants' state." It consisted of territory that was administered and occupied by Soviet forces at the end of World War II — the Soviet occupation zone of the Potsdam Agreement, bounded on the east by the Oder–Neisse line. The Soviet zone surrounded West Berlin but did not include it; as a result, West Berlin remained outside the jurisdiction of the GDR.
The Social Democratic Party of Germany, is a social-democratic political party in Germany.
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany, often known in English as the East German Communist Party, was the governing Marxist–Leninist political party of the German Democratic Republic from the country's foundation in October 1949 until its dissolution after the Peaceful Revolution in 1989. The party was established in April 1946.
Before the First World War the Social Democratic Party (SPD) was the largest party in Germany and the world's most successful socialist party. Although still officially claiming to be a Marxist party, by 1914 it had become in practice a reformist party. In 1914 the SPD members of the Reichstag voted in favour of the war. Left-wing members of the party, led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, strongly opposed the war, and the SPD soon suffered a split, with the leftists forming the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) and the more radical Spartacist League. In November 1918, revolution broke out across Germany. The leftists, led by Rosa Luxemburg and the Spartacist League, formed the KPD at a founding congress held in Berlin in 30 December 1918 – 1 January 1919 in the reception hall of the City CouncilApart from the Spartacists, another dissent group of Socialists called the International Communists of Germany, also dissenting members of the Social Democratic party, but mainly located in Hamburg, Bremen and Northern Germany, joined the young party. The Revolutionary Shop Stewards, a network of dissenting socialist trade unionists centered in Berlin were also invited to the Congress, but eventually did not join the party because they deemed the founding congress leaning into a syndicalist direction.
Karl Paul August Friedrich Liebknecht was a German socialist, originally in the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and later a co-founder with Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany which split away from the SPD. He is best known for his opposition to World War I in the Reichstag and his role in the Spartacist uprising of 1919. The uprising was crushed by the SPD government and the Freikorps. Liebknecht and Luxemburg were executed.
Rosa Luxemburg was a Polish Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist, anti-war activist and revolutionary socialist who became a naturalized German citizen at the age of 28. Successively, she was a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).
The Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany was a short-lived political party in Germany during the German Empire and the Weimar Republic. The organization was established in 1917 as the result of a split of left wing members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The organization attempted to chart a centrist course between electorally oriented revisionism on the one hand and Bolshevism on the other. The organization was terminated in 1931 through merger with the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (SAPD).
There were seven main reports given at the founding congress:
Karl Berngardovich Radek was a Marxist active in the Polish and German social democratic movements before World War I and an international Communist leader in the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution.
Hugo Eberlein was a German Communist politician. He took part of the founding congress of the Communist Party of Germany, and then in the First Congress of the Comintern, where he held important posts until 1928, the result of his involvement with the Conciliator faction. When the Nazis took power in Germany in 1933, Eberlein fled to the Soviet Union, where he found refuge at the Hotel Lux. In July 1937 he fell under the Stalinist terror. In January 1938 he was interrogated and tortured for ten days and nights. In April 1938 he was taken to Lefortovo Prison, where he was tortured for weeks at a time; then in 1939 he was sentenced to 15 years in the Vorkuta Gulag. He was returned to Moscow in 1941, when he was tried and sentenced again, and was shot on 16 October 1941. Hugo Eberlein was later rehabilitated and became a national hero in East Germany; his name was even borne by a guard regiment of the National People's Army.
Paul Levi was a German Communist and Social Democratic political leader. He was the head of the Communist Party of Germany following the assassination of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1919. After being expelled for publicly criticising Communist Party tactics during the March Action, he formed the Communist Working Organisation which in 1922 merged with the Independent Social Democratic Party. This party, in turn, merged with the Social Democratic Party a few months later and Levi became one of the leaders of its left wing.
These reports were given by leading figures of the Spartakus League, however members of the Internationale Kommunisten Deutschlands also took part in the discussions
Under the leadership of Liebknecht and Luxemburg, the KPD was committed to a revolution in Germany, and during 1919 and 1920 attempts to seize control of the government continued. Germany's Social Democratic government, which had come to power after the fall of the Monarchy, was vehemently opposed to the KPD's idea of socialism. With the new regime terrified of a Bolshevik Revolution in Germany, Defense Minister Gustav Noske formed a series of anti-communist paramilitary groups, dubbed "Freikorps", out of demobilized World War I veterans. During the failed Spartacist uprising in Berlin of January 1919, Liebknecht and Luxemburg, who had not initiated the uprising but joined once it had begun, were captured by the Freikorps and murdered. The Party split a few months later into two factions, the KPD and the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD).
Following the assassination of Leo Jogiches, Paul Levi became the KPD leader. Other prominent members included Clara Zetkin, Paul Frölich, Hugo Eberlein, Franz Mehring, August Thalheimer, and Ernst Meyer. Levi led the party away from the policy of immediate revolution, in an effort to win over SPD and USPD voters and trade union officials. These efforts were rewarded when a substantial section of the USPD joined the KPD, making it a mass party for the first time.
Through the 1920s the KPD was racked by internal conflict between more and less radical factions, partly reflecting the power struggles between Zinoviev and Stalin in Moscow. Germany was seen as being of central importance to the struggle for socialism, and the failure of the German revolution was a major setback. Eventually Levi was expelled in 1921 by the Comintern for "indiscipline." Further leadership changes took place in the 1920s. Supporters of the Left or Right Opposition to the Stalin-controlled Comintern leadership were expelled; of these, Heinrich Brandler, August Thalheimer and Paul Frölich set up a splinter Communist Party Opposition.
A new KPD leadership more favorable to the Soviet Union was elected in 1923. This leadership, headed by Ernst Thälmann, abandoned the goal of immediate revolution, and from 1924 onwards contested Reichstag elections, with some success.
During the years of the Weimar Republic, the KPD was the largest communist party in Europe and was seen as the "leading party" of the communist movement outside the Soviet Union.It maintained a solid electoral performance, usually polling more than 10% of the vote and gaining 100 deputies in the November 1932 elections. In the presidential election of the same year, Thälmann took 13.2% of the vote, compared to Hitler's 30.1%. Under Thälmann's leadership, the party was closely aligned with the Soviet leadership headed by Joseph Stalin, and from 1928 the party was largely controlled and funded by Comintern in Moscow.
Throughout the Weimar era, the KPD viewed the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) as its main adversary,and the KPD referred to the SPD as "social fascists." The KPD regarded itself as "the only anti-fascist party" in Germany and held that all other parties in the Weimar Republic were "fascist". Nevertheless it cooperated with the Nazis in the early 1930s in attacking the social democrats, and both sought to destroy the liberal democracy of the Weimar Republic. In the early 1930s the KPD sought to appeal to Nazi voters with nationalist slogans and in 1931 the KPD had united with the Nazis, whom they then referred to as "working people's comrades," in an unsuccessful attempt to bring down the social democrat state government of Prussia by means of a plebiscite. While also opposed to the Nazis, the KPD regarded the Nazi Party as a less sophisticated and thus less dangerous fascist party than the SPD, and KPD leader Ernst Thälmann declared that "some Nazi trees must not be allowed to overshadow a forest" of social democrats.
Critics of the KPD accused it of having pursued a sectarian policy, e.g. the Social Democratic Party criticized the KPD's thesis of "social fascism" (which addressed the SPD as the Communist's main enemy). This scuttled any possibility of a united front with the SPD against the rising power of the National Socialists. These allegations were repudiated by supporters of the KPD as it was said[ by whom? ] the right-wing leadership of the SPD rejected the proposals of the KPD to unite for the defeat of fascism. The SPD leaders were accused of having countered KPD efforts to form a united front of the working class. For instance, after Papen's government carried out a coup d'état in Prussia the KPD called for a general strike and turned to the SPD leadership for joint struggle, but the SPD leaders again refused to cooperate with the KPD.
Soon after the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor, the Reichstag was set on fire and Dutch council communist Marinus van der Lubbe was found near the building. The Nazis publicly blamed the fire on communist agitators in general, although in a German court in 1933, it was decided that Van Der Lubbe had acted alone, as he claimed to have done. After the fire, the Reichstag Fire Decree was passed.
Repression began within hours of the fire, when police arrested dozens of Communists. Although Hitler could have formally banned the KPD, he did not do so right away. Not only was he reluctant to chance a violent uprising, but he believed the KPD could siphon off SPD votes and split the left. However, most judges held the KPD responsible for the fire, and took the line that KPD membership was in and of itself a treasonous act. At the March 1933 election, the KPD elected 81 deputies. However, it was an open secret that they would never be allowed to take office; they were all arrested in short order. For all intents and purposes, the KPD was banned as of 6 March, the day after the election.
The KPD was efficiently suppressed by the Nazis. The most senior KPD leaders were Wilhelm Pieck and Walter Ulbricht, who went into exile in the Soviet Union. The KPD maintained an underground organisation in Germany throughout the Nazi period, but the loss of many core members severely weakened the Party's infrastructure.
A number of senior KPD leaders in exile were caught up in Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of 1937–38 and executed, among them Eberlein, Heinz Neumann, Hermann Remmele, Fritz Schulte and Hermann Schubert, or sent to the gulag, like Margarete Buber-Neumann. Still others, like Gustav von Wangenheim and Erich Mielke, denounced their fellow exiles to the NKVD. [ citation needed ]Willi Münzenberg, the KPD's propaganda chief, was murdered in mysterious circumstances in France in 1940. The NKVD is believed to have been responsible.
In East Germany, the Soviet occupation authorities forced the eastern branch of the SPD to merge with the KPD (led by Pieck and Ulbricht) to form the Socialist Unity Party (SED) in April 1946.Although nominally a union of equals, the SED quickly fell under Communist domination, and most of the more recalcitrant members from the SPD side of the merger were pushed out in short order. By the time of the formal formation of the East German state in 1949, the SED was a full-fledged Communist party, and developed along lines similar to other Soviet-bloc Communist parties. It was the ruling party in East Germany from its formation in 1949 until 1989. The SPD managed to preserve its independence in Berlin, forcing the SED to form a small branch in West Berlin, the Socialist Unity Party of West Berlin.
The KPD reorganised in the western part of Germany, and received 5.7% of the vote in the first Bundestag election in 1949. But the onset of the Cold War and imposition of an undisguised Communist dictatorship in East Germany soon caused a collapse in the party's support. At the 1953 election the KPD only won 2.2 percent of the total votes and lost all of its seats, never to return. The party was banned in August 1956 by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.The decision was upheld by the European Commission of Human Rights in Communist Party of Germany v. the Federal Republic of Germany . The ban was due to the aggressive and combative methods that the party used as a "Marxist-Leninist party struggle" to achieve their goals. After the party was declared illegal, many of its members continued to function clandestinely despite increased government surveillance. Part of its membership refounded the party in 1968 as the German Communist Party (DKP). Following German reunification many DKP members joined the new Party of Democratic Socialism, formed out of the remains of the SED.
In 1968, a self-named "true successor" to the (banned) West German KPD was formed, the KPD/ML (Marxist–Leninist), which followed Maoist ideas. It went through multiple splits and united with a Trotskyist group in 1986 to form the Unified Socialist Party (VSP), which failed to gain any influence and dissolved in the early 1990s.However, multiple tiny splinter groups originating in the KPD/ML still exist, several of which claim the name of KPD. Another party with this name was formed in 1990 in East Berlin by several hardline Communists who had been expelled from the PDS, including Erich Honecker. The "KPD (Bolshevik)" split off from the East German KPD in 2005, bringing the total number of (more or less) active KPDs to at least 5. The Left, formed out of a merger between the PDS and Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative in 2007, claims to be the historical successor of the KPD (by way of the PDS).
In the early 1920s, the party operated under the principle of democratic centralism, whereby the leading body of the party was the Congress, meeting at least once a year.Between Congresses, leadership of the party resided in the Central Committee, which was elected at the Congress, of one group of people who had to live where the leadership was resident and formed the Zentrale and others nominated from the districts they represented (but also elected at the Congress) who represented the wider party. Elected figures were subject to recall by the bodies that elected them.
The KPD employed around about 200 full-timers during its early years of existence, and as Broue notes "They received the pay of an average skilled worker, and had no privileges, apart from being the first to be arrested, prosecuted and sentenced, and when shooting started, to be the first to fall".
|1920||589.454||2.1 (No. 8)|
4 / 459
|May 1924||3.693.280||12.6 (No. 4)|
62 / 472
|December 1924||2.709.086||8,9 (No. 5)|
45 / 493
|1928||3.264.793||10.6 (No. 4)|
54 / 491
|1930||4.590.160||13.1 (No. 3)|
77 / 577
|After the financial crisis|
|July 1932||5.282.636||14.3 (No. 3)|
89 / 608
|November 1932||5.980.239||16.9 (No. 3)|
100 / 584
|March 1933||4.848.058||12.3 (No. 3)|
81 / 647
|During Hitler's term as Chancellor of Germany|
|1925||1,931,151||6.4 (No. 3)||Ernst Thälmann|
|1932||3,706,759||10.2 (No. 3)||Ernst Thälmann|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Communist Party of Germany .|
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