Eugen Leviné

Last updated
Eugen Leviné
Leader of the Bavarian Council Republic
In office
12 April 1919 3 May 1919
Preceded by Ernst Toller
Succeeded byRepublic collapsed
Personal details
Born10 May 1883
St Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died5 June 1919 (aged 36)
Stadelheim Prison, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Political party Communist Party of Germany
Spouse(s)Rose Leviné
ChildrenEugen Leviné

Eugen Leviné (Russian : Евгений Левине) (born 10 May 1883 – 5 July 1919) was a German communist revolutionary and leader of the short-lived Bavarian Council Republic.



Leviné was born in St. Petersburg into the Jewish merchant family Julius and Rozalia (née Goldberg). [1] [2] [3] [4] Julius Leviné died when Eugen was 3 years old, and Rozalia emigrated to Germany with her son, settling in Wiesbaden and Mannheim. Eugen went on to study law at the Heidelberg University. He returned to Russia to participate in the failed revolution of 1905 against the Tsar. For his actions, he was exiled to Siberia. He eventually escaped to Germany and began studying at Heidelberg University and, in 1915, married Rosa Broido from the Polish town of Gródek. They had at least one child, a son, whom they named Eugen. For a short time, he served in the Imperial German Army during the First World War.

Bavarian Council Republic

After the war ended, Leviné joined the Communist Party of Germany and helped to create a socialist republic in Bavaria. However, the republic lasted only several weeks, replaced quickly by a Soviet-style republic after the assassination of Kurt Eisner, then leader of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD).

The ruling government of the new republic lasted only six days, due to poor leadership under the German playwright Ernst Toller. Leviné rose to power as the communists assumed control of the government.

Leviné attempted to pass many reforms, such as giving the more luxurious flats to the homeless and giving workers control and ownership of factories. He also planned reforms for the education system and to abolish paper money, neither of which he ever completed.

Under orders from Leviné, the Red Guards began rounding up people they considered to be hostile to the new regime as hostages against imminent outside attack. As the German president Friedrich Ebert gave orders to subdue the Council Republic and reinstate the Bavarian government under Johannes Hoffmann, the Red Guards executed eight hostages on 29 April 1919.

The German Army, assisted by Freikorps, with a force of roughly 39,000 men, invaded and quickly conquered Munich on 3 May 1919. In retaliation for the execution of the hostages, the Freikorps captured and killed some 700 men and women. Leviné himself was arrested, found guilty as part of those executions, and was shot by firing squad in Stadelheim Prison.


The American Soviet agent and later outspoken anti-communist Whittaker Chambers cited Leviné as one of three men who inspired him. Chambers wrote,

During the Bavarian Council Republic in 1919, Leviné was the organiser of the Workers' and Soldiers' Soviets. When the Bavarian Council Republic was crushed, Leviné was captured and court-martialed. The court-martial told him: "You are under sentence of death." Leviné answered: "We Communists are always under sentence of death." [5]



  1. Stephen Eric Bronner (2012 , p. 131)
  2. Frank Kyle (2012 , p. 360)
  3. H.A. Winkler (2007 , p. 356)
  4. M. Avrum Ehrlich (2008 , p. 847)
  5. Chambers, Whittaker (1952). Witness. New York: Random House. p. 6. LCCN   52005149.