Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany

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Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany

Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands
Founded1917
Dissolved1931
Split from Social Democratic Party of Germany
Succeeded by Socialist Workers' Party of Germany
Newspaper Die Freiheit
Membership120,000 (January 1918)
750,000 (Spring 1920)
Ideology Centrist Marxism
Democratic socialism
Pacifism
Political position Left-wing
International affiliation International Working Union of Socialist Parties
Colors     Red
1919 USPD election poster Uspd1919.jpg
1919 USPD election poster
On the edge of the Leipzig congress of the USPD in December 1919 recorded group photo with members of the National Executive, other prominent party members and the guest delegates of the SDAP Austrian Friedrich Adler (fourth from left), including Arthur Crispien, Wilhelm Dittmann, Lore Agnes, Richard Lipinski, William Bock, Alfred Henke, Frederick Geyer, Curt Geyer, Fritz Zubeil, Fritz Kunert, Georg Ledebour and Emanuel Wurm USPD-Vorstand.jpg
On the edge of the Leipzig congress of the USPD in December 1919 recorded group photo with members of the National Executive, other prominent party members and the guest delegates of the SDAP Austrian Friedrich Adler (fourth from left), including Arthur Crispien, Wilhelm Dittmann, Lore Agnes, Richard Lipinski, William Bock, Alfred Henke, Frederick Geyer, Curt Geyer, Fritz Zubeil, Fritz Kunert, Georg Ledebour and Emanuel Wurm

The Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (German : Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, USPD) 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).

German language West Germanic language

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 (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.

A political party is an organized group of people, often with common views, who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. The party agrees on some proposed policies and programmes, with a view to promoting the collective good or furthering their supporters' interests.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

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.

Contents

Organizational history

Formation

On 21 December 1915, several SPD members in the Reichstag, the German parliament, voted against the authorization of further credits to finance World War I, an incident that emphasized existing tensions between the party's leadership and the left-wing pacifists surrounding Hugo Haase and ultimately led to the expulsion of the group from the SPD on 24 March 1916.

Reichstag (German Empire) parliament of Germany from 1871 to 1918

The Reichstag was the Parliament of Germany from 1871 to 1918. Legislation was shared between the Reichstag and the Bundesrat, which was the Imperial Council of the reigning princes of the German States.

<i>Burgfriedenspolitik</i>

Burgfriedenspolitik —literally "castle peace politics" but more accurately a political policy of "party truce" — is a German term used for the political truce the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the other political parties agreed to during World War I. The trade unions refrained from striking, the SPD voted for war credits in the Reichstag and the parties agreed not to criticize the government and its war. There were several reasons for the Burgfrieden politics: the Social Democrats believed it was their patriotic duty to support the government in war; they were afraid of government repression should they protest against the war; they feared living under an autocratic Russian Czar more than the German constitutional monarchy and its Kaiser; and they hoped to achieve political reforms after the war, including the abrogation of the inequitable three-class voting system, by cooperating with the government.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

To be able to continue their parliamentary work, the group formed the Social Democratic Working Group (Sozialdemokratische Arbeitsgemeinschaft, SAG). Concerns from the SPD leadership and Friedrich Ebert that the SAG was intent on dividing the SPD then led to the expulsion of the SAG members from the SPD on 18 January 1917. On 6 April 1917, the USPD was founded at a conference in Gotha, with Hugo Haase as the party's first chairman. The Spartakusbund also merged into the newly founded party, but it retained relative autonomy. [1] To avoid confusion, the existing SPD was typically called the Majority Social Democratic Party of Germany (Mehrheits-SPD or MSPD, majority-SPD) from then on. Luise Zietz was one of the main agitators in favor of a split in the party in 1917. [2] She became a leader in the creation of the USPD's women's movement. [2]

Friedrich Ebert 19th and 20th-century German politician and president of Germany

Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the first President of Germany from 1919 until his death in office in 1925.

The Majority Social Democratic Party of Germany was the name officially used by the Social Democratic Party of Germany during the period 1917-1922. This differentiated it from the more left wing Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany. Nevertheless they were often simply called the SPD.

Luise Zietz German politician

Luise Zietz (1865–1922) was a German socialist and feminist. She was the first woman to occupy a leading party post in Germany. She also helped bring the socialist women's movement into the Social Democratic Party of Germany, although some of the female leaders felt that she let the male leaders co-opt their independence.

Following the Januarstreik in January 1918, a strike demanding an end to the war and better food provisioning that was organized by revolutionaries affiliated with the USPD and officially supported by the party, the USPD quickly rose to about 120,000 members. Despite harsh criticism of the SPD for becoming part of the government of the newly formed German republic during the Oktoberreform , the USPD reached a settlement with the SPD as the German Revolution began and even became part of the government in the form of the Rat der Volksbeauftragten (Council of People's Deputies) which was formed on 10 November 1918 and mutually led by Ebert and Haase following the German Revolution.

However, the agreement did not last long as Haase, Wilhelm Dittmann and Emil Barth left the council again on 29 December 1918 to protest the SPD's actions during the soldier mutiny in Berlin on 23 November 1918. At the same time, the Spartakusbund, led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, separated from the USPD again as well to merge with other left-wing groups and form the Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, KPD).

Wilhelm Dittmann German politician

Wilhelm Dittmann, was a German Social Democratic politician. From 1917 to 1922 was secretary to the Central Committee of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD).

Emil Barth German politician (1879-1941)

Emil Barth was a German Social Democratic party worker who became a key figure in the German Revolution of 1918.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Development

During the elections for the National Assembly on 19 January 1919 from which the SPD emerged as the strongest party with 37.9% of the votes, the USPD only managed to attract 7.6%. Nevertheless, the party's strong support for the introduction of a system of councils ( Räterepublik ) instead of a parliamentary democracy attracted many former SPD members and in spring 1920 the USPD had grown to more than 750,000 members, managing to increase their share of votes to 17.9% during the parliamentary elections on 6 June 1920 and becoming one of the largest factions in the new Reichstag, second only to the SPD (21.7%).

Weimar National Assembly 20th-century constitutional convention in Germany

The Weimar National Assembly was the constitutional convention and de facto parliament of Germany from 6 February 1919 to 6 June 1920. The assembly drew up the new constitution which was in force from 1919 to 1933, technically remaining in effect even until the end of Nazi rule in 1945. It convened in Weimar, Thuringia and is the reason for this period in German history becoming known as the Weimar Republic.

Reichstag (Weimar Republic) legislative body of Weimar Germany

The Reichstag was the Lower house of the Weimar Republic's Legislature. It originated in the creation of the Weimar Constitution in 1919. After the end of the Weimar Republic in 1933, the Reichstag continued to operate, albeit sporadically, as the nominal Legislature of Nazi Germany.

Debate over joining the Communist International

In 1920, four delegates from the USPD (Ernst Däumig, Arthur Crispien, Walter Stoecker and Wilhelm Dittmann) attended the 2nd World Congress of the Comintern to discuss participating in the Comintern. [3] Whilst Däumig and Stoecker agreed with the International's 21 conditions of entry, Crispien and Dittmann opposed them, [3] leading to a controversial debate over joining the Comintern to break out in the USPD. Many members felt that the necessary requirements for joining would lead to a loss of the party's independence and a perceived dictate from Moscow while others, especially younger members such as Ernst Thälmann, argued that only the joining of the Comintern would allow the party to implement its socialist ideals.

Ultimately, the proposition to join the Comintern was approved at a party convention in Halle in October 1920 by 237 votes to 156, [4] with various international speakers including Julius Martov, Jean Longuet and Grigory Zinoviev. The USPD split up in the process, with both groups seeing themselves as the rightful USPD and the other one as being outcast. On 4 December 1920, the left-wing of the USPD with about 400,000 members merged into the KPD, forming the United Communist Party of Germany (Vereinigte Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, VKPD) while the other half of the party, with about 340,000 members and including three quarters of the 81 Reichstag members, continued under the name USPD. Led by Georg Ledebour and Arthur Crispien, they advocated a parliamentary democracy. The USPD was instrumental in the creation of the 2½ International in 1921.

Move to merger

Over time, the political differences between SPD and USPD dwindled and following the assassination of foreign minister Walther Rathenau by right-wing extremists in June 1922 the two parties' factions in the Reichstag formed a common working group on 14 July 1922. Two months later on 24 September, the parties officially merged again after a joint party convention in Nürnberg, adopting the name of United Social Democratic Party of Germany (Vereinigte Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, VSPD) which was shortened again to SPD in 1924.

The USPD continued as an independent party by Georg Ledebour and Theodor Liebknecht, who refused to work with the SPD, but it never attained any significance again and merged into the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschland, SAPD) in 1931.

The party got 20,275 votes in the 1928 Reichstag election, but it won no seats. [5]

Important USPD members

Further reading

Footnotes

  1. Ottokar Luban (2008). "Die Rolle der Spartakusgruppe bei der Entstehung und Entwicklung der USPD Januar 1916 bis März 1919". Jahrbuch für Forschungen zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung (II).
  2. 1 2 Joseph A. Biesinger (1 January 2006). Germany: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. Infobase Publishing. pp. 755–. ISBN   978-0-8160-7471-6.
  3. 1 2 Pierre Broué (2006). The German Revolution: 1917–1923. Chicago: Haymarket Books. p. 435.
  4. Pierre Broué (2006). The German Revolution: 1917–1923. Chicago: Haymarket Books. p. 442.
  5. Labour and Socialist International (1974). Kongress-Protokolle der Sozialistischen Arbeiter-Internationale – B. 3.1 Brüssel 1928. Glashütten im Taunus: D. Auvermann. p. IV. 41.

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