Bavarian Soviet Republic

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bavarian Soviet Republic


formed Apr. 13, 1919, in Bavaria during the general revolutionary upsurge in Germany which developed under the influence of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia; it lasted until May 1,1919. As early as Apr. 7, 1919, the “independent Social Democrats” headed by E. Toller proclaimed a Soviet Republic in Bavaria; they hoped in this way to stop the deepening of the revolutionary movement in Bavaria (strikes, demonstrations under the slogan demanding the transfer of power to the soviets), caused to a large extent by the masses’ dissatisfaction with the policies of the right-wing Social Democrat leaders who came to power after the November Revolution of 1918. The republic proclaimed by the “independents” was soviet in name only. The independent Social Democrats did not carry out any reforms in the interests of the workers and did not take the steps necessary for the suppression of counterrevolution. The putsch organized by the counterrevolutionaries with the aim of establishing an open dictatorship of the bourgeoisie was crushed by the Munich workers. On April 13 in Munich an authentic Soviet Republic arose under the leadership of the communists. An Action Committee, which became the supreme authority in the republic, and an Executive Council headed by the communists were formed (E. Levine and others). The Action Committee and the Executive Council included independent Social Democrats as well. The government of the Bavarian Soviet Republic exercised workers’ control in the enterprises, disarmed the bourgeoisie, carried out the nationalization of banks, formed a Red Army, and created the Extraordinary Commission for the Struggle Against Counterrevolution. However, the Bavarian communists committed many mistakes. They did not take immediate steps to improve the situation of the poorest and middle peasantry and to establish an alliance of the working class with the peasantry. They also displayed indecision in the struggle against internal counterrevolution. Against the Soviet Republic were deployed the united armed forces of the central German government of Ebert and Scheidemann and the troops of separate provinces. The disorganizing activities of the independent Social Democrats contributed to the defeat of the republic: with the help of slander and provocation they achieved the dismissal of the communists from the government on April 27 and then opened the front to the enemy. On May 1, 1919, the counterrevolutionary troops entered Munich but up until May 5 the soldiers of the Red Army continued to fight in the streets of the city.


Lenin, V. I. “Privetstvie Bavarskoi Sovetskoi respublike.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 38.
Zastenker, N. Bavarskaia Sovetskaia respublika. Moscow, 1934.
Poltavskii, M. A. Bavarskaia Sovetskaia respublika. Moscow, 1959.
Beyer, H. Von der Novemberrevolution zur Räterepublik in München. Berlin [1957].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.