Exceptional Law Against the Socialists

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Exceptional Law Against the Socialists


(1878-90; “Law Against the Harmful and Dangerous Tendencies of Social Democracy”), German law directed against Social Democracy and the whole German revolutionary movement. This law was enacted on Oct. 21, 1878, and was renewed every three years by the Reichstag.

Under the Exceptional Law Against the Socialists, 350 workers’ organizations were disbanded, 1,500 persons were arrested, and 900 persons were exiled. The Social Democratic press was persecuted, the party’s literature was confiscated, and its meetings were banned. The German Social Democrats fought against the antisocialist law, combining legal and illegal forms of struggle. K. Marx and F. Engels supported in every way the movement against the antisocialist law, denouncing the right-wing opportunists such as K. Hochberg and K. A. Schramm, who called on the party to adapt to the government policy, as well as the “ultraleft” adventurists such as J. Most and W. Hasselmann, who denied the need for parliamentary actions and who pushed the workers toward ill-conceived and ill-prepared actions. Gradually the Social Democratic Party, led by A. Bebel and W. Liebknecht, rebuilt its organizations. Despite the repressions the newspaper Der Sozialdemokrat (printed abroad, first in Zurich and then in London) was illegally distributed in Germany. The upswing of the strike movement and the growing number of votes for Social Democratic candidates in elections to the Reichstag (from 493,000 votes in 1877 to 1,427,000 in 1890) showed that repressions could not prevent the development of the labor movement. In 1890 the government was forced to drop the law. The abrogation of the antisocialist law was a defeat for the Junker-hoxxrgtOK state, and the influence of Social Democracy greatly increased.


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G. BECKER [German Democratic Republic; 10–1358–4]

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