General German Workers Association

General German Workers’ Association


(GGWA), a political organization of German workers from 1863 to 1875. It was founded in Leipzig on May 23, 1863. The founding of the GGWA was an important step toward the organizational independence of the workers’ movement and the liberation of German workers from the influence of the liberal bourgeoisie. However, the program imposed on the association by its president, F. Lassalle, was permeated by a spirit of petit bourgeois reformist socialism. Lassalle and his successors, including B. Becker, J. Schweitzer, W. Hasen-clever, and W. Hasselmann, pursued a policy of accommodation with the Bismarck regime.

K. Marx and F. Engels, as well as those of their followers who were members of the association—W. Liebknecht, J. P. Becker, K. Klings, and K. Klein—severely criticized the Lassallean dogma and tactics and contributed to the formation of an opposition group to the Lassallean leadership within the GGWA. Some members of the GGWA headed by W. Bracke split off from the organization and in 1869 participated in the founding of the Social Democratic Workers’ Party (Eisenachers). The decline of the influence of the GGWA among the masses and the growing desire for unification among the rank-and-file members of both organizations forced the leadership of the GGWA to accept unification with the Eisenachers, which led to the formation of the unified Socialist Workers’ Party of Germany at the Gotha Congress in 1875.


Marx, K. “Kritika Gotskoi programmy.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nded., vol. 19.
Engels, F. “Voennyi vopros v Prussii i nemetskaia rabochaia partiia.” Ibid., vol. 16.
Lenin, V. I. “Chto delat’?” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 6.
Lenin, V. I. “Pod chuzhim flagom.” Ibid., vol. 26.
Vorob’eva, A. K. “Iz istorii rabochego dvizheniia Germanii i bor’by Marksa i Engel’sa protiv Lassalia i lassal’ianstva v 1862-64 gg.” In Iz istorii bor’by Marksa i Engel’sa za proletarskuiu partiiu. Moscow, 1955.
Hümmler, H. Opposition gegen Lassalle. Vienna, 1963.
Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung. Vol. 1, Berlin, 1966.


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