Lenin in Munich and the Coming of the Third Reich

Lenin in Munich 
It was in Munich that Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov first went by the name 'Lenin,' in January 1901, in place of Tulin and Ilyin which he had used most frequently hitherto whilst living on the same street on which Hitler would later reside.

Munich, a city often overshadowed by Berlin in discussions of German influence on Lenin, played a pivotal role in shaping the revolutionary's ideological and strategic outlook. The years Lenin spent in Munich were transformative, serving as a crucible for his later activities that would eventually culminate in the Russian Revolution of 1917. Carr posits that Munich was not merely a place of residence for Lenin but a hub of intellectual and political activity that deeply influenced his revolutionary strategies. From 1900 to 1902, Lenin lived in the trendy Schwabing district of Munich. It was during this period of his exile in February 1900 that Lenin sought to establish a newspaper fully independent from censorship which was impossible to do in Russia; it was for this reason that Lenin had left Russia on July 29, 1900 for over five years. After a brief stay in Geneva where he met with Plekhanov who agreed on the publication of the newspaper Iskra, Lenin moved to Munich where he illegally resided under the name Meyer through the Social Democratic innkeeper Georg Rittmeyer, who ran the "Zum Goldenen Onkel" tavern downstairs at Kaiserstrasse 53. Lenin would eventually declare "Wer die Mariensäule in München hat, der hat Europa!“ - Whoever has the Mary's column in Munich has Europe!
Bavarian State Library on Ludwigstraße, shown after the war and today
Here in the Bavarian State Library on Ludwigstraße, shown after the war and today he wrote his most famous work and arguably most influential work "What is to be Done?". Together with other Russian emigres such as the later leader of the Mensheviks Julius Martov and the former terrorist Vera Zasulich, Lenin founded Iskra (The Spark) as the first all-Russian socialist newspaper. During his free time Lenin and his wife Krupskaya enjoyed long walks through the English garden, which earned them the name "the party of walkers". According to Dr. Nikolaus Brauns in Rote Hilfe, Lenin was not adverse to a cold beer. Thus it was in Munich that Lenin created inter alia the ideological foundation for the Munich Soviet Republic and the State of Bavaria. 
Lenin lived here at 106 Schleissheimer Strasse       
Lenin lived here at 106 Schleissheimer Strasse in 1901; a Soviet postage stamp issued on the centenary of Lenin's birth commemorates it. Remarkably, on the same street at #34 would be Hitler's first address in Munich just before the outbreak of the Great War. "Lenin had lived at 106 Schleissheimer Strasse, and at number 34 on the same street, only a few blocks away, Adolf Hitler now took a room as a tenant in the apartment of a tailor named Popp." (Fest, 20, Hitler)
Certainly in the annals of history, few individuals have cast as long and potent a shadow as Lenin and Hitler, making this street truly remarkable. The respective leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the Nazi regime in Germany, they have left indelible marks on human society and have shaped the modern world in profound ways. Lenin's role in history is inextricably linked with the birth of Soviet communism. As a devout Marxist, he galvanised a revolutionary fervour amongst the proletariat, resulting in the overthrow of the Provisional Government in 1917 and the establishment of a socialist state. His political theories, such as 'vanguardism' and 'democratic centralism,' became integral to the communist ideology, with the latter shaping the USSR's governance for seven decades. In contrast, Hitler, initially dismissed as a fringe extremist, rose to power in a democratic society ravaged by economic hardship and national humiliation post the Treaty of Versailles. His charismatic oratory and potent narrative of a 'stab in the back' resonated deeply with the German populace, eventually facilitating his appointment as Chancellor in 1933. It is of note how he used legal mechanisms and later intimidation to dismantle the Weimar Republic's democratic structures, thereby establishing a totalitarian regime. When comparing their political ascension, it can be argued that Lenin's rise was rooted in a revolutionary ideology, whereas Hitler's ascent was fuelled by opportunistic manipulation of national sentiment and existing democratic systems. Yet, both effectively utilised the societal discontent in their respective contexts to establish totalitarian regimes.
Lenin and Hitler's leadership styles were similarly autocratic but distinct in their execution and focus. Lenin, a fervent believer in Marxism, pursued policies such as War Communism and the New Economic Policy aimed at creating a socialist economy. His political manoeuvres often involved pragmatic compromises, notably the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, suggesting a certain flexibility in pursuit of his ideological vision. Hitler, on the other hand, concentrated on racially-motivated policies, precipitating an unprecedented wave of racial violence and genocide, notably epitomised by the Holocaust. The Nuremberg Laws and the aggressive foreign policy which culminated in the Second World War illustrate Hitler's commitment to his vision of Aryan supremacy and Lebensraum. While both leaders were single-minded in their pursuit of their respective visions, Lenin's policies were driven more by socio-economic considerations, whereas Hitler's were driven by racial ideology. Yet, both caused immense suffering and loss, albeit on different scales and for different reasons.
Lenin's legacy is complex. His leadership inaugurated a socialist state that endured for over 70 years, impacting world politics profoundly during this period. However, his policies also set the stage for a brutal totalitarian regime under Stalin, leading to widespread human rights abuses and economic difficulties. Hitler's legacy is starkly negative. His aggressive expansionist policies led to the most destructive war in human history, and his genocidal actions against Jews and other minority groups resulted in unimaginable human suffering. Yet, post-war Germany's collective guilt led to significant societal reforms and arguably acted as a catalyst for European integration, giving rise to the European Union. Comparatively, while Lenin's legacy has had some positive aspects in terms of ideological influence, both leaders left overwhelmingly negative legacies. They are synonymous with totalitarian regimes that caused enormous harm to their nations and the world at large.

Schelling Salon
Having lunch at the Schelling Salon. I'm going to quote from my copy of the 'Past Finder Zik Zak' of Munich, which is based on Maik Kopelek's series of books, although the fold-out map hasn't any author mentioned:
"Family-owned since 1872... Hitler is said to have often left without paying; Lenin never did! Worth seeing: the stone urinals in the cellar."
Claimed to have been used by Lenin, Hitler and Franz Josef Strauss.
Lenin and his wife, Krupskaya lived here at Kaiserstrasse 14 Munich    Munich Plaque erected in 1970 on the occasion of Lenin's 100th birthday
Lenin and his wife, Krupskaya lived here at Kaiserstrasse 14 under the name "Meyer" between 1900 and 1913. Below was a tavern, which became the meeting place of European Social Democrats. The plaque commemorating this key site in history was erected in 1970 on the occasion of Lenin's 100th birthday before being ripped down in 2006 and never replaced. Apparently Krupskaya didn't like the residence with its "poor table" and the window to the backyard and the couple therefore moved into a three-room apartment at Siegfriedstrasse 14. Here the hitherto illegal refugee shaves off his goatee, which is now known to the police, and, since the two Russians are threatened with deportation, registered with the police as alleged Bulgarians, with Lenin now Dr. Jordan Jordannoff,  a native of "Sofia".
Lenin's Munich home Kaiserstrasse
Soviet ambassador to West Germany, Semjon Zarapkin (Tsarapkin) at the unveiling ceremony. The memorial plaque made by the sculptor Karl Oppenrieder is a portrait of Lenin and carries the inscription, in both German and Russian, "Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union, lived in this house from September 1900 to April 1901." Seventy members of the Balalaika Orchestra from Moscow and the Roaga Buam from Ismaning performed at the unveiling on April 12, 1968 with violent protests all around, with shouts of  "Lenin's work rests on the bones of 48 million slaughtered victims" and "Kaliningrad becomes Koenigsberg again". By August that year unknown persons tried to blow away the plaque, and it would continually be smeared. Finally on December 7, 1970, the stone slab fell victim to a bomb attack claimed by the NPD although investigators assumed a single perpetrator. The homeowner keeps the severely damaged plate in the basement.
 It was from here that Lenin and fellow exiled Russian Marxists first published the journal Iskra ("the Spark") which was then smuggled into Russia. From this address where Lenin wrote his famous revolutionary book "What is to be Done?" in which he proposed that a wholly new type of party should be established. This proved highly divisive at the Party Congress in 1903, and brought about a split, with the Bolsheviks now effectively operating as a separate party even before the final break in 1912.
When it first appeared, in March 1902, Lenin's pamphlet seemed to voice the general viewpoint of the Iskra-ites. They all wanted a centralized party: it seemed essential in a police state like Russia. The dictatorial implications of What Is To Be Done? – that the party's rank and file would be forced to obey, in military fashion, the commands of the leadership – were as yet not fully realized. 'None of us could imagine', Lydia Dan recalled, 'that there could be a party that might arrest its own members. There was the thought or the certainty that if a party was truly centralized, each member would submit naturally to the instructions or directives.'' 
Figes (122) A People's Tragedy
The first use of the nom de guerre Lenin.
The publication of "Iskra" (The Spark), a revolutionary newspaper founded by Lenin, was another pivotal aspect of Munich's importance to Lenin's political activities. The newspaper was initially published in Munich before moving to other locations, and it served as the primary mouthpiece for Lenin's ideas and the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). Pipes contends that "Iskra" was instrumental in disseminating Lenin's revolutionary ideology and in consolidating the fragmented Russian socialist movement. The newspaper not only published articles but also served as a platform for debate among socialists, thereby fostering a sense of unity and purpose. The importance of "Iskra" in shaping the Russian revolutionary landscape cannot be overstated, and Munich's role as its initial place of publication marks the city as a significant locus of Lenin's political activities. Furthermore, the logistical aspects of running a revolutionary newspaper from Munich were non-trivial and required a well-organised network of supporters and collaborators. According to Pipes, the city's well-developed infrastructure, including its printing facilities and transportation links, made it an ideal location for such an endeavour. The relative ease with which "Iskra" could be printed and then smuggled into Russia was a logistical triumph that would have been significantly more challenging to achieve from within Russia itself, given the repressive Tsarist regime. Munich also provided a fertile ground for fundraising activities essential for the newspaper's operation. Lenin and his associates were able to connect with like-minded individuals and organisations willing to provide financial support for "Iskra." Pipes notes that this financial backing was crucial for the newspaper's sustainability and, by extension, for the propagation of Lenin's revolutionary ideals. Without such support, it is doubtful that "Iskra" would have had the impact it did, and Munich's role as a centre for socialist fundraising activities was therefore crucial. Carr's assertion that Munich served as an intellectual crucible for Lenin is substantiated by the city's vibrant political atmosphere during the early 20th century. Munich was a hotbed of socialist and revolutionary thought, teeming with political exiles, intellectuals, and activists. The city was home to various socialist publications and organisations, offering Lenin an environment conducive to intellectual growth. Lenin's involvement with the newspaper 'Iskra' (The Spark), which was published in Munich from 1900 to 1902, is a case in point. The newspaper became a platform for Lenin to articulate his ideas and engage in polemics against rival factions within the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). 'Iskra' was instrumental in disseminating Lenin's ideas, such as his emphasis on the role of the vanguard party, which later became a cornerstone of Leninist ideology. Carr argues that the intellectual ferment in Munich, catalysed by the presence of like-minded revolutionaries and the availability of platforms like 'Iskra,' was crucial in shaping Lenin's ideological stance. The city also provided Lenin with access to a wealth of socialist literature and intellectual resources. Munich's libraries and intellectual salons were frequented by Lenin, who was known to be an avid reader. According to Carr, Lenin's voracious reading in Munich included works by German philosophers and political theorists, including but not limited to Marx and Engels. This exposure enriched his understanding of dialectical materialism and historical materialism, theories he would later employ to analyse the Russian social and economic landscape. The intellectual resources available in Munich thus played a significant role in refining Lenin's theoretical framework.
 We looked back on this Munich period afterwards as a bright memory. Our later years of life in emigration were a much more distressing experience. During the Munich days the rift in the personal relations between Vladimir Ilyich, Martov, Potresov and Zasulich had not been so deep. All energies had been concentrated upon a single object – the building up of an all-Russian newspaper. There had been an intensive rallying of forces around Iskra. All had had the feel of the organization's growth, a sense that the path for creating the Party had been rightly chosen. That explains the genuine spirit of jollification with which we had enjoyed the carnivals, the universal good humour that had prevailed during our trip to Zurich, and so on. Local life held no great attraction for us. We observed it merely as bystanders. We went to meetings sometimes, but on the whole they were of little interest. I remember the May Day celebrations. For the first time that year the German Social-Democrats had been permitted to organise a procession, on condition that the celebrations were held outside the town and no crowds collected within the town.
Lenin's house at Siegfriedstraße 14 in Schwabing
Siegfriedstraße 14 in Schwabing on the second floor was Lenin's last address in Munich. Currently a restaurant, Das Zimmer Esszimmer, at the far end of the dining room stands a bust of Lenin.
Noris cafe in which, according to Nadezhda Konstantinovna's memoirs, "... long conversations, the exchange of opinions between Plekhanov and Lenin about what topics for Iskra to choose from... " at Leopoldstrasse 41 is long gone, today now the site of a Tengelmann grocery shop (and Deutsche Bank!). Lenin's intellectual development in Munich was not an isolated process but was significantly influenced by his interactions with other revolutionaries and intellectuals. Among these were Georgi Plekhanov and Pavel Axelrod, key figures in the Russian socialist movement. Carr notes that these interactions were not merely casual conversations but intense ideological debates that helped crystallise Lenin's own views. For instance, Plekhanov's emphasis on the role of the proletariat in the revolutionary struggle resonated with Lenin and reinforced his belief in the vanguard party's necessity. Such interactions were facilitated by Munich's status as a hub for political exiles and revolutionaries, making it an ideal setting for intellectual cross-pollination. Moreover, Munich served as a safe haven for Lenin, relatively free from the surveillance and repression that revolutionaries faced in Russia. This safety allowed Lenin to focus on his intellectual pursuits and political activities without the constant threat of arrest or exile. Carr argues that this sense of security was instrumental in allowing Lenin the mental space to develop his theories and strategies. The absence of immediate threats also provided Lenin with the opportunity to engage in long-term strategic planning, a luxury he would not have had in Russia. The city's geographical location further augmented its importance to Lenin. Situated in the heart of Europe, Munich was well-connected to other major cities, facilitating easy communication and travel. This connectivity allowed Lenin to maintain contact with socialist movements in other parts of Europe, thereby broadening his perspective and allowing for a more nuanced understanding of the international socialist struggle. Carr suggests that this international exposure was pivotal in shaping Lenin's strategies, as it offered him a broader view of the challenges and opportunities that the socialist movement faced globally.
Gabelsbergerstraße 46 (then 20a), directly across from the Technical University of Munich, is where the mail Lenin received was addressed to Mr. Dr. Carl Lehmann. This had been Dr. Lehmann's house and office and he had been considered above suspicion, although the site served as an important source for top Russian conspirators. Lehmann himself had been a reformer and an idealist, dreaming of the liberation of the working class, having worked in Zurich, London, Hamburg and Munich in the production and dissemination of socialist literature. He was repeatedly in conflict with the police and judiciary, once he was in Freiburg in court, but was acquitted. Later he decided to take a civilian job and studied medicine in Strasbourg and Munich, where he received his doctorate. Lehmann's wife Hope had studied medicine, specialising in gynæcology. Their salon was the meeting place of the social democratic intellectuals in Munich; SPD party leader August Bebel stayed here whenever he was in Munich, and Mrs. Lehmann translated Bebel's book "The Woman and Socialism" into English.
In his March 22, 1901 letter to F.I. Dan, Lenin wrote:
The money can be sent through a bank by cheque, in a registered letter addressed to Carl Lehmann (the third letter is a German h), M.D., Gabelsbergerstrasse 20a. Keep this address in mind: it is good for cash, and for letters and books.—Lenin
The Alte Pinakothek in Munich, one of the oldest galleries in the world shown before and after its 1952 - 1957 reconstruction by Hans Döllgast, recently had an exhibition in which Lenin was the showpiece.

Kurt Eisner and the Free State of Bavaria
Kurt Eisner
Kurt Eisner was Bavaria’s first postwar Prime Minister. Born to a middle-class Jewish family in Berlin, he studied philosophy and German literature, but forswore a doctorate for financial reasons. Turning to journalism, he worked in Berlin for the Frankfurter Zeitung and moved to Marburg in 1893 to become political editor for the Hessische Landeszeitung. His neo-Kantianism was bolstered in Marburg by attending Hermann Cohen’s lectures. A parody of the Kaiser, published in 1897, landed him a nine-month prison sentence. He soon joined the SPD and caught the attention of Wilhelm Liebknecht, who ensured his appointment as editor of Vorwärts. But Eisner was not a rigid Marxist; his resolve to link socialism and Kantian ethics provoked his dismissal. He relocated to Bavaria and wrote for various city newspapers, serving finally as editor for Munich’s Arbeiterfeuilletons. He was part of Munich’s bohemian set, and his literary knowledge distinguished him from his socialist colleagues.
Destroyed during the war, this was the site of the legendary Café Stefanie, one of the liveliest cafés in Schwabing. After the Great War it served as the base for the revolutionaries who established the Bavarian Soviet Republic. This was one of the places frequented by Hitler in the late 1920s. In its entry for Bavarian Prime Minister Kurt Eisner, the Historical Dictionary of Germany’s Weimar Republic, 1918–1933 (C. Paul Vincent) mentions how
A friend remembered him as a bearded, stooped figure who captivated friends at a Schwabing locale, the Cafe Stephanie.

Kurt Eisner Memorial
The place where Kurt Eisner was assassinated. Eisner, whose "belligerent political style, impractical at the same time it was utopian, caused respectable citizens to desire nothing more than to see him jailed or killed" and "seemed to fit the stereotype of the unwashed radical, the sort of man a respectable German loved to hate," had organised the revolution that overthrew the monarchy in Bavaria and declared Bavaria to be a free state and republic on November 8, 1918. Due to the inability of the new government to provide basic services, Eisner's Independent Social Democrats were soundly defeated in the January 1919 election. It was whilst he was on his way to present his resignation to the Bavarian parliament that Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley shot him in the back on February 21, 1919, His assassination resulted in the establishment of the Bavarian Soviet Republic and parliament and government fleeing Munich.
In Munich, power was seized in a spontaneous rush by a collection of idealists led by journalist Kurt Eisner. Eisner and his associates were able to prevail for a time because there was a nearly absolute vacuum in Bavaria at war’s end when King Ludwig fled his domain. But Eisner was no Lenin. No proletarian dictatorship was set in place. Instead, Eisner sponsored elections which took place in April and quickly threw him out of office. He was then assassinated. The killing of Eisner inspired his followers to try to retain power by force. This meant establishing the Soviet-style government they failed to create initially. The eventual “Red Republics” which grew out of this circumstance lasted only a brief period and were soon crushed by German army and Freikorps elements.
The provisional government that was soon constituted under Eisner’s leadership was from the outset a highly unstable coalition, mainly composed of the radical but largely idealistic USPD and the ‘moderate’ SPD (which had not even wanted a revolution). Moreover, it stood no chance of mastering the daunting social and economic problems it faced. The assassination of Eisner by a young, aristocratic former officer, currently a student at Munich University, Graf Anton von Arco- Valley, on 21 February 1919, provided then the signal for a deterioration into chaos and near- anarchy. Members of the USPD and anarchists proclaimed a ‘Councils Republic’ in Bavaria. The initial failure of attempts at counter-revolution simply strengthened the resolve of the revolutionary hotheads and ushered in the last phase of the Bavarian revolution: the full Communist takeover in the second, or ‘real’ Räterepublik – an attempt to introduce a Soviet-style system in Bavaria. It lasted little more than a fortnight. But it ended in violence, bloodshed, and deep recrimination, imposing a baleful legacy on the political climate of Bavaria.It would be hard to exaggerate the impact on political consciousness in Bavaria of the events between November 1918 and May 1919, and quite especially of the Räterepublik. At its very mildest, it was experienced in Munich itself as a time of curtailed freedom, severe food shortages, press censorship, general strike, sequestration of foodstuffs, coal, and items of clothing, and general disorder and chaos. But, of more lasting significance, it went down in popular memory as a ‘rule of horror’ imposed by foreign elements in the service of Soviet Communism. The image, constructed and massively shored up by rightist propaganda throughout the Reich as well as in Bavaria itself, was that of alien – Bolshevik and Jewish – forces taking over the state, threatening institutions, traditions, order, and property, presiding over chaos and mayhem, perpetrating terrible acts of violence, and causing anarchy of advantage only to Germany’s enemies. The real gainers from the disastrous weeks of the Räterepublik were the radical Right, which had been given the fuel to stoke the fear and hatred of Bolshevism among the Bavarian peasantry and middle classes. Not least, extreme counter-revolutionary violence had come to be accepted as a legitimate response to the perceived Bolshevik threat and now became a regular feature of the political scene.
Its flirt with left-wing socialism over, Bavaria turned in the following years into a bastion of the conservative Right and a magnet for right-wing extremists throughout Germany. These were the conditions in which the ‘making of Adolf Hitler’ could take place.
The history of the Bavarian revolution was almost tailor-made for Nazi propaganda. Not just the legend of the ‘stab-in-the-back’, but the notion of an international Jewish conspiracy could be made to sound plausible in the light of the Munich Räterepublik. Though right-wing extremism had no stronger traditions in Bavaria than elsewhere up to this point, the new climate provided it with unique opportunities and the favour of a sympathetic establishment. Many of Hitler’s early followers were deeply influenced by the experience of the turbulent months of post-revolutionary Bavaria. For Hitler himself, the significance of the period of revolution and Räterepublik in Munich can hardly be overrated. 
Kershaw (64-65) Hitler
Just around the corner from the spot on Promemadeplatz is this crazed memorial to Michael Jackson.
This new memorial to Eisner has been set up in Munich. The abstract glass cube by Munich artist Rotraud Fischer contains a black area painted on the glass to commemorate Eisner's assassination, whilst an Eisner quote has been engraved into the glass. Proponents of the new design deem the glass construction a modern interpretation of commemoration instead of outdated busts or sculptures. Critics, however, think the design has no distinct feature and ties in with the current "latte macchiato aesthetics". In their opinion, the cube could also be another item of random street furniture suiting the taste of the new nearby owners of luxury apartments. Also Eisner's quote: "Jedes Menschen Leben soll heilig sein" (The life of every human being should be sacred) may sound philanthropic in general, but is entirely taken out of its historical and political context. Nevertheless, the effort to establish a new memorial site has been made and perhaps a continuing dispute on the monument will keep Eisner's commemoration more alive than a sculpture that everybody could agree on.
Dedication of the monument on May Day 1922 and today at the Neuer Israelitischer Friedhof.
In March 1919 Hitler returned to barracks in Munich. The city was wracked by the most intense political turmoil. Bavaria’s Independent Socialist leader, Kurt Eisner, had been assassinated on the city’s streets only weeks before by Count Arco-Valley, a German nationalist from Austria. Thereafter the city descended into near civil war. On 7 April 1919 Bavaria was declared a Soviet Republic and rumours began to spread that Communist troops were ready to march from Russia and Hungary to shore up Socialism there. Lenin sent the Red revolutionaries telegrams of support. He urged them to consolidate their rule through terror. When bands of anti-Communist troops (made up of right-wing, nationalist veterans of the First World War, some with swastikas painted on their helmets) under Captain Ehrhardt approached the city, the ‘Reds’ executed a number of radical nationalist hostages held in the Luitpold Gymnasium. Munich was a political hothouse in which anything was possible. Hitler soon had the point illustrated to him personally. For the most part he was serving at a military camp near Traunstein, guarding Russian and French prisoners of war who were awaiting release. Alternatively, he received RM 3 per day counting gas masks at a military store. Despite such a low profile, Hitler came into conflict with Communism and to the attention of Red sympathisers. The following document is based on an interview with a man who had been friendly with Hitler in Munich. It shows that politics had become a matter of life and death that just could not be ignored.
Housden (42-43) Hitler Study of a Revolutionary?
This raises an intriguing mystery based on a photograph taken by future official photographer Heinrich Hoffmann during the funeral of Eisner in Munich on February 26, 1919. Thomas Weber argues in Hitler's First War that this photograph shows Hitler at the far right of this photo, wearing a greatcoat and with his hands in his pockets. Given that Eisner was communist and Jewish and the photo clearly shows a group of Russian prisoners of war in the mourning procession, Hitler's appearance is astonishing. 
Kershaw argues that
Hitler’s possible support for the Majority Social Democrats in the revolutionary upheaval is less unlikely than it might at first sight appear. The political situation was extremely confused and uncertain. A number of strange bedfellows, including several who later came to belong to Hitler’s entourage, initially found themselves on the Left during the revolution. Esser, who became the first propaganda chief of the NSDAP, had been for a while a journalist on a Social Democratic newspaper. Sepp Dietrich, later a general in the Waffen-SS and head of Hitler’s SS- Leibstandarte, was elected chairman of a soldiers’ council in November 1918. Hitler’s long-time chauffeur Julius Schreck had served in the ‘Red Army’ at the end of April 1919. Gottfried Feder, whose views on ‘interest slavery’ so gripped Hitler’s imagination in summer 1919, had sent a statement of his position to the socialist government headed by Kurt Eisner the previous November. And Balthasar Brandmayer, one of Hitler’s closest wartime comrades and a later fervent supporter, recounted how he at first welcomed the end of the monarchies, the establishment of a republic, and the onset of a new era. Ideological muddle-headedness, political confusion, and opportunism, combined frequently to produce fickle and shifting allegiances.
That, as has been implied, Hitler was inwardly sympathetic to Social Democracy and formed his own characteristic racist-nationalist Weltanschauung only following an ideological volte-face under the influence of his ‘schooling’ in the Reichswehr after the collapse of the Räterepublik is, however, harder to believe. If Hitler felt compelled to lean outwardly towards the Majority Social Democrats during the revolutionary months, it was not prompted by conviction but by sheer opportunism aimed at avoiding for as long as possible demobilisation from the army.
 The constitution of the Workers' and Soldiers' Council in the Mathäser-Bräu in November 1918 was the birth of the Bavarian Soviet Republic. In the reconstruction after the Second World War, in addition to the restaurant rooms, a cinema complex was built in the numerous premières took place. After the total demolition of the building complex was at the site on 21 May 2003 Mathäser multiplex cinema opened.
Soldiers in front of the Mathäserbräu celebrating the Revolution, and the aftermath of the May 1-2 counter-revolution on its roof.
Memorial to Freikorps
The German army’s impotence after the Great War was apparent on Christmas Eve when its troops, ordered to remove radicals from the Royal Stables, dispersed and went home. It was thus that a proposal was made to supplement the Reichsheer through a broad creation of Freikorps units made up of volunteers which existed in some fashion from late 1918 until 1923 who would defend the new Republic. The best known of the volunteers were the Freikorps, or regular volunteers
consisting of officers and soldiers, as well as students and civilians, driven by counterrevolutionary zeal, eager for adventure, or simply seeking the ‘‘companionship of the trenches’’ and regular meals. Numbering 200,000 to 400,000 men by the spring of 1919, the 103 major Freikorps units received little direct attention from the Reichsheer and were militarily and politically unreliable. During the first half of 1919 they were used to crush both real and imagined threats throughout Germany.
Vincent (137) An Historical Dictionary of Germany’s Weimar Republic
The remains of a 1942 Nazi memorial to the Freikorps victory over the communists in Munich in May 1919 remains on Ichostrasse, apparently as a memorial to victims of Nazism, although the various symbols appear intentionally vague:
By May 2, 1919, the Freikorps and a coalition of Prussian and Bavarian troops, collectively known as the known as the Weisse Garde, had taken the City of Munich. It was not officially announced secure until May 6 after roughly 1,200 Communists had been killed.
The White force had in it hardened desperadoes and they shot down without cause some twenty medical orderlies and eight surrendered Red soldiers. Most infamously, the Reds executed ten people by firing squad, including the Countess Westarp. This killing was the direct result of the White atrocities at Dachau which had caused Red soldiers to ask superiors if they could take revenge. Permission was granted and the victims were rounded up and brought to courtyard of the Luitpold gymnasium. In pairs, they were placed against a wall and shot. The news of this horrific event spread quickly and, by midday of 1 May, the killings had become public knowledge. There were protest meetings all over the city, and firefights erupted.
The Whites had decided to move on 2 May. They now advanced the attack to May Day. It was held to be just and proper that they were moving into the capital on the traditional workers’ holiday. As the Whites took Munich, atrocities appeared seemingly everywhere. All White killings were said to be justified by the Luitpold executions. The Luitpold killings had also had a demoralizing impact on Red troops not involved but who had heard of them. They began throwing down their arms, as the Whites entered the city to encounter scant opposition.
The Munich political scene, immediately after the demise of the Red Republics, was profoundly altered. The disappearance of the two republics resulted in an atmosphere changed lastingly... This was the heritage which carried over into the scene after the war.

By May 2, 1919, the Freikorps and a coalition of Prussian and Bavarian troops, collectively known as the known as the Weisse Garde, had taken the City of Munich. It was not officially announced secure until May 6 after roughly 1,200 Communists had been killed.
The White force had in it hardened desperadoes and they shot down without cause some twenty medical orderlies and eight surrendered Red soldiers. Most infamously, the Reds executed ten people by firing squad, including the Countess Westarp. This killing was the direct result of the White atrocities at Dachau which had caused Red soldiers to ask superiors if they could take revenge. Permission was granted and the victims were rounded up and brought to courtyard of the Luitpold gymnasium. In pairs, they were placed against a wall and shot. The news of this horrific event spread quickly and, by midday of 1 May, the killings had become public knowledge. There were protest meetings all over the city, and firefights erupted.
The Whites had decided to move on 2 May. They now advanced the attack to May Day. It was held to be just and proper that they were moving into the capital on the traditional workers’ holiday. As the Whites took Munich, atrocities appeared seemingly everywhere. All White killings were said to be justified by the Luitpold executions. The Luitpold killings had also had a demoralizing impact on Red troops not involved but who had heard of them. They began throwing down their arms, as the Whites entered the city to encounter scant opposition.
The Munich political scene, immediately after the demise of the Red Republics, was profoundly altered. The disappearance of the two republics resulted in an atmosphere changed lastingly... This was the heritage which carried over into the scene after the war.

The proclamation of the 1st Soviet Republic in the Communist paper Rote Fahne April 7, 1919, and the demonstration that same day in Munich in support below. On November 7, 1918, Bavaria was declared a free republic under a Social Democratic politician, Kurt Eisner; and after Eisner was assassinated by a right-wing nationalist in 1919, communists and anarchists took advantage of the resulting disorder to establish a Soviet republic in Bavaria. A certain Dr Franz Lipp was appointed to be Foreign Minister, an unhappy choice since the good doctor had twice undergone cures in a mental institution, with not entirely successful results. He sent a cable to Lenin complaining that the deposed President of Bavaria had fled from Munich taking the key to the ministerial toilets with him. And then he declared war on Switzerland, and indeed Württemberg too, because they were unwilling to restock the Bavarian railway system with locomotives. "My dear colleague", he wrote to a fellow-minister, "I have declared war on Württemberg and Switzerland because those dogs have not immediately handed over the 60 locomotives to me on loan. I have no doubt that we will be victorious. Furthermore I will seek the blessing of the Pope, who is a good friend of mine, for this victory." But the initial, relatively moderate, Soviet government of which he was a member collapsed within six days, as hardline Communists took over, and even the thought of a Bavarian invasion of Switzerland and Württemberg was forgotten. The communist government lasted until the beginning of May. I don't know what happened to Dr Lipp- maybe he went into exile in Switzerland.
Red Guards guarding a government building. The Soviet Republic seems to have got off to a bad start because the first proclamation that the government issued was that all cafés should close at 6 o'clock, and one can just imagine what the jovial citizens of Munich would have thought of that. The chief commissar Ernst Toller (a 25-year-old playwright) was so mobbed when he walked along the street that he beat a tactical retreat and extended the opening hours to 9 o'clock. There was then a run on the banks, and the Red Army, deciding that their barracks were not good enough, installed themselves in the schools, and everything declined into ever greater chaos until proper Communists displaced these 'bourgeois amateurs'.
Red Guards marching through Munich at the end of April. The New York Times correspondent had this account of Dr Lipp: he is 'a man of 60 whose mind is so unstable that some years ago his friends endeavoured to cure him by consigning him for a time to a lunatic asylum. He edited a Stuttgart paper for a while, but being involved in a charge of libelling the Kaiser, he escaped to Switzerland and subsequently appeared in Italy, where, having made his peace with the old German regime, he acted as a spy and informer for it. Before Italy entered the war he was especially active in endeavouring to bring about sabotage in various places there.' According to another account, it was the Pope to whom he addressed his complaint about the missing lavatory keys, in a long, lewd and rambling telegram addressed to 'Comrade Pope, Peter's Cathedral, Rome', and he merely informed Lenin that the proletariat of Upper Bavaria was now happily united.
During the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919, Levine was the organiser of the Workers and Soldiers Soviets. When the Bavarian Soviet Republic was crushed, Levine was captured and courtmartialed. The court-martial told him: "You are under sentence of death." Leviné answered: "We Communists are always under sentence of death."
Chambers (6) Witness
Leviné was undisturbed by the thought of starving babies. "What does it matter," he said, "if for a few weeks less milk reaches Munich? Most of it goes to the children of the bourgeoisie anyway. We are not interested in keeping them alive. No harm if they die - they'd only grow into enemies of the proletariat."
We thank you for your message of greetings, and on our part whole heartedly greet the Soviet Republic of Bavaria. We ask you insistently to give us more frequent, definite information on the following. What measures have you taken to fight the bourgeois executioners, the Scheidernanns and Co.; have councils of workers and servants been formed in the different sections of the city; have the workers been armed; have the bourgeoisie been disarmed; has use been made of the stocks of clothing and other items for immediate and extensive aid to the workers, and especially to the farm labourers and small peasants; have the capitalist factories and wealth in Munich and the capitalist farms in its environs been confiscated; have mortgage and rent payments by small peasants been cancelled; have the wages of farm labourers and unskilled workers been doubled or trebled; have all paper stocks and all printing-presses been confiscated so as to enable popular leaflets and newspapers to be printed for the masses; has the six-hour working day with two or three-hour instruction in state administration been introduced; have the bourgeoisie in Munich been made to give up surplus housing so that workers may be immediately moved into comfortable flats; have you taken over all the banks; have you taken hostages from the ranks of the bourgeoisie; have you introduced higher rations for the workers than for the bourgeoisie; have all the workers been mobilised for defence and for ideological propaganda in the neighbouring villages? The most urgent and most extensive implementation of these and similar measures, coupled with the initiative of workers’, farm labourers’ and— acting apart from them— small peasants’ councils, should strengthen your position. An emergency tax must be levied on the bourgeoisie, and an actual improvement effected in the condition of the workers, farm labourers and small peasants at once and at all costs.
With sincere greetings and wishes of success.
Lenin 27 April, 1919

The Munich Soviet Republic
Munich’s political Left was divided with the assassination of Eisner. The heads of the ‘Majority Social Democratic Party of Germany’ (MSPD) were reformers rather than revolutionaries. The ‘Independent Social Democratic Party’ (USPD) which had broken with the Social Democrats in 1917 became a bastion for diverse protest movements. The ‘Communist Party of Germany’ (KPD) formed in January 1919 offered another radical alternative. There were also anarchist groups.
The Left didn’t agree on whether a socialist order could be achieved within the framework of a parliamentary democracy and whether it required the creation of a council or soviet system. The USPD was eventually dismantled by those who wanted to use soviets to further revolutionary developments in society and the economy. The soviet republic established in Hungary in March 1919 provided encouragement, as did hopes for a communist uprising in Vienna.

With the proclamation of the Munich soviet republic on April 7, 1919, the Hoffmann government moved to Bamberg, giving revolutionaries a free hand in the Bavarian capital. Among the early leaders of the movement were USPD politicians like Ernst Toller and anarchists such as the writers Gustav Landauer and Erich Muehsam. But the communists under Eugen Levine and Max Levien dismissed the new structure as a ‘soviet republic in appearance only’ on on April 13 seized power themselves. Under the command of the revolutionary naval soldier Rudolf Egelhofer, a Red Army consisting of 10,000 men was quickly assembled. Adherents of the soviet republic hoped that they would received help via a revolutionary axis between Munich, Vienna and Budapest. 
The Hofgarten in 1919 during the Munich civil war as seen in the first episode, Helped into Power, from the 1997 documentary The Nazis: A Warning from History:
Bavaria is a picture-book land, famous for its lederhosen and its beer halls, but at the end of WWI, conditions existed here which would create a revolution. After the war, the Allies continued to blockade Germany and the returning troops were shocked to discover how much their families were still suffering.  Millions of Germans were hungry  and thousands more were dying of tuberculosis and influenza. Politics were polarised. Conservatives and Socialists became radical in the face of crisis. With the whole of Germany in turmoil in the spring of 1919, the unrest in Munich resulted in a left-wing takeover of the city, the Raterepublik. This culminated, in April 1919, in the Munich Soviet Republic,  an attempt to create a soviet-style government of the city, only 18 months after the victory of the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union. Government troops were sent to quash the rebellion and there was fighting on the streets of Munich. More than 500 people were killed. The soldiers were supported by the Freikorps, right-wing mercenaries paid for by the government. In Munich, there were cases where the Freikorps simply shot members of the Raterepublik out of hand. Other Freikorps members heartily approved of the brutal measures used to suppress Communist revolutionaries throughout Germany.

On May 1 and 2, German government troops and several freikorps units marched into Munich. Bitter street fighting ensued, particularly within the working-class district of Giesing. The counter-revolutionary troops were extremely brutal. Revolutionary spokesmen such as Gistav Landauer were abused and murdered, as were innocent parties such as the 53 Russian PoWs and 21 members of the Catholic journeymen’s Union. The official number of casualties was 519, including 335 civilians, bit other estimates suggest that there could have been more than a thousand people killed in toto. Munich spent months under martial law. The numerous arrests and trials that followed almost exclusively targeted followers of the soviet republic, of whom more than 1,700 were convicted of crimes.
These events became anchored within the collective memory of the city in a way that would have dramatic consequences. The political Right dictated the historical record, reducing the legacy of the revolution to chaos, ‘foreign elements’ and atrocities. The so-called hostage murder in the Luitpold Academy played a central role in this process when, on April 30, members of the Munich Red Army murdered ten prisoners. Although the next day saw this act of brutality denounced by workers’ and soldiers’ councils, right wing propaganda constantly used this atrocity to incite rage and revulsion against the revolution.
Counter-revolutionary acts of violence were played down whilst right-wing propaganda legitimised terror as a necessary means for restoring order, creating a justification for political violence which Hitler would later use for himself.
After the destruction of the Munich soviet republic, Munich was ruled by the military. Franz Xavier von Epp, leader of the Free Corps Epp, took a leading role and was later mythologised as Munich’s liberator. From 1920, Epp used army funds to support the Nazis financially. In 1928 he joined the party and served as a Reichstag deputy until 1945. In 1933, he was named Reich Representative in Bavaria, a position of limited political power.

As depicted in October, the 1928 Soviet silent historical film by Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov. It is a celebratory dramatisation of the 1917 October Revolution commissioned for the tenth anniversary of the event. Originally released as October in the Soviet Union, the film was re-edited and released internationally as Ten Days That Shook The World after John Reed's popular book on the revolution. 
Following the standard Soviet version from Nicholas and Alexandra, a 1971 biographical film which partly tells the story of the last ruling Russian monarch, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and his wife, Tsarina Alexandra.  The film was adapted by James Goldman from the book by Robert K. Massie.

From episode 12 ("The Secret War") of the 13-part British television drama Fall of Eagles aired by the BBC in 1974. Lenin (Patrick Stewart) and his comrades are stuck in Switzerland but find  Germany an unexpected ally in ending their exile with the help of Dr Helphand.
From the beginning of Stalin (1992), a television film produced for HBO starring Robert Duvall portraying Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The film astonishingly won three Golden Globe Awards including best actor for Duvall.
From episode 8 (Revolutions) of the 10-part 2003 Channel 4 TV series The First World War based on the book of the same name by Oxford Professor Hew Strachan.
From the two-part documentary Russian Revolution in Colour, originally broadcast on Channel 5 in 2005, featuring professors Steve Smith (University of Essex) and Chris Read (University of Warwick).