The Kiel Mutiny

Discussion in 'theory, philosophy & history' started by Yossarian, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. Yossarian

    Yossarian free shrugs

    Been reading more about this period of history 100 years ago after seeing an entry in my grandfather's prisoner-of-war diary from Nov. 7, 1918 - "Wild rumours of rioting in the German Navy" - I'm surprised at how little recognition the mutineers seem to have received for bringing the war to an end.

    The story of what really ended the First World War: The Kiel Mutiny
    Libertad, Riklet, agricola and 14 others like this.
  2. kropotkin

    kropotkin libcom

  3. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Starry Wisdom

  4. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    There's loads not yet known or written about in english - for instance the german soldiers setting up actual real life soviets and workers councils in Belgium and effectively stopping much of the land war. There is two events this weekend that will be going into this - the first one:

    How did World War One end? And how is this remembered?

    And the ACG have a public meeting on the same day: How did World War 1 really end?

    Many years again i put the Dave Lamb Pamphlet (big one at that) Mutinies online - one of the best things that Solidarity ever did. Got other stuff later if i have time.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
    Libertad, kebabking, xenon and 11 others like this.
  5. chilango

    chilango Neither Westminster nor Brussels....

    As I mentioned on another thread, I found myself teaching a lesson to some teenage boys on the end of WWI recently. I did a bit on Wilhelmshaven and Kiel as a major factor.

    Will read up more on it now.
    Radiatori likes this.
  6. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    There were, of course, many other naval mutinies in the Imperial German Navy other than Kiel Wilmshaven ones - though none so important. The book Mutiny on the High Seas: The Imperial German Naval Mutines of WW1 by Daniel Horn covers them.

    (Seeing Dave Graham's name in the wilmshaven link above was sadly sweet as he died 10 years ago this month but it reminded me of all the good and hard work he put into keeping this stuff alive).
  7. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    I have a great piece on the soldiers councils set up by retreating/mutinying german soldiers and camp followers in belgium but i can't for the life of find it right now.

    edit got it - chapter one in Opposing Fascism Community, Authority and Resistance in Europe - Tim Kirk, Anthony McElligott

    The German revolution defeated and fascism deferred: the servicemen’s revolt and social democracy at the end of the First World War, 1918–1920

    Historians have argued that generally the attitudes of front soldiers in the trenches prevented acts of revolt, which began only after the soldiers had marched back in a disciplined fashion to the homeland, there to be subverted by revolutionaries. By this reasoning, the German revolution did not begin until the Kiel mutiny, which the sailors spread to the soldiers via the workers’ councils in the towns and cities, and thence to the reserve troops in the base camps. Though this was the situation in the coastal region, some 10,000 soldiers’ councils were set up… and, by 11 November 1918, 110 towns and cities were in the control of the soldiers’ and workers’ councils. The sailors had triggered the rapid spread of the revolt, but the actions of the soldiers were more audacious before they reached home from France and Belgium than they were after they came into contact with the organised councils of social democrat workers.

    Events in Belgium showed the distinct strengths of the soldiers’ revolt. According to Heinrich Bruning, a lieutenant at the time, desertions there were truly a mass phenomenon in the late summer of 1918. He was astonished to find that the numbers of deserters living in groups in cellars in Belgian cities,in attics and lofts, had reached such proportions that the German military police had given up their raids.…– Everywhere desertion was linked to the food shortage, as the deserters plundered and took control of army food stocks on an increasing scale.


    In Brussels, the soldiers’ movement against the military government began on the evening of Saturday 9 November and victory was proclaimed at three o’clock in the afternoon of the following day. The press reported continuous Wghting, and forty Germans were killed in central Belgium, in battles in which some Belgians took part on both sides. Armistice day celebrations in the larger towns were overwhelmed by demonstrators who tore down national flags and monarchist symbols. The soldiers drove off a counter-attack led by German and Belgian nationalists and freed military and political prisoners. The Press Bureau of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council in Cologne received telegraph reports signed ‘Friend’, ‘Henry’ and ‘Nottebohm’, to cover the identities of the senders.The short-lived socialist revolution in Belgium proclaimed a republic, demanding a universal and equal electoral franchise.

    Revolutionary German soldiers marched under the red flag through the working-class suburbs, released French prisoners and joined up with a general strike, arresting the Belgian mayors and senior judges. A leading Belgian citizen declared to the press, ‘What has just happened here is far worse than the Great Strike of 1913. You will see that no-one has won the World War but the Socialists and nobody has lost it but the property owners.’ In speeches at the strike rallies, speakers declared that reparations for war damages, a central demand of the Allied armistice terms, should not be paid for by squeezing them out of workers’ living standards.
  8. [62]

    [62] This week the score draws are plentiful

    I vaguely remembered the Kiel mutiny from my history A-level decades ago. However, was staying in Kiel with friends this summer and visited the maritime museum which has a great current exhibition on the subject which runs until March next year. More here (in German):

    100 Jahre Kieler Matrosenaufstand - Zentrale Ausstellung

    A lot of people in the city are very proud of these events of 100 years ago.

    Museum is also worth a visit any time if you're ever there.
    pogofish, Yossarian and Mordi like this.
  9. Mordi

    Mordi Amoral adventurist

    Recently read this which I'd reccomend.

    Apparently written by one of the participants of the Revolt, it's a novelisation of the beginnings and then spread of the revolution. It has an entirely appropiate degree of bile for the SPD and Noske, but also gives the KPD a bit of a kicking for their incompetent politicking.
    Yossarian, Patteran and [62] like this.
  10. not-bono-ever

    not-bono-ever Alles hat ein Ende nur eine Wurst hat zwei

    chewing through this at the minute- its a truly fantastic read- i had a brief familiarity with this years ago, but never came across this piece. decent stuff
  11. likesfish

    likesfish an angry pretend soldier shooting at seagulls

    after the Battle of Jutland, the German navy mostly stayed in port and didn't do anything with its big ships going out to fight the Royal Navy was a suicide plan everybody who was keen to fight transferred to subs or torpedo boats etc. So what was left were bored hungry sailors who the officers wanted to lead on a death ride against the Royal Navy. Who kept up the blockade starving Germany.
    Germany put in a massive offensive in the spring of 1918 put it petered out without breaking the allies the Germans lost a lot of men they couldn't replace when the allies attacked they had finally got their act together and were using improved tactics they were kicking in a rotten door. by late summer the Allies were advancing constantly hence the collapse of the Germans.
    The mutinies were a symptom not the cause
  12. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    And then a big man did a big man thing. And that - ants - is history.
    co-op likes this.
  13. chilango

    chilango Neither Westminster nor Brussels....

    It's struck me this year that for all the talk of on the 11th of the 11th day nonsense very little is said about how/why the war ended. Even from an establishment pov. It's just not mentioned.
    not-bono-ever and danny la rouge like this.
  14. 19force8

    19force8 For the avoidance of faith

    I'm not sure it ever was. All I remember from my school days (60's) was tanks and yanks. When I got into politics I was amazed to find out there had been a revolution in Germany. And Hungary, etc, etc.

    Actually, history at my school was a complete shambles after the history teacher had a "nervous breakdown" half way through my first year and wasn't replaced for three and a half years. Perhaps that's why I'm so into it now.

    A few years ago I tried to help one of my sons with a school essay about factors leading to the rise of Hitler by suggesting a key one was the failure of the German revolution. It came back marked with "what revolution?" on it.
    Libertad, pogofish, Almor and 2 others like this.
  15. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Starry Wisdom

    I've long thought it curious that ah always kept his toothbrush moustache, not many people who keep the facial hair the same for so long. Then it struck me that a toothbrush moustache was likely the only form of facial hair which would fit under a gas mask. So by keeping it I wouldn't be surprised if his aim was to say he was a front line soldier too.
  16. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    Bump for these two events.
    Pickman's model likes this.
  17. likesfish

    likesfish an angry pretend soldier shooting at seagulls

  18. Mordi

    Mordi Amoral adventurist

    Quite a lot of reading listed here (and even more in the comments) which I'd missed before. Reminded me that I still haven't finished Serge's Witness To the German Revolution and will get on that. It's a collection of articles he wrote for French Communist newspapers, I think I got bogged down in his weekly calculations of inflation on worker's wages. Immensely important to the contemporary reader, but gets repetitive.

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