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Kapp Putsch

From Academic Kids

The word 'Putsch' literally means a thrust or blow. In political terms a 'putsch' is an attempt to seize power. The Kapp Putsch - or more accurately the Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch - was an extreme right-wing attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic which resulted directly from the imposition of The Treaty of Versailles.

In early 1919 the strength of the Reichswehr, the regular army, was estimated at 350,000. There were in addition in excess of 250,000 men enlisted in the various Freikorps. Under the terms of the Versailles Treaty, Germany was required to reduce its armed forces to a maximum of 100,000. Freikorps units were therefore expected to be disbanded.

In March 1920 orders were issued for the disbandment of the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt. Its leaders were determined to resist dissolution and appealed to General Lüttwitz, commander of the Berlin Reichswehr, for support. Lüttwitz, an organiser of Freikorps units in 1918-19 and a fervent monarchist, responded by calling on Ebert and Noske to stop the whole programme of troop reductions. When Ebert refused, Lüttwitz ordered the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt to march on Berlin. It occupied the capital on the 13th of March. Lüttwitz, therefore, was the driving force behind the 1920 putsch. Its nominal leader, though, was Wolfgang Kapp, a 62-year-old East Prussian civil servant and rabid nationalist.

At this point Noske, the defence minister, called upon the regular army to suppress the putsch. He encountered a blank refusal. Chef des Heeresleitung General Hans von Seeckt, one of the Reichswehr's senior commanders, told him: "Reichswehr does not shoot on Reichswehr". The government, forced to abandon Berlin, moved to Stuttgart. As it did so it issued a proclamation calling on Germany's workers to defeat the putsch by means of a general strike. The strike call received massive support. With the country paralysed, the putsch collapsed. Kapp and Lüttwitz, unable to govern, fled to Sweden.

There were two main reasons why the Weimar Republic survived in 1920. First, the working class rallied to its defence. Second, Kapp and Lüttwitz had the support of only a minority of the extreme right. Many potential sympathisers, including most of the leading Freikorps commanders, thought the putsch ill-timed and refused to join it.

See also 1920 in Germany.

de:Kapp-Putsch

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