Thursday, 7 June 2012

Spartacist Prequel - Christmas in Berlin 1918

Daily News. 27th Dec1918

The Amsterdam correspondent of the 'Daily Chronicle' says that the news from Germany shows that the spirit of Christmastide is ^entirely absent" There is a dreary atmosphere of defeat,, which hangs over all. Food is scarcer than ever. It is true that the restaurants, cabarets, music halls and theatres are gay and bright, but these are only scanty tinsel hiding the dirt and depression and dullness of Berlin. Candles for the Christmas trees are unobtainable, and toys are scarce, and expensive. Thousands of demobilised soldiers wander dejectedly through the streets of Berlin, tryiing to earn a living by selling cigarettes, newspapers, and postcards. Beggars in rags abound. The restrictions on drinking  and  dancing have been removed, so hundreds of the. dancing palaces are overcrowded, where drinking continues untill five o'clock in the morning. A small portion of the population is earning fabulous wages.under the revolution, but 99 per cent of the people are hungry and workless.

The Argus. 28th Dec 1918
 The Neuer Marstall "stables" on Schlossplatz - the huge edifice on the right. In 1900.
Details of the riots in Berlin early in the week, in the course of which 100 persons were killed in street fighting when marines and Spartacusites (extreme Socialists) occupied the Royal castle and arrested the commandant of the city are now available

On Tuesday morning, Christmas Eve, 800 sailors who were guarding the Red Palace arrested General Weiss, commander of the Berlin garrison and two assistants, because Weiss proposed to dissolve the Sailors Corps and refused to incorporate it in the Republican Guard The Government at once made preparations  to disperse the sailors and ordered the Republican Guard to place machine guns in the streets The sailors refused to surrender and occupied the ex Kaisers palace which the Guard bombarded with batteries of .77 s firing at point blank range. The castle is considerably damaged the walls being full of holes whilst the balcony from which the ex Kaiser made his famous speech at the beginning of the war when he declared ' I know no parties" was smashed up before the Guard succeeded in occupvmg the castle. Many sailors were killed and others fell in the fighting in the Unter den Linden and elsewhere.

 Volksmarine sailors in Berlin

Amsterdam advices that the rioting commenced at 8 oclock on Tuesday morning when the Marines, who held extreme Socialist views, occupied the Imperial Palace and stables. The Guards assaulted the two buildings under cover of artillery and after three hours of  fighting the Marines retreated having come to terms with the troops supporting the Government. The marines casualties were 68.
Street fighting arising from the revolt continued throughout Tuesday on to Wednsday morning
A large number of the Berlin Guards joined the sailors and also a few of the Republican Guards. A great number of armed civilians continued to join the sailors who occupied the Koenig strasse as far as the town. The Spartacist partv supported the sailors demand that the Ebert Government should resign in favour of one constituted bv Herr Labedour  and Dr. Karl Liebnecht. A long conference with the Ministers was held bv Dr Liebknecht at the Chancellors palace The result was not disclosed. Further fighting was feared as the Spartacists and the the sailors had decided to compel the Guards to return to Potsdam The latter are now stationed in the Unter den Linden and Werderschenplatz.

On Wednesday evening, Christmas Day, the situation was more dangerous for the Government. The Alexander and Franzen regiments openly joined the sailors and it was reported that nearly the whole of the Berlin garrison intended to do likewise Thus the Governnient was likely to be left without troops. It was believed that large forces of sailors from Kiel and Wilhelmshaven  were proceeding to Berlin to assist their comrades. Soldiers and 50 sailors occupied the Royal castle while 1,200 sailors held the Roval stables. Both groups declared that they would not surrender before both buildings were destroyed over their heads.

The latest advices are that the disturbances have somewhat subsided the soldiers and sailors declaring that the trouble is over. The  sailors remain in the city, but have evacuated the badly battered palace.Each regiment in Berlin together with the sailors will select delegates. These will form a committee which will appoint one of their number as supreme commander the troops, the commander to be responsible to the Peoples Councils.

The riots have caused a decision by the military commanders to pay off the members of the Naval Reserve who are on duty at the Revolutionary headquarters.

The Spartacist forces have seized the War Ministry and the office of "Vorwarts", a newspaper.

The Mercury. 30th Dec 1918

Telegraphing, on Christmas Day, the Berlin correspondent of the "Daily Express" states that the German Government has given way to the sailors' demands, and allowed them to remain in Berlin. Berlin is rapidly approaching anarchy. Many of the wives and sweethearts of sailors are now armed . Some took part in yesterday's fighting. Not a few sailors state openly that no peace is possibles for Germany until Allied troops arrive in Berlin.

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