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Bernhard von Bülow, "Revolution in Berlin" (Published Posthumously, 1931)

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The republic that emerged from our revolution was, as I have said, flatly amenable. It was petit-bourgeois and philistine; its leaders the perfection of mediocrity. But at least there were no serious disorders. [ . . . ]

The elements which, in Berlin in these first months, gave revolution its own peculiar character, were mostly callow, half-grown youths. At that time we were still at the Hotel Adlon. A self-styled republican commissar forced his way into our suite. I had been asked to a bachelor dinner and was out. The ‘commissar’ enquired of my wife whether we had any officers in hiding. Had I brought my uniform to the Adlon? Did I keep a revolver about me? My wife insisted politely that she knew nothing at all of any such antirepublican plots and secret armings, and the embarrassed ‘commissar’ made his excuses and departed. Another day, as we walked down the long corridor, a youth of not more than seventeen emerged from the lift and pursued us, in either hand a revolver. My wife asked why he wanted to shoot us, and he answered in a piping treble: “You must excuse me, Madame, but we are all so terribly nervy and strung-up. We have the republic to defend and the least you can carry is a revolver. But we don’t mean you any harm. If you like even come out with you for walks and we will protect you.” With a smile of thanks I declined this republican guard of honor. [ . . . ]

It seemed likely that there would be fighting in the Pariserplatz and the proprietor of the Adlon asked me to vacate our suite. He feared for the precious glass of his windows and wanted to keep the shutters closed. I decided to change my hotel. [ . . . ]

A few days after our arrival there I noticed some uniforms in the corridor and learned that the general staff of the cavalry division of the guard had been transferred to our hotel. Next morning we were told that during the night Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg had been summoned before the court-martial of this division. Liebknecht had tried to escape into the Tiergarten on their way to the hotel, and had been shot. Rosa Luxemburg had begun to scream sedition at the top of her voice and a soldier had cracked her skull with a rifle butt. But we had noticed nothing of all this.

Source of English translation: Bernhard Fürst von Bülow, “Revolution in Berlin” (1931), in The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg. © 1994 Regents of the University of California. Published by the University of California Press, pp. 56-59. Reprinted with permission of the University of California Press.

Source of original German text: Bernhard Fürst von Bulöw, Denkwürdigkeiten. Volume 3, Weltkrieg und Zusammenbruch. Berlin: Ullstein, 1931, pp. 305-12.

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