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Arnold Brecht on the Kapp Putsch in 1920 (Retrospective Account, 1966)

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After a time another man with two soldiers carrying hand grenades came into my room. He asked: “Are you willing to work for the Chancellor?” I said, “I already do that.” He looked at me, frowning: “I don’t mean for the former Chancellor, but for Chancellor Kapp.” I replied, “I know only Chancellor Bauer.” He: “He has been deposed.” I: “According to the Constitution he is the Chancellor. I have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, and I do not carry my oath in my hand as your men their hand grenades.” He: “You also swore an oath to the Kaiser, yet worked for Ebert. So now you can work for us.” I: “This error will be fatal for you. At that time the constitutional Chancellor, Prince Max, told us to work for Ebert just as we had worked for him. Ebert and Bauer have not asked me to work for you—quite the contrary.” I put on my coat with the stamps in the pocket and left the building.

On the way to Potsdam Square I met the usual morning stream of men and women hurrying to work, still ignorant of what had happened. After discussing matters with Albert and other colleagues, I went home, packed a few things in a bag, and drove to the Anhalt station, the only one, strangely enough, which had not yet been taken over by the rebels, and got onto a train to Dresden. There I found Ebert, Noske, and other ministers in conference with General Märcker, regional commander. Although Märcker was not willing to work with Kapp, he was not prepared to back Ebert unconditionally. He offered his services to negotiate with Kapp, but Ebert refused to give him official authority to do this.

Due to Märcker’s equivocal position, the situation in Dresden did not seem sufficiently secure. It was therefore decided to move on to Stuttgart. We traveled by night on the scheduled train, sleeping in our seats as best we could. Since the train went to Munich we had to change early in the morning and wait for the train to Stuttgart. While we were sipping coffee in the station restaurant, someone said it would be fitting if a military unit were to receive us in Stuttgart, if possible with music. This suggestion was passed on to Stuttgart by telegram. Then someone asked: “Are we sure that the Stuttgart military units are loyal? That they won’t simply take us prisoner—and on our own orders to meet us?” The telegram was canceled. We were met by the heads of the Württemberg state government without the military and music, but learned that the army in Stuttgart had remained loyal. State and city government did everything possible to ensure a pleasant stay. Cabinet meetings were held in the New Palace. I organized a sort of Chancellery and took part in the meetings.

There were three main problems to be solved: first, finding out which military units in Germany had remained loyal, which had gone over to Kapp, and which were wavering, and how they could be kept on our side; second, deciding whether we ought to negotiate with Kapp and whether the attempts being made in Berlin by Minister Eugen Schiffer—a Democrat, who had stayed behind—to persuade Kapp to step down by making certain concessions to him, ought to be approved; and third, bringing the struggles which had flared up, especially on the Ruhr, between Communists and the army, to an end. All ministers agreed that there should be no negotiations with Kapp. In the Ruhr area Severing, who had been appointed Federal and Prussian State Commissioner, attempted to gain control of the situation.

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