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

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Otto Meissner, who had just begun work in President Ebert’s office and at first stayed behind in Berlin, joined us a few days later in Stuttgart. In order to get through with his official car, he had taken the precaution of obtaining letters of recommendation from both sides, producing either the one or the other, according to whether his car was stopped by supporters or opponents of the government. He once had the misfortune to submit his Kapp documents to the Communists. Only after long discussions did they let him go on.

After a few days Kapp had to admit defeat. The quick collapse of his putsch was due in equal measure to the shallowness of the whole venture, the resistance of the working classes, and the loyalty of most state secretaries in the federal and state ministries. These officials were not faced with the dilemma, as they were twelve years later under Papen’s and Hitler’s regimes, that the constitutional President himself had appointed the new Chancellor. On the contrary, the Kapp putsch was directed against the constitutional President. In both situations the majority of ministerial officials supported the President. In both the personal disparagement of the democratic ministers had found little response among senior officials, except in the case of Erzberger. Ebert, Noske, Otto Braun, Severing, and most of the other Federal and Prussian ministers rather enjoyed considerable personal prestige.

Source of English translation: Arnold Brecht, The Political Education of Arnold Brecht, An Autobiography 1884-1970. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1970, pp. 180-83.

Source of original German text: Arnold Brecht, Aus Nächster Nähe, Lebenserinnerungen 1884-1927. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1966, pp. 302-07.

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