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Morgan Philips Price on Workers’ Councils and the Kapp Putsch (March-April, 1920)

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Cologne, April 27

I have just returned from the Ruhr Valley and must state my belief that the Ruhr is ripe for another workers’ uprising, better organized, more united and more desperate in character than the one overwhelmed by the Reichswehr. In Münster, Wesel, Dorsten, Essen, Bochum, Dortmund and half a dozen other industrial centres, the machine-guns and bayonets of the Reichswehr maintain a precarious truce. Here and elsewhere the Red Army has ceased to exist as a visible force. But the organization which called it into being in the early days of April is stronger than ever and beyond the reach of the military. In many small towns south of the Ruhr the workers are today practically controlling local government. [ . . . ] A central committee, with representatives in all the cities of the Ruhr Valley, is functioning here and biding its time. [ . . . ] German military authorities estimate that less than 10 per cent of the weapons in the possession of the workers have been surrendered as the result of the recent fighting. This estimate is substantiated by individual workers, who told me without hesitation that they have rifles secreted. [ . . . ] The morale of the Reichswehr in the Westphalian cities is bad. [ . . . ] Privates pass their officers in the street without saluting – something almost unbelievable in Germany. A majority of the workers enrolled in the Red Army could not by any stretch of imagination be called Bolsheviks. [ . . . ] Captain Otto Schwink, former bridgehead officer at Cologne for the German General Staff, told me that, without doubt, the last revolution started merely as a working-class protest against the Kapp-Lüttwitz coup. Since then, however, sentiment among the Ruhr workers has swung far towards the Left, partly because of the brutality shown by the Reichswehr in putting down the uprising, partly because of the feebleness shown by the Ebert government in resisting the present encroachments from the Right. [ . . . ] There is every indication that another Junker coup in Germany will bring that country nearer to real Bolshevism than anything so far.

Source: Morgan Philips Price, Dispatches from the Weimar Republic, Versailles and German Fascism. London, Sterling, Virginia: Pluto Press, 1999, pp. 72-75. Published with the permission of Pluto Press.

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