Street Clashes in Berlin during the January Uprising (January 1919)
In January 1919, the revolution took a decisive and violent turn, shaking the foundations of the emerging republic. After the Christmas rebellion in Berlin and the collapse of the SPD–USPD governing coalition, the atmosphere in the capital was inflamed. When the Berlin police president, Emil Eichhorn (USPD), was fired on January 5 for ostensibly supporting the People's Marine Division, the Spartacus League took the opportunity to incite revolutionary workers and soldiers to rebellion and to declare the dismissal of the Council of People's Deputies. Left-wing extremist revolutionaries occupied Berlin publishing houses, and a revolutionary committee was formed, albeit one that proved incapable of acting. After negotiations with the Council of People's Deputies collapsed, Gustav Noske ordered the Reichswehr to put down the rebellion. Ruthless, civil war–like street fighting ensued, permitting the Reichswehr to strengthen its own position. This photograph shows a scene from the street fighting, which caused numerous deaths; one can see the wounded and dead on the street. The violence did not end with the defeat of the rebellion. In a political clean-up operation, the army and free corps combed through Berlin's working-class area to find and eliminate revolutionary workers. This operation also took the lives of the Spartacist leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.
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