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The Strikes of January 1918

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Workers! Before we leave the factories, we must establish a freely elected representative body on the Russian and Austrian model, whose function will be to lead this and future struggles. Let each factory elect one delegate per thousand workers; factories with fewer than a thousand workers are to elect only one delegate. The factory delegates must immediately convene and constitute themselves as a workers’ council. In addition, for every factory a governing committee is to be elected. Take care that trade union leaders, governmental socialists, others who wish to “stay-the-course” are under no circumstances elected as delegates. Throw these guys out of the workers’ meetings. These stooges and government agents, these mortal enemies of the mass strike, have no business among the fighting workers! During the mass strikes of April last year, the Cohens, the Severings, the Körstens, the Scheidemanns and their newspapers perfidiously broke the back of the strike movement, in that they exploited confusion among the masses to steer the struggle down the wrong path. Let us not allow ourselves to be beguiled by empty phrases about peace and by those who don the mask of sympathy with our struggle, which these Judases will now use after the events in Austria. The movement faces much graver danger from these wolves in sheep’s clothing than it does from the police in Prussia or elsewhere.

And now, workers, onward to battle! We have a powerful weapon in our hands – our class solidarity. Let us use this weapon. All for one and one for all! In this way, we are protected from all the threats, disciplinary actions, and persecution of those whose rule is based on force alone.

After the strike last April, that rough servant of military dictatorship, General Groener, mocked every striking worker as a scoundrel. Let us show the world that the “scoundrels” in Germany still have something to say!

Man of labor, awaken!
And recognize your strength.
All the wheels stand still
When your strong arm it wills.
Down with the war! Down with the government!
Long live the mass strike!

Source: "Aufruf zum Massenstreik" ["Call for a Mass Strike"], in Ernst Meyer, ed., Spartakus im Kriege. Die illegalen Flügblatter des Spartakusbundes im Kriege [Spartacus during the War. The Illegal Pamphlets of the Spartacus League during the War]. Berlin, 1927, pp. 183-85.

Reprinted in Wolfdieter Bihl, Deutsche Quellen zur Geschichte des Ersten Weltkrieges [German Sources on the History of the First World War]. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1991, pp. 367-68.

Translation: Jeffrey Verhey and Roger Chickering

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