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Newspaper Roll Barricades in Front of the Mosse Publishing House (January 11, 1919)
When the Prussian government fired the Berlin police president, Emil Eichhorn (USPD) for ostensibly supporting the People's Naval Division during the Christmas rebellion, further unrest and mass demonstrations by the radical left against Eichhorn's dismissal ensued. Armed insurgents occupied many publishing houses in Berlin's newspaper quarter, among them that of the SPD newspaper Vorwärts. This photograph from January 11, 1919, shows armed revolutionary civilians and soldiers behind barricades of newsprint rolls defending their position at the Rudolf Mosse publishing house, which they had occupied. Their goal was to prevent elections to the national assembly – intended to pave the way for a parliamentary democracy – and instead establish a socialist soviet republic. A revolutionary committee under the leadership of Karl Liebknecht and the USPD politician Otto Ledebour rejected the legitimacy of the Council of People's Deputies and declared its dissolution. Negotiations between the Social Democratic government and the insurgents collapsed. Military suppression of the revolt began on January 8 on Gustav Noske's orders, and it lasted until January 12, costing many lives. In a bloody demonstration of the press's power to explain the hectic revolutionary events, the newspaper quarter saw especially fierce fighting. After the January revolts had been violently ended, army and free corps units performed clean-up operations to suppress any final revolutionary activities. Among the victims were Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.