On 28 June 1914, two pistol shots shattered the peace of a sunny afternoon in Sarajevo. Those shots reverberated around Europe and shattered the peace of the whole world. This was the beginning of the Great Slaughter. Could it have been avoided? Alan Woods uses the method of Marxism to answer this question. He explains that, actually, whilst individuals play an important role in history, to explain events such as wars, one must look at deeper causes.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Rosa Luxemburg, we share this article by Marie Frederiksen, author of The Revolutionary Heritage of Rosa Luxemburg (available for pre-order in Danish from Forlaget Marx). Marie explains how the Spartacist Uprising of 1919 was defeated due to the weakness and mistakes of the young German Communist Party, ultimately resulting in Luxemburg’s execution. These events are also explored in Germany 1918-1933: Socialism or Barbarism, available now from WellRed Books.

The German Revolution of 1918 ended the First World War. During a little-known episode of the Revolution, German soldiers liberated Belgium from a brutal military occupation before the armistice of the 11 November was signed. This revolutionary movement was also crucial in pushing through a swift introduction of universal general suffrage in Belgium.

Coming just one year after the mighty events of Red October in Russia, power was taken into the hands of the masses. Yet the socialist revolution ultimately failed. The consequences of that failure would be most brutally felt over a decade later with the rise of fascism in Germany and the consolidation of Stalinism in Russia.

Ninety years ago, on the morning of 13th March 1920, a brigade of soldiers marched into Berlin and declared the German government of the Social Democrats to be overthrown. Not a shot was fired by any side and the response of the leaders of the government was simply to flee. The very forces which the Social Democrats had place so much trust in had turned against them. The Kapp Putsch, as it has become known as, was challenged instead by the workers.

The Versailles Treaty of 1919 was one of the most outrageous and predatory treaties in history. It was a blatant act of plunder perpetrated by a gang of robbers against a helpless, prostrate and bleeding Germany. The proceedings at Versailles are highly enlightening because they reveal the inner workings of imperialist diplomacy, the crude reality of power politics and the material interests that lurk behind the flowery phrases about Liberty, Humanitarianism, Pacifism and Democracy.

In 1918-19 the German workers could have taken power. Had they done so world history would have been very different, as it would have a huge impact on the workers of Europe, thereby breaking the isolation of Soviet Russia and thus stopping the Stalinist degeneration. A genuine international federation of socialist republics could have been built. Unfortunately the German Communists committed a series of errors, errors which we must learn from and prepare for the future.

Rosa Luxemburg was an outstanding Marxist and revolutionary. Her assassination on this day 90 years ago severely damaged the German Communist movement. Here Patrick Larsen looks at her strong side and also her weaknesses in the light of the 1918 German Revolution and draws out lessons for today, in particular for the revolutionary movement in Venezuela.

After 4 years of intense warfare, the German workers and soldiers ended World War I in November 1918. The workers and soldiers had taken power into their hands but also handed it over to the very same people who so shamefully supported the war in 1914. These Social Democratic leaders organized the first defeat of the German revolution.

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