Date of Award

Fall 1977

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Patrick J. Rollins

Committee Member

Norman H. Pollock

Committee Member

Darwin F. Bostick

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H47 T48


This paper examines the formation and development of the German Communist movement during the first critical years of the Weimar Republic. Concentrating on leadership as the decisive factor, it traces the origins of German Communism from indigenous revolutionary Marxists in the Spartakan hierarchy and discusses the division of the KPD between conflicting Luxemburg and Liebknecht traditions. A leadership crisis characterized the KPD after the deaths of its prominent veteran leaders, leading to competition with Bolshevik and a growing disadvantage for individual German party chiefs. Paul Levi in particular led the KPD to its highest point in 1921 within the Luxemburg tradition but fell victim to rampant German internationalism. Moscow shortly ruined the KPD with cynical offensive tactics. Lenin and Radek moved toward the Luxemburg tradition in 1921, but they were unable to rebuild the KPD to its former strength. Consequently, despite impressive worker support in the national crisis of 1923, the KPD failed to organize and execute a victorious Communist insurrection.


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