Kapp Putsch

Kapp Putsch

The Kapp Putsch — or more accurately the Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch — was a 1920 coup attempt during the German revolution aimed at overthrowing the Weimar Republic. Based on opposition to the Treaty of Versailles imposed at the end of World War I, the putsch was branded right-wing monarchist and reactionary afterwards.


In early 1919, the strength of the "Reichswehr", the regular army, was estimated at 350,000. There were in addition in excess of 250,000 men enlisted in the various "Freikorps". Under the terms of the Versailles Treaty, Germany was required to reduce its armed forces to a maximum of 100,000. "Freikorps" units were therefore expected to be disbanded.

In March 1920 orders were issued for the disbandment of the "Marinebrigade Ehrhardt". Its leaders were determined to resist dissolution and appealed to General Walther von Lüttwitz, commander of the Berlin "Reichswehr", for support. Lüttwitz, an organiser of "Freikorps" units in the wake of WW I, and a fervent monarchist, responded by calling on President Friedrich Ebert and Defense Minister Gustav Noske to stop the whole programme of troop reductions. When Ebert refused, Lüttwitz ordered the "Marinebrigade Ehrhardt" to march on Berlin. It occupied the capital on 13 March. Lüttwitz, therefore, was the driving force behind the 1920 putsch. Its nominal leader, though, was Wolfgang Kapp, a 62-year-old East Prussian civil servant and fervent nationalist.

At this point Noske called upon the regular army to suppress the putsch. He encountered a blank refusal. The "Chef der Heeresleitung" General Hans von Seeckt, one of the "Reichswehr's" senior commanders, told him: "Reichswehr" does not fire on "Reichswehr". The government, forced to abandon Berlin, moved to Stuttgart. As it did so it issued a proclamation calling on Germany's workers to defeat the putsch by means of a general strike. The strike call received massive support. With the country paralysed, the putsch collapsed, and Kapp and Lüttwitz, unable to govern, fled to Sweden.

There were two main reasons why the Weimar Republic survived in 1920. First, the working class rallied to its defense. Second, most of the leading "Freikorps" commanders refused to join the putsch, perhaps with the view that it was premature.Syn|date=December 2007

See also 1920 in Germany.


* [http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/kapp_putsch.htm The Kapp Putsch]
* [http://www.schoolshistory.org.uk/ASLevel_History/kappputsch.htm The Kapp Putsch] at Schools History
* [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERkappP.htm Kapp Putsch]
* [http://www.kurkuhl.de/english/index_en.html Kapp Putsch in Kiel a town in Northern Germany] Contemporary witnesses, documents, video

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