A British journalist on the Kapp putsch (1920)

Morgan Philips Price (1885-1973) was a British journalist who worked as a foreign correspondent in Germany during the early Weimar period. He later became a Member of Parliament representing the Labour Party. Here, writing in March-April 1920, Price describes the situation in Berlin during the failed Kapp putsch:

[March 18th]
“We are living now in Berlin without light, gas or water. The new government is caught like a rat in a trap. It is increasingly clear that it is not only up against the Labour, Socialist and Democratic parties but that large sections of the middle and lower bureaucracy are passively resisting…

A prominent Scheidemann socialist told me this morning that reversion to the old state of affairs after the overthrow of the Kapp government is impossible. I have just seen a proclamation for a general strike in Silesia signed by middle-class men and Socialists, by Catholic Centrists and Communists.

On the other hand, it is not to be expected that the new government will give up without a struggle and it has considerable support among the uneducated middle classes and peasantry in Pomerania, North Germany and East Prussia. Anti-Semitic propaganda is a method by which it is trying to make itself popular among the dark and ignorant elements of the population. In the street where I live is a notorious Jew-baiter who has been engaged for some time past in manufacturing rubber batons for use in pogroms.”

[March 30th]

“This morning the government issued an ultimatum to the workers of the Ruhr to disarm and dissolve the Worker’s Councils within 24 hours. In a speech in the Reichstag today, the new War Minister, Gessler, justified this action by alluding to the ‘Red Terror’ in Duisburg and other Westphalian towns… A report I have just received from the Ruhr that the workers of all political parties there will not lay down their arms without absolute guarantees that the Reichswehr and the Security Police shall not be sent into the coalfields.”

[April 6th]
“Information from the Ruhr shows that in most of the towns peach and order reign, but in some parts of the neutral [unoccupied] zone there are irresponsible bands against whom the local Socialists of all shades are taking action. The existence of these bands gives the Junker junta just the excuse it wants to march into the Ruhr. The Berlin government is in a state of helpless indecision and its official spokesmen are making contradictory statements…”

[April 15th]
“There has been a steady consolidation of the forces of reaction of Germany during the Kapp week. The people behind the Kapp adventure, though defeated on the surface, have gained below. This is particularly the case in South Germany. In Bavaria, even the Majority Socialists have been secluded from the government, which relies now solely on the parties of the Right.”