The Kapp Putsch proclamation (1920)

During the failed Kapp putsch of 1920, the self-styled ‘Reich Chancellor’ Kapp issued the following proclamation:

“Empire and nation are in grave danger. We are speedily approaching the total collapse of the state and legal system. The people only vaguely sense the coming disaster. Prices soar without stopping. Misery is growing. Famine threatens. Corruption, usury, racketeering, and crime show up with ever greater audacity. The ineffective government, lacking authority and tied to corruption, is not capable of mastering the danger.

Away with a government in which an Erzberger is the leading spirit! Militant Bolshevism threatens us with devastation and violation from the east. Is this government capable of fending it off? How will we avoid external and internal collapse? Only by re-establishing the authority of a strong state. What concept should lead us in this endeavour? Nothing reactionary, instead a further free development of the German state, restoration of order, and the sanctity of law. Duty and conscience are to reign again in German lands. German honour and honesty are to be restored.

The National Assembly, continuing to govern without a mandate, has declared itself to be permanent. In violation of the constitution it is postponing elections until the autumn. Instead of protecting the constitution it recently issued with such ceremony, a tyrannical party government already wants to deprive the nation of the important basic right of electing the president. The chance to save Germany is disappearing; that is why there is no other way left but a government of action.

What are the tasks facing the new government?

The government will put into effect the peace treaty while preserving the honour of the German people and their ability to live and work, insofar as it is possible and does not involve self-destruction.

The government will restore the confederation and sovereignty to the states, which they need to fulfil their cultural responsibilities independently.

The government will guarantee the war bonds as a just return for faithfully fulfilled patriotic duty and initiate their prompt repayment.

The government will levy appropriate taxes on rural and municipal property in order to reconstruct the state. After serious governmental collapse, it has always been landed property that has had to make sacrifices for reconstruction.

The government will suppress strikes and sabotage without mercy. Let each man peacefully go about his work. Everyone who is happy to work is assured of our vigorous protection; a strike is betrayal of the nation, the fatherland, and the future.

The government will involve the working class to a great degree in preparation and active cooperation beside the other professional and vocational classes for the purpose of economic reorganization. This will not be a one-sided capitalism, but rather it will protect German workers from the harsh fate of international domination by big business, and the government hopes through these measures to put an end to the working classes’ hostility toward the state…

The government will help the civil service, which has been neglected at all levels since the November days, to attain its rights once again and will look after its interests in every respect. In exchange the government demands of its civil servants the old spirit of loyal fulfilment of duty in the service of the common good.

The government will view it as their most sacred duty to guarantee disabled veterans and the surviving dependents of fallen soldiers the full amount of their well-deserved pensions.

The government will to the best of its ability provide for the armed forces who are presently protecting the fatherland and their dependents and will offer them every protection against personal and economic boycotts. The same is true for temporary volunteers and the members of the home guard, the security service, the police, and the emergency repair service.

The government will guarantee the freedom of the churches and will reestablish national and religious education.

Attempts to separate from the Reich will be dealt with as high treason according to martial law. We are strong enough not to have to begin our rule with arrests and other violent measures. But we will strike down any revolt against the new order with ruthless determination. We will not rule according to theories, but according to the practical needs of the state and the nation as a whole.

According to the best German tradition the state must stand above all the struggles of occupational groups and parties. The state is the impartial judge in the current struggle between capital and labour. We reject every class preference, whether for the right or the left. We recognize only German citizens. Every German citizen who in this difficult hour gives to the fatherland what belongs to the fatherland can count on us.

Let each person do his duty! Today work is the most noble duty for everyone. Germany is to be a moral working community! The colours of the German Republic are black–white–red!”

Reich Chancellor Wolfgang Kapp