Freikorps: Wikis

  
  
  

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The designation of Freikorps (German for "Free Corps") was originally applied to voluntary armies formed in German lands from the middle of the 18th century onwards. After World War I the term was used for the paramilitary organizations that sprang up around Weimar Germany and fought both for and against the state.

Contents

First Freikorps

The first freikorps were recruited by Frederick II of Prussia in the eighteenth century during the Seven Years' War. The freikorps were regarded as unreliable by regular armies, so that they were mainly used as sentries and for minor duties.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Freikorps were formed for the purpose of shaking off French rule in Germany. Those led by Ferdinand von Schill were decimated in the Battler of Stralsund (1809), many of their members killed in battle or executed at Napleon's command in the aftermath. Later, Ludwig Adolf Wilhelm von Lützow, a survivor of Schill's freikorps, formed the Lützow Free Corps which took part in the German War of Liberation. The anti-Napoleonic freikorps often operated behind French lines, as a kind of commado or guerrilla force.

Throughout the Nineteenth Century, these anti-Napoleonic freikorps were greatly praised and glorified by German Nationalists, and a heroic myth built up around their exploits. It was this myth which was invoked, in considerably different cirumstances, the aftermath of Germany's defeat in the First World War.

Post-World War I

Recruitment poster for Freikorps Hülsen

The meaning of the word "freikorps" changed over time. After 1918, the term was used for the paramilitary organizations that sprang up around Germany as soldiers returned in defeat from World War I. They were the key Weimar paramilitary groups active during that time. Many German veterans felt disconnected from civilian life, and joined a Freikorps in search of stability within a military structure. Others, angry at their sudden, apparently inexplicable defeat, joined up in an effort to put down Communist uprisings or exact some form of revenge (see Dolchstoßlegende). They received considerable support from Minister of Defense Gustav Noske, a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, who used them to crush the German Revolution and the Marxist Spartacist League, including the murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg on 15 January 1919. They were also used to defeat the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919.[1]

On 5 May 1919 twelve workers (most of them members of the Social Democratic Party, SPD) were arrested and killed by members of Freikorps Lützow in Perlach near Munich based on a tip from a local cleric saying they were communists. A memorial on Pfanzeltplatz in Munich today commemorates this atrocity.[2][3][4]

Freikorps also fought in the Baltic, Silesia, and Prussia after the end of World War I, sometimes with significant success.

Though officially 'disbanded' in 1920, many Freikorps attempted, unsuccessfully, to overthrow the government in the Kapp Putsch in March 1920. Their attack was halted when German citizens that were loyal to the state went on strike, cutting off many services, and making daily life so problematic that the Putsch was called off.

In 1920, Adolf Hitler had just begun his political career as the leader of the tiny and as-yet-unknown German Workers Party (soon renamed the National Socialist German Workers Party, NSDAP) in Munich. Numerous future members and leaders of the Nazi Party had served in the Freikorps, including Ernst Röhm, future head of the Sturmabteilung, or SA, and Rudolf Höß, the future Kommandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Hermann Ehrhardt, founder and leader of Marinebrigade Ehrhardt, and his deputy Commander Eberhard Kautter, leaders of the Viking League, refused to help Hitler and Erich von Ludendorff in their Beer Hall Putsch and conspired against them.

Relations with Hitler

Freikorps leaders symbolically gave their old battle flags to Hitler's Sturmabteilung and Schutzstaffel on November 9, 1933 in a huge ceremony.[5] Historian Robert Waite claims that Hitler had many problems with the Freikorps. Many of the Freikorps had joined the SA, so when the Night of the Long Knives came, they were among those targeted for killing or arrest, including Ehrhardt and Röhm. He claims that in Hitler's "Röhm Purge" speech to the Reichstag on July 13, 1934, the third group of "pathological enemies of the state" that Hitler lists are, in fact, the Freikorps fighters. Hitler talks of the revolutionaries of 1918, who wanted permanent revolution, hated all authority, and were nihilistic.[6]

Notable Freikorps members

Notable Freikorps

  • Volunteer Division of Horse Guards (Garde-Kavallerie-Schützendivision)
  • Freikorps Roßbach (Rossbach)
  • Iron Division (Eiserne Division, related to Eiserne Brigade)
  • Freikorps Lützow
    • Occupied Munich following the revolution of April, 1919.
    • Commanded by Major Schulz [16]

See also

References

Bibliography

Notes

  1. ^ Carlos Caballero Jurado, Ramiro Bujeiro (2001). The German Freikorps 1918-23: 1918-23. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1841761842.  
  2. ^ Max Hirschberg & Reinhard Weber. Jude und Demokrat: Erinnerungen eines Münchener Rechtsanwalts 1883 bis 1939.  
  3. ^ Morris, Justice Imperiled: The Anti-Nazi Lawyer Max Hirschberg in Weimar Germany
  4. ^ Freikorps Lützow in the Axis History Factbook
  5. ^ Waite, p 197
  6. ^ Waite, pg 280-281. See also the full text of the speech at http://members.tripod.com/~Comicism/340713.html
  7. ^ Hoess et al., pg 201
  8. ^ a b Waite, pg 62
  9. ^ Waite, pg 145
  10. ^ Waite, pg 33-37
  11. ^ "Axis History Factbook". http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=5788. Retrieved 2009 1 3.  
  12. ^ Mueller, p 61
  13. ^ a b Waite, pg 131, 132
  14. ^ Waite, pg 140-142
  15. ^ Waite, pg 203, 216
  16. ^ Waite, pg 89

External links


Simple English

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 119-1983-0012, Kapp-Putsch, Marienbrigade Erhardt in
Freikorps troops enter Berlin in 1920. The occasion: The Kapp Putsch.

The word Freikorps (German for "Free Corps") was first used for voluntary armies in Germany. After World War I the term was used for paramilitary units. The Freikorps got famous at the time of the Weimar Republic to fight in some towns against the Communism.

Contents

First Freikorps

The first freikorps were started by Frederick II of Prussia in the eighteenth century during the Seven Years' War. Other freikorps were started during the Napoleonic Wars and were commanded by people such as Ferdinand von Schill and later Ludwig Adolf Wilhelm von Lützow. The freikorps were though to be not reliable by regular armies and were mostly used as guards and for minor duties.

Post-World War I

[[File:|thumb|right|
Recruitment poster for Freikorps Hülsen
]]

The meaning of the word changed over time. After 1918, the word was used for the paramilitary organizations that were started in Germany by soldiers who came home after losing World War I. They were the main paramilitary groups during that time. Many of these returning soldiers were not able to return to a normal life, and joined a Freikorps in to again be a part of a military structure. Others were angry at losing the war and joined to fight against Communists or get revenge. They were liked and supported by Minister (government) of Defense Gustav Noske, a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, who used them to stop the German Revolution and the Marxist Spartacist League, and also to murder Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg on 15 January 1919. They were also used to defeat the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919.[1]

In 1920, Adolf Hitler had started his political work as the leader of the very small and unknown German Workers Party (that was soon called the National Socialist German Workers Party, NSDAP (or Nazi Party)) in Munich. Many people who would join this party had been in the Freikorps, including Ernst Röhm, future leader of the Sturmabteilung, or SA, and Rudolf Höß, the future Commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Hermann Ehrhardt, who started the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt, and his deputy Commander, Eberhard Kautter, did not want to help Hitler and Erich von Ludendorff in the Beer Hall Putsch.

Hitler Légalité

Freikorps leaders gave their old battle flags to Hitler's SA and SS on Nov 9, 1933 in a very big ceremony. [2]. Historian (someone who learns about history) Robert Waite said that Hitler had many problems with the Freikorps. Many of the Friekorps had joined the SA, so when the Night of the Long Knives happened, they were targets for being murdered or arrested and this was also done to Ehrhardt and to Röhm. Waite also says that in Hitler's 'Rohm Purge' speech to the Reichstag on July 13, 1934, that Hitler said that the Freikorps were enemies of Germany.[3].

In 1939, in the Polish September Campaign, Freikorps Ebbinghaus, was started to work behind the behind the frontlines. It was not very good at this work and was sent to fight as an army unit but was not good at this either and was ended in less than one year.[4]

Famous Freikorps members

  • Rudolph Berthold
  • Martin Bormann
  • Wilhelm Canaris-Admiral
  • Kurt Daluege SS General
  • Oskar Dirlewanger-SS Colonel
  • Richard Glücks-SS General
  • Arthur Greiser-SS General
  • Reinhard Heydrich-SS General
  • Hans Hinkel-SS Officer
  • Heinrich Himmler-Leader of the SS [5]
  • Rudolf Hoess-Commandant of Auschwitz [6]

  • Hans Kammler-SS General
  • Wilhelm Keitel
  • Wilhelm Friedrich Loeper SS General
  • Hans-Adolf Prützmann SS General
  • Beppo Römer KPD Member
  • Albert Leo Schlageter
  • Julius Schreck SS Leader
  • Hugo Sperrle Luftwaffe General
  • Felix Steiner-SS General
  • Gregor Strasser NSDAP Member
  • Franz Ritter von Epp

  • Wolf-Heinrich Graf von Helldorf SA member
  • Manfred Freiherr von Killinger
  • Bolko von Richthofen
  • Ernst von Salomon

Famous Freikorps units

  • Volunteer Division of Horse Guards (Garde-Kavallerie-Schützendivision)
- murdered Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, Jan 19, 1919 [7]
- commanded by Captain Pabst [8]
- disbanded on the order of Defense Minister Gustav Noske, Jul 7, 1919, after Pabst threatened to kill him [9]
  • Freikorps Maercker (Maercker's Volunteer Rifles, or Freiwillingen Landesjagerkorps) [10]
- had Reinhard Heydrich as a member [11][12]
- started by Ludwig Maercker
  • Freikorps Roßbach (Rossbach)
- started by Gerhard Roßbach
- rescued the Iron Division after a 12,000 mile march. [13]
  • Marinebrigade Ehrhardt (The Second Naval Brigade)
- took part in the Kapp Putsch of 1920 [14]
- disbanded members started the Organisation Consul, which did hundreds of political murders [15]
  • Iron Division (Eiserne Division, related to Eiserne Brigade)
- Fought in the Baltic.
- was trapped in Thorensberg by the Latvian Army. Was rescued by the Rossbach Freikorps. [16]
  • Freikorps Ebbinghaus
  • Freikorps Oberland
  • Eiserne Brigade (Iron Brigade, later Iron Division)
  • Freikorps Epp
  • Hamburg Free Corps [17]
  • Lowenfeld Brigade (First Naval Brigade)
  • Potsdam Free Corps[18]
  • Freikorps Lützow

Other pages

Freikorps in the Baltic

Notes

  1. Carlos Caballero Jurado, Ramiro Bujeiro (2001). The German Freikorps 1918-23: 1918-23. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1841761842. 
  2. Waite, p 197
  3. Waite, pg 280 - 281. See also the full text of the speech at http://members dot tripod dot com/~Comicism/340713.html
  4. Blanke, pg 229, from Google Books
  5. Read, pg 46
  6. Hoess et al, pg 201
  7. Waite, pg 62
  8. Waite, pg 62
  9. Waite, pg 145
  10. Waite, pg 33-37
  11. "Axis History Factbook". http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=5788. 
  12. Mueller, p 61
  13. Waite, pg 131, 132
  14. Waite, pg 140-142
  15. Waite, pg 203, 216
  16. Waite, pg 131, 132
  17. Waite, pg 111
  18. Waite, pg 145

Other websites

Bibliography

  • Mueller, Michael. Canaris, Naval Institute Press, 2007
  • Waite, Robert G L. Vanguard of Nazism, 1969, W W Norton & Co








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