Kapp Putsch

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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 later labelled as right-wing monarchist and reactionary.



In early 1919, the strength of the Reichswehr, the regular army, was estimated at 350,000. There were in addition more than 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 World War 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, even though its nominal leader was Wolfgang Kapp, a 62-year-old East Prussian civil servant and fervent nationalist. After the putsch Noske named Kapp, Waldemar Pabst and Hermann Ehrhardt as being responsible, despite the support from much higher up in the army.[1]

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 Dresden, where they hoped to get support from Generalmajor Maercker. When they realized that Maercker did not want to take a clear stance they moved further to Stuttgart. Meanwhile, Kapp tried to form a government, with a number of desperate and in part criminal characters in the subordinate offices. Well-known conservatives and former secretaries of state, who were invited to assume the more important offices, declined to associate themselves with him.[2]

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