Chaos and Violence in Berlin
My Father’s Involvement in the Freikorps
It is not certain in which year Ernst Klopp arrived in Berlin. He probably participated in the counter-revolutionary activities of the Freikorps deployments in the capital city. In January of 1919 street battles took place, as well as general strikes of all sorts, and at the beginning of March, a major attack of the Freikorps against the Berlin proletariate shook the nation. The Reich defence minister Notke issued the martial-law order, “Each person caught with weapons is to be shot immediately!” Ernst’s sister was indeed exercising a good portion of wisdom to tell her younger brother to throw away his gun.
BBC BiteSize provides the following historical background information: During 5 – 12 January 1919, 50,000 members of the post-World War One Communist Party, known as the Spartacists, rebelled in Berlin, led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. The government was saved when it armed bands of ex-soldiers, known as the Freikorps, who defeated the Spartacist rebels. In the aftermath, communist workers’ councils seized power all over Germany, and a Communist People’s Government took power in Bavaria. By May 1919 the Freikorps had crushed all of these uprisings.
At the mass demonstration against the treaty of Versailles in 1920, army and FreiKorps soldiers caused a bloodbath. In March of the same year, the FreiKorps supported the Kapp-Coup. One year later, the last armed Freikorps attacks took place during the communist general strikes in Central Germany. The extent of Ernst Klopp’s involvement in all of these events remains shrouded in darkness.
It is likely that a few years later Ernst Klopp received assistance from his old Freikorps connections, which through work communities (Arbeitsgemeinschaften) and work camps (Arbeitslager) provided shelter and employment to the old comrades up to the years 1924/1925 and in some cases even later on Pomeranian and Mecklenburg estates.