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Witness to the German Revolution Paperback – 26 Jul 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 297 pages
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books; Reprint edition (26 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608460851
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608460854
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 613,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Witness to the German Revolution In 1923 history stood at a cross roads. Serge unapologetically lent his pen to those fighting for international workers' revolution. Full description

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As ever Serge is startling in his eye for detail and an honesty that must have caused his Comintern superiors discomfort. Ian Birchall in his wonderful translation annotates each section with comments that explain the historical context without in any way obscuring or compromising the wonderful clarity of Serge's words.
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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Walk on the Wild Side in !923 23 Feb. 2014
By william mathews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Serge, a Russian emigre before 1914, went from French and Spanish anarchism to Bolshevism after 1917. A type-setter by trade and versed in several languages he quickly rose within the Comintern once he got to Petrograd in early 1919. He became disillusioned with the course of the Russian Revolution by 1921/22 and sought a posting abroad, arriving in Germany as a journalist/agent of the Comintern, publishing primarily in French. Using a pen name as Dr. Albert, he wrote regular columns on the situation he experienced in Berlin particularly during the hyper-inflation in 1923. It requires some background in the history of the Comintern to appreciate his writings; Serge was already a dissenter from the crowd around Zinoviev, but he had to toe the line. But he also could expressed what he saw going down in Germany. Some of the best parts of this book are his observations of the increasingly desperate material conditions of the Berlin working class and lower middle classes as the Mark fell and the Dollar soared. Serge has little to say about the Comintern plan for revolution in October 1923; the plan was hatched during the summer of 1923 by Zinoviev and elevated to the highest levels of the Soviet state and the Bolshevik Party by August and September and brought into one of the most comprehensive Communist plans for insurrection since October 1917. Much of Serge's analysis of political events, therefore, reflects the Comintern expectations of a revolution and their bitterness over the refusal of the reformist social democrats to follow in the Communist parade. While the conditions no doubt seemed ripe for a revolution, in fact, the situation was more favorable for the right, for the Nazis than for the Communists. It was the nationalism of the Ruhr crisis and the failure of the German government to combat the French occupation of the Ruhr that brought on the crisis. The Communists could take advantage of chaos/ but had no way out of it to offer; to that has to be added the rupture within the Bolsheviks as Lenin lay on his deathbed and opposition to Stalin, Zinoviev and Kamenev spilled over into a "left opposition" related, but not identical to Trotsky-ism. One should read Serge's Memoirs on the German fiasco: chaos in tyhe German Communists, corruption in the party as preparations were exaggerated, objections were smothered  in cover-ups, funds lost in speculation, and naive plots to purchase weapons backfired. More interesting, therefore, are Serge' s comments and observations on the scene in the streets of Berlin; quite remarkable/ and original in 1923 are his analysis of the growing Hitler phenomena in Munich. His concluding remarks on the Comintern and German Communist analysis of the disaster is pertinent and shows originality rather than conformity to the line of Zinoviev-Stalin. It is a good read, Serge was becoming a gifted journalist, eventually a very gifted author, and he offers a snapshot of the hysterical, swirling currents of the hyper-inflation and its impact on society, culture and politics.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
History came very close to being quite different 13 Aug. 2014
By Marc Lichtman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Bolsheviks began the revolution in backward Russia convinced that revolution would break out in more advanced Europe, especially Germany. They weren't wrong, but it didn't go all the way, and it's easier to start a socialist revolution in a backward country than in an advanced one. The failure of this and other revolutions paved the way for Stalin's theory of "socialism in one country," and soon led to conscious sabotage of possible revolutions for the sake of relations with the capitalist world. Serge's journalism is top rate.

For more on Germany at the time and just previous, read Lenin's Struggle for a Revolutionary International: Documents: 1907-1916: The Preparatory Years and The German Revolution and the Debate on Soviet Power: Documents, 1918-1919; Preparing the Founding Congress. I also recommend The German Revolution, 1917-1923. For later events in Germany, The Struggle against Fascism in Germany (Merit) is essential, as is Fascism and Big Business.

For more by Victor Serge, I especially recommend From Lenin to Stalin.
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