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In Focus - The assassination of Kurt Eisner

By Archivportal-D

In the "In Focus" section, we present special highlights from archives that are represented in the Archivportal-D. These selected archival materials provide an insight into the holdings and offer research suggestions for a possible search in the Archivportal-D or in the online collection "Weimar Republic". The online colletion is still new, and so we are first presenting archival materials on the history of the Weimar Republic here. We are delighted about your interest and many new users in the Archivportal-D.

Under his leadership, a Workers', Peasants' and Soldiers' Council was formed in the Bavarian state parliament, as well as a provisional National Council, in which Eisner became minister-president and foreign minister. Among the successes of his term in office were the introduction of the eight-hour day, the initiation of women's suffrage and the abolition of clerical school supervision.

With the publication of the Bavarian legation reports at the end of November 1918 on the outbreak of the First World War, he wanted to prove the war guilt of the Deutsches Reich and in this context also warned at an international congress in 1919 against a hasty release of German prisoners of war. This brought right-wing conservative circles in particular against him, who threatened him and called him a traitor.

In the elections to the state parliament on January 12, 1919, the USPD lost most of its votes and Eisner was forced to resign with the provisional government. On his way to the constituent session of the newly elected Landtag on February 21, 1919, where Kurt Eisner was about to announce his resignation, he was shot by Reserve Lieutenant Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley (1897-1945). The political assassination provoked turmoil in the Bavarian parliament, in which two more people lost their lives.


Dokument zur Ermordung Kurt Eisners 1919 (Quelle: Bundesarchiv)

"(...) Kurt Eisner was the 1st chairman of all councils. We mourn in him a man of outstanding leadership, a man who had nothing else in mind than the welfare of the proletariat. (...)" - Funeral oration for Kurt Eisner, delivered by Hermann Eisenhut, member of the Revolutionary Workers' Council Munich, Feb. 1919. BArch, SGY 10/30.


In the following weeks, the disputes between the supporters of a parliamentary democracy and a socialist soviet republic led to further conflicts. On April 7, 1919, the workers' councils proclaimed the Munich soviet republic, which was bloodily put down a month later by right-wing nationalist troops from the Reich government and from Württemberg, as well as some Freikorps.


Link to the sources in the online collection "Weimar Republic" as well as to the Archivportal-D

Police reports to the Munich Police Headquarters on the assassination of Minister President Kurt Eisner

Person page of Kurt Eisner


Research options

If you are interested in further sources on the assassination of politician Kurt Eisner, use the A-Z index to select "Politischer Mord" and combine this thematic keyword with the geographical keyword "Freistaat Bayern".

In the object gallery at the bottom of the homepage of the online collection, you will find further sources for the keywords "Politischer Mord", "Münchener Räterepublik" and "Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands".