Dienstag, 30. Oktober 2012

Freikorps Werdenfels: A small bibliography

As promised earlier, here's a list of books I would recommend to those interested in the Freikorps Werdenfels, the situation in Munich and Germany in 1918/1919 and (limited) also the Freikorps in general. A downside with most of the books is certainly that most are out of print and also only available in German language. I'm sorry for that. 
If you've got additional recommendations please let me know!

General information on the Freikorps

The German Freikorps 1918-23 (English) by Carlos Caballero Jurado (Osprey Publishing)

Like most books by Osprey this gives a solid overview for a decent price. If you think about starting an Freikorps project or are just generally interested, this would be a good starting point.

German Uniforms, Insignia & Equipment 1918-1923 - Freikorps - Reichswehr - Vehicles - Weapons (English) by Charles Woolley (Schiffer Military History)

(Sligtly bigger than A4, hardcover, about 180 pages.) As the title suggests a lot of contemporary photos and plates focusing on uniforms & equipment. Also some brief texts and explanations.

Information on Munich

Fotografie und Revolution - München 1918/19 (German) by Rudolf Herz and Dirk Halfbrodt (Verlag Dirk Nishen & the Münchner Stadtmuseum)

(Sligtly bigger than A4, hardcover, about 320 pages.)  Published on the occasion of an exhibition at the Münchner Stadtmuseum - Munich City Museum in 1988. 
A great resource for photos of Munich in 1918/19 but it also has quite a lot of interesting text about the different stages of the revolution and counterrevolution and how photographs were used for propaganda. It also shows how certain photos were retouched to give a different impression for the audience. There's also a very interesting chapter on how the Nazi propaganda used the events in Munich massivly to support their rise to power.
(Heinrich Hoffmann, one of the main photographers in Munich during this time became a NSDAP member very early on and also some kind of private photographer of Adolf Hitler.)

There's also a volume dealing with the situation in Berlin available but as I don't own it, I can't comment on that one.

Die Münchener Räterepublik - Portraits einer Revolution (German) by Michaela Karl (Patmos Verlag)

(About A5, hardcover, about 250 pages.) Very interesting book on the background of many leading personalities of the revolution and the council republic. It also gives a rather fair and objective, imho, insight on the struggles they had to face.

Information on the Freikorps Werdenfels

Revolutionszeit im Bezirk Garmisch 1918/19 (German) by Josef Ostler (Mohr - Löwe - Raute)

(About A5, softcover, about 170 pages.) THE source on the Freikrops Werdenfels. It has nearly all available information gathered in a single volume. A lot of photos, detailed enlistment information, reports, etc. It also deals with the situation in the county of Garmisch during the Great War and the revolution in Munich/Bavaria. Furthermore it has a detailed account about the Garmischer Volkswehr - militia (the predecessor of the Freikorps Werdenfels) and a fire fight it participated in.  

Samstag, 27. Oktober 2012

FU:UK Charity Thingy: Judge Minty

This time nothing related to Tsuba Miniatures but a bump to a great initiative!

Over at the Frothers Unite! UK forum some very nice people (no really!) have started the fourth FU:UK charity drive to support the MS Society and Cancer Research. The charity miniature this time is depicting Judge Minty from the famouse Judge Dredd graphic novels and a forthcoming Fan Film, sculpted by Kevin White of Hasslefree fame:

There will also be a sculpted base and some scenery pieces.

For the information on how to get one, casting material, the expected delivery date, etc. please refere to the according thread at Frothers (you don't have register there or talk to the locals if you don't want to, no worries ;-) ).

Donnerstag, 25. Oktober 2012

Painted: Werdenfelser standard bearer

Andrew Taylor has painted another casting of the Werdenfelser standard bearer from set WF-05, this time using the specific Freikorps Werdenfels banner from Flags of War's banner sheet:

Mittwoch, 24. Oktober 2012

Charging Russians painted

Another cracking paint job by Simon of StoneColdLead. This time the Charging Russian Troopers set RJ-R04, painted as the 35th Regiment 'Brianskiy':

 RJ-R04 Russian Troopers charging

Dienstag, 23. Oktober 2012

Freikorps Werdenfels: Historical background (Pt. 3)

‚Red‘ and ‚White‘ terror  

Civil wars tend to be some of the most brutal struggles and the fighting in and around Munich in 1919 were no difference.
(‘Red’ of course refers to those who sided with the Bavarian Republic of Councils and ‘White’ to the troops sent by the Bavarian government Hoffmann (residing at Bamberg in northern Bavaria) and the federal German government in Berlin.)  

‘Red’ terror

The ‘Red’ terror i.e. the use of violence by the Republic of Councils was means to stabilize its position and to awe its enemies. The Republic didn’t have a very strong base among the Munich people, especially as the supply situation (food and articles of daily use) became worse in the cut-of city every day. Confiscations and forced openings of safe-deposit boxes were supposed to help improve the situation but weren’t met with much enthusiasm, of course (although vouchers were issued in many cases). 

Weapons were also confiscated and used to equip the ‘Red Army’. The press was suppressed to hamper ‘white’ propaganda. Counterrevolutionary initiatives were condemned by a revolutionary tribunal but not many verdicts were rendered, most of them quite moderate.   

Some isolated killings resp. ’court-martials’ by individual ‘reds’ and small groups acting on their own initiative took place throughout the city. Among the victims were also members of rivaling factions within the Republic of Councils (one of them was the short-term town major Wilhelm Weinberger). 

The event that become the epitome of the ‘Red’ terror was the killing of hostages at the Luitpold-Gymnasium (grammar/secondary school) on April 30th. At first only two imprisoned ‘white’ soldiers were shoot as a spontaneous reaction to reports of massacres committed by ‘whites’. Later on the same day eight more hostages were killed, supposable by the order of Rudolf Egelhofer. Among these eight victims were several members of the nationalist Thule-Society but also professor and painter Ernst Berger, who was only arrested for expressing his resentments in public.   

All these events (especially those at the Luitpold-Gymnasium) were massively exaggerated by ‘white’ propaganda and fueled the fears of the citizens and the hatred of the ‘white’ forces. (‘Rotmord über München’ – ‘Red murder over Munich’ being a famous slogan of the ‘white’ propaganda.)

'Red murder over Munich' - 'white' propaganda

‘White’ terror

Already during their advance on Munich ‘white’ forces committed several acts of violence but the intensity increased dramatically as they reach the city. Executions of prisoners and leaders of the Republic of Councils became day to day business for parts of the ‘white’ troops. Often these victims didn’t receive any form of trial, in many cases they weren’t what they were suspected to be. For example at one occasion over 50 former Russian POW were shot just because they were Russians and thus must have been ‘reds’ on account of the ‘whites’.   

Shot revolutionaries in Munich

Depending on the sources the numbers of victims from April 30th to May 8th vary between 557 and 1.200. About 650 are documented, though (335 of them civilians, according to police records). But these are only the numbers of the people killed, an even greater number was abused and an also undocumented number of flats and houses (especially those in parts of the city like Giesing) were plundered and devastated during house searching.   
This was only one part, though, as the atrocities continued through the whole of May 1919.

The cellars of a lot of official buildings were used as impromptu prisons for political opponents although the term ‘prison’ in today's sence may be a little bit misguiding. Some must have been more like medieval dungeons or, in some cases, also a foretaste of the SS or Gestapo prisons. Altogether more than 100.000 people were (temporary) imprisoned during early May. That’s more than a sixth of the whole population of Munich at that time! Most of these arrests were plain arbitrariness or motivated by very base motives. Of course the conditions under which these prisoners were kept were degrading to say the least. 

The mechanic Johann Lehner arrested and shot without a trial by federal troops on May 3rd, 1919. He was wrongly (!) accused of taking part in the killing of hostages at the Luitpold-secondary school.
If (and when to which extent) the Freikorps Werdenfels, or members thereof, took part in these or other atrocities is not documented. At one point they were accused of being responsible for massacring 21 members of a catholic craftsmen association on Mai 6th, but it turned out that members of the Freikorps Bayreuth committed this crime.

Sonntag, 21. Oktober 2012

Freikorps Werdenfels: Historical background (Pt. 2)

Freikorps Werdenfels – Assignment and action in Munich

Upon its belated arrival at Munich the Freikorps Werdenfels was assigned as reserve to the Bayerische Schützenkorps – Bavarian Rifle Corps under the overall command of Oberst Ritter von Epp. (The Rifle Corps as a whole became later sometimes referred to as the Freikorps Epp.) Task of the Bayerische Schützenkorps was to occupy the city district of Giesing. A very important and difficult task as the district was nearly completely inhabited by workers and thus considered a stronghold of the Council Republic and its supporters.

Oberst (Colonel) Franz Ritter von Epp

Hauptmann Wagner’s journal reports from various sentry, security and patrol duties performed by members of the Freikorps, they also took part in house searchings and assisted policemen in the arresting of suspicious people. On some occasions the Werdenfelser came under fire from snipers resp. hidden riflemen. Wagner gives the weapons collected by the Freikorps as follows: 1 light MG, 226 rifles, 1.400 rounds of ammunition, 1 crate of hand grenades, 1 hunting rifle and 1 army revolver. He does however not mention the number of opponents killed by the Freikorps Werdenfels. A different source claims that they killed ‘some’ (no concrete number is given) rooftop snipers and one man directing the fire of a concealed MG.

A report of a member of the Freikorps Schwaben also mentions the Werdenfelser (he prior described several exchanges of fire and how the Freikorps Schwaben occupied the Wittelsbacher bridge and took cover there):

‘[…] Zu uns gesellten sich auch Schützen vom Korps Werdenfels, die in ihrer Tracht erschienen und recht schnell mit ihren “Stutzen” zur Hand waren, wenn die Einwohner nicht rasch genug auf unsere Warnungsrufe: “Fenster zu, Kopf hinein!“ reagierten. Es war unbedingt notwendig, auch Neugierige zurückzuweisen, da man in der Hitze des Gefechts nicht unterscheiden konnte, ob einer bloss tatsächlich aus Vorwitz heraussah, oder ob er schiessen wollte.‘

   ‚[…] We were also joined by riflemen of the Korps Werdenfels, who appeared in their garb and were quick at hand with their ‘Stutzen’ (‘full stock rifle’), when the citizens didn’t respond quickly enough to our warnings: ‘Shut the windows, head inside!’. It was absolutely necessary to also keep nosey people back because in the heat of battle it wasn’t possible to distinguish between those who were just watching out of impertinence or wanted to shoot.’ 

Freikorps Werdenfels 'in action' (staged photo)

During the first days of fighting members of the Freikorps Werdenfels were on several occasions wrongly arrested by allied federal troops. Therefore the units operating in the neighboring areas received the following announcement on Mai 6th:

‘Die Angehörigen des der Gruppe Epp unterstellten Freikorps Werdenfels tragen meist Gebirgstracht. Sie haben eine gestempelte weissblaue order weisse Armbinde mit oder ohne schwarze Raute, und führen einen vom Freikorps Werdenfels, mit dem Stempel des bayerischen Schützenkorps versehenen Ausweis mit sich, der sie bis zur Verteilung der vorgeschriebenen Ausweis des A.O.K. Möhl auch zum Waffentragen berechtigt.‘

‚Members of the Freikorps Werdenfels assigned to the Group Epp usually wear mountain dweller garb. They have a stamped white-blue or white armband with or without a black diamond. They carry an identification card from the Freikorps Werdenfels with a stamp of the Bavarian rifle corps, this also entitles to the carrying of weapons until the distribution of the compulsory identification cards by A.O.K. Möhl.‘ 

On the morning of May 8th the Werdenfelser took part in a parade of the victorious ‘white’ troops through the city.

Freikorps Werdenfels on the 'victory parade'

On the Jugendspielplatz (the square was used as a parade ground) the Freikorps was inspected by Oberst Ritter von Epp und Generalmajor Möhl (the supreme commander of the ‘white’ forces). At this occasion Oberst Epp granted the Werdenfelser the following privilege: 
‘[…] in Annerkennung der tapferen Haltung […] am linken Arm den Löwen im schwarzen Rautenschild führen zu dürfen.‘

‚[…] in recognition of the brave attitude […] the permission is granted to carry the lion in the black diamond on the left arm.’ 
The von Epp lion

The Freikorps Werdenfels left Munich on May 10th. It did not suffer any casualties (besides those killed and injured in the train crash on their way to Munich).

Samstag, 20. Oktober 2012

Freikorps Werdenfels: Historical background (Pt. 1)

As mentioned in the last post, here’s the first part of the historical background to the Freikorps Werdenfels miniatures. (This part deals with the events leading to the fighting in Munich in May 1919 and the establishment of the Freikorps Werdenfels, while a second part will address their actions in Munich and a third the atrocities committed by both sides during the conflict and its aftermath and the role the Werdenfels played in it.)

I’ve tried to write this as objective and accurate as possible. Most of the information have been taken from the Historisches Lexikon Bayern, a historical online resource supported (among others) by the Bavarian State Ministry of Science, Research and Art, and the book Revolutionszeit 1918/19 im Bezirk Garmisch by Josef Ostler. To my knowledge both sources are only available in German language for the time being.

If you have got differing or additional information please let me know!

Overview of the events in 1918/19

This is a brief overview of the events in Munich and Bavaria in late 1918 and early 1919, which culminated in the fighting in Munich in May 1919. This is, of course, a simplification in a way as many of the causes and reasons for these events reach back even further.  

On November 7th, 1918 a big peace demonstration with 40.000 to 60.000 participants took place on the Theresienwiese (famous for being the location of the Oktoberfest) in Munich. Members of the USPD (Unabhängigen Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands – Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany) around the journalist Kurt Eisner took the lead of the demonstration and guided the people through the city. Meanwhile a much smaller group of USPD members succeeded in persuading the troops stationed in Munich to side with the revolutionaries. Following this success strategic points like the main station, the parliament and the telegraph office were occupied and worker’s and soldier’s councils established. 

Kurt Eisner (* 14. Mai 1867; † 21. Februar 1919)
In the night from November 7th to 8th Kurt Eisner proclaimed the Freistaat Bayern – Free State of Bavaria, the monarchy abolished and the holding of elections (in order to establish a parliamentary democracy) the main task of the new government for the time being taken over by the Provisorische Nationalrat – Provisional National Council, which elected Eisner the first Ministerpräsident – prime minister of Bavaria. All this happened without any bloodshed and took place two resp. one day prior to Philipp Scheidemann’s famous declaration of the German Republic in Berlin on November 9th, 1918.

Nearly all bigger towns and municipalities in Bavaria followed the example of Munich and established councils shortly after: amongst others Nuremberg, Fuerth, Augsburg and Wuerzburg on November 8th and Erlangen on November 9th. The more rural areas followed a lot later on,  some only on paper or not at all.
The election took place on January 12th, 1919 (in some parts of Bavaria on February 2nd). The outcome of the election intensified the situation considerably as the USPD achieved quite a bad result. Some of the most prominent points of contentions were the future role of the councils, the founding of militias in some parts of the country and the acknowledgement of Germany being the sole culprit of the Great War by Kurt Eisner in name of the Bavarian people.

Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley (* 5. Februar 1897; † 29. Juni 1945)
Kurt Eisner was assassinated on February 21st, 1919 by Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley, a Lieutenant of the Bavarian Leibregiment and nationalist (a former member of the Thule Society). This caused a lot of turmoil, which could not been stopped by the election of the new prime minister Johannes Hoffmann by the Bavarian Parliament on March 17th. The situation escalated on April 7th when the Central Council and the Revolutionary Worker’s Council together proclaimed the Baierische Räterepublik – Bavarian Republic of Councils. The government Hoffmann immediately relocated to the town of Bamberg in Franconia (northern Bavaria) with the parliament following shortly thereafter. Again, towns all over Bavaria followed the revolutionary example of Munich but this time only Augsburg, Rosenheim and their surroundings achieved more than a short lived change.     

Johannes Hoffmann (* 3. Juli 1867; † 15. Dezember 1930)
At first the government Hoffmann denied the intervention by federal troops and tried to gain control by the commitment of loyal voluntary Bavarian troops. But as their advances on Munich got repelled at Dachau and Freising on April 15th and 16th, they gave in to the enquiries from Berlin. Because of federalistic reasons, to save it’s face and to politically strengthen their position the government Hoffmann started to recruit as many Bavarian troops as possible to take part in the fight for Munich. The Freikorps Werdenfels was one of these  formations.

Freikorps Werdenfels – Establishment and trip to Munich

Responsible for the recruiting in the district Garmisch was Hauptmann Wanger, whose subaltern Leutnant Holler arrived in Garmisch on April 20th. The recruiting for the Freikorps Werdenfels started on April 29th, after several days of preliminaries. (One of the first recruiting posters gave the name wrongly with Freikorps Garmisch.) It is notable that not only ‘real’ locals got recruited into the Freikorps but also spa guests (the area was and still is a health resort) and people who had ‘stranded’ there through the turmoil caused by the end of the Great War and the events following thereafter. (Some of the recruiting posters and advertisements were explicit aimed at the later two groups and they made up a not so small portion of the Freikorps’ members.)

Recruiting finished on May 1st, with a total of about 260 men. They were organized into two companies (named Garmisch and Partenkirchen respectively) and came from very varied backgrounds: inactive officers, businessmen, doctors, friars, farmers, worker and even some pupils. Quite some of the participants hadn’t even reached the official age limit of 22 years. (They even took a former actor with them by the name of August Glonny (the composer of the Freikorps Werdenfels song), who was reported to not only be crippled but also very short sighted.) They left for Munich by train on May 1st and were supposed to arrive there on the next day. At a stopover at Weilheim at 8.30 p.m. they were joined by a group of officers including Major Josef Ritter von Reiss, who took over command from Hauptmann Wanger. One of these officers, Hauptmann Josef Seydel, wrote a journal about his time with the Werdenfelser. About this first encounter he noted:

‘[…]Stärke: 260 Mann mit Gewehren, 10 MG., 1 Personenkraftwagen, 1 Lastkraftwage und einige pferdebespannte Wirtschaftsfahrzeuge. Dieses Freikorps Werdenfels war – im Vertrauen gesagt – ein Sauhaufen ohne jegliche Disziplin und soldatischen Ernst. Der Marsch nach München war für diese Männer nichts weiter als „eine Gaudi“. […]‘

‚[…] Strength: 260 men with rifles, 10 MGs, 1 passenger car, 1 lorry and a couple of horse drawn supply carts. This Freikorps Werdenfels was – strictly in confidence – a bunch of slobs without any discipline or soldierly sternness. The march to Munich was nothing more than a blast to these men. […]’

After the men had quenched their thirst in Weilheim the trip was resumed. But at about 11 p.m. the Werdenfelser train was accidently hit by another train at Bernried. One man was killed in this crash and three men so badly injured that they had to be left behind for medical treatment. The rest of the men refused to continue the journey before dawn. The Freikorps set out again at about 5 a.m. on May 2nd.