Title: MONUMENT TO THE FALLEN OF THE MARCH INSURRECTION
Author: Walter Gropius
Location: Weimar Central Cemetery, Germany
Year complete: 1922
Description: Large, concrete jutting mass – center of cemetery
In the early 1920’s a group of right wing nationalist, alongside a collection of army officers attempted to rid Germany of, and replaced the SPD government. (SPD was the Social Democratic Party of Germany at the time). This event became known as the Kapp Putsch, which was arranged to expose the political divisions of the republic and display the weakness of the new government.
The Reichstag was at the time discussing a government measure for the establishment of new industrial councils. The purpose here was to confine the activity of these councils essentially to the sphere of the social welfare.
The push for the putsch came in March of 1920, when the government removed the commander-in-chief- of Reichswehr division in Germany’s north, Walther von Luttwitz, from several posts for urging defiance of the Versailles treaty. This outraged von Luttwitz to the point of joining with a 6,000 strong Freikorps (army officers) unit in Berlin. This unit had as well been resisting the government orders to disband.
During this time, the USPD (The Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany) was organizing a mass demonstration in front of the Reichstag. This was in response to, and formed against the government bill and in favor of wider powers for the councils.
On March 13th, the Freikorps brigade surrounded Berlin and took control of the capital. However, the military wanted to keep their initial intent hidden from the public, so von Luttwitz recruited Wolfgang Kapp, who was a minor public servant, to be their nominal leader. He spent days attempting to justify the putsch and rally support. He eventually issued a grandiose public statement with an intent to legitimize the putsch, claiming that Germany was in danger of a communist invasion…
“Militant Bolshevism threatens us with devastation and violation from the east. Is this government capable of fending it off? How will we avoid external and internal collapse? Only by re-establishing the authority of a strong state. What concept should lead us in this endeavour? Nothing reactionary, instead a further free development of the German state, restoration of order, and the sanctity of law. Duty and conscience are to reign again in German lands. German honor and honesty are to be restored.”
However, the response to Kapp’s statement was less tan accepting from the public. Slight brushes between the demonstrators and workmen and the police began to break out during the organized mass demonstration in front of the Reichstag. After which the police began to fear an attach on the Reichstag as well, and therefore the guns were turned towards the unarmed demonstrators and workmen. The crowd dispersed almost immediately. All but 42 workmen made it out alive.
The Monument to the Fallen of the March Insurrection, also known as the Monument to the March Dead, was erected for, and in honor to the workers who lost their lives during the Kapp Putsch.
The piece was commissioned by the Union Cartel of Weimar.
The monument itself was arranged around an inner space of the cemetery in which visitors could stand and view. The repeatedly fractured and highly angular memorial rose up on three sides as if thrust from, or rammed into the Earth. For this reason, the locals or Weimar were known to have referred to the monument as the Lightening Bolt.
Unfortunately, after only 14 years, the monument was destroyed in February of 1936. The Nazi’s believed the piece to have political overtones and had the design of the monument deemed a piece of degenerate art.