Revolution 1918, 1928

Charcoal and black crayon, NT 1163

Käthe Kollwitz, Revolution 1918, 1928, charcoal and black crayon, NT 1163, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

In 1928 Käthe Kollwitz received a commission for the Leipzig SPD to design a postcard on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the November Revolution on 9 November 1918.

The November Revolution in 1918 which was triggered by a rebellion of marines in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven, reached Berlin on 8 November. The following morning, workers’ and soldiers’ councils called for a general strike. Soldiers stationed in Berlin eventually joined the demonstrating masses in the city centre. Then, events followed in quick succession. Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated and in the Reichstag Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed Germany’s first democratic republic.

Käthe Kollwitz was an eyewitness to this historical moment. Later that day she saw a »lorry […] packed with marines and soldiers« at the Brandenburg Gate, which is also documented in historical photos. Unlike in Kollwitz’ description, however, the photos show middle-class pedestrians looking on in a rather calm mood, not cheering the revolutionaries on the lorry. By contrast, the artist endeavoured to capture the euphoric mood that had gripped her on 9 November 1918.

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