Kurt Eisner (1867-1919)

Photo: Kurt Eisner 1919, by Richard Sennecke.
Kurt Eisner 1919

Kurt Eis­ner (1867-1919)

The Wittelsbach dynasty is deposed! Bavaria is now a free state!

Proclamation of Kurt Eisner on 8 November 1918 in Munich.

The later revolutionary leader and Bavarian Prime Minister Eisner was born on 14 May 1867 in Berlin and enjoyed a bourgeois upbringing. He broke off his studies and became a journalist in 1889. He moved ever closer to the SPD while pursuing his subsequent career. From 1910 he worked as a freelance journalist in Munich.

During the course of the First World War Eisner transitioned from being a supporter to an avowed opponent of the war. He co-founded the USPD in 1917 and in January 1918 organised the strike of the Munich munition workers. Following the Kiel mutiny he led the demonstration parade through Munich on 7 November 1918, which the garrison soldiers also joined. The Bavarian King fled and Eisner declared Bavaria a Free State on 8 November.

Eisner was appointed Bavarian Prime Minister in the post-monarchical power vacuum. For a few weeks the new government enjoyed great renown, but the tension between the revolutionaries' demands and the inertia of the enduring civil service and state apparatus led to a loss of confidence among the population. Eisner's USPD received only 2.5 % of the vote in the Bavarian state legislature election on 12 January 1919. On 21 February 1919 Eisner intended to announce his resignation to the newly constituted state parliament, but was assassinated by Lieutenant Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley on his way there.

Further information:
Kurt Eisner 1867-1919. In: Lebendiges Museum Online, 11.9.2017.
Kurt Eisner im Porträt: Der revolutionäre Idealist. In: Bayerischer Rundfunk, 11.9.2017.