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|Leader of the Bavarian Soviet Republic|
April 12, 1919 – May 3, 1919
|Preceded by||Ernst Toller|
|Succeeded by||Republic collapsed|
|Born||May 10, 1883
St Petersburg, Russian Empire
|Died||June 5, 1919 (aged 36)
Stadelheim Prison, Munich, Weimar Republic
|Political party||Communist Party of Germany|
Leviné was born in St. Petersburg to wealthy Jewish family. Leviné was educated in Germany. He returned to Russia to participate in the failed Russian Revolution of 1905 against the Tsar. For his actions, he was exiled to Siberia. He eventually escaped to Germany and began studying at Heidelberg University and, in 1915, married Rose Leviné from the Polish town of Grodek. They had at least one child (a son, whom they named Eugen). For a short time, he served in the Imperial German Army during World War I.
Bavarian Soviet Republic
After the war ended, Leviné joined the Communist Party of Germany and helped to create a socialist republic in Bavaria. However, the republic lasted only several weeks, replaced quickly by a soviet republic after the assassination of Kurt Eisner, then leader of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD).
The ruling government of the new republic lasted only six days, due to poor leadership under the German playwright Ernst Toller. Leviné rose to power as the Communists assumed control of the government.
Leviné attempted to pass many reforms, such as giving the more luxurious apartments to the homeless and giving workers control and ownership of factories. He also planned reforms for the education system and to abolish paper money, neither of which he ever completed.
Under orders from Leviné, the Red Guards began rounding up people they considered to be hostile to the new regime, as hostages against imminent outside attack. As the German president Friedrich Ebert gave orders to subdue the Soviet Republic and reinstate the Bavarian government under Johannes Hoffmann, the Red Guards executed eight hostages on 29 April 1919.
The German Army, assisted by Freikorps, with a force of roughly 39,000 men, invaded and quickly conquered Munich on May 3, 1919. In retaliation for the execution of the hostages, the Freikorps captured and killed some 700 men and women. Leviné himself was arrested, found guilty as part of those executions, and was shot by firing squad in Stadelheim Prison.
The American Soviet agent Whittaker Chambers cited Leviné as one of three men who inspired him. (The others were Felix Dzerzhinsky, head of the Soviet Cheka, and Sazonov, a member of the SR's Terrorist Brigade.) Chambers wrote,
During the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919, Leviné was the organizer of the Workers and Soldiers Soviets. When the Bavarian Soviet Republic was crushed, Leviné was captured and courtmartialed. The court-martial told him: "You are under sentence of death." Leviné answered: "We Communists are always under sentence of death."
- Kyle, Frank (2002). Christine's Philosophical Journey: Book One: Christine's Journey to San Diego. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-147-725-797-5.
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