Ruhr Red Army

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Ruhr Red Army
Participant in Ruhr uprising
Members of the Ruhr Red Army, Dortmund, 1920
Members of the Ruhr Red Army, Dortmund, 1920
Area of operationsRuhr Valley
Size50,000 - 80,000

The Red Ruhr Army was an army of between 50,000 and 80,000 left wing workers from the Communist Party of Germany, the Communist Workers' Party of Germany, the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany, and the Free Workers Union of Germany, formed in the Ruhr Valley (the most important industrial area of Germany) on 13 March 1920 as a reaction to the Kapp Putsch.[1] After calling a general strike on 14 March, the Red Ruhr Army defeated the Freikorps and regular army units in the area and started the biggest armed workers' uprising in Germany, the Ruhr Uprising (Ruhraufstand).

While the middle and upper classes feared a left wing putsch, 300,000 mine workers supported the Ruhr Red Army. The strikers took over Düsseldorf, Elberfeld, Essen and soon had control over the whole Ruhr area.

After the failure of negotiations with the strikers the government sent more troops into the Ruhr area on 2 April 1920, which caused civil-war like circumstances. These government troops consisted largely of regulars, but also of Freikorps paramilitary soldiers, who finally defeated the workers' uprising and reconquered the Ruhr area. While the Freikorps lost only 250 men, the Red Ruhr Army lost over a thousand during the bitter fighting.

On 12 April Reichswehr General Oskar von Watter banned any illegal behaviour on the part of his troops, which put an end to all battles and fights in the Ruhr area.


  1. ^ Dauve, Giles (1976). "The Communist Left in Germany: 1918-1921". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

See also[edit]