Unlike two other revolutions, the Spartacist Uprising was a spontaneous revolt that caught even its leaders by surprise. It was also the most short-lived – suppressed in days, not months and thus was an unsuccessful coup rather than a genuine revolution.
It was also practically inevitable. When the Imperial Germany (the Second Reich) collapsed in a matter of days following the sailors’ revolt of 29–30 October 1918, a significant number of workers rejected the social-democratic path (which ultimately led to the establishment of Weimar Republic).
Instead, they wanted the “Soviet Republic” similar (but not identical) to the one established in Russia. The resulting situation was very similar to the one that existed in Russia in February – October 1917.
Consequently, it is no surprise that the radical left who formed the Communist Party of Germany on December 30th, 1918 decided to overthrow the Social-Democratic government by staging a coup and to establish the Communist dictatorship Russia-style.
Unfortunately for them, their leader Karl Liebknecht was no Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg was no Leon Trotsky. So their coup failed miserably. After about a week of initially peaceful and then armed revolt their uprising was ruthlessly crushed by Freikorps – a right-wing paramilitary organization acting on the orders of Friedrich Ebert – head of the Social Democratic government. Both Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were brutally murdered (beaten to death).
This failed uprising (especially compared to a successful October revolution in Russia) taught Adolf Hitler a few valuable lessons. First, success of failure of the coup is determined by one and only one factor – quality of its leadership (which must consist of just one individual – The Führer).
Second, left to their own devices, Communists will inevitably start an armed uprising – to follow the successful example of their Russian comrades. And third, the only way to prevent them from seizing power, establishing the Communist dictatorship and starting a bloody and devastating civil war is quickly, decisively and ruthlessly crush their coup with overwhelming force.
These lessons moved Hitler to establish his own Freikorps – the Sturmabteilung (SA), many of whose members were ex-Freikorps and subsequently using them to annihilate the Communist Party after the Reichstag Fire gave him the absolute power in Germany.