How it all began

Paul Levi about 11 November 1918

«A […] friend of ours had picked up ten people somewhere along the road and had set out on a heroic quest at the head of the group – 'a lieutenant and ten men' – and went and occupied the [offices of the newspaper] Berliner Lokalanzeiger […]. That was on Sunday. We were confident that this conquest of ours would be secured by the ten men who were stationed at the gates, armed to the teeth, and who did not let anyone pass who did not at least claim to be on our side. On Monday morning, we returned […]. We had all gathered there. Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, and ten or twelve other comrades. Suddenly the door opened and the director of the publishing house stepped outside and declared that no [Rote Fahne] paper would be produced henceforth. This just keeps getting better, we thought. Now the publisher is getting cheeky with us; and the staff also refused to print […]. There was a long palaver, which came to a sudden halt, however: namely when one of us wanted to leave in order to appeal to the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council and found several rifle barrels pointing at him in the entrance. The publisher had paid off our guards, who now explained to us that no one would leave the building alive unless the Scherl company said so […]. And so we sat there, a dozen of us detained by our own military force, on the third day of the revolution. We contemplated what would become of a revolution in which the 'revolutionary soldiers' were bought off by a random capitalist in between the first and second breakfast […]. That was just one episode. But it was an episode that contained more than just a part of the whole: It was almost a symbol of the entire revolution.»

Quote taken from: Paul Levi: Wie es anfing, in: Volksblatt-Almanach, Zwickau 1929, S. 33.

Translated by Zachary Murphy King and Jan-Peter Herrmann.