Blankenburg

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Blankenburg

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Blankenburg was a left-wing german “youth” community in Bavaria. It existed from 1919 to 1921.

Contents

Roots.

The “communist” settlement at Blankenburg had its roots in the Berlin “Westendcommune (1918). As Berlin became more dangerous for them due to their anti-militarist activities, and, as there were more and more problems getting food in the city, they decided to move away to the country. After a period in a house near the Starnberger Lake, one of them, Hans Koch, was able to get enough money together to buy a farm in Blankenburg, near Donauwörth.

The commune.

About twenty young men and women settled on the farm at the start of 1919. There was about 5.1 hectares of land, a large farm house with 16 rooms, a smaller house, and various outbuildings. They tried to support themselves with gardening, stock-keeping and artisan work (metal work and carpentry). Every one was expected to do her or his best to keep the commune going. However, they were not able to become self sufficient. Furthermore, the division of labour into “men’s” and “women’s” work was not abolished, and women were always a minority. Nor was the division between experts and helpers reduced, even though the communards had the ideal of all working together.

Repression.

In the end, however, it was external pressure that put and end to the commune at Blankenburg. Although they had not taken a clear position over the revolutionary governments in Munich, some had sympathy for the second, anarchist council republic there where Gustav Landauer was culture minister.
With the violent end to the revolution in May 1919, a phase of repression began in Bavaria. Political refugees used Blankenburg as a stop over on their flight away from the right-wing and government terror. This resulted in police attention. The authorities believed (wrongly) that Blankenburg was full of Spartakists, and would be the centre of a new revolution. A large group consisting of members of the police, the army and the local paramilitary group raided the commune and arrested everyone there. They took all the prisoners to Munich and, in September 1919, put four leading members on trial for high-treason. The trial became a propaganda victory for the defendant communards; they had support from a wide range of progressive people. Three communards were found not guilty, and Hans Koch got off with a light sentence.

In 1920, a few members tried to start again, but most of the original members had gone, and the farm was sold in 1921.

References.

“Frühe Kommunen in Deutschland” by Gustav Heineke, Zündhölzchen Verlag, 1978.

“Contraste” # October 2007, side .