Freikorps

The designation of Freikorps (German for "Free Corps") was originally applied to voluntary armies formed in German lands from the middle of 18th century onwards. After World War I the term was used for the paramilitary organizations that sprang up around Weimar Germany and fought against Weimar enemies (internal and external).

First Freikorps

The first freikorps were recruited by Frederick II of Prussia in the eighteenth century during the Seven Years' War. Other known freikorps appeared during the Napoleonic Wars and were led for example by Ferdinand von Schill and later Ludwig Adolf Wilhelm von Lützow. The freikorps were regarded as unreliable by regular armies, so that they were mainly used as sentries and for minor duties.

Post-World War I

However, the meaning of the word changed over time. After 1918, the term was used for the paramilitary organizations that sprang up around Germany as soldiers returned in defeat from World War I. They were the key Weimar paramilitary groups active during that time. Many German veterans felt disconnected from civilian life, and joined a Freikorps in search of stability within a military structure. Others, angry at their sudden, apparently inexplicable defeat, joined up in an effort to put down Communist uprisings or exact some form of revenge (see Dolchstoßlegende). They received considerable support from Minister of Defense Gustav Noske, a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, who used them to crush the German Revolution and the Marxist Spartacist League, including the summary execution of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg on 15 January 1919. They were also used to defeat the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919. [citebook|title=The German Freikorps 1918-23: 1918-23|author=Carlos Caballero Jurado, Ramiro Bujeiro|year=2001|publisher=Osprey Publishing
id=ISBN 1841761842
]

On 5 May 1919 twelve workers (most of the members of the Social Democratic Party, SPD) were arrested and killed by members of Freikorps Lützow in Perlach near Munich based on a tip from a local cleric saying they were communists. A memorial on Pfanzeltplatz in Munich today commemorates this atrocity. [citebook|title=Jude und Demokrat: Erinnerungen eines Münchener Rechtsanwalts 1883 bis 1939|author=Max Hirschberg & Reinhard Webercitebook|title=Justice Imperiled: The Anti-Nazi Lawyer Max Hirschberg in Weimar Germany|author=Douglas G. Morrisr [http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=7935 Freikorps Lützow] , Axis History Factbook]

Freikorps also fought in the Baltic, Silesia, and Prussia after the end of World War I, sometimes with significant success.

Though officially 'disbanded' in 1920, many Freikorps attempted, unsuccessfully, to overthrow the government in the Kapp Putsch in March 1920.

In 1920, Adolf Hitler had just begun his political career as the leader of the tiny and as-yet-unknown German Workers Party (soon renamed the National Socialist German Workers Party, NSDAP) in Munich. Numerous future members and leaders of the Nazi Party had served in the Freikorps, including Ernst Röhm, future head of the Sturmabteilung, or SA, and Rudolf Höß, the future Kommandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Hermann Ehrhardt, founder and leader of Marinebrigade Ehrhardt, and his deputy Commander Eberhard Kautter, leaders of the Viking League, refused to help Hitler and Erich von Ludendorff in their Beer Hall Putsch and conspired against them.

In 1939, during the Polish September Campaign, Germans created the Freikorps Ebbinghaus - a sabotage unit, consisting of many German Silesians, which was designed to operate behind the frontlines. Freikorps Ebbinghaus failed in most of those tasks, and was relegated to normal military duties, before being disbanded later that year. [Richard Blanke, "Orphans of Versailles: The Germans in Western Poland, 1918-1939", University Press of Kentucky, 1993, ISBN 081311803, [http://books.google.com/books?id=80r6Mbnxf8IC&pg=PA229&dq=%22Freikorps+Ebbinghaus%22&as_brr=3&sig=ACfU3U1xAnq9SLeYU-ocMv61aUmwoEaYAg Google Print, p.229] ]

Notable Freikorps members

*Rudolph Berthold
*Martin Bormann
*Wilhelm Canaris
*Kurt Daluege
*Oskar Dirlewanger
*Arthur Greiser
*Reinhard Heydrich
*Wilhelm Keitel
*Ernst von Salomon
*Manfred Freiherr von Killinger
*Wilhelm Friedrich Loeper
*Josef “Beppo” Römer KPD Member
*Wolf-Heinrich Graf von Helldorf SA member
*Albert Leo Schlageter
*Julius Schreck SS Leader
*Hugo Sperrle Luftwaffe General
*Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg, Right wing Austrian politician
*Gregor Strasser NSDAP Member

References

External links

* [http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=5773 Axis History Factbook; Freikorps section] – By Marcus Wendel and contributors; site also contains an apolitical forum
* [http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=68746 Freikorps Master list on Axis History Forum {reference only}]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Freikorps — (del alemán cuerpos libres o cuerpos francos ) fue la designación aplicada originalmente a los ejércitos voluntarios formados en pequeños Estados alemanes entre los siglos XVII y XVIII. Los primeros freikorps fueron reclutados en 1762 por… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Freikorps — Freikorps, kleine Truppenabteilungen, aus Freiwilligen gebildet und von Parteigängern geführt, unterstützen die Operationen der Armee durch Unternehmungen im Rücken des Feindes. Friedrich d. Gr. benutzte besonders im Siebenjährigen Kriege… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Freikorps — Freikorps, Freitruppen, Freiregimenter, Freibataillone, Freikompagnien, Truppenabteilungen, im Kriege aus Freiwilligen gebildet, für den Kleinen Krieg bestimmt …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Freikorps — ↑ Korps …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

  • Freikorps — Als Freikorps (franz.: corps, „Körper(schaft)“; aus lat.: corpus, „Körper“) wurden bis zu Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts paramilitärische Einheiten unabhängig von ihrer nationalen Herkunft benannt. Im deutschen Sprachraum wurden erstmals im 18.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Freikorps —    When on 10 November 1918 General Wilhelm Groener* made his cooperative pact with Friedrich Ebert,* he did so believing that the Imperial Army (Reichsheer) would remain a viable force during the period when Ger many s political future was being …   Historical dictionary of Weimar Republik

  • Freikorps — La designación de Freikorps (del alemán cuerpos libres ) fue aplicada originalmente para los ejércitos voluntarios. Los primeros freikorps fueron reclutados por Federico II de Prusia durante la Guerra de los Siete Años otros freikorps aparecieron …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Freikorps — Frei|korps 〈[ ko:r] n.; [ ko:rs], [ ko:rs]; Mil.〉 Freiwilligentruppe * * * Frei|korps, das (früher): aus Freiwilligen gebildeter Truppenverband. * * * Freikorps   [ koːr], Truppen, die nur für die Dauer des Krieges oder eines Feldzugs aufgestellt …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Freikorps — Corps franc Les Corps francs sont des unités combattantes formées en dehors ou au sein d une armée régulière. Il peut également s’agir d’unités paramilitaires organisées par un État, ou d’unités formées spontanément par des civils. Parfois… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Freikorps — (German: Free Corps ) Private German paramilitary groups that first appeared in late 1918 after Germany s defeat in World War I. Composed of ex soldiers and unemployed youth and led by ex officers, they eventually included over 65 corps of… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”