Kurt Eisner

Kurt Eisner

A Modern Life

Albert Earle Gurganus


Camden House



The first comprehensive biography in English of the leader of the Bavarian Revolution and Republic of 1918/19, the first Jewish head of a European state and a man who embraced and embodied modernity.

At the end of the First World War, German Jewish journalist, theater critic, and political activist Kurt Eisner (1867-1919), just released from prison, led a nonviolent revolution in Munich that deposed the monarchy and established the Bavarian Republic. Local head of the Independent Socialists, Eisner had been jailed for treason after organizing a munitions workers' strike to force an armistice. For a hundred days, as Germany spiraled into civil war, Eisner fought as head of state to preserve calm while implementing a peaceful transition to democracy and reforging international relations. He rejected another central German government dominated by Prussia in favor of a confederation of autonomous equals, a "United States of Germany." A Francophile, he sought ties with Paris in hope of containing Prussia. In February 1919, on the way to submit his government's resignation to the newly elected constitutional assembly, Eisner was shot by a protofascist aristocrat, plunging Bavaria into political chaos from which Adolf Hitler would emerge. At the centenary of the Bavarian Revolution and Republic of 1918/19, this is the first comprehensive biography of Eisner written for an English-language audience.

Albert Earle Gurganus is Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages at The Citadel. He is the author of The Art of Revolution: Kurt Eisner's Agitprop (Camden House, 1986).


24 black and white illustrations
610 pages
9x6 in
German History in Context
Hardback, 9781640140158, May 2018
eBook, 9781787442313, May 2018
Camden House
BISAC HIS014000, BIO006000, LIT004170
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Table of Contents

A Novel's Suffering Hero: A Youth in Berlin (1867-1889)
Aristocratize the Masses: From Berlin to Frankfurt to Marburg (1890-1893)
Refuge of All Idealists: Through Cohen to Kant toward Marx (1893-1896)
Dictatorial Megalomania: Lèse Majesté and Plötzensee Prison (1896-1898)
Making the Leap: Back to Berlin as a Social Democrat (1898-1900)
No Idle Dreamer: At the Helm of Vorwärts (1900-1902)
My Life's Purpose: Molding the Readership (1902-1903)
Never . . . a Less Fruitful Scholastic Debate: Intramural Strife - Evolution vs. Revolution (1903-1905)
Revolutionizing Minds: The Scorched Middle Ground (1905)
The Complete Parity of My Experiences: From Exile to Nuremberg (1905-1907)
The Most Genuine and Fruitful Radicalism: Taking the Lead at the Fränkische Tagespost (1907-1908)
So Suspect a Heretic as Surely I Am: New Bearings in North Bavaria (1908)
Dear Little Whore: Personal and Professional Turmoil (1909)
To Find a Lost Life: From Nuremberg to Munich (1909-1910)
Something of a Party Offiziosus in Bavaria: Political Editor at the Münchener Post (1910-1911)
At Peace with Myself: Resettling into Family Life (1912-1913)
The Powerlessness of Reason: The World War Erupts (1914)
Wretched Superfluity: Divided Loyalties (1915-1916)
War for War's Sake: Political Alienation and Realignment (1916-1917)
The Most Beautiful Days of My Life: Leading the Opposition (1917-1918)
Our Power to Act Now Grows: From Prisoner to Premier (1918)
The Terror of Truth: Forging the Republic, Combatting Reaction (1918)
The Fantasies of a Visionary: Martyr of the Revolution (1918-1919)
Now Dead, as It Stands: Outcomes and Legacy (1919-2017)
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