Levi, Paul

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LEVI, PAUL (1883–1930), German socialist politician. A lawyer by profession, Levi gained renown by his defense of striking workers (1912) and of Rosa *Luxemburg (1914), who became his mentor and colleague. Levi was one of the founders and leaders of the "Spartacus League," the nucleus of the emerging Communist Party (1919) of which he became the leader, inheriting Luxemburg's mantle. After 1919 he succeeded as the leading figure in outmaneuvering anti-parliamentary and insurrectionary elements, consolidating the party and substantially increasing its membership. His own position was undermined by his opposition to the interference of the Comintern in German affairs and he resigned from the central committee in February 1921. In March, the party, on Moscow's orders, fomented an armed uprising in Saxony which was quelled with much bloodshed. Paul Levi publicly denounced the tactics and methods of the leadership and was expelled from the party. He thereupon formed, with his adherents, an independent Communist faction in the Reichstag (parliament) but eventually returned to the fold of the Social Democratic Party where he was leader of its left wing. A collection of Levi's speeches, letters, and essays was edited by C. Beradt and appeared in 1969, Zwischen Spartakus und Sozialdemokratie.


W.T. Angress, Stillborn Revolution (1963). add. bibliography: C. Bloch, "Paul Levi – Ein Symbol der Tragoedie des Linkssozialismus in der Weimarer Republik," in: jidg, 9 (1986), 244–63; C. Beradt, Paul LeviEin demokratischer Sozialist in der Weimarer Republik (1969); W. Jens, Ein Jud aus HechingenRequiem fuer Paul Levi (1991).

[Bjoern Siegel (2nd ed.)]