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File:1918 poltiical poster commemorating Max Reichpietsch and Albin Köbis.jpg

Max Reichpietsch (left) and his associate Albin Köbis. The caption: They worked as socialists among their comrades and fell victim to the Tirpitz-spirit.

Max Reichpietsch (24 October 1894 - 5 September 1917) was a German sailor executed in 1917 for socialist agitation in the German Navy.[1] He joined the navy as a volunteer in 1912 and served on the battleship SMS Friedrich der Grosse. In the summer of 1917, he became one of the leaders of a movement among the sailors in the Imperial fleet whose complaints about food and other conditions soon developed into agitation against the war. He was arrested and condemned to death by a court martial in Wilhelmshaven on 26 August 1917 as the "main ringleader", along with Albin Köbis and three other sailors. The sentences on the other three were commuted to penal servitude, but Reichpietsch and Köbis were executed by firing squad at Wahnerheide near Cologne, on 5 September 1917.

These executions were denounced as "naval judicial murders" by antiwar politicians and newspapers, and helped trigger the antiwar and socialist mutinies in the Navy in 1918,[citation needed] which led to the German revolution.[citation needed] This has made Reichpietsch and Köbis heroes of the German socialist movement.

After World War II, the name of the Berlin street on which the German Navy headquarters was located was changed from Tirpitzufer (after Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz) to Reichpietschufer in honour of Max Reichpietsch, and a nearby street was named Köbisstrasse. There is also a Max-Reichpietsch-Platz in Kiel, and streets named Reichpietschstrasse in Cologne and Leipzig.

A television play about the case, Marinemeuterei 1917, was shown on West German television in 1969, directed by Hermann Kugelstadt and starring Karl-Heinz von Hassel as Reichpietsch and Dieter Wilken as Köbis.[2]


See also

  • German Revolution
  • (French) Soldat fusillé pour l'exemple

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