WRITING TEN YEARS AFTER Bavarian head of state Kurt Eisner had been felled by an assassin's bullets, Austrian comrade and colleague Stefan Großmann eulogized him for the Berlin journal Tagebuch (The Diary) as “the most refreshing, brightest, most vital journalistic talent that ever worked in the Social Democratic Party.” To attain that station, Großmann explained, Eisner had to rise above an organizational structure and culture that succored mindless mediocrity and worse. “Thus it is understandable that Germany's greatest party did and does not possess a single robust, readable, and truly read daily newspaper…. In the first decade of this century Kurt Eisner tried to make a great paper of Vorwärts. He might well have succeeded, had not an underground war been mounted against him one fine day, which no one who experienced it then can forget.” Accusations and denials were exchanged publicly and privately for a month after the purge, protests organized, old bonds dissolved, and new links forged.
Heinrich Braun, cofounder of Neue Gesellschaft, headed an influential group of party editors and journalists opposed to the radical agenda who, deploring the unsavory conspiracy and peremptory deposals, considered launching a strike of their own. The summary cashiering was denounced by its victims as a lockout engineered by the party executive, a cry that resonated in the trade-union press. In the final week of October Kautsky adamantly disputed the right of party journalists to bring to print personal political views that deviated from the party's official stance or that of their governing bodies. The dissident who “represents a view or represents it in a way contrary to the convictions of the organization” should be dismissed for the breach of party discipline. The next week Kautsky ran in Neue Zeit an article by Georg Ledebour disparaging the actions of the six deposed Vorwärts editors as a “revolt of the literati.” Ledebour claimed that in an organizational meeting of the Workers’ Press Association at the Hanover party congress of 1899, Eisner, in his first year at Vorwärts, had advocated the journalists’ strike as means of undermining a domineering press commission—a proposal that alienated the tried and true comrades among the audience.