Videofilm on the Sailors' Revolt in Kiel 1918

Documentary film "In Kiel ist Revolution!" 53 minutes, DVD (German version), 2018.
The film is also available in English in a high definition mp4 format.
By Kay Gerdes und Klaus Kuhl, published by the Gesellschaft für Kieler Stadtgeschichte e.V. as "Historische Filmdokumente Nr. 9". Sponsored by City of Kiel and Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein.

The film highlights in detail the events in November 1918 in Kiel and present them in a larger historical frame. The authors employ historical film- and photo-material, footage from original locations, interviews from the 1970s and 80s with contemporary witnesses (among them Lothar Popp, one of the leaders of the uprising) and explanations by the historian, peace researcher and Noske-biograph Prof. Wolfram Wette. The events in Kiel are presented from different perspectives.

The film music was composed by Gerhard Folkerts. German speaker is the actor and dubbing artist Rolf Becker. The English text was translated by Ian Bennett who is also the speaker of the Englisgh version. We were allowed to use a number of rare photos for the film, among them photos from the collections of Wolfgang D. Kuessner, Klaus Schoppe and Sönke Linning. The project was supported intensively by the City Archive of Kiel.

An accopmpanying brochure in English with the complete text, plus the used sources, and information for teachers is available here (PDF): >>.

The German version of the film was first presented on 24 April 2018 at the metro-cinema in Kiel.

Evaluations and comments on the film: >>

See a small part of the videofilm:
Interview with Julius Bredenbek (*.wmv) then a member of the workers' youth
(1,3 Minuten; 3,5 MB)
To start the clip please click on the photo.

The complete interview and a CV can be found here >>
For individual or scientific use only.


Translated text of the video clip:
Kuhl: The soldier’s council (Soldatenrat) sent delegations to Berlin repeatedly to see Noske and protest against measures downsizing their authority. From your memory, did the workers support this protest?
Bredenbek: Yes, partly. But the larger part was too tired politically, as well as too little developed to comprehend the situation. People wanted to see the war and the consequences of the war eliminated by all means, they wanted order in the country. How we assess this nowadays is a different thing, but this was the overall situation. Tiredness of the war, rejection of the old political powers, yes, but there was no readiness to do something constructively for it. “This will be done by those on top,” was a common saying also among the organised workers, “they will do it allright.”
Kuhl: Could have loyalty against the party leadership also played a part?
Bredenbek: Partly also. One could almost say even a certain implicit obedience against party respective trade union. That’s obvious.

Earlier versions:

"November - Kiel schreibt Geschichte - Matrosenaufstand im November 1918", Klaus Kuhl, 1991. Evaluation of the film by Dirk Dähnhardt (pdf): >>

"Der Zündfunke", 1990 im Rahmen der Medienpädagogik am Kieler Kulturzentrum "Pumpe" von Kay Gerdes produziert.

Other interesting films (German only):

  • NDR/arte, script-author and producer Jens Becker (first presented Oct. 2018 metro-Kino Kiel): "1918 - Aufstand der Matrosen", (earlier title: "Novembersturm"), ca. 90 minutes.
    Karl Artelt, acted by Lucas Prisor is the main figure. The film illustrates the revolution in Kiel by a fictitious plot, which is nevertheless close to the real events.
  • Kai Zimmer (Nov. 2012): "Revolution 18", German, 25 min., 16:9, colour and b/w.
    An experimental documentation, which presents the time between August 1917 and November 1918 from the perspective of the diary records of the engineer Nicolaus Andersen. Andersen worked at the Germania ship yard in Kiel.
  • WDR (5.1.1975): „War Opa revolutionär?“ von Stefan Bartmann und Karl Mertes, wiss. Beratung Imanuel Geiss
    Sendung zum Schülerwettbewerb im Rahmen des Gustav-Heinemann Preises. Contains interviews mit Lothar Popp and Gertrud Völcker.
  • WDR (1986): „Augenzeugen berichten über die Marineunruhen 1917/18“ von Wolfgang Semmelroth und Claus-Ferdinand Siegfried (Regie), ca. 44 Min.
    Contains many interesting interviews among others also with Julius Bredenbek
  • NDR (1.11.1978): "Matrosen, Räte, Republiken", von Hartmut Idzko und Jörg Knickrehm, ca. 23 Minuten
    Contains several statements from Lothar Popp and a description of the revolution on the island of Als where Bruno Topff organised the work of the councils.
  • DEFA (1958): "Das Lied der Matrosen", Regie Kurt Maetzig, 126 Min., sw
    Produced in GDR (German Democratic Republic) >>
  • 1968: "November-Verbrecher", 85 Min., Lichtton, sw, D; this film may be borrowed from German Stadtbildstellen.
    In reportage-like, fiktive interviews with historical persons this film sheds light upon the incidences of those November days. Discussions and negotiations are retraced in form of talks with representatives of the Government, of the Reichstag (parliament), the top military command, with soldiers and journalists. Their statements are based on historical files, minutes, speeches, diaries and similar material.

Update 10 Dec. 2021

  • Interview with one of the leaders: Lothar Popp >>
  • CV L. Popp >>
  • Recollections of the other leader: Karl Artelt >>
  • CV K. Artelt >>
  • Additional temporary witnesses >>
  • Films about the revolt >>
  • Evaluations >>
  • Timeline >>
  • Virtual sightseeing tour >>
  • Commentary >>