Zimmerwald Conference issues a call for immediate peace - HISTORY
Year
1915

Zimmerwald Conference issues a call for immediate peace

On September 11, 1915, at Zimmerwald in Switzerland, delegates to the First International Socialist Conference call for an immediate end to the First World War.

Even as battle dragged on in the trenches of the Western Front and the war in the air intensified with increased German air strikes on London and its environs, a group of dedicated anti-war activists and committed socialists gathered in neutral Switzerland from September 5 to 11, 1915, as the First International Socialist Conference. Formally assembled by the Swiss and Italian Socialist parties, the conference included some 40 delegates from 11 countries, including Russia, Poland, France, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway. Among the more prominent attendees were Vladimir Lenin, exiled leader of the radical socialist Bolshevik Party; Leon Trotsky, Lenin’s former political rival and future second-in-command; and Karl Liebknecht, an elected representative to the German Reichstag government who would later break from the Social Democratic party to found the Bolshevik-inspired Spartacist movement with Rosa Luxemburg.

According to the conference’s manifesto, “the war which has produced this chaos is the outcome of imperialism, of the attempt, on the part of the capitalist classes of each nation, to foster their greed for profit by the exploitation of human labor and of the natural treasures of the entire globe.” In order to force an immediate end to the war, the conference insisted, workers within each country should try by any means necessary to convert the current capitalist struggle into a more enlightened one: an international workers’ revolution or civil war “between the classes” that would spread throughout Europe, and eventually the world.

Two years later, with revolution in full swing in Russia and Czar Nicholas II off the throne, Lenin returned to Russia from exile—smuggled in with the help of the Germans—to carry out what he saw as the first step in fulfilling the resolution decided upon at the Zimmerwald Conference. After seizing control of Russia from the provisional government, he and Trotsky consolidated power for the Bolsheviks, declaring an immediate armistice with the Central Powers and pulling Russia out of World War I by the end of 1917.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The Christiana Riot

In Christiana, Pennsylvania, a group of African Americans and white abolitionists skirmish with a Maryland posse intent on capturing four fugitive slaves hidden in the town. The violence came one year after the second fugitive slave law was passed by Congress, requiring the ...read more

America victorious on Lake Champlain

During the Battle of Plattsburg on Lake Champlain, a newly built U.S. fleet under Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough destroys a British squadron, forcing the British to abandon their siege of the U.S. fort at Plattsburg and retreat to Canada on foot. The American victory saved ...read more

Allende dies in coup

Chile’s armed forces stage a coup d’état against the government of President Salvador Allende, the first democratically elected Marxist leader in Latin America. Allende retreated with his supporters to La Moneda, the fortress-like presidential palace in Santiago, which was ...read more

Attack on America

At 8:45 a.m. on a clear Tuesday morning, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The impact left a gaping, burning hole near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, ...read more

Heavy fighting rages in Tay Ninh

On this day, a major battle begins for control of Tay Ninh City. More than 1,500 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong attacked the provincial capital, capturing part of the city. The next day, 2,000 South Vietnamese reinforcements were sent in to aid the local garrison and after a ...read more

1st Cavalry Division arrives in country

1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) begins to arrive in South Vietnam at Qui Nhon, bringing U.S. troop strength in South Vietnam to more than 125,000. The unit, which had a long and storied history, was the first full U.S. Army division deployed to Vietnam. The division consisted ...read more

Pete Rose hits into the record books

On this day in 1985, Cincinnati Reds player-manager Pete Rose gets the 4,192nd hit of his career, breaking Ty Cobb’s major league record for career hits. Rose was a folk hero in Cincinnati, a homegrown talent known as “Charlie Hustle” for his relentless work ethic.Pete Rose was ...read more

Fatal Attraction premieres

On this day in 1987, the thriller Fatal Attraction, about a married man who has a fling with a woman who then becomes obsessed with him and stalks his family, premieres in U.S. theaters. Fatal Attraction, which starred Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, was a box-office hit and ...read more

Commuter plane crashes

A Continental Express commuter plane crashes in Texas near Houston, killing 14 people, on this day in 1991. The accident was caused by poor communication by the maintenance crew during a shift change.The Brazilian-made Embraer 120 aircraft was scheduled for maintenance the ...read more

Silent-film star arrested for murder

Fatty Arbuckle, a silent-film era performer at the height of his fame, is arrested in San Francisco for the rape and murder of aspiring actress Virginia Rappe. Arbuckle was later acquitted by a jury, but the scandal essentially put an end to his career.Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle ...read more

Rebels begin Cheat Mountain campaign

Confederate troops under General Robert E. Lee move into position against a Union stronghold on Cheat Mountain in western Virginia, only to retreat three days later without firing a shot.The first few months of the war in western Virginia did not go well for the Confederates. The ...read more

Nikita Khrushchev dies

Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, one of the most significant figures of the Cold War and certainly one of the most colorful, dies. During the height of his power in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Khrushchev was involved in some of the most important events of the Cold ...read more