The story of the German Freikorps (German for "Free Corps) dates all the way back to Prussia during the Seven Year's war and a recruitment campaign by Frederick II of the House of Hohenzollern. Freikorps would later pop up during the Napoleonic Wars, and various other conflicts.

The Freikorps in the modern sense were a post WWI group determined to suppress the threats from the extreme left. They were an anti-republican group that wanted to have an authoritarian rule in Germany. The Freikorps were a very unforgiving and violent group. From a newspaper comic viewed in class, it didn't matter who the target was, there was sure to be a bloody death . [1] This group was led by ex-military officers and personal. Mainly composed of ex- soldiers and un-employed youth, this unit often used terror to put down left wing uprisings. They occasionally fought small wars and were involved in a few assassinations of political leaders. The most known assassination is of Walther Rathenau, the country’s foreign minister, in 1922. Rathenau was shot while doing his daily drive from his house to
Wilhelmstraße, a main street in the center of Berlin. In the beginning they were supported by high end figures such as the defense minister, but eventually such supporters began to see the Freicorps as a threat; After that support came from army members and policemen .[2] The actions committed by the Freikorps came to be known as “White Terror” [3]. This was opposed to red terror committed by bolsheviks on the far left.
Freikorps_recruition
Freikorps recruitment poster

The Freikorps were very adept at squashing left-wing attempts to overthrow the government, but somehow were never around to fight right-wing attempts putsches. When there was a "Spartacist uprising to seize power, [they were] crushed by German army and Freikorps" [4]. During the Kapp Putsch, however, some Freikorps troops actually joined the uprising in Berlin [5].

In spite of the Freikorp's reactionary and violent methods, methods which bear striking similarity to the methods of the Nazi's, the Freikorps were detested by Adolf Hitler, who dismissed them as nihilistic, dangerous and against all authority.


[1] Grosz, Georg, The White General. 1919.
[2]
"Freikorps." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia
Britannica Online. 24 Sep. 2009 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/218844/Freikorps>.
[3] Layton, Geoff. Weimar and the Rise of Nazi Germany. 3rd Edition. London. Hodder, 2005.
[4] ibd.
[5] ibd.