“The SPD’s pledge to support the war credits provided the necessary unity in Germany to wage a complete and efficient war. The Socialist majoritarians in the Reichstag were sincere in their conviction that Germany became involved in the interest of self-preservation. A defensive war could be justified ideologically on the grounds that Marx and Engels acknowledged the right of national defense. Engels, for example, had justified a war of defense against Russia and France, but with the provision that the proletariat should lead the war and bring about the downfall of militarism and reactionism at the war’s conclusion. Russia, in the eyes of German Socialists, was an invader who would bring horror to the fatherland; German women and children must not fall into the hands of the barbaric Cossacks. Philipp Scheidemann wrote to the ‘New York Volkszeitung’ on August 21 that “nobody” wanted war in Germany. “The chief guilt for the present war rests upon Russia”. The average German worker, too, believed that this was a war to defend the fatherland. The majority of the German people were ignorant of Germany’s annexationist designs until 1917. Moreover, the Socialists, even Liebknecht, considered Russia to be the epitome of reaction. Prussianism was bad enough, but Russianism was worse. This gave the Socialists, and perhaps Liebknecht too, the psychological justification for their party’s August 4th action. The watchwords “invasion”, “war of defense”, and “struggle against tsarism” had their effect upon the SPD. By voting for the war credits on August 4, Liebknecht broke the tradition of his father, who had abstained from voting in a parallel situation in 1870. It is interesting to speculate why this most outspoken enemy of militarism and war did not apparently remain loyal to his professed ideals when he failed to break party discipline and vote against the credits. We have his own words as a partial basis for an explanation. He admitted that the failure to cast the negative vote stemmed from uncertainty and weakness. He constantly nourished the hope, however, that the Socialists’ action in voting for the credits would be nothing more than a sad and fleeting episode, that the SPD would surely come back to its senses, especially when the true character of the war was revealed. Not to be overlooked was the tradition of holy respect for party discipline. The insistence for absolute party discipline in the past, moreover, had been the practice of the party minority specifically; it was the radicals, including Liebknecht, who consistently took the majority to task for its inclination to break discipline in its efforts to “reform” the party. Now, on August 4, the minority felt obligated to maintain the respect for majority decisions out of devotion to that discipline which it had insisted the majority uphold. A separate vote was something unheard of in the history of the SPD’s parliamentary participation; it was inconceivable, psychologically, that the party would ever display a divided front on the floor of the Reichstag. Respect for discipline was so strong that Liebknecht could but rebel in spirit and declare “that he could not himself understand what had possessed him when he gave his vote in the Reichstag to the war budget” [Karl W. Meyer, Karl Liebknecht man without a country, Washington, 1957]