During the first days of May we will be re-enacting an infamous riot that took place in RL Berlin 1929.
In this blog post you will find information about what is going to happen in our sim and the historical background to the real riots.
The 1929 Berlin riots in our Sim
We will try and recreate the real 1929 riots as realistically as we can within the limited options SL offers us.
Our sim is not like the Wild West, we are not a combat sim, so please make sure you know the projects rules and understand them before you take part in the madness of May 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
On May 1st at around 2PM SLT German Communists and sympathizers will gather outside the KPD HQ in the narrow Mieze Gasse, a side street of Friedrichstrasse.
There are rumours that the mayor has given permission for the march, other people may have heard that there is no permission but that the police said they wouldn’t stop the people… but the truth is that the ban on large public gatherings in the open air is still in effect and the police has been ordered to use brute force to stop any groups gathering.
Some of the people walking on the streets today will be hardcore communists, intent on marching and ready to fight.
But some may just be socialists on their way to legal indoor gatherings or innocent bystanders coming to see what is going on and kids just looking for adventure.
The group will march to Friedrichstrasse towards Unter den Linden but when they reach the Volksbad, they will realise that the Police is not going to let them trough.
There they will be confronted by officers who have been ordered to make sure the groups of people will not reach the ‘good’ part of Berlin where all the nice houses and big shops are.
The protesters will be upset, stones and bottles will be thrown and then a shot sounds…
It is unclear who shoots first, but chaos will follow!
On May 2nd at 2PM SLT there is still a state of emergency, but because the Police now has control over Friedrichstrasse a group of rioters have chosen to target the Reichswehr barracks.
Not, at first, to attack but to try and get the soldiers on their side.
Many of the soldiers are socialists and some communists, among the rioters may be WW1 veterans, so the initial contact is one of trying to find allies, trying to talk the soldiers into joining the rioters.
The rioters at this time have a point because police clearly reacted way too violently and maybe the army can bring peace back to the city or at least give the people some guns!
Of course the army does not respond as the mob has in mind and things get out of hand.
Will the barrack’s gates be forced open, will rioters climb the walls, will the soldiers barricade themselves in the building, will shots be fired, will people die?
It is up to you.
On May 3rd at 2pm SLT a severely wounded rioter is taken to the hospital on Alexanderplatz under police protection as he is their prisoner.
As doctors and nurses help the man and deal with stubborn and battle hardened cops, friends of the prisoner gather outside the hospital and decide to try and liberate him.
As you can see we’re having 3 events on all the 3 days of the rioting at 3 different locations.
For these three days all other events will be cancelled, police and protesters will play a cat and mouse game, houses can be searched, Berlin is a city of fear.
On the first day it will be rioters VS Police, on the second day it will be rioters VS police and army at the barracks, on the third day it will be rioters VS police VS hospital staff.
The police will block off part of the city, patrol, check people and will open fire at houses with red flags and people gathering.
Please be prepared to be hassled by them, even questioned.
If you don’t want to be part of this you may have to avoid the city or at least the working class district (west of Unter Den Linden).
Communists and other rioters will walk around with red flags and build their own barricades.
Shots will be fired, avatars may die.
For these 3 days Berlin will be in a state of emergency.
Follow police orders or face the consequences.
What to do
First you choose a side, do you want to be a protestor, part of the law enforcement side, a medic or simply a bystander.
Keep in mind that you can’t just pretend to be a soldier, nurse or police officer, you’ll have to sign up, invest in an uniform, weapon, etc.
If you choose to be a rioter, remember that you are NOT allowed to use a gun unless you’ve been given permission by the KPD leadership!
During the real 1929 riots there were very few guns involved besides the ones used by the police, we want to make our riots more realistic even if that means there is no balance between the two sides and it won’t be a fair fight.
We’re going for historical accuracy here.
Of course, not having a gun does not mean you can’t have a weapon.
You can use sticks, stones, knives, etc.
Marketplace has many RP weapons that allow you to fight with someone, hit them with a club, stab them, etc.
We will NOT be using a HUD, in stead we’re using the old basic SL damage system.
Being shot will teleport you back to a spot you’ve set as home.
You may want to consider setting a neutral spot in Berlin as your home for these days, if you haven’t already.
Or even better and more realistic, set your home to near the hospital.
Hopefully we can try the Linden Lab Experience based system next year!
Of course this means that this year the emphasis will be more on roleplay than on combat and if you get wounded and teleported back home, it is up to you to decide if you want to run straight back to the battle or want to go to the hospital and RP getting help with your injuries.
Remember that if you choose to roleplay a brutal dramatic and very public death, it will be very difficult for your avatar to explain returning to Berlin after the riots, it may also be quite tricky to explain why you, as a high society fancy lady were seen dressed in working class clothes fighting for communism.
Just like it is also a stretch of the imagination to see your neighbour who is generally just a lazy playboy suddenly as a tough police officer.
For these reasons it is highly advisable to create an alternate avatar, an alt, just for these riots.
That way you don’t have to worry about any repercussions like losing your job, losing friends, having to go to jail and losing your home or having to live without a leg!
Of course having an alt can also be useful if you want to go have a wild party at the brothel without ruining your reputation or upsetting your wife….
Please remember that most common people would not own guns, they would use whatever they could find to throw at the police and of course some would use knives.
There are some rather interesting weapons available on marketplace that use animations and can knock your opponent out, like the truncheon the police uses.
And those work even without rezzing permissions which your alt probably won’t have.
People who play gangster, who start shooting like crazy, who ruin roleplay, who use modern or weapons we don’t allow, risk being kicked out of the sim and even (temporarily) banned.
Again; an interesting history based roleplay event is what we have in mind, not a crazy shoot-em-up.
Another tip would be to look for wounded tattoo layers, bloody bandages or other things like that to make yourself look the part when things go wrong.
It adds to the realism and you can’t be sure you like the stuff you can get at our hospital, if there is anything at all.
Join the KPD group to communicate with the other revolutionaries.
We hope to see you here on May 1st as part of the communists, the police, the navy, the army, the medical staff or as a bystander.
Please remember that if you have not been to Berlin before, that we have a strict 1920s dress code.
The REAL 1929 may riots of 1929
Demonstrations in the open air without special permission have been illegal since 1924 in Germany but this rarely caused any serious problems.
But by 1929 the political tension in Germany had heated up so much that trouble was brewing.
At the end of 1928 Adolf Hitler’s public speech ban was lifted and he had started agitating the situation in the country right away, causing even more street fighting and several deaths.
The Berlin Police President Karl Friedrich Zörgiebel then reinforced the ban on all public open air gatherings of a political nature in Berlin.
When in April 1929 the Communist Party (KPD) started calling workers to come to the May day rally, it was announced that this public gathering ban would also be valid on may the 1st.
The communists were furious and threatened to have their rally anyway.
The police started preparing for riots and street fighting, extra troops were called in. On April the 30th the KPD handed out leaflets claiming the political gathering ban had been lifted, but it was not.
There were also rumours going around the city that the police would look the other way and ignore the marchers, they would not.
On May 1st thousands of Berliners started gathering and went on their way to the center.
For them this May day was more important then usual.
At this time the newspapers were full of the trial around the murder of revolutionary leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1919 and it seemed that the murderers would be very mildly punished, people were angry.
They also wanted to celebrate their 10th anniversary of the Komintern.
To add to all this, the government of Germany was led by the Social Democratic Party, a left wing party.
Having a party with who the Communists shared several ideologies but also be their oldest and perhaps biggest opponent, tell the KPD they couldn’t march was like rubbing salt into a wound. And of course the Nazi’s were growing and becoming louder and more aggressive all the time, it sometimes seemed like they were not being stopped by anyone while the Communists were not allowed to do anything.
The communists were furious, the city was tense.
The City Council told people that they were permitted and celebrate May Day but only indoors.
Many people did just that, having huge gatherings in halls and public buildings.
But others did not receive that information or just felt they had to right to march outside.
When the police saw large groups of people marching trough Berlin with red flags and armbands, they took action.
They attacked people with batons, used water cannons and warning shots were fired.
The Social Democrats had followed the outdoor gathering ban and had had their may day meetings indoors but unfortunately they had to go outside to go there and to return home.
After his return home from such a meeting Max Gmeinhardt was shot when he didn’t close his window fast enough when the police ordered him to.
Other groups of innocent bystanders, civilians and Socialists simply going to or returning from permitted gatherings were set upon by the police.
With now also the social democrats, workers and poor people in general becoming furious, the conflict escalated rapidly.
In the afternoon barricades were erected to make it harder for Police cars to reach certain areas.
In the evening the police started using armoured vehicles with machine guns, only meant to be used when the police was fired upon.
Police start shooting at houses with red flags.
On May 2nd the KPD called people to go on strike as a reply to the police violence.
On May 2nd and may 3rd the police combed trough the working class areas, searched houses and arrested countless people.
In total 33 demonstrators, workers and bystanders had been killed by the police, most of those on just the first day and at least 80 were seriously injured. The Berlin police, under control of the supposedly pro-labour social democratic government, had fired a total of 11,000 rounds of live ammunition.
This incident, remembered in the German language as Blutmai (“Blood May”) deepened the split between the SPD and the Communist Party, which indirectly helped the German right wing parties and the eventual rise of the Nazi Party in the German parliament.