marched through Berlin on January 13 to pay their respects 100 years after the
brutal murders of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht on January 15, 1919.
from all corners of Germany and many foreign countries laid red flowers at the
tombs of Luxemburg, Liebknecht and other revolutionaries in the Friedrichsfelde
Socialist Cemetery in east Berlin on the Sunday preceding the centenary of
their deaths, which falls on Tuesday.
German communist leaders were assassinated in 1919 as the Spartacist revolt was
crushed by the “Freikorps,” a far-right grouping of demobbed German soldiers
who had refused to give up their weapons after the German surrender in World
War I, on the orders of Social Democrat Party leaders Friedrich Ebert and
sang the Internationale and chants echoed from the myriad socialist groups who
came together to honour the martyred revolutionaries, calling for solidarity
with the Kurdish people oppressed by Turkey’s Erdogan regime, with the workers
struggling against repressive governments in Sudan and Iran and for an end to
neoliberalism and warmongering in the EU and Nato.
included the last prime minister of the German Democratic Republic and honorary
Left party chairman Hans Modrow, numerous Left MPs, many members of the German
Communist Party and international guests including Campaign for Nuclear
Disarmament general secretary Kate Hudson and Communist Party of Britain leader
huge demonstration came a day after the largest yet annual Rosa Luxemburg
Conference in Berlin, hosted by the Morning Star’s German sister newspaper
Junge Welt. Over 3,500 socialists came together for a day of discussion on
themes including the next crisis of capitalism, the changing nature of
imperialist war and the prospects for socialist revolution.
and panel discussions were interspersed with cultural content including a
theatre piece on Rosa Luxemburg and the Perfect Revolution, songs and rallies.
rose to a crescendo in the session devoted to the 60th anniversary of the Cuban
Revolution, with Culture Minister Abel Prieto and Cuban Communist Party central
committee member Iliana Hernandez.
to the rise of the far right in many parts of Europe, Junge Welt warned that
“we are slipping back into barbarism, to which socialism is the only
alternative. That’s why we must honour Rosa and Karl, not just this year, but
hundred years ago, as the last days of 1918 became the early days of 1919, the
newly founded German Communist Party (KPD), with 50,000 members, held a crucial
congress. Inspired by the success of Lenin and his 1917 Bolshevik Revolution,
they voted to oppose both the councils and the Constituent Assembly that were
ruling a defeated, demoralised and almost destroyed country and organise an
armed uprising to take power and establish a truly socialist Germany.
Party founder and Spartacus League leader and theoretician, 47 year old Rosa
Luxemburg was far from convinced that such a move could be successful, but she
decided reluctantly to join the fight. This German revolution, with inadequate
forces, fizzled out rather as Luxemburg had so sadly predicted.
stayed in the capital, and in January, she was seized, along with her chief
ally Karl Liebknecht. In 1914 he had been the only member of the Reichstag to
vote against German involvement in the war. The pair were arrested by members
of the Freikorps — a private army led by extreme right-wing proto-fascist
officers in charge of ex-soldiers who had defied the Treaty of Versailles and
held on to their weapons after the war.
Freikorps blamed Social Democrats and Jews for Germany’s plight and called for
the elimination of what they saw as traitors to the Fatherland. They took
Liebknecht to the Tiergarten park in the west of the city, where he was
murdered with a bullet in the head.
meanwhile, was held and tortured in the Eden Berlin Hotel which was being used
as army headquarters. She was led out of the building where two blows from a
rifle butt smashed her skull. Her almost lifeless body was flung into a car
where a further blow and a bullet in the head finished her off. Her beaten and
bloody body was dumped in the Landwehr Canal in Kreuzberg, not to be found
until months later.
may have been dead but her ideas and her beliefs could not be extinguished as
easily as her frail body. When he heard of her death, Lenin, with whom
Luxemburg had many discussions, arguments and disagreements, said: “Rosa
Luxemburg was and remains for us an eagle and not only will communists all over
the world cherish her memory, but her biography and her complete works will
serve as useful manuals for training many generations of communists all over
the world.” (IPA Service)
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