The young German Communist Party was by a treacherous murder of their best leaders, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg – deprived of their leadership. She hailed the work of Lenin and Trotsky. Bertolt Brecht’s poetic memorial Epitaph upon her death was included in Kurt Weill’s 1928 composition The Berlin Requiem: “Red Rosa now has vanished too…. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Lenin – extremely modest on a personal level – was quite aware of his own vital political role and took steps, by going into hiding in Finland, to avoid falling into the hands of the counter-revolution. Rosa Luxemburg was released from prison on 9 November 1918 and immediately did all she could to support the No-vember Revolution. On January 15, 1919, Rosa Luxemburg and her co-leader Karl Liebknecht are killed in Berlin by soldiers who were suppressing the uprising, and their bodies were thrown into a canal. Communists will lead a march to the Friedrichsfelde Cemetery in the east of the city and … Rosa Luxemburg confronted an entirely different situation, as a minority, and somewhat isolated in a ‘legal’ mass party with all the attributes described above. Though she and Liebknecht considered it premature, they felt duty-bound to support it and through their newspaper urged the rebels to occupy offices of the liberal (but counterrevolutionary) press. In some instances, it is an inappropriate weapon; at the time of General Lavr Kornilov’s march against Petrograd in August 1917, neither the Bolsheviks nor the soviets (workers’ councils) thought of declaring a general strike. Von Anfang an war Proletariat der revolutionären Bewegung in Russland voraus. She criticised the “clinging mists of parliamentary cretinism”, what would be called “electoralism” at the present time. Karl Liebknecht. But such an approach – justified at one historical period – can be a monumental error at another, when conditions change and particularly when abrupt revolutionary breaks are posed. | Markus Schreiber / AP This week marks the anniversary of the Jan. … Yet even with this stunning display of the power of the working class, it did not lead to a socialist overturn, precisely because of the absence of a mass party and leadership capable of mobilising the masses and establishing an alternative democratic workers’ state. The Kapp putsch in March 1920, when the director of agriculture of Prussia, who represented the Junkers and highly-placed imperial civil servants, took power with the support of the generals, was met with one of the most complete general strikes in history. She was critical of Lenin’s attempt to create in Russia a democratic party but one that was ‘centralised’. Luxemburg and Liebknecht had previously founded and led the Spartacist League – a Marxist revolutionary movement established toward the end of WWI which would lay the roots of the establishment of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) on January 1, 1919. Her book written in prison in 1918 – in which she criticised the Bolshevik regime – was a product of isolation, which she was persuaded not to publish and did not pursue later when released from prison. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Among them were Stalin and Stalinists in the past. Margarethe von Trotha’s outstanding 1986 film ‘Die Geduld der Rosa Luxemburg’ is available online with English subtitles. Their murders, carried out by the soldier Otto Runge, were decisive in the defeat of the German revolution but were also indissolubly linked to the victory of Hitler and the Nazis 14 years later. She was also wrong on the difference between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks (even in July 1914 supporting the opportunists who stood for the ‘unity’ between them) and, as Lenin pointed out, also on the economic ‘theory of accumulation’. August 1871 in Leipzig; † 15. Socialist Appeal, 18 January 1941 Eugene Varlin Karl Liebknecht: Revolutionist The “Democrats” Murdered Him – And Opened the Road to Hitler . The murders unleash a wave of violent protests throughout the country which lasted until May 1919, and whose repression by the military resulted in several thousand deaths. But after the Bolsheviks had won four fifths of the organised workers in Russia by 1912 a formal split took place between them and the Mensheviks. We also saw, without a ‘by-your-leave’ to their leaders, a spontaneous revolutionary explosion in France in 1968 when 10 million workers occupied factories for a month. The dictatorship of the proletariat does not mean bombs, putsches, riots or ‘anarchy’ that the agents of capitalism claim.” This is an answer to those who seek to distort the idea of Karl Marx when he spoke about the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, which in today’s terms, as Luxemburg pointed out, means workers’ democracy. Luxemburg hatte am 7. They were both born in the same year, 1871, and died on the same day, their names necessarily linked in history. But a vital element of Marxism, in developing political influence through a firm organisation or a party, was not sufficiently developed by Rosa Luxemburg or her supporters. Change ). The Socialist Party gets no financial support from big business. Side-by-side: Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg at the SPD Congress in Leipzig in 1909. In Lenin’s work of that period and for a number of years following, one does not find a trace of criticism in principle directed against the Bebel-Kautsky tendency.” Indeed, Lenin thought that Luxemburg’s increasing criticisms of Kautsky and the SPD leadership were somewhat exaggerated. The issue of the general strike is of exceptional importance for Marxists. However, the role of what Marxists describe as the ‘subjective factor’, a mass party, far-sighted leadership, etc, is crucial in transforming a revolutionary situation into a successful revolution. We are pleased to republish this article by Peter Taaffe written on the 90th anniversary of their deaths. Such stages are reached in all revolutions when the working class sees its gains snatched back by the capitalists and comes out onto the streets; the Russian workers in the July Days of 1917 and the May Days in Catalonia in 1937 during the Spanish revolution. This would have removed the two leaders whose ideas and political guidance led to the success of the October revolution. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. In addition it had over 110 deputies in the Reichstag and 220 deputies in the various Landtags (state parliaments) as well as almost 3,000 elected municipal councillors. Only malicious enemies of the heroic traditions of the Bolshevik party circulated this material after her death in an attempt to divide Luxemburg from Lenin, Trotsky, the Bolsheviks and the great work of the Russian revolution. Die … ( Log Out /  Originally a Pole, she was a founder of the Social Democratic party of the Kingdom of Poland (SDKP), in the Russian movement as a participant in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) and a naturalised German and prominent member of the SPD. Indeed, her whole life within the SPD was bent towards rescuing the revolutionary kernel within this organisation from reformism and centrism. He earned his doctorate at the University of Würzburg in 1897 and moved to Berlin in 1899, where he opened a lawyer's office with his brother, Theodor Liebknecht. Lenin organised for future battles, including the revolution. She became involved in underground activities while still in high school.Like many of her radical contemporaries from the Russian Empire who were … Although she was a naturalised German citizen, Luxemburg was considered an ‘outsider’, particularly when she came into conflict with the SPD leadership. Indeed, despite this, Luxemburg’s courage and fortitude shines through when one reads the speeches and criticisms that she made of the party leadership over years. Trotsky pointed out: “Lenin considered Kautsky as his teacher and stressed this everywhere he could. There was also the tumultuous history of the Marxist and workers’ movement in Russia, conditioned by the experience of the struggle against Narodya Volya (People’s Will), the ideas of terrorism, the 1905 and 1917 revolutions, the split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, the first world war, etc. The opposite was the case in 1923 in Germany. Rosa Luxemburg and Jogiches could not be faulted for seeking to organise within the social democracy for as long as possible and, for that matter, the USPD later. Heiko Khoo is a columnist with Court rejects Trump’s drilling proposal in major victory for polar bears ... McConnell’s virus lawsuit ban far worse than advertised. Indeed Lenin, as soon as he was convinced of the betrayal of social democracy – including the ‘renegade Kautsky’ – called for an immediate split, accompanying this with a call for a new, Third International. Unfortunately, the muddled centrist lefts, whose party grew enormously as the social-democratic leaders lost support, let slip the opportunity to create an all-Germany council movement. In Berlin, thousands of people have taken part in commemorations of the life and work of the German communist leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Significant labor actions and uprisings took place in several German cities and states, where temporary “Soviet republics” were established, but the last of them, in Bavaria, was put down in early May 1919. Basing herself on the mass strikes of the Russian revolution, she nevertheless adopted a certain passive and fatalistic approach on this issue. Liebknecht was killed in the Spartacus Revolt of January Während sich die russische Bewegung noch auf Terroranschläge beschränkte, organisierte Proletariat schon Tausende Arbeiter und führte sie in der ersten polnischen Massenbewegung gegen den russischen Absolutismus zum Streik. Carnations are placed in front of a memorial stone with names of socialists at a cemetery in Berlin, Jan. 13, 2019. This hard-won lesson has still not been embraced by some purists on the “ultra-left” who, for example, failed to draw any distinction whatsoever between the “two capitalists” running for president in 2016 and either stayed home or cast their votes for third, “revolutionary” parties. In this period, there were instances where governments took fright at the general strike at its very outset, without provoking the masses to open class conflict, and made concessions. This was seen in the revolutionary events of 1936 in Spain. At the time of the October revolution, in 1917, there was again no talk of a general strike. Karl Liebknecht is correctly bracketed with Luxemburg as the heroic mass figure who stood out against the German war machine and symbolised to the troops in the blood-soaked trenches, not just Germans but French and others, as an indefatigable, working-class, internationalist opponent of the First World War. Home; About; Services Menu Toggle. Both were imprisoned for their anti-war agitation. She has been memorialized in numerous works of literature. Indeed, many revolutions have been made in the teeth of opposition and even sabotage of the leaders of the workers’ own organisations. This split was neither prepared nor desired by these ‘oppositionists’. Other luminaries of the Nazi regime were similarly ‘blooded’ at this time for the future murderous activities in their own country and throughout Europe. STOP the ‘Going to Work Tax’ on NHS workers! Luxemburg was a real internationalist; a participant in the revolutionary movement in three countries. On 15 January 1919, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, the finest brains of the German working class and its most heroic figures, were brutally murdered by the bloodthirsty, defeated German military, backed to the hilt by the cowardly social-democratic leaders Noske and Scheidemann. The SPD particularly feared the impact of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. On this day (15th Jan) in 1919 the two main leaders of the revolutionary movement in Germany, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, were murdered. Rosa Luxemburg und Karl Liebknecht waren KämpferIn der sozialistischen Revolution, Arbeiterdemokratie und des Internationalismus in der SPD. But a firmly-organised nucleus is essential in preparing for the future. This week marks the centennial of the Jan. 15, 1919, murders of German communists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. A strength because the increasing power of the working class was reflected in the SPD and the unions. On the split between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, Luxembourg she was a ‘conciliator’ in her approach, as was Trotsky (shown in his participation in the ‘August bloc’). The events of the German revolution were dealt with in Socialism Today (Issue 123, November 2008) and The Socialist (Issue 555, 4 November 2008). But Rosa Luxemburg, on this anniversary, deserves special attention because of the colossal contribution she made to the understanding of Marxist ideas, theory and their application to the real movement of the working class. So is timing, as the opportunity for a successful social overturn can last for a short time. This, Luxemburg did not achieve, which was to have serious consequences later with the outbreak of the German revolution. Rosa Luxemburg and the Revolutionary Antiwar Mass Strikes in Germany during World War I Since 1906 Rosa Luxemburg was the outstanding protagonist of the revolutionary mass strike idea in Germany. Together with other Spartacists Liebknecht campaigned openly for revolution, forming the German Communist Party at the end of December 1918. A general strike, on a much bigger scale, took place in Russia, in October 1905, on which Rosa Luxemburg comments. Spartacist leaders and KPD pioneers, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Not only that the structure was never built, but also that it was never built in Berlin, confronts us with a double absence of which we are reminded on the centenary of the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht; the radical promises of a communism beyond what the USSR became and the as-of-yet-unsuccessful 1918/1919 German revolutionary movement. In her writings, Luxemburg leveled pointed critiques not only at moderate socialism but also at the new Leninist revolutionary model in Bolshevik Russia. Indeed, when Lenin was presented with an issue of the SPD paper, ‘Vorwärts’, supporting war credits, he first of all considered it a ‘forgery’ of the German military general staff. It was written in opposition to the main theoretician of ‘revisionism’, Eduard Bernstein. Moreover, she herself built up a very ‘rigid, independent organisation’, that is a party, with her co-worker Leo Jogiches in Poland. Jhd. His continuing opposition, and that of Rosa, who also insisted that working people should never massacre each other, meant imprisonment for both till they were freed by the revolution. Emotion Coaching; Free Resources; Blog; Contact Others claim Rosa Luxemburg as their own because of her emphasis on the ‘spontaneous role of the working class’ that seems to correspond to an ‘anti-party mood’, particularly amongst the younger generation, which is, in turn, a product of the feeling of revulsion at the bureaucratic heritage of Stalinism and its echoes in the ex-social democratic parties. Become a People's World sustainer today. In opposition to the slogan ‘All power to the soviets’ – the slogan of the Russian revolution – the reaction led by Noske’s Social Democrats mobilised behind the idea of “All power to the people”. The ‘spontaneous’ character of the German revolution was evident in November 1918. The Bolsheviks enjoyed mass support and under those conditions calling a general strike would have weakened them and not the capitalist enemy. Wilhelm Canaris, the naval officer who assisted the escape of one of Rosa’s murderers, 20 years later was to command the Abwehr, German military intelligence, under the Nazis. The issue of leadership and the need for a party is central to an estimation of Rosa Luxemburg’s life and work. Workers in the factories continued to work too, except those who had left to fight Kornilov. These examples show that the spontaneous movement of the working class is not sufficient in itself to guarantee victory in a brutal struggle against capitalism. This was, in the words of Ruth Fischer, a future leader of the Communist Party of Germany, a “way of life… The individual worker lived in his party, the party penetrated into the workers’ everyday habits. To some extent, this later affected the leaders of the Communist Party (KPD) after her death. Only the day before, Noske and Liebknecht, Ebert and Rosa Luxemburg, were still members of the one and only “united” German Social-Democratic Party. Karl Liebknecht studied law and political economy in Leipzig. Karl Paul August Friedrich Liebknecht (* 13. A Socialist and a vocal critic of the German Social Democratic Party’s (SPD) war policies, co-founder of the anti-war Spartacus League in 1916 and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in 1918, Rosa Luxemburg supported the German Revolution of 1918. Like France in 1968, the government “could not get a single poster printed” as the working class paralysed the government and the state. The political power behind the throne to better-known generals was Major Kurt von Schleicher, who became German Chancellor in 1932 and a gateman for Hitler and the Nazis. Zwischen 1905 und 1910 verbreiterte sich die Kluf… A second revolutionary wave, called the Spartacist uprising, swept Berlin that month. But the social-democratic leaders like Gustav Noske and Philipp Scheidemann conspired with the capitalists and the reactionary scum in the Freikorps (predecessors of the fascists) to take their revenge. On this important anniversary, it is vital to look at Luxemburg’s inspirational, revolutionary legacy. This was the case in Italy in the PRC where the Mandelites (now organised outside in Sinistra Critica) were supporters of the ‘majority’ of Bertinotti until they were ejected and then left the party. This ignited a social revolution which swept through Catalonia and Aragon to the gates of Madrid, with four fifths of Spain initially in the hands of the working class. Luxemburg wrote: “It was always possible to walk out of small sects or small coteries, and, if one does not want to stay there, to apply oneself to building new sects and new coteries. It was these factors, the immense power of the social democracy, on the one side, and the inertia of its top-heavy bureaucracy in the face of looming sharp changes in the situation in Germany and Europe, on the other side, which led to one of Luxemburg’s best-known works, ‘The Mass Strike’ (1906). They can enlighten us particularly the new generation who are moving towards socialist and Marxist ideas. It was virtually “a state within a state”, with over one million members in 1914, 90 daily newspapers, 267 full-time journalists and 3,000 manual and clerical workers, managers, commercial directors and representatives. Januar 1919 von der Garde - Kavallerie - Schützen - Division verschleppten sie ins Hauptquartier verhörten sie unter schweren Misshandlungen erschossen Karl Liebknecht im Tiergarten mit drei Schüssen aus nächster Nähe Leichenzug wurde von KPD & USDP als We do not have a fetish about the general strike. As the war was coming to an end, they were freed from prison. Luxemburg spent much of World War I in prison, meanwhile writing her 'Spartakusbriefe' and 'Die Russisce Revolution', where she welcomed the October Revolution as a precursor of world revolution. She sought unity between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks in Russia. In 1968, in France, the biggest general strike in history posed the question of power but for the reasons explained above, the working class did not seize it. | Markus Schreiber / AP. If the Social Democratic-ordained murders of Liebknecht and Luxemburg were not tragedy enough, the lessons learned were poorly applied. 90th anniversary of murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. After this uprising was suppressed he was arrested by the Scheidemann government and on January 15, 1919 was assassinated together with Rosa Luxemburg by a gang of German officers, covertly abetted by the Scheidemannists «Karl Liebknecht called upon the workers and soldiers of Germany to turn their guns against their own government. After having participated for some months in the First Russian Revolution of 1905/06 she published her important essay “Mass Strikes, Political Party and Trade Unions”. This proved not to be so, unfortunately, because the initiatives from below by the working class, and the opportunities they generated, were squandered. This, unfortunately, includes the term ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, which can be construed as connected to Stalinism. ( Log Out /  Karl Paul August Friedrich Liebknecht was a German socialist politician and theorist, originally of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and later a co-founder with Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany, which split from the SPD after World War I. The answer was Rosa Luxemburg, but she wasn’t given a chance to do so. But nevertheless, right from the first days of war Rosa Luxemburg with some political friends like Clara Zetkin, Franz Mehring and Wilhelm Pieck, joined soon by the member of parliament Karl Liebknecht, tried to regain the party for the old principles of the SPD. Luxemburg and Liebknecht are in the pantheon of the Marxists greats. But it is only an irresponsible daydream to want to liberate the whole mass of the working class from the very weighty and dangerous yoke of the bourgeoisie by a simple ‘walk out’.”. Disgrace of over 4 million children in poverty. In 1915, they broke from the SPD and co-founded the anti-war Spartacus League (Spartakusbund). This led in 1975 to the expropriation of the majority of industry. Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were true revolutionary heroes, and their ideas and legacy will be remembered down the ages. Given the isolation of Berlin from the rest of the country at that stage, a setback or a defeat was inevitable. ( Log Out /  Similarly, in Portugal, in 1974, a revolution not only swept away the Caetano dictatorship but meant that, in its first period, an absolute majority of votes to those standing in elections under a socialist or communist banner. They were both born in the same year, 1871, and died on the same day, their names necessarily linked in history. If the opportunity is lost, it may not recur for a long time, and the working class can suffer a defeat. Freikorps troops captured Luxemburg and Liebknecht without an arrest warrant and summarily executed them. angetreten war, das Proletariat auf Grundlage eines Marxistischen Programms zu organisieren und eine sozialistische Gesellschaft gegen die Interessen der Großgrundbesitzer und Kapit… Im Januar demonstrieren jedes Jahr in Berlin 20.000 Menschen zum Todestag von Rosa Luxemburg und Karl Liebknecht. According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, commemoration of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht continues to play an important role among the German far-left. “Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party—however numerous they may be—is no freedom at all,” she wrote. IT IS ONLY appropriate, of course, that Klaus Gietinger’s The Murder of

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