‘Those who do not move, do not notice their chains’, the words of Rosa Luxemburg.
Rosa was born 5th March, 1871 in Zamosc in Russian controlled Poland. She was of Jewish heritage and spoke German, Polish and Russian. Luxemburg was strongly socialist from her earliest years and moved to Germany to further her ambitions of promoting socialist ideals.
It was in 1914 that Luxemburg was one of three who founded the Die International group which went on, in 1916, to become the Spartacus League, named for the rebellious Roman slave. This revolutionary movement was fundamentally opposed to World War 1 and, as a result, Rosa was imprisoned for 2 years.
After her eventual release, she continued to agitate in favour of communism in Germany, fervently opposing the ruling elite at that time. It was following a period of urban upheaval, that on January 1st, 1919, Rosa Luxemburg declared:
Today we can seriously set about destroying capitalism once and for all. Nay, more; not merely are we today in a position to perform this task, nor merely is its performance a duty toward the proletariat, but our solution offers the only means of saving human society from destruction.
In response to the communist’s ill-fated uprising, the Chancellor, Friedrich Ebert (a former student of Rosa’s) ordered his Freikorps to arrest Luxemburg. It was on 15th January, 1919, that Rosa Luxemburg was detained, tortured and executed by the uniformed thugs of the German state authorities. Her body was tossed into Berlin’s Landwehr Canal.
Rosa’s body was eventually recovered and interred in the Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery in Berlin, where every second Sunday of January communists and socialists gather to remember her.
The clips that follow are a brief introduction to one of the most courageous and principled socialists to have emerged at a time of great turmoil across Europe. There is also a clip containing the better-known quotes from Rosa.
It should be noted that, although Rosa Luxemburg was of Jewish extraction, she was opposed to the nascent Zionist movement that had emerged in Europe at that time.
Rosa Luxemburg was a visionary, a humanitarian, a socialist and a revolutionary. She was acquainted with Lenin and her theories on politics where to the fore of the communist movement in Europe at the time. She was a woman who excelled in a man’s world. She was a Republican, and defender of exploited people, who was brutally shot down for her refusal to go on bended knee before the powers and immoral ideals of Capitalism.