|Born||5 March 1871
Zamość, Congress Poland, Russian Empire
|Died||15 January 1919
|Alma mater||University of Zurich (Dr.jur., 1897)|
|Political party||Proletariat Party
Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania
Social Democratic Party of Germany
Independent Social Democratic Party
Communist Party of Germany
|Relatives||Eliasz Luxemburg (father)
Line Löwenstein (mother)
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Rosa Luxemburg (also Rozalia Luxenburg; Polish: Róża Luksemburg; 5 March 1871 – 15 January 1919) was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and revolutionary socialist of Polish-Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen. She was, successively, a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD), and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).
In 1915, after the SPD supported German involvement in World War I, she and Karl Liebknecht co-founded the anti-war Spartakusbund ("Spartacus League"), which eventually became the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). During the November Revolution she co-founded the newspaper Die Rote Fahne ("The Red Flag"), the central organ of the Spartacist movement.
She considered the Spartacist uprising of January 1919 a blunder, but supported it as events unfolded. Friedrich Ebert's Majority Social Democratic government crushed the revolt and the Spartakusbund by sending in the Freikorps (government-sponsored paramilitary groups consisting mostly of extreme right-wing World War I veterans). Freikorps troops captured and murdered Luxemburg and Liebknecht. Luxemburg's body was thrown in the Landwehr Canal in Berlin.
Due to her pointed criticism of both the Marxist-Leninist and the more moderate social democrat schools of socialism, Luxemburg has had a somewhat ambivalent reception among scholars and theorists of the political left. Nonetheless, some Marxists came to regard Luxemburg and Liebknecht as martyrs.
- 1 Life
- 2 Thought
- 3 Last words: belief in the revolution
- 4 Memorials
- 5 Rosa Luxemburg Memorial
- 6 In popular culture and literature
- 7 Works
- 8 Writings
- 9 Speeches
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Bibliography
- 13 External links
Luxemburg was born to a Jewish family in Zamość on 5 March 1871, in Russian-controlled Congress Poland. She was the fifth and youngest child of timber trader Eliasz Luxemburg and Line Löwenstein. Luxemburg later stated that her father gave her an interest in liberal ideas, while her mother was religious, well read, with books in the home. The family spoke German and Polish, and Luxemburg also learned Russian. The family moved to Warsaw in 1873. After being bedridden with a hip ailment at the age of five, she was left with a permanent limp.
Starting in 1880, Luxemburg attended a Gymnasium. From 1886, she belonged to the Polish, left-wing Proletariat party (founded in 1882, anticipating the Russian parties by 20 years). She began in politics by organizing a general strike; as a result, four of the party's leaders were put to death and the party was disbanded, though remaining members, including Luxemburg, met in secret. In 1887, she passed her Matura examinations. After fleeing to Switzerland to escape detention in 1889, she attended the University of Zurich (as did the socialists Anatoly Lunacharsky and Leo Jogiches), studying philosophy, history, politics, economics, and mathematics. She specialized in Staatswissenschaft (the science of forms of state), the Middle Ages, and economic and stock exchange crises.
Her doctoral dissertation, "The Industrial Development of Poland" (Die Industrielle Entwicklung Polens), was officially presented in spring 1897 to the University of Zurich, which awarded her a Doctor of Law degree. Her dissertation was published by Duncker and Humblot in Leipzig in 1898. She was an oddity in Zurich as almost the only woman with a doctorate. She followed in the footsteps of Plekhanov and Axelrod, plunging immediately into the politics of international Marxism.
In 1893, with Leo Jogiches and Julian Marchlewski (alias Julius Karski), Luxemburg founded the newspaper Sprawa Robotnicza ("The Workers' Cause"), to oppose the nationalist policies of the Polish Socialist Party, believing that only through socialist revolution in Germany, Austria, and Russia could an independent Poland exist. She maintained that the struggle should be against capitalism, not just for an independent Poland. Her position of denying a national right of self-determination under socialism provoked philosophic tension with Vladimir Lenin. She and Leo Jogiches co-founded the Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland (Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, SDKPiL, after merging with Lithuania's social democratic organization). Despite living in Germany for most of her adult life, Luxemburg was the principal theoretician of the Polish Social Democrats, and led the party in a partnership with Jogiches, its principal organizer.
Luxemburg moved to Germany to be at the centre of the party struggle: but could not have indefinite leave to remain. She decided to marry the son of an old friend, Gustav Lubeck, in order to gain nationality in April 1897. Citizenship meant she could leave her husband, they never lived together, but she was a German citizen for life. They obtained a divorce five years later. She returned briefly to Paris, then moving permanently to Berlin to begin her fight to bring Edward Berstein's constitutional reform movement. She hated the stifling conservatism of Berlin. She despised the Prussian men, generally resenting urban capitalism's grip, as she saw it, on social democracy. In the SPD's women's section she met Clara Zetkin, of whom she made a lifelong friend. Rosa was on the uncompromising left-wing of Social Democracy, whose position was clearly that the objectives of liberation for the industrial working class and all minorities could only be achieved in revolution.
The recently published Letters of Rosa Luxemburg shed important light on Rosa Luxemburg’s life in Germany. As Irene Gammel writes in a review of the English translation of the book in the Globe and Mail: “The three decades covered by the 230 letters in this collection provide the context for her major contributions as a political activist, socialist theorist and writer.” Her reputation was tarnished by Stalin's cynicism in Questions Concerning the History of the Bolshevism in his rewriting of Russian events he placed the blame for the theory of permanent revolution on her shoulders, with faint praise for her attacks on Kautsky, which she commenced in 1910.
According to Gammel, “In her controversial tome of 1913, The Accumulation of Capital, as well as through her work as a co-founder of the radical Spartacus League, Luxemburg helped to shape Germany’s young democracy by advancing an international, rather than a nationalist, outlook. This farsightedness partly explains her remarkable popularity as a socialist icon and its continued resonance in movies, novels and memorials dedicated to her life and oeuvre.” Gammel also notes that for Rosa, “the revolution was a way of life,” and yet that the letters also challenge the stereotype of “Red Rosa” as a ruthless fighter. But this work sparked angry accusations from the German Communist Party; in 1923 Ruth Fischer and Arkadi Maslow denounced the work as "errors", a derivative work of economic miscalculation known as "spontaneity".
Before World War I
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In May 1898 Luxemburg married Gustav Lübeck, obtained German citizenship, and moved to Berlin. There, she was active in the left wing of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), in which she sharply defined the border between her faction and the Revisionism Theory of Eduard Bernstein by attacking him in her brochure, released in September 1898, titled Social Reform or Revolution. Luxemburg's rhetorical skill made her a leading spokeswoman in denouncing the SPD's reformist parliamentary course. She argued that the critical difference between capital and labour could only be countered if the proletariat assumed power and effected revolutionary changes in production methods. She wanted the Revisionists ousted from the SPD. That did not occur, but Karl Kautsky's leadership retained a Marxist influence on its programme.
From 1900, Luxemburg published analyses of contemporary European socio-economic problems in newspapers. Foreseeing war, she vigorously attacked what she saw as German militarism and imperialism. She wanted a general strike to rouse the workers to solidarity and prevent the coming war; the SPD leaders refused, and she broke with Karl Kautsky in 1910. Between 1904 and 1906, she was imprisoned for her political activities on three occasions. In 1907, she went to the Russian Social Democrats' Fifth Party Day in London, where she met Vladimir Lenin. At the Second International (Socialist) Congress, in Stuttgart, she moved a resolution, which was accepted, that all European workers' parties should unite in attempting to stop the war.
Luxemburg taught Marxism and economics at the SPD's Berlin training centre. A student of hers, Friedrich Ebert later became SPD leader, and later the Weimar Republic's first president. In 1912 she was the SPD representative at the European Socialists congresses. With French socialist Jean Jaurès, she argued that European workers' parties should organize a general strike when war broke out. In 1913, she told a large meeting: "If they think we are going to lift the weapons of murder against our French and other brethren, then we shall shout: 'We will not do it!'". But in 1914, when nationalist crises in the Balkans erupted to violence and then war, there was no general strike and the SPD majority supported the war – as did the French Socialists. The Reichstag unanimously agreed to financing the war. The SPD voted in favour of that and agreed to a truce (Burgfrieden) with the Imperial government, promising to refrain from any strikes during the war. This led Luxemburg to contemplate suicide: The "revisionism" she had fought since 1899 had triumphed.
In response, Luxemburg organised anti-war demonstrations in Frankfurt, calling for conscientious objection to military conscription and the refusal to obey orders. On that account, she was imprisoned for a year for "inciting to disobedience against the authorities' law and order". Her internationalism made her a truly great visionary leader. Shortly after her death, her fame was alluded to by Zinoviev at the Petrograd soviet on January 18, 1919 who adjudged her astute assessment of Bolshevism.
During the war
In August 1914, Luxemburg, along with Karl Liebknecht, Clara Zetkin and Franz Mehring, founded the Die Internationale group; it became the Spartacus League in January 1916. They wrote illegal, anti-war pamphlets pseudonymously signed "Spartacus" (after the slave-liberating Thracian gladiator who opposed the Romans); Luxemburg's pseudonym was "Junius" (after Lucius Junius Brutus, founder of the Roman Republic).
The Spartacist League vehemently rejected the SPD's support for the war, trying to lead Germany's proletariat to an anti-war general strike. As a result, in June 1916 Luxemburg was imprisoned for two and a half years, as was Karl Liebknecht. During imprisonment, she was twice relocated, first to Posen (now Poznań), then to Breslau (now Wrocław).
Friends smuggled out and illegally published her articles. Among them was "The Russian Revolution", criticising the Bolsheviks, presciently warning of their dictatorship. Nonetheless, she continued calling for a "dictatorship of the proletariat", albeit not the One Party Bolshevik model. In that context, she wrote "Freiheit ist immer die Freiheit des Andersdenkenden" ("Freedom is always the freedom of the one who thinks differently"). Another article, written in 1915 and published in June 1916, was "Die Krise der Sozialdemokratie" ("The Crisis of Social Democracy").
In 1917, the Spartacist League was affiliated with the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) (anti-war, ex-SPD members, founded by Hugo Haase). In November 1918, the USPD and the SPD assumed power in the new republic upon the Kaiser's abdication. This followed the German Revolution begun in Kiel, when Workers' and Soldiers' Councils seized most of Germany, to put an end to World War I and to the monarchy. The USPD and most of the SPD members supported the councils, while SPD leaders feared this could lead to a Räterepublik ("council republic") like the soviets of the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917.
German Revolution of 1918–1919 and murder
Luxemburg was freed from prison in Breslau on 8 November 1918. One day later, Karl Liebknecht, who had also been freed from prison, proclaimed the Freie Sozialistische Republik (Free Socialist Republic) in Berlin. He and Luxemburg reorganised the Spartacus League and founded the Red Flag newspaper, demanding amnesty for all political prisoners and the abolition of capital punishment in an essay titled "Against Capital Punishment." On 14 December 1918, they published the new programme of the Spartacist League.
From 29–31 December 1918, they took part in a joint congress of the Spartacist League, independent Socialists, and the International Communists of Germany (IKD), that led to the foundation of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) under the leadership of Karl Liebknecht and Luxemburg on 1 January 1919. She supported the new KPD's participation in the Weimar National Assembly that founded the Weimar Republic; but she was out-voted, and the KPD boycotted the elections.
In January 1919, a second revolutionary wave swept Berlin. On New Year's Day she 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. 
Like Liebknecht, Luxemburg refused to reject this violent attempt to seize power. But the Red Flag encouraged the rebels to occupy the editorial offices of the liberal press.
In response to the uprising, Social Democratic leader Friedrich Ebert ordered the Freikorps to destroy the left-wing revolution. Luxemburg and Liebknecht were captured in Berlin on 15 January 1919 by the Rifle Division of the Cavalry Guards of the Free Corps (Freikorps' Garde-Kavallerie-Schützendivision). Its commander, Captain Waldemar Pabst (1880–1970), along with Lieutenant Horst von Pflugk-Harttung (1889-1967), questioned them under torture, and then gave the order to execute them. Luxemburg was knocked down with a rifle butt by soldier Otto Runge (1875–1945), then shot in the head, either by Lieutenant Kurt Vogel (1889-1967), or by Lieutenant Hermann Souchon (1894–1982). Her body was flung into Berlin's Landwehr Canal. In the Tiergarten Karl Liebknecht was shot and his body, without a name, brought to a morgue.
The murders of Luxemburg and Liebknecht inspired a new wave of violence began in Berlin, and across Germany. Thousands of KPD members, other revolutionaries, and civilians were killed. Finally, the People's Navy Division (Volksmarinedivision), and Workers' and Soldiers' councils, which had moved to the political left, disbanded. Luxemburg was held in high regard by Lenin and Trotsky, who recognised at the Third International her revolutionary credentials.
The last part of the German Revolution saw many instances of armed violence, and strikes throughout Germany, which lasted until May 1919. Significant strikes occurred in Berlin, Bremen Soviet Republik, Saxony, Saxony Gotha, Hamburg, the Rhinelands, and the Ruhr region. Last to strike was the Munich Soviet Republic, which was suppressed on 2 May 1919.
More than four months after the murders of Luxemburg and Liebknecht, on 1 June 1919, Luxemburg's corpse was found and identified after an autopsy at the Berlin Charité hospital. Otto Runge was sentenced to two years' imprisonment (for "attempted manslaughter") and Lieutenant Vogel to four months (for failing to report a corpse). However, Vogel escaped after a brief custody. Pabst and Souchon went unpunished. The Nazis later compensated Runge for having been jailed (he died in Berlin in Soviet custody after the end of World War II), and they merged the Garde-Kavallerie-Schutzendivision into the SA. In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel in 1962 and again in his memoirs, Pabst maintained that two SPD leaders, defence minister Gustav Noske and chancellor Friedrich Ebert, had approved of his actions. This statement has never been confirmed, because neither parliament nor the courts examined the case.
Luxemburg and Liebknecht were buried at Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery in Berlin, where socialists and communists commemorate them every year, on the second Sunday of January.
On 29 May 2009 Spiegel online, the internet branch of news magazine Der Spiegel, reported the possibility that someone else's remains had mistakenly been identified as Luxemburg's and buried as hers.
Forensic pathologist Michael Tsokos, head of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences at the Berlin Charité, had recently discovered a preserved corpse lacking head, feet, or hands, in the cellar of the Charité's medical history museum. He considered the corpse's autopsy report suspicious and decided to perform computer tomography on the remains. The body showed signs of having been waterlogged at some point, and CT scans showed that it was the body of a woman of 40–50 years of age who suffered from osteoarthritis and had legs of differing length. At the time of her murder, Rosa Luxemburg was 47 years old and suffering from a congenital dislocation of the hip that caused her legs to be different lengths. A laboratory in Kiel also tested the corpse using carbon dating techniques and confirmed that it dated from the same period as Luxemburg's murder.
The original autopsy, performed on 13 June 1919 on the body that was eventually buried at Friedrichsfelde, showed certain inconsistencies that supported Tsokos' hypothesis. The autopsy explicitly noted an absence of hip damage, and stated that there was no evidence that the legs were of different lengths. Additionally, the autopsy showed no traces on the upper skull of the two blows by rifle butt inflicted upon Luxemburg. Finally, while the 1919 examiners noted a hole in the corpse's head between left eye and ear, they did not find an exit wound or the presence of a bullet within the skull.
Assistant pathologist Paul Fraenckel appeared to doubt at the time that the corpse he had examined was Rosa Luxemburg and, in a signed addendum, distanced himself from his colleague's conclusions. This addendum and the inconsistencies between the autopsy report and the known facts persuaded Tsokos to examine the remains more closely. As regards the missing hands and feet: according to eyewitnesses, when Luxemburg's body was thrown into the canal, weights were wired to her ankles and wrists. These could have slowly severed her extremities in the months her corpse spent in the water.
Tsokos realized that DNA testing was the best way to confirm or deny the identity of the body as Luxemburg. His team had initially hoped to find traces of DNA on old postage stamps that Luxemburg had licked, but it transpired that Luxemburg had never done this, preferring to moisten stamps with a damp cloth. Therefore, they opted to find a surviving blood relative, and in July 2009, the German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that a great-niece of Rosa Luxemburg's had been located—79-year-old Irene Borde, who donated strands of her hair for DNA comparison.
In December 2009, Berlin authorities seized the corpse to perform an autopsy before burying it in Luxemburg's grave. The Berlin Public Prosecutor's office announced in late December 2009 that while there were indications that the corpse was Rosa Luxemburg, there was not enough evidence to provide conclusive proof. In addition, DNA extracted from the hair of Luxemburg's niece did not match that belonging to the cadaver. Tsokos had earlier said that the chances of a match were only 40%. The remains were to be buried at an undisclosed location, while testing was to continue on tissue samples.
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Luxemburg defended Marx's materialism dialectics, and the conception of history. What did revisionism have to say about the objective development of capitalism? Karl Kautsky, the ethical socialist, rejected neo-Kantian arguments in favour of social Darwinism. The proletariat had to be re-organized in 1893, and in 1910-11 before, a pre-condition, they could act. These formed the substantive form of arguments with Rosa Luxemburg in 1911, when they seriously fell out. But Kautsky saw, as Luxemburg did that was true for the Radicals, Lenin and Parvus - in Russia it was not necessarily so true in Germany. Kautsky was older than her, more cautious, reading mass strikes as adventurism. But radical qualitative change for the working-class would lead Luxemburg into an age of revolution, which she thought had arrived. She was determined to push capitalism to its limits to develop class consciousness. In order to get organization and consciousness, workers had to strike to test resilience to exploitation; this would not be achievable through blind adherence to party organization.
Dialectic of Spontaneity and Organisation
The Dialectic of Spontaneity and Organisation was the central feature of Luxemburg's political philosophy, wherein "spontaneity" is a grass roots approach to organising a party-oriented class struggle. Spontaneity and organisation, she argued, are not separable or separate activities, but different moments of one political process; one does not exist without the other. These beliefs arose from her view that class struggle evolves from an elementary, spontaneous state to a higher level:
"The working classes in every country only learn to fight in the course of their struggles...Social democracy...is only the advance guard of the proletariat, a small piece of the total working masses; blood from their blood, and flesh from their flesh. Social democracy seeks and finds the ways, and particular slogans, of the workers' struggle only in the course of the development of this struggle, and gains directions for the way forward through this struggle alone."
Luxemburg did not hold "spontaneism" as an abstraction, but developed the Dialectic of Spontaneity and Organisation under the influence of mass strikes in Europe, especially the Russian Revolution of 1905. Unlike the social democratic orthodoxy of the Second International, she did not regard organisation as a product of scientific-theoretic insight to historical imperatives, but as product of the working classes' struggles:
"Social democracy is simply the embodiment of the modern proletariat's class struggle, a struggle which is driven by a consciousness of its own historic consequences. The masses are in reality their own leaders, dialectically creating their own development process. The more that social democracy develops, grows, and becomes stronger, the more the enlightened masses of workers will take their own destinies, the leadership of their movement, and the determination of its direction into their own hands. And as the entire social democracy movement is only the conscious advance guard of the proletarian class movement, which in the words of the Communist Manifesto represent in every single moment of the struggle the permanent interests of liberation and the partial group interests of the workforce vis à vis the interests of the movement as whole, so within the social democracy its leaders are the more powerful, the more influential, the more clearly and consciously they make themselves merely the mouthpiece of the will and striving of the enlightened masses, merely the agents of the objective laws of the class movement."
"The modern proletarian class does not carry out its struggle according to a plan set out in some book or theory; the modern workers' struggle is a part of history, a part of social progress, and in the middle of history, in the middle of progress, in the middle of the fight, we learn how we must fight...That's exactly what is laudable about it, that's exactly why this colossal piece of culture, within the modern workers' movement, is epoch-defining: that the great masses of the working people first forge from their own consciousness, from their own belief, and even from their own understanding the weapons of their own liberation."
Criticism of the October Revolution
In an article published just before the October Revolution, Luxemburg characterized the Russian February Revolution of 1917 as a "revolution of the proletariat", and said that the "liberal bourgeoisie" were pushed to movement by the display of "proletarian power." The task of the Russian proletariat, she said, was now to end the "imperialist" world war, in addition to struggling against the "imperialist bourgeoisie." The world war made Russia ripe for a socialist revolution. Therefore, "the German proletariat are also ...posed a question of honour, and a very fateful question."
In several works, including an essay written from jail and published posthumously by her last companion, Paul Levi (publication of which precipitated his expulsion from the Third International) titled "The Russian Revolution", Luxemburg sharply criticized some Bolshevik policies, such as their suppression of the Constituent Assembly in January 1918, their support for the partition of the old feudal estates to the peasant communes, and their policy of supporting the purported right of all national peoples to "self-determination." According to Luxemburg, the Bolsheviks' strategic mistakes created tremendous dangers for the Revolution, such as its bureaucratisation.
Her sharp criticism of the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks was lessened insofar as she compared the errors of the revolution and of the Bolsheviks with the "complete failure of the international proletariat."
Bolshevik theorists such as Lenin and Trotsky responded to this criticism by arguing that Luxemburg's notions were classical Marxist ones, but did not fit Russia in 1917. They stated that the lessons of actual experience, such as the confrontation with the bourgeois parties, had forced them to revise the Marxian strategy. As part of this argument, it was pointed out that after Luxemburg herself got out of jail, she was also forced to confront the National Assembly in Germany – a step they compared with their own conflict with the Constituent Assembly.
"In this erupting of the social divide in the very lap of bourgeois society, in this international deepening and heightening of class antagonism lies the historical merit of Bolshevism, and with this feat – as always in large historic connections – the particular mistakes and errors of the Bolsheviks disappear without trace.
After the October Revolution, it becomes the "historic responsibility" of the German workers to carry out a revolution for themselves, and thereby end the war. When a revolution also broke out in Germany in November 1918, Luxemburg immediately began agitating for a social revolution:
"The abolition of the rule of capital, the realization of a socialist social order – this, and nothing less, is the historical theme of the present revolution. It is a formidable undertaking, and one that will not be accomplished in the blink of an eye just by the issuing of a few decrees from above. Only through the conscious action of the working masses in city and country can it be brought to life, only through the people's highest intellectual maturity and inexhaustible idealism can it be brought safely through all storms and find its way to port."
Epitaph on her death
Despite this criticism, after Luxemburg's death, Lenin praised her as "an eagle" of the working class. "But in spite of her mistakes she 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 (the publication of which the German Communists are inordinately delaying, which can only be partly excused by the tremendous losses they are suffering in their severe struggle) will serve as useful manuals for training many generations of Communists all over the world. ‘Since August 4, 1914, German Social-Democracy has been a stinking corpse’—this statement will make Rosa Luxemburg’s name famous in the history of the international working class movement." Trotsky also publicly mourned Luxemburg's death, writing:
"We have suffered two heavy losses at once which merge into one enormous bereavement. There have been struck down from our ranks two leaders whose names will be for ever entered in the great book of the proletarian revolution: Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. They have perished. They have been killed. They are no longer with us!"
In later years, Trotsky frequently defended Luxemburg, claiming that Joseph Stalin had vilified her. In an article titled "Hands Off Rosa Luxemburg!", Trotsky criticized Stalin for this, despite perceived theoretical "errors" in his eyes. "Yes, Stalin has sufficient cause to hate Rosa Luxemburg. But all the more imperious therefore becomes our duty to shield Rosa’s memory from Stalin’s calumny that has been caught by the hired functionaries of both hemispheres, and to pass on this truly beautiful, heroic, and tragic image to the young generations of the proletariat in all its grandeur and inspirational force."
- Luxemburg's best-known quotation is: Freedom is always the freedom of the one who thinks differently (Freiheit ist immer Freiheit der Andersdenkenden), this is from a fuller quotation:
- Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of a party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always the freedom of the dissenter. Not because of the fanaticism of "justice", but rather because all that is instructive, wholesome, and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effects cease to work when "freedom" becomes a privilege.
- "The capitalist state of society is doubtless a historic necessity, but so also is the revolt of the working class against it - the revolt of its gravediggers." (April 1915)
- "Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element."
- "For us there is no minimal and no maximal program; socialism is one and the same thing: this is the minimum we have to realize today".
- "We stand today...before the awful proposition: either the triumph of imperialism and the destruction of all culture, and, as in ancient Rome, depopulation, desolation, degeneration, a vast cemetery; or, the victory of socialism."
- Luxemburg's famous observation and critique of feminism: "[of feminists] Most of the bourgeois women who play the lioness in a fight against ‘male privileges’ would, once in possession of the suffrage, follow like meek little lambs in the wake of the conservative and clerical reaction".
Last words: belief in the revolution
Luxemburg's last known words, written on the evening of her murder, were about her belief in the masses, and in what she saw as the inevitability of revolution:
"The leadership has failed. Even so, the leadership can and must be recreated from the masses and out of the masses. The masses are the decisive element, they are the rock on which the final victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were on the heights; they have developed this 'defeat' into one of the historical defeats which are the pride and strength of international socialism. And that is why the future victory will bloom from this 'defeat'.
'Order reigns in Berlin!' You stupid henchmen! Your 'order' is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will already 'raise itself with a rattle' and announce with fanfare, to your terror:
I was, I am, I shall be!"
In Berlin Mitte, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz and a U-Bahn station were named in her honour by the East German government. Nearby is engraved on the pavement: "Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein". (English: I was, I am, I will be).
Dresden, Germany has a street and streetcar stop that is named after Rosa-Luxemburg. The Volksbühne (People's Theatre) is on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. The names have remained unchanged since German Reunification.
During the People's Republic of Poland, in Warsaw's Wola district, a manufacturing facility of electric lamps, was established and named "Imienia Róży Luksemburg" after the Polish spelling of her name (Róża Luksemburg).
- Red Rosa now has vanished too. (...)
- She told the poor what life is about,
- And so the rich have rubbed her out.
- May she rest in peace.
Opponents of Marxism, however, had a very different interpretation of Luxemburg's murder. Anti-communist Russian refugees occasionally expressed envy for the Freikorps' success in defeating the Spartakusbund. In a 1922 conversation with Count Harry Kessler, one such refugee lamented,
"Infamous, that fifteen thousand Russian officers should have let themselves be slaughtered by the Revolution without raising a hand in self-defense! Why didn't they act like the Germans, who killed Rosa Luxemburg in such a way that not even a smell of her has remained?"
There is also a monument in Luxembourg for Lady Rosa done by Sanja Iveković.
In Barcelona there are terraced gardens named in her honor.
Rosa Luxemburg Memorial
At the edge of the Tiergarten, on the Katharina-Heinroth-Ufer, which runs between the southern bank of the Landwehrkanal and the bordering Zoologischer Garten (Zoological Garden) a memorial has been installed by a private initiative. On the memorial, the name of Rosa Luxemburg appears in raised capital letters, marking the spot where her body was thrown into the canal by Freikorps troops.
In popular culture and literature
- Rosa Luxemburg (1986, German: Die Geduld der Rosa Luxemburg), directed by Margarethe von Trotta. The film, which stars Barbara Sukowa as Luxemburg, was the winner of the Best Actress Award at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival.
- Rosa Luxemburg influences the lives of several characters in William T. Vollmann's 2005 historical fiction Europe Central.
- Rainer Werner Fassbinder was planning a film on Luxemburg at the time of his death in 1982, and was said to want Jane Fonda for the lead.
- In 2010, French songwriter Claire Diterzi created a musical "Rosa la Rouge" (Rosa the red), inspired by the life of Rosa Luxemburg.
- Rosa a novel by Jonathan Rabb (Halban Publishers, 2005), gives a fictional account of the events leading to Luxemburg's murder.
- British math-rock band, The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg took their name from the infamous event.
- The heroine in Burger's Daughter (1979), by Nadine Gordimer, is named Rosa Burger in homage to Luxemburg.
- Harry Turtledove's Southern Victory Series of alternate history novels contains an American Socialist politician named Flora Hamburger, in obvious parallel to the real timeline's Rosa Luxemburg.
- Until her disappearance in the Spring 2004, the pet tortoise at Balliol College Oxford University was named in honour of Rosa Luxemburg
- A song on Russian pop band, Mumiy Troll's 1997 album, Morskaya, is titled Роза Люксембург (Rosa Luxemburg).
- Langston Hughes alludes to her death in the poem "Kids Who Die" in the line "Or the rivers where you're drowned like Liebknecht."
- Rosa Luxemburg appears in Karl and Rosa, a novel by Alfred Döblin.
- She appears in the novel Time and Time Again by Ben Elton.
- The Radical Life of Rosa Luxemburg, a graphic novelization by Kate Evans.
- The Accumulation of Capital. trans. A. Schwarzschild in 1951. Routledge Classics edition, 2003. Originally published as Die Akkumulation des Kapitals in 1913.
- The Accumulation of Capital: an Anticritique written in 1915.
- Gesammelte Werke ("Collected Works"), 5 volumes, Berlin 1970–1975.
- Gesammelte Briefe ("Collected Letters"), 6 volumes, Berlin 1982–1997.
- Politische Schriften ("Political Writings"), edited and preface by Ossip K. Flechtheim, 3 volumes, Frankfurt am Main 1966 ff.
- The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, 14 volumes, London and New York 2011-.
- "The Rosa Luxemburg Reader," eds. Peter Hudis & Kevin B. Anderson
This is a list of selected writings:
|Speeches to Stuttgart Congress||1898||English|
|Speech to the Hanover Congress||1899||English|
|Speech to the Nuremberg Congress of the German Social Democratic Party||1908||English|
- Luxemburg biography at marxists.org
- Frederik Hetmann: Rosa Luxemburg. Ein Leben für die Freiheit, p. 308
- Leszek Kołakowski (, 2008), Main Currents of Marxism, Vol. 2: The Golden Age, W. W. Norton & Company, Ch III: "Rosa Luxemburg and the Revolutionary Left"
- Merrick, Beverly G. (1998). "Rosa Luxemburg: A Socialist With a Human Face". Center for Digital Discourse and Culture at Virginia Tech University. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
- J.P. Nettl, Rosa Luxemburg, Oxford University Press, 1969, pp. 54-55.
- Annette Insdorf (1987-05-31). "Rosa Luxemburg: More Than a Revolutionary". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-06.
- Waters, p.12
- Nettl, p.383; Waters, p.13
- Waters, p.20
- Revolutionary Rosa: The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg, Reviewed by Irene Gammel for the Globe and Mail
- Waters, p.19
- Waters, pp.18-19
- von Hellfeld, Matthias (November 16, 2009). "Long Live the Republic - November 9, 1918". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
- Nettl, Luxemburg, vol.1, p.131; Rosa Luxemburg speaks,(ed.)Mary-Alice Waters, p.7
- Thadeusz, Frank (May 29, 2009). "Revolutionary Find: Berlin Hospital May Have Found Rosa Luxemburg's Corpse". Der Spiegel. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
- Wroe, David (December 18, 2009). "Rosa Luxemburg Murder Case Reopened". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
- Waters, p.18-19
- J.P. Nettl, Rosa Luxemburg, Oxford University Press, 1969, pp. 487-490.
- "DNA of Great-Niece May Help Identify Headless Corpse". SpiegelOnline. 21 July 2009.
- "Berlin Authorities Seize Corpse for Pre-Burial Autopsy". SpiegelOnline. December 17, 2009.
- "Rosa Luxemburg "floater" released for burial after 90 years". Lost in Berlin. Salon.com. December 30, 2009.
- Politische Schriften, p.48
- Massenstreik, Partei, und Gewerkschaften (Leipzig 1919), p.31
- In a Revolutionary Hour: What Next?, Collected Works 1.2, p.554
- "Rosa Luxemburg (Polish-German Revolutionary)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
- The Political Leader of the German Working Classes, Collected Works 2, p.280
- The Politics of Mass Strikes and Unions, Collected Works 2, p.465
- The Politics of Mass Strikes and Unions, Collected Works 2, p.245
- "The Nationalities Question in the Russian Revolution (Rosa Luxemburg, 1918)". Libcom.org. 2006-07-11. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
- On the Russian Revolution, GW 4, p. 334)
- Fragment on War, National Questions, and Revolution, Collected Works 4, p. 366
- Luxemburg, The Historic Responsibility, GW 4, p. 374
- The Beginning, Collected Works 4, p. 397
- Larsen, Patrick (January 15, 2009). "Ninety Years after the Murder of Rosa Luxemburg: Lessons of the Life of a Revolutionary". International Marxist Tendency. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
- Trotsky, Leon (1919). "Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg". International Marxist Tendency. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
- Trotsky, Leon (June 1932). "Hands Off Rosa Luxemburg!". International Marxist Tendency. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
- Die russische Revolution. Eine kritische Würdigung, Berlin 1920 S. 109; Rosa Luxemburg — Gesammelte Werke Band 4, S. 359, Anmerkung 3 Dietz Verlag Berlin (Ost), 1983; see 
- The Russian Revolution, Chapter 6, in the Rosa Luxemburg Internet Archive
- Our Program and the Political Situation, in the Rosa Luxemburg Internet Archive
- The Junius Pamphlet, chapter 1, in the Rosa Luxemburg Internet Archive
- "Women’s Suffrage and Class Struggle"
- Luxemburg, Order reigns in Berlin, Collected Works 4, p. 536, in the Rosa Luxemburg Internet Archive
- Count Harry Kessler, Berlin in Lights: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler (1918-1937) Grove Press, New York, 1999. Tuesday 28 March 1922.
- Geduld der Rosa Luxemburg, Die (1986) at the Internet Movie Database
- Balliol College, Oxford
- "Balliol made them". The Daily Telegraph (London). 27 April 2010.
- Lelio Basso (1975). Rosa Luxemburg: A Reappraisal. London.
- Bronner, Stephen Eric (1984). Rosa Luxemburg: A Revolutionary for Our Times.
- Tony Cliff (1980) . "Rosa Luxemburg". International Socialism. London.
- Raya Dunayevskaya (1982). Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation, and Marx's Philosophy of Revolution. New Jersey.
- Ettinger, Elzbieta (1988). Rosa Luxemburg: A Life.
- Paul Frölich (1939). Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Work.
- Norman Geras (1976). The Legacy of Rosa Luxemburg.
- Gietinger, Klaus (1900). Eine Leiche im Landwehrkanal – Die Ermordung der Rosa L.(A Corpse in the Landwehrkanal — The Murder of Rosa L.). Berlin: Verlag. ISBN 3-930278-02-2.
- Hetmann, Frederik (1980). Rosa Luxemburg: Ein Leben für die Freiheit. Frankfurt. ISBN 3-596-23711-4.
- Hudis, Peter; Anderson (eds.), Kevin B. (2004). "The Rosa Luxemburg Reader". Monthly Review.
- Kulla, Ralf (1999). Revolutionärer Geist und Republikanische Freiheit. Über die verdrängte Nähe von Hannah Arendt und Rosa Luxemburg. Mit einem Vorwort von Gert Schäfer. Band 25. Hannover: Diskussionsbeiträge des Instituts für Politische Wissenschaft der Universität Hannover. ISBN 3-930345-16-1.
- Nettl, J. P. (1966). Rosa Luxemburg. - long considered the definitive biography of Luxemburg
- Shepardson, Donald E. (1996). Rosa Luxemburg and the Noble Dream. New York.
- Waters, Mary-Alice (1970). Rosa Luxemburg Speaks. London: Pathfinder. ISBN 9780873481465.
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|Media from Commons|
|Quotations from Wikiquote|
|Source texts from Wikisource|
- Rosa Luxemburg Library at the Marxists Internet Archive
- Rosa Luxemburg Internet Archive
- Death of Rosa Luxemburg
- Tony Cliff Rosa Luxemburg
- Rosa Luxemburg Foundation
- Jörn Schütrumpf Rosa Luxemburg or: The Price of Freedom
- Socialist Studies Special Issue on Rosa Luxembourg
- Rosa Luxemburg Leninism or Marxism?
- Paul Mattick Rosa Luxemburg in Retrospect
- Rosa Luxemburg: Revolutionary Hero
- Rosa Luxemburg and the Russian Revolution
- Rosa Luxemburg: A Socialist With a Human Face
- Libertarian Communist Library Rosa Luxemburg articles
- Rosa Luxemburg: "The War and the Workers" (1916)
- Ninety years after the Murder of Rosa Luxemburg: Lessons of the Life of a Revolutionary
- German Corpse 'may be Luxemburg' BBC News, May 29, 2009
- Revolutionary Rosa: The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg, Reviewed by Irene Gammel for the Globe and Mail
- Luxemburg-Jacob papers at the
- Hoover Institution Archives
- Roza Luxemburg : Life and work (Hindi translation)
- Works by Rosa Luxemburg at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Rosa Luxemburg at Internet Archive
- Works by Rosa Luxemburg at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Rosa Luxemburg at Find a Grave
- Trotsky on Luxemburg and Liebknecht at the Wayback Machine (archived October 28, 2009)