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was he of Jewish origin?
Yes he was an ethnic Jew but no he did not follow Judaism, so he was not Jewish in terms of religion but yes in terms of genetic origin or ancestry. Same for Marx. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 184.108.40.206 (talk) 00:39, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
He was a Protestant and had no (known) Jewish ancestors. The name Liebknecht is a Christian-German name meaning "nice farm hand". —Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.127.116.11 (talk) 09:17, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
When I was in Germany in the late 1990s, I noticed that in the eastern part of Berlin, there was a street named for Liebknecht. Does that street still bear his name? If so, I think it's notable that the DDR honored him in this way & should be mentioned in the article. -- llywrch (talk) 17:00, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
- The Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse is still an important street in Berlin. --Inbloom2 (talk) 23:39, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
- There is also a monument on the Potsdamer-Platz commemorating the spot where he announced the Socialist Republic in 1918.
Fixing some major errors: - Apart from the Spartakus uprising, Liebknecht's opposition to German militarism and WW1 has at leas the same significance for his today's reputation - The Freikorps were by no means "Veterans defendig the Weimar Republic": First, at the time of the uprising there was still no such Republic (one reason for the uprising was to prevent the constituent assermbly), second, the Freikorps were strictly anti-republican, monarchist and militarist paramilitary bodies which in winter 1918/19 cooperated with SPD only unwillingly reluctantly though despising them. In fact, various coups d'état against the Republic in the following years were undertaken by them (see e.g. Kapp-Putsch) - the death of Luxemburg and Liebknecht was a clear murder of defenseless convicts, this was also acknowledged in a trial in Germany in the 20's (see German wiki) - Liebknecht did not voted in favour of the war loans on August 4 but abstood from the session in Reichstag in order not to infringe the SPD fraction's unity (see German wiki) - the left opposition within the SPD was for sure not "echoing" the Bolshevik's arguments in 1915, this would be very illogical given the low significance of the Bolshevik party before March 1917 (of course they respected them and later embraced the October Revolution as a model for their own action). —Preceding unsigned comment added by 18.104.22.168 (talk) 12:07, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
Engagement for the Armenian cause
It should be mentioned in the article, that Liebknecht was, together with the Catholic politician Matthias Erzberger, the only German member of Reichstag who publicly criticized the policy of the Turkish allies towards ethnic and religious minorities, notably the Armenians. This in contrast to the SPD majority, who supported the German war in Turkey and the treatment of the non-Muslim minorities by the Turks. ( see for example Heinrich Cunow or Alexander Helphand-Parvus ), and also to the Zionist socialists, who supported the Young Turks to protect the Yishuv and did not care much about other minorities ...
A few hints
Unfortunately, there are some grave errors and shortcomings in this article, even in sections which cover basic aspects of Liebknechts development. I've listed some of them below and would be glad if someone who is able to contribute with a more „lexical“ English could embed them into the main text.
1. Liebknecht was in no way „more radical than his father“ Wilhelm, who was – aside from August Bebel – one of the main confidants of Marx and Engels in Germany and (although he viewed himself as a Vermittler (arbitrator)) in the 1890s a staunch opponent of the revisionist groups around Georg von Vollmar and Eduard Bernstein.
2. On 4 August 1914, Liebknecht did not stay away from the vote „in order not to infringe the party's unity“. On the previous day, the SPD members of the Reichstag had assembled to decide how they should vote on the Kriegskredite (war loans). It was a shock for Liebknecht to see that the supporters of the bill had a clear majority (78 in favor, 14 – including Liebknecht and Hugo Haase, the chairman of the party – against). On the morning of August 3, even the right wing of the party around Friedrich Ebert (who wasn't in Berlin that day), Ludwig Frank, Gustav Noske, Eduard David and Albert Südekum didn't expect this outcome, which was nothing less than a complete reversal of the party line (August Bebel once had famously said: Diesem System keinen Mann und keinen Groschen! („Not a man, not a penny for this system!“). When, on August 4, the Reichstag voted on the loans, Liebknecht and the other 13 dissenters obeyed to the Fraktionsdisziplin („discipline of the faction“, which was a strict rule meaning that SPD MPs should not vote against each other in public; Liebknecht had defended this rule during the previous years against the then right wing minority of the faction) and voted with the majority. Almost immediately, he recognized his decision as an error. But he wasn't able to contain the disastrous political effect of the unanimous Reichstag vote: the total collapse of the left wing of the SPD in the following days and weeks. It is worth adding that, on August 3, the bigger part of the „centrist“ (zentristischen) majority group of the faction voted with the outright nationalists à la Noske because they were – distressing, but true – duped by the customized government propaganda that Germany was in a Verteidigungskrieg („defensive war“) against „reactionary tsarism“.
3. There never was a „Social-Democratic leadership under Karl Kautsky“. Kautsky was an influential theoretician and the informal leader of the party tendency called Zentrismus („centrism“), but had no formal position in the party hierarchy. Although an open opponent of the anti-Marxist revisionists and versed in the application of Marxist vocabulary, he and his group diverged in almost all major political issues from the concepts of the left tendency around Liebknecht, Mehring and Luxemburg. The latter broke with the centrists already in 1910. In 1914, the centrist tendency was undoubtedly the most influential group within the SPD. But after the war had started, it was – in every organizational and ideological aspect – quickly outflanked by the former right wing, which controlled the party at the latest since 1916. In 1917, the (former) centrists were the main contributors in the creation of the USPD. Liebknecht, who was an uncompromising critic of Kautsky before and during the war, also joined the USPD (one of the few points in his political biography for which he was strongly criticised by leftist historians, especially in the former GDR).
4. The Spartakusbund, the nucleus of the KPD, was not „formed at the end of 1914“. The name developed during 1916 on the basis of the paper of the group, the Spartakusbriefe. Until November 1918, when it formally adopted the name Spartakusbund, the group was known as Spartakusgruppe. Until 1916, the network formed 1914/15 by Liebknecht, Luxemburg, Jogiches, Pieck and others called itself Gruppe Internationale (named after a quickly suppressed paper, the Internationale, which the group launched in the spring of 1915).
5. Liebknecht was not „arrested and sent to the eastern front“ and also not conscripted into a front line unit; so he wasn't in the situation of „refusing to fight“. In February 1915 – after his „No“ in the December 2 vote –, he was drafted to serve in a Armierungs-Bataillon (could be translated with „construction battalion“) behind the front line, first in Lorraine and than – between June and November – in (present-day) Lithuania and Latvia, where he indeed came under fire and wrote in a letter to his children: Ich werde nicht schießen! („I will not shoot!“).