An Israeli Marxist sends this message of revolutionary solidarity to German socialists on the anniversary of the murder of these two outstanding leaders of the German revolution.
Today, 87 years ago, in the year of 1919, the great socialist revolutionaries Karl Libeknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were murdered by the German government, with the help of the fascist Freikorps, from which quite a number Nazi Party leaders were to come. The murder was the finishing act in the Spartacist Uprising, one of the most important chapters in the history of interwar Germany, and one of the defeats of the German proletariat which helped prepare the rise to power of the Nazis.
Karl Liebknecht was born on August 13th 1871 in the German town of Leipzig. His father, Wilhelm Liebknecht, was one of the founders of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). He became a Marxist when he was a university student. Liebknecht was elected to the Reichstag, the German parliament, in 1912, and in 1914 he was the only member of the party to vote against the World War, the terrible imperialist slaughter in which millions were killed.
Rosa Luxemburg was born on March 5th 1871 in the village of Zamosc near Lublin, in the Russian-controlled part of Poland. She was a member of various revolutionary socialist organizations which were brutally suppressed by the government until she moved to Germany in 1898, and was active in the SPD until the outbreak of World War I.
Both were Lenin's comrades in the left-wing opposition to the war in the worldwide socialist movement. Because of their opposition to the war, they were arrested many times by the imperial government, but nevertheless continued their struggle against the SPD's right wing.
In 1919 they were the leaders of the Spartacist Uprising. At the time there was a state of dual power in Germany, one power being that of the bourgeois government, operated mainly through the SPD leaders, and the other that of the workers' Soviets which expressed the possibility of a socialist transformation of society by the working class. Partly because of the lack of Leninist organizational party norms, the Uprising was a failure, and the two were jailed, and later murdered by the Freikorps.
Liebknecht and Luxemburg provide a rare historical example of extraordinary revolutionary bravery and determination, of people who never caved in to the pressure of “their” bourgeoisie – never compromised for any material gains or parliamentary deals. The workers of the world can certainly learn something from their story.
The International Marxist Tendency expresses the tradition of all great Marxists, including these fine revolutionaries, whose lives were sadly brought to an end by the social-democratic government, which proved how “democratic” and “peaceful” it was when it came to dealing with these revolutionaries when they helped fascist gangs murder them.
All over the world today, especially in Latin America, workers and youth are starting to understand that revolutionary Marxism offer the only way out of the present impasse. And it won't be too long before the Israeli workers also understand this and join the world working class in its revolution.
January 15, 2006