Twitter RosaLux

The Twitter platform @LettersRosaLux was developed in relation to a larger project dealing with the historiography of World War One.

The aim is to make public crude material (primary sources) related to specific historical events, characters or debates.

Rosa Luxemburg

An important socialist and revolutionary figure, Rosa Luxemburg was at the center of many heated debates throughout her life. Following her violent death, she was/is claimed as an icon of martyrdom by the political Left.

Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were murdered in January 1919
Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were murdered in January 1919

 

Demonstrators in East Berlin, 1988

Born in 1871 in the Polish town of Zamosc, Rosa Luxemburg had to flee the country at the age of 18 in order to escape imprisonment as a consequence of revolutionary agitation. She moved to Zürich, where she would be recognized as a brilliant student, reading political economy, mathematics, history, philosophy and natural science. During this period she was active within the Polish Socialist Party along with Leo Joghices (for a longtime a political mentor and companion). In 1898 she received her doctorate and left Zürich for Berlin, where she joined the German Social Democratic Labor Party and quickly rose to be one of the leading figures of the party and a valued theoretician. By 1905 the mass strike movement reached a culminating point and Rosa Luxemburg went to Warsaw (still part of the Russian Empire) to join the Russian uprising, soon to be imprisoned by the Tsarist police.

Rosa Luxemburg in the custody of the Warsaw police, 1906
Rosa Luxemburg in the custody of the Warsaw police, 1906

She was released on a bail payed by her father and the SPD – the party she will leave on the verge of World War I, after disagreement with the majority which had decided to support the government in the war efforts. An internationalist and anti-militarist, Rosa Luxemburg vigorously argued against imperialism, nationalism-chauvinism, the annexation of other nations and against all forms of social injustice and oppression. Together with Karl Liebknecht – the only member of the Reichstag who voted against the war budget – she left the Social Democratic Party and founded the Spartacus League.

Rosa Luxemburg holding a speech. Behind her on the right side is Karl Liebknecht
Rosa Luxemburg holding a speech. Behind her on the right side is Karl Liebknecht

On the 1st of May 1916, following a demonstration in Berlin against the First World War, Rosa Luxemburg was arrested (as were Karl Liebknecht and other leaders of the Spartacus League). She was not to be released until November 1918 – Rosa Luxemburg spent most of the war period in detention.

Upon release Luxemburg promptly resumed political contacts and activities, notably the publication of the Rote Fahne and the creation of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).

On 15 January 1919, in the context of massive popular uprisings in Berlin, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were arrested and murdered while in police custody.

On the @LettersRosaLux page, all the submitted entries represent fragments from letters written by Rosa Luxemburg in the period November 1914-January 1919. All the material is extracted from:

Stephen Eric Bronner, ed., The letters of Rosa Luxemburg (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press), 1978.

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