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"The heroism of fighters like Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg gives us courage and faith in the complete victory of communism"
(Vladimir I. Lenin - July 19, 1920)
15 January 1919
Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were killed by mercenaries of the counterrevolution in a bestial manner.
The comrades "Karl and Rosa" were the beloved revolutionary leaders of the German working class. They had raised their revolutionary voice against the genocide in the years of World War I , which began a centenary ago - machinated by the imperialist warmonger.
"CLASS STRUGGLE BEGINS IN ONE's OWN COUNTRY!".
This was the revolutionary slogan of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, thus the correct answer to the slogans of the social-democratic, social-chauvinist "Defenders of the Fatherland". This was reason enough to throw them into prison. In the moment when they left the prison, they struggled at the head of the German November Revolution for a socialist Germany under the dictatorship of the proletariat. They were founders of the German Communist Party and tireless organizers of the proletarian mass struggle against the armed counter-revolution and the social-democratic traitors. That's why they were assassinated from behind. The butcher of 15 January were officers from the old imperial army. Those who incited this crime were the posh "democratic" new national government, formed by the Social-democratic Party of Germany, and in particular commanded by the social-democratic minister Gustav Noske !
On the social-fascist hands of the Socialdemocratic leaders is the blood of Karl and Rosa, the blood of comrades of the just founded Communist Party !
On the social-fascist hands of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, of the GDR, is the blood of the comrades of the KPD/ML !
Without the victory over social-democracy and revisionism there will be no victory for the working class over the bourgeoisie !
Who betrayed us? - Social-Democrats !
and with guile - the Revisionists ! !
Rosa and Karl belong to us Communists - belong to the socialist revolution!
The revisionists , however, try to misuse Karl and Rosa for their "peaceful way towards socialism with the aim to save capitalism from its doom.
Let's join under the world-revolutionary, communist banner of
Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg !
Karl Liebknecht was the son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, one of the founders of the SPD - thus the first Marxist Party all over the world.
Karl was also the sponsored child of Karl Marx.
Karl Liebknecht trained to be a lawyer and defended many Social Democrats in political trials. He was also a leading figure in the socialist youth movement and thus became a leading figure in the struggle against militarism.
As a deputy in the Reichstag he was one of the first SPD representatives to break party discipline and vote against war credits in December 1914. He became a figurehead for the struggle against the war. His opposition was so successful that his parliamentary immunity was removed and he was improsoned.
Freed by the November revolution he immediately threw himself into the struggle and became with Rosa Luxemburg one of the founders of the new Communist Party (KPD). Along with Luxemburg he was murdered by military officers with the tacit approval of the leaders of the SPD after the suppression of the so-called “Spartacist Uprising” in January 1919.
"But to learn and not forget applies also, and above all, to the heroic struggle against the war which our Italian comrades waged and are still waging. They fight with their press, with meetings, with street corner gatherings. They fight with revolutionary strength and courage, opposing their bodies and their lives to the raging impact of the waves of nationalism whipped up by the government. Their struggle is worthy of our enthusiastic felicitations. Let their spirit be our model. May it become the pattern for the International ...
The absurd watchword, “see it through,” was disastrous; it can lead only deeper into the maelstrom of destruction. International proletarian class struggle against the international imperialist mangling of the people is the command of the hour.
The main enemy of the German people is in Germany: German imperialism, the German war party, German secret diplomacy. The German people must wage a political struggle against this enemy in its own country, in conjunction with the struggle of the proletarians of other countries against their own imperialists ...
The enemies of the working class rely upon the forgetfulness of the masses; take heed, that their reliance may be groundless! They speculate on the forbearance of the masses – but we raise the stormy cry:
How much longer are the imperialist gamblers going to abuse the patience of the people? Enough of butchery! Down with the war-mongers on both sides of the border!
The slaughter of the people must end!
Proletarians of all countries! Follow the heroic example of your Italian brothers! Unite for the international class war against the conspiracy of secret diplomacy, against imperialism, against the war, for a socialist peace!
The main enemy is in your own country!"
(From a leaflet issued on the occasion of Italy’s entrance into the World War in 1915)
"The aim of my life is the overthrow of monarchy. As my father, who appeared before this court exactly thirty-five years ago to defend himself against the charge of treason, was ultimately pronounced victor, so I believe the day is not far distant when the principles which I represent will be recognized as patriotic, as honorable, as true."
At the crash of economic collapse of which the rumblings can already be heard, the sleeping soldiers of the proletariat will awake as at the fanfare of the Last Judgment and the corpses of the victims of the struggle will arise and demand an accounting from those who are loaded down with curses.
Works and Speeches
with special regard to the International Young Socialist Movement
Letter to comrade Guesde
Where Will Peace Come From?
Le Socialisme, November 2, 1912;
Dear and Venerated Comrade Guesde,
Incendiary capitalism is carrying its out evil works more dangerously than ever, and is doing so in the increasingly dangerous neighborhood of the powder kegs that are the great European military powers. Starving slaves traverse the countryside at the foot of the Balkans, waving war torches; lulled by their despots into the illusion that they are the flame carriers of liberty for the slaves on the other side of the frontiers, behind which they themselves live deprived of rights and economically reduced to a state of poverty. All the international conflicts have been brought to their greatest point of intensity. Like a cyclone, imperialism spins across the globe; militarism crushes peoples and sucks their blood like a vampire. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Famine and Massacre, gallop across the world.
All the diplomatic plotting was in vain: they were naught but charlatanism and mirage. For capitalism, war and peace are business and nothing but business. As far as it’s concerned, the lives and wellbeing of the millions of men that constitute the proletariat of all countries are an object of exploitation and nothing but that.
Only the international proletariat can avert this horrific danger, for only the interests of the proletariat are the same in all capitalist countries. The international solidarity of the proletariat without accepting frontiers, the common fight against common enemies — national and international — of the proletariat: those who profit by political pressure, those who live off economic exploitation and the misery of the masses.
Capitalism is war; socialism is peace. Will socialism have the strength to halt the war fury? It will have this strength if the proletariat of France, England, Austria and Germany fulfill their obligations. And they will fulfill their obligations, as the past has shown and as the fatal month of January 1911 — with its great workers’ movements in France and England and the imposing peace demonstrations in Germany — has shown. Sunday October 20 the German working class once again demonstrated its desire for peace in huge public demonstrations.
The capitalist and imperialist war- mongers must know what is at risk if they throw down Mars’ iron dice. We will warn them, we will threaten them: we in Germany, like our friends in France and England. It is only internationally that we can carry out our war against war, and it is internationally that it is being carried out. Just as we have confidence in our brothers in France, England an Austria, you can have confidence in us, in the German proletariat in struggle.
Internal war against the internal enemy: the oppressors and the exploiters of the masses. Class struggle: external peace, international solidarity, peace among peoples. This is the sacred slogan of international socialist democracy that liberates nations. It is under this sign that we can and we must win, even against a world of enemies. No hesitation! Confident of victory! Whatever the cost, brothers of France: Into battle! Long live socialism!
Liebknecht’s Protest Against the War Credits
Liebknecht “Liebknecht’s Protest Against the War Credits,” Justice, 17th December 1914, p.1;
The “Berner Tagewacht” publishes the full text of Karl Liebknecht’s protest in the Reichstag against the voting of the war credits. The protest was suppressed in the Reichstag, and no German paper has published it. It appears that seventeen Social-Democratic members expressed their opposition to the credits on December 2, but Karl Liebknecht’s was the only vote recorded against them.
Liebknecht’s protest declares that “this war, which none of the peoples involved desired, was not started for the benefit of the German or of any other people. It is an Imperialist war, a war for capitalist domination of the world markets and for the political domination of the important countries in the interest of industrial and financial capitalism. Arising out of the armament race, it is a preventative war provoked by the German and Austrian war parties in the obscurity of semi-absolutism and of secret diplomacy.
“It is also a Buonapartist attempt tending to demoralise and destroy the growing Labour movement.”
“The German word of command ‘against Czarismus,’ like the English or French word of command ‘against militarism,’ has been the means of bringing forth the most noble instincts, the revolutionary traditions and hopes of the peoples, for the purpose of hatred among the peoples. Accomplice of ‘Czarismus,’ Germany, a model country of political reaction, possesses not the qualities necessary to play the part of a liberator of peoples ...
“This war is not a defensive war for Germany. Its historical character and the succeeding events make it impossible for us to trust a capitalist Government when it declares that it is for the defence of the country that it asks for the credits.
“A peace made as soon as possible and which will humiliate no one is what must be demanded. All efforts in that direction should be supported. A simultaneous and continual demand for such peace in all the belligerent countries will be able to stop the bloody massacre before the complete exhaustion of all the peoples concerned .....”
Liebknecht concludes his protest by declaring that he will vote in favour of anything that will lighten the hard lot of “our brothers on the field of battle, and those wounded and sick, for whom I have the warmest compassion .... But my protest is against the war, against those responsible for it, against those who are directing it; against the capitalistic ends for which it is being pursued, against the violation of the neutrality of Belgium and Luxemburg, against military dictation, and against the complete neglect of social and political duties of which the Government and the dominant class are guilty to-day.”
(Leaflet, May 1915)
To the Workers and Soldiers of the Allied Countries
Published in The Communist International, Vol 1, No., 1919
Friends, Comrades, Brothers! From under the blows of the world war, amidst the ruin which has been created by Tzarist Imperialist society — the Russian Proletariat erected its State — the Socialist Republic of Workers, Peasants and Soldiers. This was created in spite of an attitude of misconception, hatred and calumny. This republic represents the greatest basis for that universal socialist order, the creation of which is at the present time the historic task of the International Proletariat. The Russian revolution was to an unprecedented degree the cause of the proletariat of the whole world becoming more revolutionary. Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary are already in the throes of revolution; revolution is awakening in Germany. But there are obstacles in the way of the victory of the German proletariat. The mass of the German people are with us, the power of the accused enemies of the working class has collapsed; but they are nevertheless making all attempts to deceive the people, with a view of protracting the hour of the liberation of the German people. The robbery and violence of German Imperialism in Russia, as well as the violent Brest-Litovsk peace and the Bucharest peace have consolidated and strengthened the Imperialists of the Allied countries; — and this is the reason why the German Government are endeavouring to utilize the Allied attack upon Socialist Russia for the purpose of retaining power. You have no doubt heard how Willhelm II, who, now that Tzarism has perished, is the representative of the basest form of reaction, — a few days ago made use of intervention in the affairs of proletarian Russia by the Allied Empires for the purpose of raising a new war agitation amongst the working masses. We must not permit our ignoble enemies to make use of any democratic means and institutions for their purpose; the proletariat of the Allied countries must allow no such thing to occur. We know that you have already raised your voice to protest against the machinations of your governments; but the danger is growing ever greater and greater. A united front of world Imperialism against the proletariat is being realised, in the first instance, in the struggle aga inst the Russian Soviet Republic. This is what I warn you against. The proletariat of the world must not allow the flame of the Socialist Revolution to be extinguished, or all its hopes and all its powers will perish. The failure of the Russian Socialist Republic will be the defeat of the proletariat of the whole world. Friends, comrades, brothers arise against your rulers! Long live the Russian workers, soldiers and peasants! Long live the Revolution of the French, English, American proletariat! Long live the liberation of the workers off all countries from the infernal chasm of war, exploitation and slavery!
The Class Struggle, Vol II. No 2, March-April, 1918
Epitaph for Karl Liebknecht
The fighter against war
When he was struck down
Our city still continued to stand.
In Memory of Karl Liebknecht, 1919-20, Käthe Kollwitz
To the National Council of the French Worker’s Party
Le Socialiste, May 5-12, 1901
May First is, above all, a review of the international forces of socialism, of their progress, of their forms. How different is the situation of the workers’ battalions today from what it was twelve years ago at the time of the celebration of this day!
But what about the internal crisis that we are going through more or less everywhere? What about the doubts, the skepticism, the deviations in our ranks? Well, these too are nothing but a symptom of our growth.
In the last ten years, on the heels of the definitive collapse of bourgeois democracy, new layers of society have little by little passed over to us in their entirety, mainly among the petit-bourgeoisie and its ideologues, the intellectuals.
But these elements, which were pushed to us by the social, political and intellectual poverty of current conditions, bring with them a way of thinking that is totally foreign to us, a different conception of the goal and the methods of struggle of socialism. In the first place they must be raised up by education to the class point of view of the proletariat. They must be subordinated, assimilated to proletarian socialism.
In truth, this won’t happen without serious friction, without a loss of forces, without violent crises. But these crises are only the false costs of the development of our strength; these are accessory phenomena of our growth, inevitable from the point of view of our historical evolution.
France was once the classic land, the experimental field, of the old revolutionary methods, of the raid, of barricades.
France today is the experimental field of the so-called “practical methods” of socialism, which propose, not to destroy capitalist society, but to infiltrate it, to meld with it in a composite mixture.
But France, the country to which we owe the international demonstration for the eight hour day – that idea at one and the same time the most practical and the most revolutionary – socialist France will yet again emerge victorious from this crisis.
Comrades, you are fighting today a difficult combat; you are placed in the most exposed posts in defense of the very basis of proletarian emancipation: the class struggle. It’s in the name, in the interests of all – of international socialist democracy – that you defend the future of socialism in France. And whoever knows the past of the French Worker’s Party, whoever knows its history, the devotion of its troops of the first order, knows that you will do your duty – as you have until now – up to the end, up to victory!
Salut et fraternité
On the Twentieth Anniversary of Marx’s Death
MAY DAY 1904
May Day this year stands out particularly because it is being celebrated in the midst of the noises of war. Because of this, its character as a demonstration in favor of world peace has the upper hand this year. But more than ever, in the presence of war, the specifically proletarian demonstration must also be the expression of this idea, that the realization of universal peace cannot be conceived of except as linked to the realization of our socialist final goal.
If the Russo-Japanese War has demonstrated anything, it’s the vanity of the speculations of those “humanitarian” socialists who claim to found world peace on the system of equilibrium of the Double and the Triple Alliances. These panegyrists of military alliances were unable to sufficiently express their enchantment with the period of thirty years of peace in central Europe and, based on this fact, proclaimed with all possible naturalness “peace on the march” and “humanity at peace.” The thunder of the cannons of Port Arthur – which have made the stock exchanges of Europe tremble convulsively – recall to the intelligible voices of these socialist ideologists of bourgeois society that, in their fantasies of European peace, they’d forgotten only one thing: modern colonial politics, which have, as of now, gone beyond the stage of local European conflicts in transporting them to the Great Ocean. The Russo-Japanese War now gives to all an awareness that even war and peace in Europe – its destiny – isn’t decided between the four walls of the European concert, but outside it, in the gigantic maelstrom of world and colonial politics.
And its in this that the real meaning of the current war resides for social-democracy, even if we set aside its immediate effect: the collapse of Russian absolutism. This war brings the gaze of the international proletariat back to the great political and economic connectedness of the world, and violently dissipates in our ranks the particularism, the pettiness of ideas that form in any period of political calm.
The war completely rends all the veils which the bourgeois world – this world of economic, political and social fetishism – constantly wraps us in.
The war destroys the appearance which leads us to believe in peaceful social evolution; in the omnipotence and the untouchability of bourgeois legality; in national exclusivism; in the stability of political conditions; in the conscious direction of politics by these “statesmen” or parties; in the significance capable of shaking up the world of the squabbles in bourgeois parliaments; in parliamentarism as the so-called center of social existence.
War unleashes – at the same time as the reactionary forces of the capitalist world – the generating forces of social revolution which ferment in its depths.
Yes, this time we celebrate May First under a sharp wind, the pace of events in the world strongly speeded up.
Source: "Le Socialiste", May 1-8, 1904
Speech on Trial for Inciting to Riot
25th anniversary of Marx’s death
It is generally only after their death that the scientific value of most great thinkers is fully recognized. Time gives them their full importance.
But there is a very particular reason why, as the day on which we lost the author retreats further into the past, Marxist theory increasingly penetrates social strata and finds new partisans.
Marxist theory is nothing but the scientific reflex of the class struggle engendered by capitalism with the inevitability of a law of nature.
The continuous extension and the growing strength of this theory are consequences of the law of capitalist development discovered by Marx: any country where capitalism has penetrated or the class struggle has begun is a new field opened to Marxist influence.
And this is why today, twenty-five years after Marx’s death, the thunder of the Russian Revolution announces that thanks to capitalism a vast territory has just been annexed to Marxist thought.
September 14, 1908
[A polemic against Comrade Kautsky’s theory of the Mass Strike]
To the Unity Conference of the Socialist Organisations in Manchester
September 28, 1911.
To the Unity Conference of the Socialist Organisations in Manchester
– It is with very great pleasure that we have received the intimation of your Unity Conference, and send you our best wishes for the success of your deliberations. In common with the organised Socialist Proletariat of the World, we also regard the unification of the real Socialist elements in Great Britain as a matter of the keenest interest, not only to the British, but also to the international working class movement. We are convinced that the union of the two oldest and most important Socialist organisations of England, the S.D.P. and the I.L.P., is an urgent necessity in order to inspire with the Socialist thought and idea of the proletarian class-struggle the masses of the British proletariat organised in the trade unions and to secure the necessary influence to put the policy of the Labour Party on a Socialist basis. Only when all real Socialists of England go forward unitedly together can we succeed in harmonising the political practice of the working-class struggle with its trade union activity, and so establish a real great, independent, revolutionary class Party of the British proletariat. For this reason we heartily welcome Socialist Unity in England as a new support for the struggle of the Socialist proletariat of all countries against militarism, Naval and Military armaments, and Colonial expansion – in short, against Imperialism, wherever it raises its head, in Germany, England, Russia, or any other country; whether it hides itself behind the deceitful mask of simple defence of national interests and the autonomy of the Fatherland, or openly displays the piratical character of its designs upon foreign peoples.
The orgies of international Imperialism at present moment, and the great dangers with which it threatens the civilised world, have been the occasion of the latest awakening of the mass of the British proletariat to a keen class struggle, and gives to the idea of Socialist union in Great Britain greater power and activity than ever before.
In this sense we heartily welcome your Conference, and wish the best results to your labours.
With the Social-Democratic fraternal greetings of, the Executive Committee of the Russo-Polish and Lithuanian Social-Democratic Party.
Speech on May 12, 1912
(at the Second Social Democratic Women’s Rally, Stuttgart, Germany).
Down With Reformist Illusions
- Hail the Revolutionary Class Struggle!
Originally Written: April 30, 1913
Source: The Communist, Vol. VII, No. 5, May 1928, pp. 262-264.
Publisher: Workers (Communist) Party of America
The May Day article printed below was written by Rosa Luxemburg for May Day, 1913, a year before the outbreak of the World War. (MIA)
WHEN May Day demonstrations were held for the first time, the vanguard of the International, the German working class, was just at the point of breaking the chains of a disgraceful Exception Law and of entering upon the path of a free, legal development. The period of prolonged depression in the world market, since the crash of the seventies, had been overcome and capitalist economy had entered directly upon an era of resplendent development that was to last almost a decade. Likewise the world had recovered, after twenty years of uninterrupted peace, from recollections of that war period in which the modern European state system had received its bloody christening. The path appeared free for a quiet cultural development. Illusions, hopes for a peaceful settlement between capital and labor sprouted forth luxuriantly among the ranks of the Socialists. Proposals to hold out “the open hand to good will” marked the beginning of the nineties; promises of an inperceptible, “gradual evolution” into Socialism marked their end. Crises, wars, and revolutions were considered outworn theories, mere swaddling clothes of modern society; parliamentarism and trade unionism, democracy in the State and democracy in the industry were to open the gates to a new and better order.
The actual course of events played frightful havoc with all these illusions. In place of the promised mild social-reformist development of culture there has set in since the end of the nineties a period of the most violent, extreme sharpening of capitalist conflicts, a period of storm and stress, of crashes and turmoil, of tottering and trembling in the very foundations of society. The ten-year period of the economic upward curve of development was compensated for in the following decade by two world-convulsing crises. After two decades of world peace there followed in the last decade of last century six bloody wars and in the first decade of the new century four bloody revolutions. Instead of social reforms—sedition bills, imprisonment bills and jailings; instead of industrial democracy—the powerful concentration of capital in cartels and employers’ associations and the international practice of giant lockouts. And instead of the new upward development of democracy in the State a miserable collapse of the last remnants of bourgeois liberalism and bourgeois democracy. In Germany alone the destinies of the bourgeois parties since the nineties have brought: the rise and immediate hopeless dissolution of the National Social Party, the break-up of the liberal opposition and the re-uniting of its fragments in the morass of reaction, and finally the transformation of the Center from a radical people’s party to a conservative government party. And the shifting in party development in other capitalist countries has been similar. Everywhere the revolutionary working class today sees itself alone confronted by the compact, hostile reaction of the ruling classes and by their energetic attacks, which are aimed at them alone.
The “sign” under which this whole development on the economic and political field has been carried out, the formula according to which its results may be traced back is: IMPERIALISM. This is not a new element, not an unexpected veering in the general historical course of capitalist society. Military preparations and wars, international conflicts and colonial policies have accompanied the history of capital from its cradle. It is the extreme augmentation of these elements, the concentration and gigantic outburst of these conflicts, which have resulted in a new epoch in the development of present-day society. In dialectic reciprocal action—at the same time result and cause of the powerful accumulation of capital and of the consequent sharpening and intensifying of the contradiction between capital and labor within and between the capitalist States without—has Imperialism entered upon its final phase, the violent division of the world by the assault of capital. A chain of continual, unprecedented competitive military preparations on land and sea in all capitalist countries, a chain of bloody wars, which have spread from Africa to Europe and which any moment may fan the glowing sparks to a world conflagration; in addition, for years the phantom of the high cost of living, of mass hunger throughout the whole capitalist world, which can no longer be banished—these are the “signs” under which labor’s world holiday will soon celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of its existence. And each of these “signs” is a flaming testimonial to the living truth and power of the ideas of the May Day celebration.
The brilliant main idea of the May Day celebration is the independent action of the proletarian masses, is the political mass action of the millions of workers, who otherwise can give expression to their own will only through petty parliamentary action, separated by State boundaries and consisting for the most part only in voting for representatives. The excellent proposal of the Frenchman Lavigne at the international congress in Paris combined this indirect parliamentary manifestation of the will of the proletariat with a direct international mass manifestation, the laying down of tools as a demonstration and fighting tactic for the eight-hour day, world peace, and Socialism.
No wonder the whole development, the aggregate tendency of imperialism in the last decade has been to bring ever plainer and more tangibly before the eyes of the international working class that only the independent action of the broadest masses, their own political action, mass demonstrations, mass strikes, which must sooner or later break forth into a period of revolutionary struggles for State power, can give the correct answer of the proletariat to the unprecedented pressure of imperialist politics. At this moment of frenzied military preparations and of war orgies it is only the resolute fighting stand of the working masses, their ability and readiness for powerful mass action, which still maintains world peace, which can still postpone the threatening world conflagration. And the more the May Day idea, the idea of resolute mass action as demonstrations of international solidarity and as a fighting tactic for peace and for Socialism even in the strongest section of the International, the German working class, strikes root, the greater guaranty we shall have that from the world war, which will inevitably take place sooner or later, there will result an ultimately victorious settlement between the world of labor and that of capital.
Leipzig, April 30, 1913.
The Crisis of German Social Democracy
First Published: Die Rote Fahne, November 18th, 1918.
The revolution has begun.
What is called for now is not jubilation at was has been accomplished, not triumph over the beaten foe, but the strictest self-criticism and iron concentration of energy in order to continue the work we have begun. For our accomplishments are small and the foe has not been beaten.
What has been achieved? The monarchy has been swept away, supreme governing power has been transferred into the hands of the workers’ and soldiers’ representatives. But the monarchy was never the real enemy; it was only a fa¸ade, the frontispiece of imperialism. It was not the Hohenzollerns who unleashed the world war, set the for corners of the globe afire, and brought Germany to the brink of the abyss. The monarchy, like every bourgeois government, was the executive of the ruling classes. The imperialist bourgeoisie, the rule of the capitalist class – this is the criminal who must be held accountable for the genocide.
The abolition of the rule of capitalism, the realization of the social order of socialism – this and nothing less is the historical theme of the present revolution. This is an huge work which cannot be completed in the twinkling of an eye by a few degrees from above; it can be born only of the conscious action of the mass of workers in the cities and in the country, and brought successfully through the maze of difficulties only by the highest intellectual maturity and unflagging idealism of the masses of the people.
The path of the revolution follows clearly from its ends, its method follows from its task. All power in the hands of the working masses, in the hands of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils, protection of the work of revolution against its lurking enemies – this is the guiding principle of all measures to be taken by the revolutionary government.
Every step, every act by the government must, like a compass, point in this directions:
- re-election and improvement of the local workers’ and soldiers’ councils so that the first chaotic and impulsive gestures of their formation are replaced by a conscious process of understanding the goals, tasks and methods of the revolution;
- regularly scheduled meetings of these representatives of the masses and the transfer of real political power from the small committee of the Executive Council into the broader basis of the W. and S. [workers’ and soldiers’] councils;
- immediate convocation of the national council of workers and soldiers in order to establish the proletariat of all Germany as a class, as a compact political power, and to make them the bulwark and impetus of the revolution;
- immediate organization not of the ‘farmers’, but of the agrarian proletariat and smallholders who, as a class, have until now been outside the revolution;
- formation of a proletarian Red Guard for the permanent protection of the revolution, and training of a workers’ militia in order to prepare the whole proletariat to be on guard and all times;
- suppression of the old organs of administration, justice and the army of absolutist militarist police State;
- immediate confiscation of the dynastic property and possessions and of landed property as initial temporary measures to guarantee the people’s food supply, since hunger is the most dangerous ally of the counter-revolution;
- immediate convocation of the World Labour Congress in Germany in order to emphasize clearly and distinctly the socialist and international character of the revolution, for only in the International, in the world revolution of the proletariat, is the future of the German revolution anchored.
- We have mentioned only the first necessary steps. What is the present revolutionary government doing?
- It is leaving the administrative organs of the State intact from top to bottom, in the hands of yesterday’s pillars of Hoherzollern absolutism and tomorrow’s tools of the counter-revolution;
- it is convening the constituent National Assembly, thus creating bourgeois counter-weight to the workers’ and soldiers’ representatives, and, by doing this, is diverting the revolution on to the track of a bourgeois revolution and spiriting away the socialist goals of the revolution;
- it is doing nothing to demolish the continuing power of the capitalist class rule;
- it is doing everything to placate the bourgeoisie, to proclaim the sacrosanctity of private property, to safeguard the inviolability of the distribution of capital;
- it is allowing the active counter-revolution, which is dogging its every step, to go its own way without appealing to the masses, without loudly warning the people against it.
Law! Order! Order! Law! This is the cry resounding from all sides, in all proclamations of the government; this is the joyous echo from all the bourgeois camps. A strident outcry against the bogey of ‘anarchy’ and ‘putschism’ – the well-known infernal music of a bourgeoisie concerned for its fireproof safes, its property and its profits – in the loudest note of the day, and the revolutionary workers’ and soldiers’ government is placidly tolerating this general march to mount an offensive against socialism, indeed it is participating in it in word and deed.
The result of the first week of the revolution is as follows: in the state of the Hoherzollerns, not much has basically changed; the workers’ and soldiers’ government is acting as he deputy of the imperialistic government that has gone bankrupt. All its acts and omissions are governed by fear of the working masses. Even before the revolution has acquired verve and momentum, its only vital force, namely its socialist and proletarian character, will have been spirited away.
Everything is in order. The reactionary state of the civilized world will not become a revolutionary people’s state within twenty-four hours. Soldiers who yesterday, as gendarmes of the reaction, were murdering the revolutionary proletariat in Finland, Russia and Ukraine, and workers who calmly allowed this to happen, have not become in twenty-four hours supporters of socialism or clearly aware of their goals.
The picture of the German revolution corresponds to the inner ripeness of the German situation. The government of the German revolution at its present stage is in the hands of Scheidemann and Ebert, and who in Die Freiheit solemnly swear that one can form a ‘purely socialist government’ with them, thus qualify themselves as the appropriate partners in the firm at this initial provisional stage.
But revolution do not stand still. Their vital law is to advance rapidly, to outgrow themselves. It is already being driven forward by its inner contradictions from this initial stage. The situation can be comprehended as a beginning, as a condition untenable over the long haul. If the counter-revolution is not to gain the upper hand all along the line, the masses must be on their guard.
A beginning has been made. What happens next is not in the hands of the dwarfs who would hold up the course of the revolution, who would put a spoke in the wheel of world history. It is the realization of the ultimate goal of socialism which is on today’s agenda of world history. The German revolution has now hit upon the path illuminated by this star. Step by step, through storm and stress, through battle and torment and misery and victory, it will reach its goal.
A Duty of Honor
First Published: Die Rote Fahne, November 18th, 1918.
We did not want any ‘amnesty’, nor pardon, for the political prisoners who were the victims of the old order. We demanded our right to freedom, through struggle and revolution, for the hundreds of faithful and brave men and women who were languishing in prison because they had fought for popular freedom, for peace and for socialism against the bloody dictatorship of the imperialist criminal bands. They are now all free. Again we stand shoulder to shoulder ready for the struggle. It was not the Scheidemanns nor their bourgeois cronies with Prince Max at their head who liberated us; it was the proletarian revolution which burst open the gates of our cells.
However, one other group of wretched inmates who still languish in those gloomy dwellings has been forgotten completely. Until now no one has thought of the thousands of pale, emaciated figures who have been incarcerated for years behind the walls of the gaols and penitentiaries in expiation for petty offences.
And yet they are also unfortunate victims of the infamous social order against which the revolution was directed, the victims of an imperialist war which increased distress and misery into unbearable torture and which, with its bestial human slaughter, unleashed all evil instincts in weak and congenitally tainted natures.
Bourgeois class justice is again proved to be a net through whose meshes predatory pikes may easily wriggle, while little sticklebacks thrash about helplessly in it. The millionaire war profiteers largely escaped judgement or got off with ridiculously small fines, but the petty thieves were given drastic gaol sentences. Starving, shivering from the cold in their barely heated cells, emotionally depressed by the horrors of the four-year war, these step-children of society are waiting for pardon, for relief.
They are waiting in vain. The last Hohenzollern, like a good sovereign, forgot their suffering amid the international blood-bath and the erosion of the crown’s power. During the four years since the conquest of Liege there has been no amnesty worthy of the name, not even on that official holiday of the German slaves, the ‘Kaiser’s Birthday’.
Now the proletarian revolution must brighten their gloomy existence in the gaols by a small act of mercy; it must shorten the draconian sentences, eliminate the barbaric disciplinary system (detention in chains, corporal punishment!), and improve to the best of its ability the treatment, medical provisions, the food supply and conditions of work. This is a duty of honour!
The existing penal system, which is permeated through and through with the brutal class spirit and barbarism of capitalism, must be extirpated root and branch. A thoroughgoing reform of the system by which sentences are executed must be undertaken. A completely new system, corresponding to the spirit of socialism, can admittedly be established only upon the foundation of a new economic and social order. All crimes, as all punishments, are indeed always rooted ultimately in the economic conditions of society. Nevertheless, one decisive measure can be implemented at once. The death penalty, this greatest outrage of the utterly reactionary German Penal Code, must go immediately! Why is this being delayed by the workers’ and soldiers’ government? Ledebour, Barth, DÃ¤umia, does not Beccaria, who two hundred years ago denounced the infamy of the death penalty in all civilized languages, exist for you? You have no time, you say, you have constant cares, difficulties and tasks before you. Take your watches in hand and see how much time is needed to open your mouths and say: the death penalty is abolished! Or do you want a protracted debate, culminating in a vote among yourselves on this topic? Would you again, in this case, surround yourselves with layer upon layer of formalities, considerations of competence, questions of rubber stamps and rules, and similar rubbish?
Alas, how German this revolution is! How prosaic and pedantic it is, how lacking in verve, in lustre, in greatness! The forgotten death penalty is only one small feature. But how often precisely such small features betray the inner spirit of the whole.
Take at random any history of the great French Revolution; take the dry Mignet. Can anyone read this book without it setting his heart pounding and his mind ablaze? Once he has opened it at random and begun to read, can he put it down before he has heard with bated breath the last chords of the huge event fading away? It is like a Beethoven symphony intensified into gigantic proportions, a raging storm on the organ of the times, great and splendid both in its errors and its successes, in victory and in defeat, in its first naive rejoicing and its last restrained sigh. And here at home in Germany? At every step, in matters large and small, one senses that the worthy old comrades are still with us from the times when Social Democracy was slumbering blissfully, when the party card was everything, human beings and intellect nothing. But let us not forget that world history is not made without intellectual greatness, without moral fervour, without noble gestures ...
In leaving the hospitable rooms where we recently resided, Liebknecht and I – he taking leave of his shorn prison comrades and I of my poor dear prostitute and thief with whom I spent three and a half years under the same roof – we promised them faithfully, as their morose glances followed us, that we would not forget them!
We demand that the Executive Council of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils immediately alleviate the fate of the prisoners in all Germany’s penal institutions!
We demand that capital punishment be stricken from the German Penal Code!
Rivers of blood have flowed in torrents during the four years of imperialist genocide. Now every drop of the precious fluid must be preserved reverently and in crystal vessels. Ruthless revolutionary energy and tender humanity – this alone is the true essence of socialism. One world must now be destroyed, but each tear that might have been avoided is an indictment; and a man who hurrying on to important deeds inadvertently tramples underfoot even a poor worm, is guilty of a crime.
Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht,
Klara Zetkin and Franz Mehring
A Call to the Workers of the World
Written: Late November, 1918.
First Published: Die Rote Fahne (The Red Flag), November 25, 1918.
Men and Women of Labor! Comrades!
The revolution in Germany has come! The masses of the soldiers who for years were driven to slaughter for the sake of capitalistic profits; the masses of workers, who for four years were exploited, crushed, and starved, have revolted. Prussian militarism, that fearful tool of oppression, that scourge of humanity – lies broken on the ground. Its most noticeable representatives, and therewith the most noticeable of those guilty of this war, the Kaiser and the Crown Prince, have fled from the country. Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils have been formed everywhere.
Workers of all countries, we do not say that in Germany all power actually lies in the hands of the working people, that the complete triumph of the proletarian revolution has already been attained. There still sit in the government all those Socialists who in August, 1914, abandoned our most precious possession, the International, who for four years betrayed the German working class and the International.
But, workers of all countries, now the German proletarian himself speaks to you. We believe we have the right to appear before your forum in his name. From the first day of this war we endeavored to do our international duty by fighting that criminal government with all our power and branding it as the one really guilty of the war.
Now at this moment we are justified before history, before the International and before the German proletariat. The masses agree with us enthusiastically, constantly widening circles of the proletariat share the conviction that the hour has struck for a settlement with capitalistic class rule.
But this great task cannot be accomplished by the German proletariat alone; it can only fight and triumph by appealing to the solidarity of the proletarians of the whole world.
Comrades of the belligerent countries, we are aware of your situation. We know full well that your governments, now that they have won the victory, are dazzling the eyes of many strata of the people with the external brilliancy of their triumph. We know that they thus succeed through the success of the murdering in making its causes and aims forgotten.
But we also know that in your countries the proletariat made the most fearful sacrifices of flesh and blood, that it is weary of the dreadful butchery, that the proletarian is now returning to his home, and is finding want and misery there, while fortunes amounting to billions are heaped up in the hands of a few capitalists. He has recognized, and will continue to recognize, that your governments, too, have carried on the war for the sake of the big money bags. And he will further perceive that your governments, when they spoke of “justice and civilization” and of the “protection of small nations,” meant capitalist profits as surely as did ours when it talked about the “defence of home”; and that the peace of “justice” and of the “League of Nations” are but a part of the same base brigand that produced the peace of Brest-Litovsk. Here as well as there the same shameless lust for booty, the same desire for oppression, the same determination to exploit to the limit the brutal preponderance of murderous steel.
The Imperialism of all countries knows no “understanding,” it knows only one right – capital’s profits: it knows only one language – the sword: it knows only one method – violence. And if it is now talking in all countries, in yours as well ours, about the “League of Nations,” “disarmament,” “rights of small nations,” “self-determination of the peoples,” it is merely using the customary lying phrases of the rulers for the purpose of lulling to sleep the watchfulness of the proletariat.
Proletarians of all countries! This must be the last war! We owe that to the twelve million murdered victims, we owe that to our children, we owe that to humanity.
Europe has been ruined by this damnable slaughter. Twelve million bodies cover the grewsome scenes of this imperialistic crime. The flower of youth and the best man power of the peoples have been mowed down. Uncounted productive forces have been annihilated. Humanity is almost ready to bleed to death from the unexampled blood-letting of history. Victors and vanquished stand at the edge of the abyss. Humanity is threatened with famine, a stoppage of the entire mechanism of production, plagues, and degeneration.
The great criminals of this fearful anarchy, of this unchained chaos – the ruling classes – are not able to control their own creation. The beast of capital that conjured up the hell of the world war is incapable of banishing it, of restoring real order, of insuring bread and work, peace and civilization, justice and liberty, to tortured humanity.
What is being prepared by the ruling classes as peace and justice is only a new work of brutal force from which the hydra of oppression, hatred and fresh bloody wars raises its thousand heads.
Socialism alone is in a position to complete the great work of permanent peace, to heal the thousand wounds from which humanity is bleeding, to transform the plains of Europe, trampled down by the passage of the apocryphal horseman of war, into blossoming gardens, to conjure up ten productive forces for every one destroyed, to awaken all the physical and moral energies of humanity, and to replace hatred and dissension with internal solidarity, harmony, and respect for every human being.
If representatives of the proletarians of all countries could but clasp hands under the banner of Socialism for the purpose of making peace, then peace would be concluded in a few hours. Then there will be no disputed questions about the left bank of the Rhine, Mesopotamia, Egypt or colonies. Then there will be only one people: the toiling human beings of all races and tongues. Then there will be only one right: the equality of all men. Then there will be only one aim: prosperity and progress for everybody.
Humanity is facing the alternative: Dissolution and downfall in capitalist anarchy, or regeneration through the social revolution. The hour of fate has struck. If you believe in Socialism, it is now time to show it by deeds. If you are Socialists, now is the time to act.
Proletarians of all countries, if we now summon you for a common struggle it is not done for the sake of the German capitalists who, under the label of “German nation,” are trying to escape the consequences of their own crimes: it is being done for your sake as well as for ours. Remember that your victorious capitalists stand ready to suppress in blood our revolution, which they fear as they do their own. You yourselves have not become any freer through the “victory,” you have only become still more enslaved. If your ruling classes succeed in throttling the proletarian revolution in Germany, and in Russia, then they will turn against you with redoubled violence. Your capitalists hope that victory over us and over revolutionary Russia will give them the power to scourge you with a whip of scorpions.
Therefore the proletariat of Germany looks toward you in this hour. Germany is pregnant with the social revolution, but Socialism can only be realized by the proletariat of the world.
And therefore, we call to you: “Arise for the struggle! Arise for action! The time for empty manifestos, platonic resolutions, and high-sounding words is gone! The hour of action has struck for the International!” We ask you to elect Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils everywhere that will seize political power, and together with us, will restore peace.
Not Lloyd George and Poincare, not Sonnino, Wilson, and Ersberger or Scheidemann, must be allowed to make peace. Peace most he concluded under the waving banner of the Socialist world revolution.
Proletarians of all countries! We call upon you to complete the work of Socialist liberation, to give a human aspect to the disfigured world and to make true those words with which we often greeted each other in the old days and which we sang as we parted: “And the Internationale shall be the human race”.
Speech, delivered: December 31, 1918
(founding congress of the Communist Party of Germany)
(collection of quotations)
On January 15, 1919, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were murdered by officers of Noske’s counter-revolutionary troops with the connivance of the government of the Right Social-Democrats Ebert and Scheidemann. News of the murder reached Moscow on January 17 and on the same day it was announced by Y. M. Sverdlov by to a joint session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, the Moscow Soviet and All-Russia Congress of Trade Unions. On January 18 Izvestia and Pravda published an appeal “To All Soviets in Germany and All Workers” signed by Sverdlov on behalf of the joint session. The Party’s Central Committee and the All-Russia Central Executive Committee called on all Party organisations and all Soviets to hold demonstrations and protest meetings. On January 19 Moscow workers and Red Army units assembled in mourning on Sovetskaya Square. Lenin, Stalin, Sverdlov and others addressed the demonstrators from the balcony of the Moscow Soviet building.
V. I. Lenin making a speech at a meeting dedicated to the laying of the foundation stone for a monument to K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg, in Dvorstsovaya Square.
July 19 1920
Red Rosa has also now disappeared
Where she lies is unknown
Because she told the truth to the poor
The rich have hunted her out of the world.
Epitaph for Rosa Luxemburg
Here lies buried
A Jewess from Poland
Champion of the German workers Murdered on the orders of
The German oppressors. Oppressed;
Bury your differences!
CRITICS OF ROSA LUXEMBURG
THESES ON THE BOLSHEVIZATION
OF COMMUNIST PARTIES ADOPTED AT THE FIFTH ECCI PLENUM
11 May 1925
MARXISM AND LENINISM
VII. Bolshevization and Revolutionary Traditions:
Bolshevization does not mean abandoning the legacy of previous generations of revolutionaries. The study of the history of the revolutionary struggles of their own and other countries is absolutely essential for all bolshevik parties.
VIII. Bolshevization and some Theoretical Mistakes in the Communist Camp
particularly the Mistakes of the Luxemburgians
Mastery of Leninism and its practical application in building communist parties is impossible unless attention is paid to the errors of some prominent Marxists who tried, but not quite successfully, to apply Marxism to the conditions of the new epoch.
These include the errors (...) of Rosa Luxemburg. The closer these political leaders stand to Leninism, the more dangerous are their views in those respects in which they do not coincide with Leninism.
Now things are so that a real Bolshevisation is impossible for a number of parties of the Comintern, without, for example, overcoming the errors of Luxemburgism which play a significant role by virtue of the historical circumstances in the movement of the given countries.
Among the most important mistakes of the Luxemburgians of practical significance today are:
the unbolshevik treatment of the question of 'spontaneity' and 'consciousness', of 'organization' and 'the masses'. Their false ideas on this question of Luxemburgism - which at the time had often directly in mind the debilitating experience of German social democracy un the revolutionary momentum of the class struggle - prevented them from appraising Correctly the role of the party in the revolution;
underestimation of the technical factor in preparing insurrections was, and is in part today, an obstacle to the correct treatment of the question of 'organizing' the revolution;
mistakes in regard to the attitude to the peasantry. In the last article, the Rosa Luxemburg wrote after the defeat of the Spartacus rebellion, she is close to a knowledge of her own error, which was the underestimation of the role of the peasantry. In a number of their earlier works, however, Rosa Luxembourg has underestimated the role of the peasantry, that is, the peasant question was not answered in the Bolshevik sense, and thus she made a number of ideological concession to the Social Democrats.
Also seriously were the errors of Rosa Luxemburg and of a number of Polish , Dutch and Russian Marxists on the national question . The denial of the slogan of national self-determination ( the right to establish an independent state ) on the grounds that it would be " impossible " under imperialism to solve the national question, was in fact nihilism on the national question. This made the work of the Communists extraordinarily difficult in a number of countries.
The party political nature of the trade unions, which has been propagated for a number of years by the Polish party , led by Rosa Luxemburg, was a big mistake. It witnessed the lack of any understanding of the role of trade unions , as an organization for the complete coverage of all wage workers. This error makes it difficult for the vanguard seriously to find the right way to approach the whole working class .
Rosa Luxemburg was one of the founders of the Communist International. The Comintern, which appreciates the Great at the 's work, is convinced that it is acting in the spirit of Rosa Luxemburg. The Comintern is assisting the parties by means of drawing lessons from the mistakes of this great revolutionary.
Without overcoming the erroneous content of Luxemburgism a real Bolshevisation is impossible.
Anything that deviates from Leninism , also represents a deviation from Marxism.
ADDITIONAL REMARK OF THE COMINTER (SH):
We would add a further paragraph:
f) Luxemburgism misconceives the new type of the Bolshevist party as the indispensable requirement for leading the world proletariat and its allies to the victory of the socialist world revolution and to build up world socialism.
There will be no Comintern (SH) without drawing demarcation-line to Luxemburgism on the one hand, and no abandonment of the revolutionary legacy of Rosa Luxemburg in the other hand.
The defense of Rosa Luxemburg does not mean simultaneously to defend her mistakes that she doubtlessly had made in her great revolutionary work.
* * *
Comprehensive criticism on Luxemburgism in defense of Rosa Luxemburg
January 7, 2004
written by Wolfgang Eggers
in German language :
* * *
"Beat their leaders to death !"
"Kill Liebknecht !"
(Leaflet - spread by the German Counter-Revolution)
Documents of the Soviet Union
about the arrest and testimony of a participant to the murder of Rosa Luxemburg.
4 October 1945,
From the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the People's Commissars of the USSR,
To Comrade V.M. Molotov,
I am forwarding for you an intimation of the military prosecutor of the Berlin garrison about the arrest and testimony of a participant to the murder of Rosa Luxemburg.
The Military Prosecutor of the Berlin Garrison
13 September 1945
To the Chief Military Prosecutor of the Red Army Lt. General of Law
Comrade N.P. Afanasiev,
On 13 June 1945 the Berlin operative group of the NKVD arrested a participant of the murder of Rosa Luxemberg — Otto Runge (living under the documents of Rudolf Wilhelm), born 1875, hailing from Gestebize (on Oder), by nationality a German and by (class — trans.) origin a peasant, educated up to 8th class, member of the NSDP since 1933, living in Berlin at 22 Greifen-Gagenerstrasse. Since 1941 was living in retirement on pension and was not working anywhere.
The investigations revealed the following:
Unter officer of a cavalry division Otto Runge, on the orders of the commander of his battalion, on the 13th of January 1919, was sent along with 15 other soldiers of his battalion to hotel Eden (Berlin, Nurembergenstrasse No.30) to guard the regiment's headquarter.
On the 15th of January, Captain Pabst, an officer of the Staff of the regiment gave Runge the order to personally stand guard, along with soldier Drager, at the main entrance of hotel Eden from 18.00 hours (Berlin time) onwards. At 20.00 Runge and Drager were not replaced at the post and on orders of General Hofman, who at that time was present at the headquarters of the regiment, they were left to guard the headquarters for an unspecified period of time.
At 20.45 a car stopped at the main entrance of hotel Eden with four officers and Rosa Luxemburg. The latter was led by the officers into the regimental headquarters. Approximately 10 minutes later a second car also stopped at the main entrance with three officers and Karl Liebknecht, who was led by these officers into the regimental headquarters.
At this time, having come to know about the arrest of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, people started to gather near hotel Eden.
After K.Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg were led into the regimental Pflugk-Hartung headquarters, captain Pflugk-Hartung approached Runge and asked : did he know who the man and the woman in civilian clothes brought in just then were, and when Runge answered in the negative, Pflugk-Hartung told Runge that they were Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, that they were pernicious revolutionaries and bandits who wanted to overthrow the rulers and seize power for themselves. Pflugk-Hartung then ordered Runge that when K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg come out of the hotel he must shoot them. Runge supposedly refused to do so on the pretext that a large number of people had gathered and he might slip and hurt some one else too. Subsequently Pflugk-Hartung went inside the headquarters and captain Pabst came out and gave the order to kill K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg by hitting them with the butt of the rifle, which Runge agreed to do. After Pabst left, lieutenant Kanaris came out and told Runge that if he did not carry out the orders i.e. kill K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg he himself would be shot. Kanaris also went inside the headquarters.
When Runge and Drager were left alone at the post, the latter told Runge that if he (Runge — trans.) did not carry out the orders then Drager himself will kill K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg with his bayonet. To which Runge replied that 'the order has been given and I will carry it out'.
After a few minutes the director (his name is not established) of the hotel walked out of the main entrance. He was on the right, in the middle was R. Luxemburg and to the left was lieutenant Vogel, who pushed R. Luxemburg out of the hotel directly towards the guard Runge. Runge was prepared for the murder and with the full swing of the hand struck Luxemburg with the butt of the rifle on the left side of her face and shoulder, under the impact of which the latter fell to the ground, but was still alive and attempted to stand up. At this moment 4 soldiers came out of the hotel, and along with lieutenant Vogel dragged R. Luxemburg into the same car in which she had been brought to the hotel. They themselves got into the car. Vogel took out a pistol and in that very place shot Luxemburg in the head. Her corpse was carried away.
Subsequently, the following persons walked out of the hotel: captain-lieutenant Pflugk-Hartung, his brother, captain Pflugk-Hartung, Oberlieutenant Rithin, oberlieutenant (illegible in the original document), lieutenant Shultz, lieutenant Liepmann soldier Friedrich and among them was K. Liebknecht who was taken away by them in a car parked on the other side of the road.
After a whole Lieutenant Krul came to Runge at the post and ordered him to go immediately to the 2nd floor of the hotel and kill Wilhelm Pieck, the Editor of the Communist newspaper 'Rote-Fahne'.
Krul brought Runge to the 2nd floor, where Wilhelm Pieck was standing in the corridor, and told Runge to shoot Wilhelm Pieck if he made a move. They wanted to fake a killing while attempting to escape while under detention.
When Runge and Pieck were left alone in the corridor, the latter turned to Runge and said 'soldier do not shoot me, I have something more to convey to your command', after which Runge led Wilhelm Pieck to the room of captain Pabst. After a few minutes Pabst led Pieck out into the corridor and ordered Runge to accompany the latter to the commandant's office. On the way, supposedly, Runge let Wilhelm Pieck go, and returned to the headquarters and reported to Lieutenant Hervitz, that he, Runge, fell ill and had let Pieck go, as he could not accompany him any further.
Approximately at 22.30 Lieutenant Vogel came to the headquarters and declared that they had dumped the corpse of R. Luxemburg into the river Spree.
The second car returned approximately at 23.00 with the officers who had taken away K.Liebknecht, and they said that they took the latter along the road towards the Zoological Park and faked a breakdown in the car. They stopped the car and got out of it. Then lieutenant Shultz took a pen-knife out of Liebknecht's pocket, cut himself on the arm and then shot Karl Liebknecht, thereby trying to depict that Liebknecht was killed while attempting to escape during which he injured Shultz.
On 16th January Runge was summoned to the regimental headquarters where Captain Pabst gave Runge the order: stay, without leaving at the apartment of Lieutenant Liepmann till he received the necessary documents for departure.
After a gap of 8 days Lieutenants Kanaris and Liepmann gave Runge false documents in the name of Krankenwerter Dinwald and suggested to him to proceed to Fletsburg and also handed Runge a sum of 1000 Marks.
Runge lived in Fletsburg till 11th April 1919 and then two officers from the crime police came to him and asked Runge to come along with them to Berlin.
On the way to Berlin on the train, these officers of the crime police explained to Runge that he was being taken to the court in a case regarding the murder of K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg. He must deny his involvement in the killing, declaring that at the time he, Runge, was living in Fletsburg.
On reaching Berlin Runge was put in jail on 13th April, and on 8th May the legal process started and continued till 14th of May.
On 9th June 1945 during interrogation Otto Runge gave the following evidence:
'During the time when I was in jail prior to the trial, advocate Grinsbach and judge Hentz came to my cell and gave me instructions as to how I should conduct myself during the trial. They told me to take all the blame on myself and not to involve any of the officers. I was supposed to declare that the killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht was carried out by me on my own initiative in a state of insanity'.
During the interrogation of 14.IX.1945 Otto Runge said:
'After I answered the question put to me by judge Hentz that I had killed Rosa Luxemberg and Karl Liebknecht on my own initiative and in a state of insanity, no more questions were posed to me'.
'In reality I was not insane, I was a normal person and was answerable for my acts as a person in full control of his mental abilities.
'Before the trial I was thrice sent for medical examination and the legal medical consultants doctors Leipmann and Shtrasmon gave the report about my insanity'.
After the officers, who really were involved in the killing of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, when asked by the court replied that they had never issued any orders regarding the killing, indignant and angry shouts were heard in the courtroom from the general public to the effect that the officers were giving false testimony as they were the real perpetrators of the killing and Runge had served only as a tool in their hands. Judge Hentz stopped the trial and removed the public from the courtroom and the session continued in camera.
Runge was sentenced to 25 months in jail by this trial court and all the officers were acquitted.
While serving time in jail, some time in the month of November 1919, one colonel Apshtet, who was then told the whole truth by Runge about the killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, visited Runge. Colonel Apshtet made a written record of the interrogation of Runge and told the latter that this record would be placed before the Chairman of the Supreme Military Court for a second inquiry into the case for Runge's acquittal.
On the 31st of January 1920 by a decision of the Supreme Military Court Runge was released and continued to stay at his home waiting for the second trial.
On the 5th of February 1920 Runge was visited at his home by 3 officers of the police and Heppert, the Head of the administration of the jails. The latter told Runge that new court proceedings were going to be initiated regarding the case of the killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, and Runge would appear in these proceedings as a witness and the officers involved in the killing as the accused. However, due to political compulsions Runge would have to be put in jail again. Heppert took away the certificate of release by the Supreme Court' (Vishii Verkhovnii Sud — trans.) from Runge and he was taken to the jail by the policemen where he stayed till 24th March still waiting for the trial to begin.
In connection with the publication of an article in one of the journals by its editor, one Bornstein, regarding the wrong sentence passed by Judge Hentz in 1919 in the case regarding the killing of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, a new trial was initiated in which Runge appeared as a witness.
During the interrogation of 8th August of this year Otto Runge said:
'About 8 days before the beginning of the trial of Judge Hentz I was approached by two persons who offered me 10,000 marks so that I would give the same evidence in this trial regarding the killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht as I gave in the earlier trial of 1919. These people did not mention their names but did mention that they had come on the personal request of Judge Hentz. I refused to accept their offer'.
During this interrogation Runge also said:
'At the trial of Judge Hentz I told the entire truth, how the killing was really carried out and also about the attempt to kill Wilhelm Pieck'.
At the trial of Judge Hentz Wilhelm Pieck was also present as a witness.
For fraudulently passing the judgement in the case regarding the killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1919, Judge Hentz, supposedly, was dismissed from the post of the Chief Prosecutor of Germany after a trial in 1929.
It was not possible to investigate the matter of the killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in greater detail, despite my written directive, in view of the fact that no more witnesses or direct participants of the killing could be found, and Runge's health sharply deteriorated in the second half of August. On 1st September Runge died due to deteriorating symptoms of old age (Runge was born in 1875).
Military Prosecutor of the Berlin garrison
Colonel of Law
Courtesy: 'Vestnik' No.1, 1995. Translated from the Russian by Tahir Asghar.
Burial of the revolutionaries on 25 January 1919
The funeral of Karl Liebknecht
The funeral of Rosa Luxemburg
* * *
KARL LIEBKNECHT - ROSA LUXEMBURG