Franz Mehring

27. 2. 1846 Schlawe/Pommern - 29.1.1919 Berlin


100th Day of Death

29. January 2019


















Originally a liberal journalist, Mehring joined the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the early 1890s. He rapidly became acknowledged as an important theoretician. In the course of time he moved to the left and became associated with the current around Rosa Luxemburg. With the outbreak of World War I he was, despite his advanced years, a prominent member of the revolutionary opposition to the war along with Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and Clara Zetkin. He was a founder member of the German Communist Party established on New Years Day 1919, but died later in the month shortly after the murder of his comrades Luxemburg and Liebknecht.


Franz Mehring

Socialist Divisions in Germany


(“open letter” to the Bolsheviki)



the story of his life


Franz Mehring:

Marx and Engels

An Unusual Friendship



Franz Mehring

Frederick Engels



Franz Mehring

Preface to
Marx’s The Divine Right of the Hohenzollern



Franz Mehring

Our Old Masters and
Their Modern Substitutes




The Lessing Legend

Franz Mehring

New York 1938


Franz Mehring

On Historical Materialism



Letter from Engels
to Franz Mehring in Berlin

London, July 14, 1893


Franz Mehring

Philosophy and Philosophizing



Franz Mehring

Review of Hermann Schlüter’s The Beginnings of the German Labor Movement in America



Franz Mehring

Obituary of Friedrich Sorge



Aesthetical Raids



Franz Mehring

Ibsen’s Greatness and Limitations




Franz Mehring

Charles Dickens




Anglo-German Relations

(1 December 1911)



On his 70th birthday

by Rosa Luxemburg:

“For decades now you have occupied a special post in our movement, and no one else could have filled it. You are the representative of real culture in all its brilliance. If the German proletariat is the historic heir of classic German philosophy, as Marx and Engels declared, then you are the executor of that testament. You have saved everything of value which still remained of the once splendid culture of the bourgeoisie and brought it to us, into the camp of the socially disinherited. Thanks to your books and articles the German proletariat has been brought into close touch not only with classic German philosophy, but also with classic German literature, not only with Kant and Hegel, but with Lessing, Schiller and Goethe. Every line from your brilliant pen has taught our workers that socialism is not a bread and butter problem, but a cultural movement, a great and proud world-ideology. When the spirit of socialism once again enters the ranks of the German proletariat the latter’s first act will be to reach for your books, to enjoy the fruits of your life’s work ... To-day when intellectuals of bourgeois origin are betraying us in droves to return to the fleshpots of the ruling classes we can laugh contemptuously and let them go: we have won the best and last the bourgeoisie still possessed of spirit, talent and character – Franz Mehring.”



Letter to Franz Mehring

Rosa Luxemburg on 18 November 1918

My honourable friend,

I cannot tell you how much it vexes me that I haven’t been able to rush to you and clasp your hand. But since the moment I got out of the train in Berlin I haven’t even set foot in my apartment in Südende, and have been staying at the hotel. You can judge from that how much I’m drowning in work here. The first issue was: finally publishing the paper1. I cannot wait to hear your opinion and to have your advice. We were all overjoyed when friend X informed us that we would soon be able to grace the Fahne with your article and your name. I am greatly looking forward to it. I hope I will finally be able to rush to you in the next few days. It made me glad to hear that you have been healthy and that you are happy and can work. Our dutiful and kind ... has been assisting and working with great devotion, his assistance has been indispensible at every step. Just these quick warm regards in all haste, and until soon!


Rosa Luxemburg

1 the «Rote Fahne»



Franz Mehring quotes

“Hegel did not deceive himself about the revolutionary character of his dialectic, and was even afraid that his Philosophy of Right would be banned. Nor was the Prussian state entirely easy in its mind for all its idealization. Proudly leaning on its police truncheon, it did not want to have its reality justified merely by its reason. Even the dull-witted King saw the serpent lurking beneath the rose: when a distant rumor of his state philosopher's teachings reached him he asked suspiciously: but what if I don't dot the I's or cross the T's? The Prussian bureaucracy meanwhile was grateful for the laurel wreath that had been so generously plaited for it, especially since the strict Hegelians clarified their master's obscure words for the understanding of the common subjects, and one of them wrote a history of Prussian law and the Prussian state, where the Prussian state was proved to be a gigantic harp strung in God's garden to lead the universal anthem. Despite its sinister secrets Hegel's philosophy was declared to be the Prussian state philosophy, surely one of the wittiest ironies of world history. Hegel had brought together the rich culture of German Idealism in one mighty system, he had led all the springs and streams of our classical age into one bed, where they now froze in the icy air of reaction. but the rash fools who imagined they were safely hidden behind this mass of ice, who presumptuously rejoiced who bold attackers fell from its steep and slippery slopes, little suspected that with the storms of spring the frozen waters would melt and engulf them.

Hegel himself experienced the first breath of these storms. He rejected the July revolution of 1830, he railed at the first draft of the English Reform Bill as a stab in the 'noble vitals' of the British Constitution. Thereupon his audience left him in hordes and turned to his pupil Eduard Gans, who lectured on his master's Philosophy of Right but emphasized its revolutionary side and polemicized sharply against the Historical School of Law. At the time it was said in Berlin that the great thinker died from this painful experience, and not of the cholera.”
― Franz Mehring, Absolutism And Revolution In Germany, 1525 1848

“As the biggest property owners of the middle ages the Church underwent the same process as the rest of the landed proprietors. In order to use agricultural production as a source of money they ruined the peasant class, seized their common woods and meadows for themselves, and either drove the peasants from the land or squeezed them in the most pitiless manner. Life was no longer easy under the crozier. The growing lust for property led the Church to limit their alms to the poor. Their income in kind, the surplus of which they had earlier gladly given away as they could not consume it themselves, had now become saleable commodities, and the greed for profits that this aroused seized the Church too.

If this made the Church more and more hated by the peasant class, it also failed to win the friendship of the rising bourgeoisie. However much it neglected the care of the poor, it could not give it up entirely without losing its last hold on the masses. To a certain extent it still formed a line of defense against the impoverishment of the masses, whose proletarianization could not be carried through quickly enough, as far as capital was concerned. The propertyless were still not delivered bound hand and foot to capitalist exploitation as long as they received alms, however miserable, from the Church. Moreover the religious holidays were a thorn in the flesh of the burgeoning towns. The more numerous they grew, the more they contradicted the capitalist wisdom according to which the worker does not work to live, but rather lives to work.”
― Franz Mehring, Absolutism And Revolution In Germany, 1525 1848