Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Communist Martyrs

Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were tortured and murdered on 15 January 1919 by members of the so-called Freikorps. They were co-founders of the German Communist Party. An estimated 20,000 people participated in the traditional memorial for them in Berlin this year.

The most famous quote from Rosa Luxemburg is: “Freiheit ist immer die Freiheit des Andersdenkenden.” (Freedom is always the freedom of one who thinks differently.)

Neither Luxemburg nor Liebknecht were pacifists, but they were vehemently and outspokenly opposed to militarism. Their approach to peace was Marxist: war is fought for the benefit of capitalists at the expense of the working classes. They hoped in vain to instigate a general strike in opposition to the first world war. It is because of opposition to the war that they broke with the SPD. Bolsheviks used the term “Luxemburgism” to denounce deviations from Leninism because Luxemburg and Liebknecht attempted to fuse communism with democratic ideals. Even if we disagree with the communist ideology, we should appreciate the stance they took against the war and against militarism; and we should remember that they gave their lives for what they believed.

Rosa Luxemburg: The Militia and Militarism (1899)
Karl Liebknecht: Militarism and Anti-Militarism (1907)


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