99 Years Ago Today: Rosa Luxemburg was murdered in Berlin

99 years ago today, on 15 January 1919, Rosa Luxemburg was detained, interrogated and murdered by right-wing soldiers under the command of socialist Defence Minister Gustav Noske. Today she is remembered around the world for her life and ideas.

Born in Russian-Poland in a middle-class Jewish family in 1873, Rosa Luxemburg emigrated to Switzerland after completing High School and enrolled at Zurich University. Whilst still a student she co-founded the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland (SDKP, later SDKPiL), with Leo Jogiches, Adolf Warszawski and Julian Marchlewski, before being awarded a doctorate in 1897.

The following year, she moved to Berlin and joined the German Social-Democratic Party (SPD), then the largest and most powerful socialist organisation in the world. She rose to prominence on the left-wing of the SPD as a firebrand speaker, journalist and theoretician, writing works on economics, nationalism, imperialism, war, socialism and democracy.

Luxemburg taught at the SPD party school, wrote for party newspapers and represented the Poles and Germans at meetings of the Socialist International before 1914. When Revolution came to her homeland in 1905, she returned to Warsaw and endured imprisonment for her revolutionary activities, before returning to exile in Germany.

In the years preceding 1914, Luxemburg warned frequently of the oncoming crisis of imperialism and the dangers of a catastrophic war. She called on European workers to refuse to take up arms against eachother.

When war broke out in August 1914, the European socialist parties, who had long declared their hostility to war and determination to resist it by all means, crumbled and supported their respective governments. When the SPD voted in favour of war credits in the Reichstag (thus demonstrating support for the Kaiser’s government and the war), Luxemburg contemplated suicide for the only time in her life.

Luxemburg co-founded the anti-war, socialist group ‘The Spartacus League’, named after the Roman rebel slave, with other German socialists. Her anti-war activities soon led to her arrest and she spent the majority of the four years of the war in the Kaiser’s prisons. From her cell, she produced the anti-war ‘Junius Pamphlet’ as well as other works, whilst also leading the underground Spartacus League. Her own party, the SPD, disowned and expelled her and other anti-war activists.

In November 1918, sailors mutineered and began the German November Revolution. The Kaiser was deposed, workers and soldiers councils established and a new government, led by the SPD, took control of Germany. Rosa Luxemburg was released from prison and returned to Berlin, where she co-founded the German Communist Party (KPD) on New Year’s Eve.

Tensions between the SPD government (headed by Friedrich Ebert and Phillip Scheidemann) and the more radical socialist parties, namely the Independent Social-Democratic Party (USPD) and the KPD, boiled over on 5 January 1919. The spark was the government dismissal of Berlin’s police chief, Emil Eichhorn, a USPD member who had been appointed during the November Revolution. In response, strikes and demonstrations erupted across the city, led by the USPD, KPD and Revolutionary Shop Stewards- who formed a ‘Revolutionary Committee’.

Armed workers and soldiers occupied the newspaper district and other key buildings in central Berlin, while the leaders of the Revolutionary Committee argued, dithered and fractured. Meanwhile, the government moved in well organised regiments of ‘Freikorps’ (right-wing soldiers formed out of demobilised soldiers and led by reactionary officers), positioned outside the city by Defence Minister Gustav Noske, who called himself ‘the Bloodhound of the Revolution’.

The ‘Spartacist Rising’, as the government labelled it, was crushed with hundreds of casualties among armed revolutionaries and civilian workers, and acts of barbarism by the Freikorps. Leading Communists and left socialists were arrested, beaten up and hounded.

On 15 January, Rosa Luxemburg and fellow KPD leader Karl Liebknecht were discovered by the Garde-Kavallerie-Schützen-Division Freikorps. at a house in a middle-class suburb of Berlin. They were taken for interrogation at the Hotel Eden, before being murdered, their bodies dumped in Berlin’s Tiergarten.

The murderers escaped punishment.

Every year since 1919, people have gathered at the graves in the Friedrichsfelde Cemetery to mark the anniversary and remember Luxemburg and Liebknecht (except during the Nazi era, when the graves were desecrated).

For a range of Rosa Luxemburg’s works and letters available free and online, visit the Marxists Internet Archive at: http://marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/index.htm

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Obituary: Professor Narihiko Ito (1931 – 2017) Founder and (honorable) Chairman of the International Rosa Luxemburg Society

Originally posted at http://www.internationale-rosa-luxemburg-gesellschaft.de/html/english.html

Professor Narihiko Ito (1931 – 2017)

Founder and (honorable) Chairman of the International Rosa Luxemburg Society

On 29 November 2017 at the age of 86 Professor Narihiko Ito, the Japanese Rosa Luxemburg and peace researcher, passed away.

Narihiko Ito was born in 1931 in the old imperial capital of Kamakura which was his residence most of his life time. Till his retirement as Emeritus Professor in 2002, he taught as a distinguished professor in the faculty of Social Sciences at the Chuô University in Tokyo. In between he acted as Visiting Professor in places among which particularly notable is the University of Osnabrück (Germany). Since his young days his social, political and scientific engagement has been concentrated on peace and conflict research. Among his numerous international activities what needs to be stressed in this context is that in 2002-2004 he acted as the Co-Chairman of the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan (IC-TA) and in 2004-2005 of the International Criminal Tribunal for Iraq (ICTI).

Among the researchers he obtained international reputation particularly through his sustained activities over three and half decades as the chairman of the International Rosa Luxemburg Society, which was founded in Zürich in 1980 on his initiative. Since then the Society has held many scientific conferences with large international participation in different cities of the world (Beijing, Berlin [2x], Bochum [Germany], Chicago, Guangzhou [China], Hamburg, Moscow, Paris [2x], Seoul, Tampere [Finland], Tokyo [2x], Warsaw, Zürich [2x]) and has, besides, published a series of conference volumes. In the years of the “Cold War” his special concern was to see to it that Rosa Luxemburg researchers from the East and the West could meet and come to an understanding. Further, as a Member of the Advisory Body and as a representative of Japanese social scientists Narihiko Ito has, for many decades, collaborated with the International Conference of Labor and Social History – ITH — in its annual conferences held in Linz.

The list of his publications in Japanese, German and English is long. To name, for example : in Japanese : “Light towards overcoming of Darkness — For Relations between Japan and Korea in the 21st century” (2000); “A History of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution” (2001, Korean translation 2005, German translation 2006); “Peace and Justice in Palestine !” (2002); in German : ‘Rosa Luxemburg “I embrace you, I so much long for you ”. Letters from Prison 1915-1918’ (Bonn 1980, 1984, 1996); “Japan and peaceful reunification of Korea” (Osnabrück, 2002); “The Peace Article of the Japanese Constitution — for a World without War and Militarism” (Münster 2006); with Annelies Laschitza & Ottokar Luban (eds.) “Rosa Luxemburg. Economic and historic-political aspects of her Work” (Berlin 2010); German/English: “Guide to the Thought of Rosa Luxemburg” (Tokyo 2007). In 2011 he was conferred the “Literati Network Award for Excellence 2011” for his essay “Is the national question an aporia for humanity? How to read Rosa Luxemburg’s ‘The national question and autonomy’”, in: Research in Political Economy, 2011/vol. 26.

The major accomplishment of his life has been the struggle for the retention of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which forbids the right to wage war, the working of which the conservative Japanese regime has always tried to strike at. Among other activities he has been involved in intensive activities concerning an understanding with Korea after the end of Japanese colonial rule. On the occasion of the centenary of Japan’s annexation of Korea Narihiko Ito organized a big Congress in Tokyo in 2010 in which more than 1000 persons participated. No such comparable event has taken place in the two Koreas. A decade long friendship tied him in 2009 with the deceased South Korean President Kim Dae-Jong, the initiator of “sunshine politics”. As member of the Steering Committee of the Annual China-Japan Civil meet for Peace in Asia as well as a Rosa Luxemburg researcher since 1986 he has been tied up with the Chinese colleagues towards building up important contacts for reconciliation with China, which was once occupied by Japan.

The other meaningful achievement of his life has been his self-funded work on Rosa Luxemburg and the constant, intensive inspiration that he has provided to international Rosa Luxemburg research through the scholarly network, the International Rosa Luxemburg Society, which he has guided. Thus, he initiated even the last international Rosa Luxemburg conferences in Moscow (2011), Paris (2013) and Seoul (2015) and in 2014 brought out a volume in Japanese comprising the presentations made in these conferences. Despite his impaired health, particularly his eye sight, as its honored chairman his wide contacts with the International Rosa Luxemburg Society continue. Because of this inspiration a wide range of essays, monographs, editions, conference volumes over Rosa Luxemburg has appeared in different parts of the world over the last few years : in Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain, India, South Korea, USA (see: site “Weitere Ankündigungen”).

Most importantly, supplementary volumes of the hitherto unknown works of Rosa Luxemburg are being published under the editorship of Annelies Laschitza and Eckhard Müller (2 volumes, each 900 pages) and Holger Politt is engaged in editing the translations of the Polish works as well. For international Rosa Luxemburg research what is of great importance is the English language project of “The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg” in which two volumes, under the chief editorship of Peter Hudis, have appeared (see: site “Weitere Ankündigungen”) and there is also the Chinese project of bringing out an edition of the complete works. In France too, after publication of three volumes a complete edition of Luxemburg’s works is being worked upon (see: site “Français).

Professor Narihiko Ito has contributed as a prominent motive builder that Rosa Luxemburg’s ideas have not only stayed alive but the circulation of her ideas is being experienced internationally too very widely. His colleagues and friends all over the world will keep his legacy and continue his work.

Prepared by György Széll and Ottokar Luban – Translation into English: Sobhanlal Datta Gupta

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Call for papers: “International Rosa Luxemburg Conference: Rosa Luxemburg and Her Ideas: Engaging the Left and Impacting the World” (26 – 29 April, 2018 – Chicago, USA)

International Rosa Luxemburg Conference
Founded 1980 by Prof. Dr. Narihiko  Ito  (Tokyo)
Rosa Luxemburg and Her Ideas: Engaging the Left and Impacting the World

26 – 29 April, 2018 – Chicago (USA)

Conference Language: English
Rosa Luxemburg dedicated her life to the fight against war, poverty, exploitation and any kind of suppression. Yet today in the age of neo-liberalism, we have the same problems as in the beginning of the 20th century. Luxemburg, a versatile Marxist theoretician, excellent journalist, and effective agitator has left us a body of work that may support and impact on the present left. We invite you to present relevant papers on the life and work of Rosa Luxemburg and her close comrades.

 OrganizerInternational Rosa Luxemburg Society:

– Prof. (pens.) Dr. Sobhanlal Datta Gupta, Kolkata, India,
– Prof. Dr. William A. Pelz, Chicago, Illinois, USA,
– Prof. Dr. Pablo Slavin, Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Co-Sponsor:   Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Office New York:
– Dr. Albert Scharenberg, Co-Director, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, New York, USA
Send paper proposals by 31 December 2017 with abstract of 300-500 words, paper title and short vita to Ottokar Luban, Voluntary Secretary: oluban@gmx.de with a copy to William A. Pelz, bpelz@elgin.edu   A very limited number of travel grants will be available, please indicate if you would like to apply for one.

Registration [Free]:

Ottokar Luban, Berlin, Germany: oluban@gmx.de




Recent Publications on Rosa Luxemburg and her Group and Party



The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg

Volume 1: Economic Writings I, edited by Peter Hudis, London / New York November 2013, Hardback, 464 pages, ISBN: 9781844679744

Volume II: Economic Writings 2, edited by Peter Hudis and Paul LeBlanc, London / New York 2015, Hardback, 576 pages; ISBN: 9781781688526  

Rosa Luxemburg (1871–1919) is widely regarded as one of the most creative writers of modern socialism and the foremost female theoretician of European radicalism. Her wide-ranging and incisive works, which include studies on capitalism’s inherent drive for global expansion, the relation between spontaneity and organization, and the inseparability of democracy and socialism, have made her a pole of attraction for theorists and activists around the world. Her fiercely independent intellect and uncompromising defense of human liberty speaks more powerfully to our era than to any other.

Volume II contains a new English translation of Luxemburg’s most important book, her theoretical masterpiece, The Accumulation of Capital (1913) as well as her response to its critics. Taken together, they constitute one of the most important Marxist studies of the globalization of capital.

The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg. Edited by Annelies Laschitza, Georg Adler, and Peter Hudis. Translated by George Shriver, Verso Publisher’s House New York / London 2011, ISBN-13:  978-1-84467-453-4

Red Rosa. A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg, written and illustrated by Kate Evans, edited and with an afterword by Paul Buhle, London /Brooklyn, N.Y., 2015. ISBN-13: 978-1-78478-099-9

Sobhanlal Datta Gupta: Rosa Luxemburg, Seribaan Publisher House Kolkata, India, 2015, Part I of the Series “The Socialist Vision and the Silenced Voices of Democracy: New Perspectives”. ISBN: 81-87492-51-1

Clara Zetkin. Letters and Writings. Revolutionary History, New Series, No. 1, Merlin Press London 2015, ISBN 978-0-85036-720-1

Ralf Hoffrogge, Norman LaPoerte (ed.): Weimar Communism as Mass Movement, 1918 – 1932, Lawrence & Wishart Chadwell Heath, UK, 2017, ISBN 9781910448984



Rosa Luxemburg. Gesammelte Werke. Band 6, 1893 bis 1906, hrsg. von Annelies Laschitza und Eckhard Müller. Karl Dietz Verlag Berlin 2014. 992 Seiten, Hardback. ISBN 978-3-320-02301-0

Rosa Luxemburg: Gesammelte Werke, Bd. 7/1 und 7/2, 1907 bis 1918, hrsg. von Annelies Laschitza und Eckhard Müller, Karl Dietz Verlag Berlin 2017, insges. ca. 1.300 Seiten, Hardback. Bd. 7/1: ISBN 978-3-320-02332-4, Bd. 7/2: ISBN 978-3-320-02333-1

Rosa Luxemburg: Arbeiterrevolution 1905/06. Polnische Texte, hrsg. u. übers. v. Holger Politt, Berlin 2015

Rosa Luxemburg: Nach dem Pogrom. Texte über Antisemitismus, 1910/11, hrsg. und aus dem Polnischen übersetzt von Holger Politt, Potsdam 2014

Rosa Luxemburg: Nationalitätenfrage und Autonomie, hrsg. und übersetzt von Holger Politt, Berlin 2012

Marga Voigt (Hg.): Clara Zetkin. Die Kriegsbriefe (1914 -1918), Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-320-02323-2

Heinz Deutschland (Hg.): Käte und Hermann Duncker. Ein Tagebuch in Briefen (1894 – 1953), incl. USB-Card mit dem vollständigen Briefwechsel, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-320-02314-0

Paul Frölich: Im radikalen Lager. Politische Autobiographie1890 – 1921. Hrsg. von Reiner Tosstorff, Berlin 2013,  Hardcover, ISBN 978-3-86163-147-7

Elisabeth Benz: Ein halbes Leben für die Revolution. Fritz Rück (1895-1959).

Eine politische Biografie, Essen 2014, ISBN 978-3-8375-1293-9

Ulrich Weitz: Der Mann im Schatten – Eduard Fuchs, Sitten-Fuchs, Sozialist, Konspirateur, Sammler, Mäzen, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-320-02299-0



Journal Agone No. 59, 2016
Révolution et démocratie. Actualité de Rosa Luxemburg

SBN : 9782748902297, 20.00 € , Coordination : Éric Sevault & Philippe Olivera

Ce numéro de la revue Agone s’inscrit dans la continuité du travail entrepris par les éditions Agone et le collectif Smolny pour la publication des œuvres complètes de Rosa Luxemburg, dont quatre volumes sont déjà parus. Il reprend la plupart des interventions de la conférence organisée à Paris en octobre 2013 par la Société internationale Rosa Luxemburg.

Sommaire :
Alexeï Gusev: Rosa Luxemburg et la démocratie socialiste. Un jalon essentiel dans l’histoire de la pensée marxiste,
Ottokar Luban: La spontanéité créative des masses selon Rosa Luxemburg,
Michael Löwy: “Le coup de marteau de la révolution” La critique de la démocratie bourgeoise chez Rosa Luxemburg,
Sobhanlal Data Gupta La démocratie révolutionnaire chez Rosa Luxemburg à la lumière de sa correspondance,
Claudie Weil: Les libertés contre les droits : nation et démocratie chez Rosa Luxemburg,
Ben Lewis: Rosa Luxemburg et la République,
David Muhlmann: Du contenu de la démocratie socialiste,
Isabel Loureiro: Une démocratie par l’expérience révolutionnaire. Lukacs, lecteur de Rosa Luxemburg,
Jörg Wollenberg: Rosa Luxemburg et la “liberté de ceux qui pensent autrement”. Le groupe Neuer Weg et l’édition de la Révolution russe à Paris en 1939,
Frigga Haug: Sur les traces de Rosa Luxemburg, pour une démocratie par le bas.

Projet de Collectif Smolny – Éditions Agone
OEuvres complètes der Rosa Luxemburg
voir: http://www.collectif-smolny.org/article.php3?id_article=1977

 – Tome I : Introduction à l’économie politique, Préface de Louis Jnover
[Octobre 2009]
– Tome II : Ã l’école du socialisme Postface de Michael Kraetke
[Octobre 2012]
– Tome III : Le Socialisme en France ( 1898 – 1912) Préface de Jean-Numa Ducange )
[Octobre 2013
– Tome IV : La brochure de Junius, la guerre et l’lnternationale ( 1907 – 1916 )
[Octobre 2014]
 – L’accumulation du capital [2017]
– La Pologne et la Question nationale [2018]
– Colonialisme, militarisme et impérialisme [2019]
–  Correspondance complete, premier tome 2017

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‘The World Holiday of the Proletariat’; Rosa Luxemburg on May Day

Source: ‘The World Holiday of the Proletariat’; Rosa Luxemburg on May Day

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On This Day: 13 January 1919: The ‘Spartacist Rising’ ends in failure… but for Rosa Luxemburg the resulting order is nothing but a ‘House of Cards’


Vorwarts Building after rising- 11 Jan 1919- IISGAnti-Spartakist Flyer- 11 Jan 1919- DHM

(The ‘Vorwarts’ newspaper building after being re-taken by government forces- 11 Jan 1919 (International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam) and an anti-Spartacist flyer from the same date (Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM), Berlin)

Over the weekend of 11- 12 January, government forces regained control of Berlin from the armed revolutonary forces led by the Independent Socialists, Communists and Revolutionary Shop Stewards.

Berlins Befreiung von Spartacus- Berlin Lokal-Anzeiger- 12 Jan 1919- DHMVorwarts is Taken! leaflet- 12 Jan 1919- DHM

(‘Berlin’s Liberation from Spartakus’ Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, 12 Jan 1919 (DHM) and ‘Vorwarts is taken!’ leaflet from same day (DHM))

By Sunday 12 January, it was clear that the ‘rising’ (as the victorious government labelled it) had failed. Hundreds lay dead and the leaders of the demonstrations and armed revolutionaries were either imprisoned, dead or in hiding.

The leaders of the fledgling Communist Party, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, refused to flee Berlin to a safer city and went underground, moving from house to house around Berlin to avoid capture by the…

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On This Day: 10 January 1919: The Spartacist Rising



By Friday 10 January 1919, it had become clear to most of those involved that the demonstrations, strikes and armed struggle known as the ‘Spartacist Rising’, against the Ebert-Scheidemann was failing.  The government had gained the upper hand in Berlin, the ‘Vorwarts’ building was re-taken and a front-page announced the success of the government ‘Offensive Against Spartacus’.

The ‘Freikorps’, under the command of Defence Minister Gustav Noske, were beating the armed revolutionaries back and re-taking the city. Meanwhile, the ‘Revolutionary Committee’ of the Communists, Independent Socialists and Revolutionary Shop Stewards was disintegrating. That evening, the Communist leadership announced that they were ending all joint actions with the Shop Stewards, and effectively withdrew from the struggle. On the  ground though, fierce fighting between armed workers and government forces continued.

(Source: Ottokar Luban, ‘Rosa at a Loss’: http://www.workerscontrol.net/authors/ottokar-luban)

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‘Actually, Rosa Luxemburg Was Not a Self-Hating Jew’ – Tablet magazine

Contrary to what is widely believed, the Polish-Jewish anti-war activist was first and foremost a humanist, and both a victim and active opponent of anti-Semitism

By Rory Castle Jones

Joseph Telushkin’s article, “Black Lives Matter and Self-Hating Jews,” published on Tablet yesterday, put forth a long-held claim that Polish-Jewish-German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg was the archetypal “self-hating Jew.” I take issue here with the characterization of Luxemburg as a self-hating Jew and dispute much of the evidence provided by Telushkin.

Read the rest of the article here.

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